by Jim Lein, Oracle Midsize Programs
Walk into the market and you can buy a dozen different kinds of apples. We each pick a fruit based on its color and flavor. And we don't always choose the same apple because our tastes can change from day to day based on what we're looking for and what mood we happen to be in.
No Two Sites Are the Same
Software buyers are likely to review more than one software review site and choose based on their own personal preferences and buying habits. G2 Crowd, Software Advice, and TrustRadius all provide reviews and advice but they differ in "color" and "flavor". Each provide software buyers with free access to user reviews. All three gather information from vendors and publicly available sources.
G2 Crowd and TrustRadius primarily interact with vendors via self service mechanisms. They also advise vendors that the best way to get their products accurately represented is to encourage user reviews. With Software Advice, vendors who are willing to pay for leads can actively interact with Client Success Coordinators.
With Software Advice, founded in 2005, buyers never pay. Buyers are encouraged to work with an software advisor over the phone to match their needs to a product. G2 Crowd, launched in February of 2013, and TrustRadius, launched in March of 2013, rank and compare products almost entirely based on end user reviews. Currently, G2 Crowd generates revenue from buyers who pay for reports that rank products within a category based on all user reviews. TrustRadius is pre-revenue but expects to generate sales through some combination of premium user products and vendor services.
Information is Only As Good As the Source
Credible software review sites take great care in validating both vendor information and user reviews. IT buyers should understand how any given site validates its vendor information and user reviews or be prepared to take that advice with some grain of salt
Validating vendor information is to some degree self governing. If a vendor provides bad information, the outcome is not going to be favorable, in the long run, to anyone involved. Some sites (including G2 and TrustRadius) validate user reviewers via their LinkedIn credentials. Ideally, there is also some degree of scrutiny applied by a human being for both validity and quality.
For example, TrustRadius rejects about 5% of submitted reviews as junk or false. Buyers can also assess the quality of reviews based on the richness and structure of the content. For context, the average TrustRadius reviewer spends eighteen minutes on their first review and is encouraged to return in order to keep their reviews fresh and update.Likewise, G2 Crowd rejects 3-4% of reviews in addition to algorithmic checks based on reviewer LinkedIn data. Some reviews are flagged as "business partner" if submitted by, for example, a solution integrator, in order to identify any potential conflicts of interest.
Sticking with the analogy...it's certainly possible that there are "bad apples" amongst the myriad software sites available. But the diligence shown by the good ones ensure that one bad apple won't spoil the whole bunch.