A consistent theme that we remind our tech provider clients of is that buyers look to others–peers and influencers—to help with their buying process (remember that 68% of their technology buying process is spent in activities that don’t directly involve the provider). In our research on influencers, peer reviews continues to be one of the more significant buying influences. But, it has dropped some as buyers have come to view many reviews with increased skepticism–questioning whether the reviews are truly from a customer. On the other hand, reviews from people that buyers perceive to be “experts” are the top influence activity that buyers rely upon.
Clearly, Buyers want information they can trust. At Symposium in Orlando, Gartner formally launched Gartner Peer Insights – a service for technology buyers that gives them access to moderated reviews on technology products that come directly from their peers.
Gartner Peer Insights is a moderated collection of technology product/service evaluations created by users themselves. The moderation aspect is key--Gartner will be validating that every review comes from an authentic user. There won’t be “fake” reviews from competitors, nor will providers be able to create reviews for themselves (“users” in technology organizations will be able to create reviews for technologies they use—but only in categories in which their company does not participate (e.g. Adobe could create a review of an HR systems, but not for a Web content management product)).
Providers can also see the reviews and we encourage you to invite your customers to submit reviews as well. This was introduced recently to technology providers via our Analyst Relations Newsletter. I recommend that all providers read the whole story there. It covers the categories that are currently available and the ones that are going to be released soon. (Also, there are FAQs available for both users and providers.)
Remember, that it is likely that your customers are doing these reviews (at Gartner’s site or on other review sites), whether you know it or not. Anyone, except the caveat noted above for technology professionals in provider organizations, can submit a review for products in the categories we cover, here is the link.
I highly recommend that providers encourage their clients to submit a review. If the product has not already been reviewed, the “reviewer” will be able to specify a product name—Gartner is not controlling what products are reviewed–that is driven by the community. For companies doing advocacy marketing, here is another opportunity for your advocates.
I’m very excited about this service as it reflects what our research is telling us about buyers. They look to a range of sources as they make decisions about technology. Gartner doesn’t have (and never had) an “exclusive” here. Yes, we are very influential for many decisions, but we are not alone. There are other analysts, academic experts, associations, reporters, and similar influencers that buyers look to for guidance. Customers and peers are a key part of that mix. It is all about finding trusted sources to build confidence in decisions.
With Gartner Peer Insights, we are taking it even further–providing our clients with access to reviews from their peers that they can trust (note: I am not saying that buyers cannot trust reviews on other sites–many, but not all, of them have similar moderation processes. But I would advise buyers to review moderation practices for any site that allows reviews–whether a dedicated review site or just an option on another site. If you host reviews, be completely transparent about moderation practices.
One final note. I really like that our review submission goes beyond product features and capabilities to include coverage of elements of the overall customer experience, including discussion of the buying and support experience. These are key elements of buying decisions that can be as important as the product.
I’m excited about Peer Insights and the role it will play in creating value for tech providers and their customers.