Over the past decade DCIG evolved to where it primarily focuses on competitive intelligence delivered as digital assets. DCIG provides this competitive intelligence in the form of battle cards, Buyer’s Guides, and Competitive Intelligence and Top 5 reports. People often ask how DCIG got its start in competitive intelligence. Being the start of a New Year, I thought I’d share some of that story today.
In 2001, I did not envision being an analyst, starting DCIG, or delivering competitive intelligence. At that time, I worked as a senior storage administrator at First Data Corporation (now FiServ) in Omaha, NE. Part of my job included setting a technology direction for its Open Systems storage area network (SAN).
This role prompted me to evaluate all available technology solutions and compare them to the challenges I needed to solve. The predominant solution providers at that time were EMC, Hitachi, IBM, and Veritas. Unfortunately, their solutions only partially addressed the scope and scale of the challenges that First Data faced. This forced me to look beyond their offerings to identify a solution that more directly solved them.
This looking outside of the box put me on my current path. In my evaluations, I identified storage virtualization software as a potential solution. I specifically recommended using a solution from DataCore Software.
At that time, few really grasped the value of its virtualization technology or how it could fundamentally change storage management. To help myself and others better understand it, I decided to write about it to explain the technology’s value. That decision indirectly launched my career as a writer and analyst.
Off to the Races
As it turned out, very few others understood or could explain the challenges that managing SANs in enterprises presented. My first article on storage virtualization in 2002 got picked up by multiple publications, of which InfoStor was the first. That, in turn, landed me a gig writing the monthly technology report for TechTarget’s Storage magazine.
These tech reports consisted of two components: a head-to-head feature comparison of the different products evaluated and a write-up. The write-up discussed the value of each product and which use cases it was best positioned to solve.
I came to learn this article was monthly the most widely read one in Storage magazine. Companies wanted to be educated on: the challenge these products addressed; how they addressed the challenges; and, the best fit or fits for that product in their environment.
A few years of writing these reports coupled with my experience evaluating and managing storage at First Data led to new opportunities. Among them, a steady stream of vendors asking me to prepare technology reports. It got to the point that by 2006 I could no longer do both and had to make a choice. Since writing and running my own business had always appealed to me, I made the leap.
The Inspiration for the DCIG Buyer’s Guides
Once on my own, DCIG started out providing the normal portfolio of analyst services (blogging, white papers, webinars, etc.) However, I wanted DCIG to offer a service that distinguished itself from other analyst firms. My background preparing the tech reports for Storage magazine and the product evaluations I performed while working at First Data prepared me to deliver competitive intelligence. My challenge became how to package and deliver it.
The other competitive intelligence offerings (Gartner Magic Quadrant, Forrester Wave) only partially addressed end-user needs. They provided some general sense of who the market leaders were. However, admins and engineers still had to research products and vet their features.
This gap provided the opening I sought and led to the production of DCIG’s first Buyer’s Guide in May 2010. It examined all the products in a market and the features they supported. I then combined that data with my technology background to make an assessment as to which products best met the needs of a specific use case.
This combination of hands-on end-user experience and in writing let to the development and release of the first DCIG Buyer’s Guide. Little did I know or expect at the time that the first DCIG Buyer’s Guide on midrange arrays, once licensed, would result in the distribution of over one million copies. The success of that Guide led to dozens more DCIG Buyer’s Guides being produced with millions more downloads of those Guides worldwide to follow.
Buyer’s Guides are Competitive Intelligence
The realization that came to me since DCIG started producing its Buyer’s Guide is that companies use them for more than just creating a short list of products. These Guides influenced product development at vendors. Vendors and resellers also used the Buyer’s Guides to better position their products in the marketplace. In short, they became a go-to source of competitive intelligence for tens if not hundreds of thousands of individuals.
As DCIG came to better understand how companies used and viewed its Buyer’s Guide, we learned some valuable lessons in how to create and share competitive information publicly. I will plan to share some of those lessons learned in a future blog post.