You will not see us in your accounts

The analyst firm The 451 Group asks technology companies “Who else do you see in your accounts?” Being “seen in the account” is perceived as a sign of market presence and ability to execute. And the opposite is true as well. Not being seen in accounts is sign of weakness and lack of market penetration. It’s also a proxy for the longevity question: “Will they even survive if they are not on anybody’s radar screen.”

My perspective is completely different. I believe that being seen in the accounts of large competitors is a sign of confusion and a complete waste of time and money. Startups are best when they disrupt existing markets, not attack them head on. Any sufficiently disruptive technology should be first deployed in a market segment that is seen as secondary or completely irrelevant by the big guys.

Established companies often compete on feature/functionality depth — delivering more features at an ever diminishing rate of value to customers to extract more money from them. Clearly not an interesting place to be for a young company.

I would like to promise here to our large competitors: You will not see Good Data in your accounts if:

  • your customers believe in a single version of truth
  • you deal with BI and data warehousing “experts” who attend TDWI seminars
  • Inmon Vs. Kimball matters to you
  • your projects are measured in months or six figure dollar numbers
  • you engage in star-versus-snowflake schema debates
  • your product offers 30 ways to format a decimal number
  • producing 1,000 different reports a day is one of your product claims

I could go on and on. Simply put – every time we read that competitor XYZ doesn’t see us in their accounts, we consider it a small victory. We don’t want to be seen in your accounts. At least not until we are ready…


  1. Hi Roman – although I don’t follow your space, thought it might be useful to point out why we as an analyst firm ask that question. Since our focus is on understanding the adoption trajectory of disruptive technologies, we ask that question for several reasons, actually. The first is for context – since we direct most of our vendor research energies on smaller companies, we want to understand where you fit into the technology landscape. Secondly, it’s to assess whether the competitor set a vendor identifies is consistent with technology positioning (if you tell us one thing, but then claim to compete with someone who does something else, that’s a red flag and suggests a disconnect between product and marketing). Thirdly, it’s to ensure that we aren’t missing out on anyone (and potentially, an interesting perspective on an emerging market). Fourthly (?), it’s a useful way to begin to extrapolate on the different, sometimes disparate, approaches to solving a problem that will eventually compete for the same dollars.

    Our experience has shown that if a company has genuinely disruptive technology, it will be a while until large technology vendors ‘get it’ – it’s the period between initial funding and the point when the three-letter vendors actually have a viable product that we are trying to understand and provide some insight. (Of course, that’s not all we do). Also, we have a lot of other ways of determining a company’s longevity – finding out whether and why customers are happy (or not), iteratively capturing basic growth metrics (with the full expectation that fudging will happen) speaking to partners, investors and competitors and our own assessment and analysis on how well a vendor reacts to market changes and opportunities over time.

  2. I’ve never seen all the pointless topics of debate that slow down progress of sharing information put so succinctly and with such clarity. The debates are reminiscent of some of the conversations at doomed dot-com companies in 2000; lots of boxes checked, lots of dollars spent, but very little actually accomplished. Great post.

  3. Don’t forget the 300 different ways to format a date.

  4. Alas, Roman the stealth intruder shares his end user positioning with the world. What a refreshing insight, creating value early and often.

  5. “The best armor is to stay out of range.” Italian proverb

    This is a great post. There is no point in starting out by attacking established competitors where they are strong:

    “Any sufficiently disruptive technology should be first deployed in a market segment that is seen as secondary or completely irrelevant by the big guys.”

    By definition a disruptive technology embodies a new business model that makes it attractive to a different set of customers than those prized by the established vendors.

    Great post!

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