I’ve recently had several interesting discussions about one of the assessment criteria in the Forrester Vendor Positioning Review (VPR). A new VPR on IT Management Software Vendors should be out this time next week (it’s been stuck in our Editing dept. for several weeks now.)

In the VPR, we check to see if a vendor offers one or more tools to help a prospective buyer evaluate the potential financial return of making the IT investment under consideration. We argue that no IT project these days, especially an IT management software project seen by the Business as “IT doing its own housekeeping”, will be approved by whatever appropriation committee is involved without seeing the appropriate financial due diligence. So we encourage all vendors to support their prospective customers with an ROI calculation tool: ideally one created by a third party (nobody believes what the vendor makes!) and even more ideally, one that can be downloaded for “free” (including not even requiring a registration process). The summary of my discussions is: nobody in enterprise software vendor marketing agrees that these should be provided for free. They all want to use the opportunity to collect a lead at this stage in the purchase process.

Well, times are-a-changing. Nowadays, customers do their own research before getting anywhere near a vendor. Those vendors who aren’t willing to share appropriately will be punished. I quite like this interesting discussion on the dilema at http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/should-you-put-your-ebooks-and-white-papers-and-other-content-behind-a-registration-page-ann-handley

In the upcoming VPR, we laud Symantec for doing a good job here. Their website takes you through a process of “See” – “Learn” – “Buy” – “Use” and then offers, in the “Learn” phase, a series of ROI calculators which run as-as-service. 

Symantec gets around the dilemma by allowing anyone to use the tool and asking for registration only if the prospect wishes to save or print the ROI results.

That is a good compromise. What do YOU think?

Always keeping you informed!  Peter