Getting insight to buyers - G2's VP of Market Research Chris Voce on an enterprise challenge
- Data, data, data doesn't automatically translate to insight where it's needed or in the form that it's needed.
Software marketplace provider G2 had a great year last year, seeing its marketplace grow to 145,000 software products and services across 2,100 categories. It now boosts two million peer reviews and 80 million buyers visiting the site annually.
Those are great numbers. So how do you build on that to ensure you provide customers with the best information they need to make the right software decisions for their companies? Grow the research arm of the company. And that's what G2 is doing with the addition of Chris Voce as VP of Market Research, who argues that the greatest value comes from the experiences and insights of peers:
Once you have that data, there's just so much we can do to help leaders be successful in their roles. We're focused on being indispensable assets to customers and a critical part of the decisions they make, whether they be buyers who purchase and consume the offerings, vendors that are crafting or refining their GTM, or investors making big decisions on where and how they direct funding.
Voce is no stranger to research and analysis. He has over 15 years of experience working at Forrester Research. Prior to the dot-com bubble bursting, he helped launch Forrester's "TechRankings" - what Voce called the 'grandfather to the Forrester Wave'. His team tracked software across four categories and worked with a partner who lab-tested over 300 attributes. He left Forrester to work as a systems integrator for five years, rejoining the research firm again in 2006 to help run the Infrastructure and Operations team.
When Voce returned to Forrester, the Wave was already in place and built on the same fundamentals as the TechRankings. The difference was that the Wave was (and still is) primarily driven by vendors and their selected reference customers.
In 2016, while at Forrester, Voce was introduced to G2. He says now that what stood out to him was the opportunity to connect with users and learn about their experiences. It was a very different approach from how traditional analyst companies worked. "The greatest value comes from the experiences and insights of peers." It stuck in his head, what he referred to as "a bookmark."
Voce has been at Citrix for the last several years, supporting go-to-market strategies. He says what attracted him to join G2 was that the research team was considered core to the company's integrity and held a standard externally to bring those insights to market:
I believe the true value of any of the analyst firms is to offer breadth and depth to customers that's impractical or impossible for them to gather on their own. I love how G2 can be the window into what their peers are doing and their experiences, as well as be experts in the SW categories.
A focus on research and analysis
With the addition of Voce, it seems like G2 is taking advantage of an opportunity to grow a reputation of being a true partner to buyers and vendors of all sizes.
One of the things Voce says that resonates with me is that the software buying process isn't really about buying software. It's about solving problems or helping employees work smarter, more efficiently, and effectively. It's about implementing the right go-to-market strategies. Technology is critical to seeing all these things happen, and if we think about the selection process in those terms, it changes the way to make decisions.
Voce likes that G2 doesn't just provide insights to make smarter buying decisions, but offers other equally critical insights, such as helping with adoption (something many IT leaders struggle with today) and helping negotiate better deals. Tech stacks are overwhelming, and many companies are stuck dealing with legacy systems.
Voce's team serves three groups. First are the buyers, who make the decisions about the software they need. Next, there are the vendors, their offerings, and their requirements. And finally, investors are looking to make intelligent decisions about the companies they invest in.
The question for Voce and his team is, how does G2 pitch itself as an indispensable asset and partner to each?
So how does Voce envision doing this? First, they need to strengthen their content voice, producing content that engages customers and represents the G2 brand:
We're stewards of the trustworthiness and integrity of G2's offerings and voice. Our market research team is going to remain curious and produce research that helps customers in their roles, asking the questions: "What does great look like for you? What's getting in your way? How can we get around those obstacles? -- and creating content and offerings to help them be successful in their roles.
The team will be looking at the different types of content to create, who they should address, and how they speak to them. They will also work to increase content engagement. Both activities will help build the brand equity of G2 and further expose people to the insights they can get from the company.
The market research team is also responsible for ensuring G2's taxonomy is up-to-date and accurate. The software industry is constantly growing and evolving, with new vendors entering the market, mergers, and acquisitions, vendors leaving, and new features and functionality getting added to software all the time. In 2022, G2 added 76 new categories and over 18,000 new software and services companies to its data set.
It's essential to ensure the taxonomy can be trusted, so Voce's team is constantly tracking changes, responding, and making decisions about categories and vendors. He's also looking for ways to be more effective in operations, helping his team of analysts get what they need to produce the best insights.
For Voce, the ability to connect with buyers and gather insights into their experiences with vendors on the level of magnitude that G2 has empowers the company to help leaders succeed in their roles. As a result, he plans to focus on "being indispensable assets to customers and a critical part of the decisions they make."
G2 has come a long way in the last few years. It has grown from a simple software review site to providing more opportunities for buyers to research and find the right solutions and for sellers to understand their buyers better so they can offer the best solutions.
It also provides its marketplace data to partners like Chiefmartec and GTM Partners to help them work with their customers and feed the data-driven insights they need.
According to Sangram Vajre, CEO of GTM Partners:
We're going to create a ton of different data partnerships that allow us to truly become a data-driven analyst firm that is looking at what's happening at the macro level and also go quickly at the micro level for a particular category. And if you don't do that, I feel like we'll do a disservice of being a modern data analysis firm.
Data has always been considered critical to decision-making, but not everyone has access to it or can analyze and derive the best insights from it. The market research team at G2 can help provide that much-needed information. But right now, it's kind of hidden behind the main navigation of G2.com and isn't seen as being on the level of a Forrester or a Gartner.
I hope that changes with Voce joining the company. If the data is accurate and reliable, then there is a massive opportunity for the research team to create research that helps buyers, sellers (and investors) make truly data-driven decisions on software. Research that goes beyond the basic software ranking reports. Research that doesn't always hide behind hundred or thousand-dollar paywalls.