Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What Do You See When You See Me?

I just finished reading a post by a vendor in our Human Capital space that outlines the history of their brand for close to 20 years… how it was conceived, how it changed over time, and what it is today.  It was well written and drove home that this vendor is filled with smart people having all the best of intentions. 
This particular vendor is one I’ve watched, literally, since day one.  I’ve actually worked with this vendor in several capacities over the years, and through many management regimes. 
I can vouch that this vendor TRIES to be what it believes it is.  However, I can also see clearly that in the eyes of it’s customers, partners, even many employees, it is not what the brand managers think it is.
Which vendor?  That’s not important today.  They are not unique and this problem is rampant in our market.  This vendor will be named and analyzed in several of our upcoming reports, on just this issue – and it will be fair to name them at that time – compared to their peers, and with tons of supporting data.
For now, I want to focus on the challenge.  Why?  Because this is the challenge HRxAnalyst is solving.
The vendors, like all of us, look in the mirror and see their best and worst features… however, they are too close to be objective.  They don’t see themselves the way their prospects and their customers do.  Their vision of who they would like to be in the future consistently clouds their vision of who they are and what value they provide to the customer/user today.
The problem gets compounded by the set of unsound stereotypes vendors use for the basis of their marketing.  Assumptions that “might” have worked in the 80s or early 90s, but not today.
The result to the HR Technology and Service buyer is a barrage of marketing messages from vendors that are not reflective of the value that their product or service really provide.  What’s worse is that those messages are molded around old HR stereotypes.
Taking it a step further – these marketing messages are commonly in sharp contrast to what the HR Tech and Service buyer/customer hears from the vendor sales teams and, as a customer will experience from their support teams.  In most situations we see, the actual brand ambassadors, the sales and support teams, are reading from different pages of music – even between themselves - when it comes to delivering messages around value and product to the marketplace.
No wonder the buyers can’t differentiate any of the vendors.  Every message delivered is in conflict with every experience or reference point.
HR Tech and Service buyers haven’t had a vehicle to update the vendor community about who they are, nor have they had information available that compared the brand messaging from vendors to the actual customer experience... that’s where we come in. 

We’re focused on removing this friction from the marketplace.

We’re moving on a series of studies and reports across the top verticals in the space that will help everyone make better business decisions – on both sides of buy/sell.  Vendors get educated on who they are really selling to; customers get educated on how vendor experience compares to brand and pitch.
It’s getting really exciting….   I wish I could share some of the data with you now, but we’ll be announcing dates very soon.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I've Been Here Before And I Like This Place

What a week for HRX Analysts!  Since our announcement momentum and traction has picked up on all fronts.  It seems that we were right on track in addressing the market's need for a clear picture of the buyer - as defined by the buyer ... combined a clear picture of what both customers and prospective customers think and feel about HR tech and service vendor brands is more than a little valuable to BOTH the buyers and marketers of services and tech in this space.
Our research effort is cranking.  It's more than just research.  We're building a panel (community so over-used, and so not what everyone needs) of HR Practitioners that are happy to candidly tell us what they think of themselves and their vendors in return for what we find on all fronts.  We are shortly going to an ENGAGED panel of a very large number of practitioners.  That's right - engaged.  And the number is getting so big, I'm saving it for a press release.  John Sumser wrote a piece on the Panel and why and how participation is so key.  Find it here:

Multiple reports are already defining themselves.  Based on the research, input/feedback from practitioners, and vendors clamoring for input on brand in a few key segments.  We are systematically pointing our technology, research, and field efforts toward several of the key segments.  I've started personally inviting a few vendors give us an overview of their brand.  The dance card is getting full... invitations are going out at a pace we can keep up with on the responses.  If you'd like to get your firm on the right list before our reports are published, you can reach me at

Products are shaping up nicely, and with client input.   Our cadre of products and services is shaping up nicely. 

Website Content is Close.... The progress on product and service definition tees up the website really well.

And last but not least - in fact most important - everyone involved in this effort is getting more and more passionate and more and more excited ... having more and more fun the more we do here.  And we've all been here before - we've all had some pretty successful runs - so, when these guys get as excited as I am, but didn't quite share because I didn't want to sound like the "rookie me of 15 years ago".... well.... that means something special is about to happen. 

Just an update on HRX Analysts for anyone that cares.  A more meaty post for Friday... or thereabouts ;-)