Forrester unveils evaluation system

CAMBRIDGE, MA: Forrester Research, an emerging-technology research company, has created a new standard for presenting its data on competing vendors.

CAMBRIDGE, MA: Forrester Research, an emerging-technology research company, has created a new standard for presenting its data on competing vendors.

At the same time, Forrester has loosened its restrictions on the use of its data in press releases and other marketing communications.

The new reporting mechanism, called Forrester Wave, uses a 14-step process to evaluate companies, identifying between 30 and 100 key attributes.

The results are presented as a color-coded graphic, dividing vendors up into categories ranging from a "risky bet to a "leader."

Forrester believes that the vendors and their PR operations will find this system useful because the methodology is transparent. "When we create the taxonomy of items we evaluate, we share it with the vendors and get their feedback, which is good for companies because they are involved in the process, explained David Weisman, VP of global research.

Weisman added that the level of transparency is unusual. "When vendors appear on the Wave, they will be able to get into the data and see how we arrived at their ranking."

Another benefit to companies is that the spreadsheets are interactive, allowing vendors or companies that are viewing them to weight certain criteria differently.

"It doesn't say 'one size fits all,' which a lot of vendors will tell you is the fallacy of rankings, Weisman explained.

Forrester has traditionally been very strict about the use of its data for marketing and PR purposes. "For instance, companies could not say, 'Forrester recently did a report, and IBM was mentioned favorably in it,' explained Tina Murphy, PR manager.

"But with the changes in the economy and pressure on companies to provide ROI, some companies were frustrated that we wouldn't loosen up things more. Now Forrester's policy allows companies to mention its research verbatim, with prior approval.

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