Tech Vendor Customer Sentiment Shifts

By Guy Currier  |  Posted 08-23-2011

2011 Vendor Value Study: Research Exclusive

The great transformative movements of virtualization, mobility, consumerization and cloud computing that are sweeping through the enterprise--coupled with a stuttering economy--have confused and stressed IT executives. These same trends are also sending many technology vendors reeling, as they react to swiftly shifting business needs. (For a pdf download of the 2011 Vendor Value Study, including charts and ratings, click here.)

Such transformation typically brings new sets of winners and losers. In enterprise mobility, for example, conventional wisdom might place Google (with its pending acquisition of Motorola Mobility) on the up side and BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) on the down slope. But things are not as simple as they appear, according to the CIO Insight 2011 Vendor Value Study, which polls enterprise users about the value they're getting from their technology providers.

Google is, indeed, quite a winner this year, according to the study. But this position may be somewhat unstable, given the company's comparably poor showing in our 2010 study. And RIM? Despite real signs of weakness for the company in this year's study (customer loyalty is at an all-time low), its ranking has held steady for the past four years.

The CIO Insight 2011 Vendor Value Study was conducted online and fielded July 19 to August 4, 2011. We sent email invitations to a random selection of survey participants from CIO Insight corporate parent Ziff Davis Enterprise's lists of readers and site visitors. Respondents were asked to rate each technology vendor they've worked with over the past year on seven different value and reliability measures. We also asked respondents to indicate if they'd personally prefer to continue working with each vendor.

This year, for the first time, we screened out respondents who work as resellers, consultants or service providers in an effort to provide as much end-user perspective as possible. In total, 566 IT executives completed the survey: 180 work in organizations with 50 to 499 employees; 201 in organizations with 500 to 4,999 employees; and 185 in organizations with 5,000 or more employees.

The IT vendors included in our survey questionnaire are based on Fortune 500 and Global 500 lists, plus ongoing vendor-use studies conducted across the IT spectrum by Ziff Davis Enterprise Research. Each year, we collect ratings for 60 vendors in total, but the final report includes only the 40 vendors that have the greatest number of survey respondents currently using their products or services.

We also fine-tuned our calculations this year in order to reflect a true 1-40 ranking, eliminating the numerous ties that we had seen in previous versions of this study. (See The Big Picture on pages 26 and 27.)

Tech Vendor Customer Sentiment Shifts

Many vendors have experienced strong shifts in customer judgment; in some cases, these shifts look enduring. For example, Juniper Networks is clearly benefitting from archrival Cisco's travails, but also is highly rated in its own right: 92 percent of Juniper's customers participating in our survey gave the vendor a mark of "good" or "excellent" for addressing the business problem it's being paid to solve.

In other cases, such as Microsoft, the change seen in this year's study may not be so long-lasting. Sharply improved customer ratings for product quality and for meeting commitments led to a double-digit shift in the rankings for Microsoft, which nearly cracked the top 10. However, if the company can't maintain these reliability levels, its ranking will likely revert back to the middle of the field, where it's hovered in previous years.

Very stable companies--such as IBM, Oracle and the aforementioned RIM--are likely to maintain their value levels, for good or ill. Unfortunately, there aren't many vendors that have been stable lately.

Our goal in the accompanying charts is to provide you with enough objective detail on individual vendor value--based on the input of your peers--to evaluate your current technology providers and consider the options for your upcoming IT initiatives. We also give you some context as to how top-scoring vendors stack up in five key technology sectors to help manage your expectations. In our shifting, uncertain IT environment, a little perspective can go a long way. For more on technology investing, read the article IT Investment Planning: Reimagining the Process

About the Author

Guy Currier is Senior Editor/Research at CIO Insight. Email Guy.Currier@cioinsight.com