As an analyst, I would always ask vendors about their competitive landscape at every opportunity. What I am finding is, that vendors are a lot more diplomatic about how they view and attend to their competitive issues to analysts than they are in the trenches.
Now that I’m part of the machine, as it were, I see that a lot more FUD documents are passed around than I had imagined. Our sales guys are nice enough to forward me the ones their customers get from out competitors. So, as these came in, I had the idea to rate and record how our competitors were positioning themselves against Sugar in terms of FUD factor. As I collect and rate a good amount, I will hopefully make a nice little award for the best FUD document – but best may be the wrong term here. How about, most ridiculous?
The first guinea pig for my rating is NetSuite. Now, I like NetSuite and have had pretty great relationships with them as an analyst. And frankly, they don’t come into competition with us much as they play more in the ERP side of things, even though they have played the CRM card to ride to IPO-ville.
The 3 main criteria for the Fuddie Award, rated 1-5, are:
Literary Merit: How well is the piece put together?
Design and Execution: Does the piece look like it is a well though-out competitive document, or a knee-jerk reaction to a potentially lost deal?
Factual (In)consistency: Does the document actually point out real product deficiencies?
So…the NetSuite doc fared thusly:
Literary Merit: 2
The piece jumped right into the bashing of Sugar’s perceived inaccuracies. There was no buildup of character…I didn’t really feel what the document was trying to tell me. It seemed cold, and lacked any internal struggle to make me feel for wither the protagonist or the villain in the piece. The third act was a major letdown.
Design and Execution: 3
The piece was not the most artistic piece of FUD I’ve seen, but had some merits – it was consistent with NetSuite’s branding, and had some nice box-outs to drive the “points” home. However, the meat of the text was dry and didn’t really pop for me.
Factual (In)consistency: 4
The document positioned NetSuite against Sugar as if Sugar ever made claims to be an accounting system – dirty pool to be sure. So, of course these claims can be backed up, even if in reality it is an apples to oranges situation. (Imagine Boeing comparing its latest plane to a car in sales documents – Hey! Our “cars” can fly!!!!.) Also, the document notes that Sugar has no dashboard capabilities. In fact, Sugar has had great dashboard and analytics capabilities since its earliest versions. And the 5.0 release allows for multiple dashboards and multiple dashlets on multiple Ajax-based home pages, all customizable by individual user with no coding required.
So, all in all, not a “great” FUD document in terms of making me chuckle, but a good attempt. More to come…