A few years ago, it was out of the question for many companies to hire an analyst firm when it came to deciding on which software it should use. Hiring an analyst firm like Gartner or Forrester implied having to pay tens of thousands of dollars just to get a comprehensive market analysis of business apps. However, in the last years, many crowdsourced startups have begun to offer cheaper (or even free) alternatives.
These alternatives are based on customers’ feedbacks from using such apps. In this article, we’ll discuss ten of these crowdsourced alternatives. These days, you don’t need to even purchase a report from Magic Quadrant or Forrester Wave – these crowdsourced companies claim to be just as accurate and effective.
1. G2 Crowd
G2 Crowd claims itself to be “the Yelp for business software”. Founded in 2012, it was the result of the efforts of three former BigMachines’ executives (BigMachines has since been bought by Oracle). G2 Crowd’s goal is to use the data provided by actual users to guide enterprise software buyers in their purchases.
Based on reviews and ratings from its community, the company produces “The Grid”, a report that is similar in its format to Magic Quadrant. To create this grid, G2 Crowd relies on user ratings, number of reviews, and likelihood to recommend a specific software to someone else. All this is mixed up with “market presence data”: market share, number of employees, and revenue growth.
The rated softwares span a large number of categories that can be filtered to generate even more specific divisions. The main categories include CRM tools, IT security, human resources, analytics, and content management.
2. IT Central Station
IT Central Station offers a platform that engages IT software buyers with a number of analysts, experts and peers who offer ratings of a wide range of software products. For some of the categories, users can get free quotes; the rated categories include business intelligence and analytics, DevOps, security, virtualisation, social, and business process management.
There is a guided form for those who want to write reviews for IT Central Station, so that every review is standardised. There is even a video from the platform explaining how its users should write their reviews. Every review has a mandatory list of pros and cons for the software it’s reviewing, and longer reviews are considered “expert reviews” and are highlighted in the list of user reviews.
IT Central Station claims it uses pre-requisites to ensure only legitimate users leave reviews on its website; one of these is that the user must have used the software in the past 12 months.
3. Experts Exchange
Experts Exchange is more like a network than any of the other mentioned platforms. It’s supposed to connect technology professionals with its peers and technical experts, while offering material like educational content and white papers. Its community serves functions similar to LinkedIn as well, keeping SaaS recruitment agencies and other companies hiring in touch with possible employees who are active in the community.
Experts Exchange also has several forums with plenty of active experts, each forum dedicated to a specific software. As an example, their Microsoft Exchange forum has ten thousand active users. Users can go to a specific forum and pose a question to have it answered by any of the multiple experts available. Experts Exchange also offers a “private mode” for those who need to hide their identity while using the network.
WhalePath is a company based in San Francisco which uses a network of independent crowdsourced analysts to provide research reports to its customers. According to the company, it has more than fifteen thousand analysts, with expertise in a wide range of subject matters related to technology and market research.
All customers have to do to get their hands on some market research is to identify the industry and market sector of interest, along with their main research goals and deliverables. Then, an account manager is assigned to structure the request.
Once the request is prepared, data analysts start contributing to the project with related data. WhalePath ensures that all of its analysts have a respectable background in market research and data analytics. Many of them supposedly work or have worked at consulting firms.
The analysts submit their reports, WhalePath reviews their content and validates the data which is then converted into a report for their client.
Some of WhalePath’s clients are high-profile companies like Disney, Panasonic or Siemens.
TrustRadius is entirely built based on reviews from current or former users of different types of software. The company offers those reviews to its clients for free. Other than that, TrustRadius also provides their users with free Buyer’s Guides that allow customers to compare the pros and cons of every technology available for each software category.
All these guides are based on user-provided data and reviews, and let their customers have an overview of all available software for their needs. These reviews are provided by end-users, who have tried this software before and reviewed it on TrustRadius.
When it comes to the leading products in each category, TrustRadius presents customers with a “TrustMap”, once again a format similar to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant chart. This chart presents information about the main SaaS products for a specific function.
Users login into TrustRadius via LinkedIn, and it has experts that validate each review once it’s submitted before it becomes available to the general public.
Chaordix is based in Calgary, Canada, and it connects brands to which they consider to be their most passionate customers. This company focuses on two key products: “Community Innovation” and “Crowd Activation”.
Community Innovation helps brands tap into their customer’s ideas for brand innovation and new products, engaging customers and brands on a daily basis. It also helps with product improvement through the customers’ feedback. Crowd Activation uses Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to connect fans to their favourite brands. By listening to customer feedback and user sentiment, the brands are able to improve their products and experiences.
Chaordix lists American Airlines as one of its main customers, and claims that the company used the hundreds of thousands of submissions, comments, and votes through their forum of high-level customer representatives to change their customer experience strategy.
Unlike other services listed here, Capterra is completely free for any service. Buying guides, user reviews and blog posts help technology buyers make an informed purchase.
Capterra offers more than 300 software categories from which you can choose the type of software you’re after. It even provides you with SaaS experts which will guide you in your purchase by offering a shortlist of software products which might suit your company better. Capterra also allows users to compare software packages by industry, and sometimes by application.
Some of Capterra’s most famous clients include Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, Walmart and Warner Brothers.
Comparz focuses mostly on the needs of small and middle-size companies. The company offers user reviews and ratings, sponsored vendor white papers, and what the company calls “Decision Guides.” User reviews can be found in dozens of different categories, with many different software products included in each category.
Comparz uses the company data, such as company size, industry, and job title, so buyers can identify reviewers who are in a similar situation when it comes to company type. This makes the reviews more relevant for each user by creating rapport.
Comparz’s Decision Guides are designed to help small and medium companies weave their way through choosing the perfect software for them, comparing features among popular softwares, ease of use and customisation, customer support and many other factors.
The Nubera Network includes GetApp, GetApp Lab and several other platforms like AppStorm and AppAppeal. GetApp is one of the most highly engrained examples of how crowdsourced apps have conducted a real shift in the business of software advisors.
GetApp is mostly about SaaS for small and mid-size companies and small units among other companies. It offers reviews about more than three thousand apps, and has plenty of categories which help users find the software they need for the company. To get customised app indications, customers can use the GetApp AppFinder tool to find the exact app that will provide the services they’re after.
GetApp Lab is more experimental, showing off the latest technology in different business areas with detailed research and insights into new and up-and-coming software products.
Ombud strives to be an intermediary between teams who are searching for technology and the stakeholders in the company. It offers the possibility to get feedback from all parties across an organisation, giving SaaS experts a better idea of what fits their business when they make their next purchase.
This platform allows for everyone within a company to provide their insights about a new software that’s being tested, reducing the time that a company takes to make a decision on a new service before they purchase it after the trial period.
These are all great tools if used wisely. However, it’s still necessary to have insights from the actual pros when purchasing any software for your company. If you’re looking for SaaS recruitment in Europe, contact WunderTalent – they are SaaS recruitment specialists which can provide you with the right person to advise your company on decisions like this one. Because, in the end, it’s your company that’s going to have to use that software – user reviews and ratings might be useful, but every company is unique.