What has been done before
The B2B software industry has had a longstanding historical model with analyst firms. These firms rely on individual subject-matter experts (SMEs) to own and cover a portion of the industry. Periodically, and hopefully consistently, reports and articles are published by these SMEs for potential buyers to consume to aid in purchasing decisions.
At G2 Crowd, we took issue with this approach. What could be done differently in that approach to take the knowledge from many real users instead of just one analyst? What could be done differently to stay current and not wait for reports that lag behind the industry?
Why G2 Crowd was — and is — different
G2 Crowd’s founders created a platform that has given rise to the voice of the customers buying and using B2B software, and later added B2B services: replacing a single SME voice with the voices of thousands, relying on the crowd to cast its voice on the reality of using B2B software.
G2 Crowd then aggregated those reviews into algorithmically created reports that could give a consistent ranking or scoring, and a consistent way vendors could market with these scores.
One issue we still faced at G2 Crowd was the frequency of reports. When I arrived two years ago, we were producing 60 reports a year across 60 categories. Since that time, we’ve scaled to 400 reports a year across 130 categories. That scale is incredible, but it is still anchored by only producing reports every 6, or at times, 12 months. We didn’t feel this was good enough to keep pace with the reality of the software industry.
Keeping pace with the software industry
The rise of SaaS software removed a barrier of release pace by skirting the complexity of deployment to distributed and localized hosting on-premise. This hosting migration opened the door for more rapid delivery of releases, which was further strengthened with disciplines, jobs and software around continuous delivery — allowing product and development teams to ship quality software more easily and with more confidence, in a controlled way. This led to multiple releases in a single year being more commonplace.
These rapid release cycles from software providers and the staggered report release cycles from G2 Crowd are not in tune. To be more blunt, G2 Crowd reports (being already faster than other review sites or analyst firms) still could not keep pace with the software industry release cycle.
The birth of quarterly reports
Frustrated with this, we took on a challenge to ask, “What would it look like to empower software buyers with a consistent set of reports published four times a year on everything we have data for? If the software industry moves so quickly, why can’t we?”
With this challenge in mind, the team set out to solve it. And solve it we did. We’re ready to start 2018 with this new approach of quarterly reports. The calendar for it is publicly available.
With this new approach, we aim to do two things:
- Empower the B2B software and services space with a standard, predictable publishing program that buyers and vendors can both be aware of and expect.
- Continue to move the ball forward to change the purchasing space and bring transparency to B2B buying.
- More data and more reports. There is power in specifics. We will now be cutting reports for every category where we have enough data. We will also continue to collect reviews to grow our coverage of categories with reports.
- Easier algorithm updates. These set report release cycles also give G2 Crowd windows of opportunities between the quarterly releases to do more algorithm changes and updates. This, in turn, empowers us to be more nimble with our algorithm release cycles, and just like our reports, keep our algorithms tuned as tightly as possible with the reality of the software space. This will benefit buyers and the whole B2B buying ecosphere.