Peerlyst.com

Product-centric social site for tech pros. Get unbiased product ratings based on your peers firsthand experience. Connect with new peers to get the real story about products and services.

Why Products Need to Be Social

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Why Products Need to Be Social

At Peerlyst, we’ve developed a social network for products. What? Products are people too? Not exactly, but there are some very interesting and important benefits from creating a space on social networks for products.

When I mention this, I’m not thinking of consumer campaigns where the objective is to have thousands of followers “Like” spaghetti sauce on Facebook. I’m thinking about products that require a lot more consideration before purchase, like enterprise technology products, industrial equipment, and healthcare products. All products that cost thousands, or maybe millions, of dollars.

Of course, products can’t speak for themselves. But the users of products can certainly speak up, creating a product-centric social network that will help others better understand how a solution can help them too.

I’ll give you a couple of firsthand examples from my recent experiences.

When I showed our Peerlyst video to a friend who’s a restaurant owner, he said, “Wow, I wish I’d been able to reach out to my peers before I leased our point of sales system. It looked great on paper, but it’s awful in practice, and now we have to replace it. If I could have seen other restaurant owners’ experience with it, I would have saved a lot of time and hassle.”

 A few months back, I met with the head MD at the Kaiser Garfield Innovation Center (kp.org/innovationcenter). He told me how Kaiser nurses wanted a specific medical cart, so much so that they were really lobbying hard for it. So he set up a workflow test of the cart with 10 Kaiser nurses in their 40,000 square foot facility. Within an hour, the nurses discovered that they hated the cart. It was hard to use, they bumped into beds and walls, and had to go back to the supply room too often to replenish the cart. The nurses rejected it out of hand. Just before I got there, a delegation from Singapore’s healthcare system was visiting the Innovation Center. The Kaiser MD told them the same story. One of the visiting doctors got dizzy and seemed to be passing out. The Kaiser MD asked if he was having a medical emergency. The MD from Singapore replied, “No, I just purchased 1,000 of those carts.”

 Can you imagine if the products in both of these cases had a social presence, a spot where the product’s users could share their experiences, maybe rating them on key criteria like reliability and ease of use?

There are many other potential benefits from products having a social presence. For example, a manufacturer would get fast feedback from users on what works and what can be improved. Many users would be happy to share their insights with manufacturers, if they just had an easy way to do it.

Giving products their own social presence could grow our economy by billions of dollars by creating better products based on user feedback. The quality bar would be raised, and weaker products would improve or disappear.

 Check out this article. http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-03/23/facebook-of-things

 Andy Hobsbawm, the founder and chief marketing officer of Evrythng, talks about a “Facebook of things” that would give products a unique profile, one that connects to related content and services. “From a business perspective, this creates an interesting opportunity,” Hobsbawm observes.

That’s what we have built at www.Peerlyst.com. We hope you’ll explore the possibilities of our network—and help build the powerful change agent we know it can be.

Dave Kaplow

dkaplow@peerlyst.com @davekaplow

Please Forgive Me: I’m a Reformed Marketer

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First, I have to apologize. I’ve marketed to developers and enterprise IT folks, and have been part of both large and small marketing teams. I’ve use terms like “simple,” “easy to implement,” “intuitive,” “reliable,” and “scalable” many times in my career. I’ve read all of the books on marketing strategy—my favorites are the ones with dramatic names like Crossing the Chasm and Inside the Tornado. I have sat through meetings where marketing geniuses say things like “The customer is looking in the rearview mirror.” Huh?

I’ve worked to influence top-tier analyst firms to promote my products. Heck, I’ve been an analyst myself. It’s really easy to get caught up in delivering the marketing campaign of the day, without asking a single customer what he or she thinks.

I’m sorry, I was taking the easy way out.

A few years back, it got to the point where I would look at my competitors’ marketing materials and websites and couldn’t tell the difference. Every company used the same terminology to describe its products. And as marketers, we all tried to fit our product into the hot new topic of the day, as determined by some influential analyst firm.

But there’s still hope for me. As a market researcher, I’ve interviewed hundreds of customers to learn what was painful to them and kept them up at night. I also learned that good technology could solve many of those problems. Perhaps most important of all, I figured out that customers know their business problems and needs better than any marketing person ever could.

So now I’m the head of marketing at Peerlyst. Peerlyst is important because it gives enterprise IT pros a new way to find technologies that will solve their business problems. They can see their peers’ ratings and comments about products, as well as connect with colleagues to learn about their experiences with the products and services they’re using. We also provide Peerlysters ways to follow products and connect with vendors to get more specifics.

I’m sure our engineers would disagree, but to me, the beauty of Peerlyst isn’t just what visiting scientists from Google and Yahoo called state-of-the-art natural language processing and semantic engine capabilities. The real beauty is in giving our users a new way to connect with each another to make their work lives easier—which is what I need to keep top of mind as I market our network.

As Peerlyst grows and more and more enterprise customers use our social approach to getting the information they need, I also believe that vendors’ marketing will fundamentally change. It will become less pie in the sky and more real world. At least I hope so.

As for me, I still have to be careful using terms like “simple” and “powerful.” But by working at Peerlyst, maybe I’m paying it forward a little bit. It’s part of my repentance—and maybe, my redemption.

– Dave Kaplow

 

I Feel Your Pain

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I’ve made many—and I do mean many—technology-purchasing decisions over the years. As the head of IT in what became Intel’s wireless division, as well as the avionics department of the Israeli Air Force, I’ve had a wide range of responsibilities and challenges over the past 15 years. But one thing always stayed the same: Figuring out which technologies would work best in my environment was tough. There was no objective way to assess products and services—or to connect with peers who were already using them.

Sure, there’s an abundance of material from vendors, everything from spec sheets to white papers. But who has time to read all that—and to sort out truth from marketing hype? Comparing product features is tough enough, but then you have to consider a host of other factors, from support to pricing.

So like many other technology professionals, I turned to the “experts.” But even the best independent analysts base their findings on vendor claims. They may talk to customers as well, but generally, it’s just a few—and often only those that were handpicked by vendors.

The biggest problem with relying on analysts is that they don’t have much, if any, hands-on experience with the technology products they’re assessing. And they’re definitely not responsible for making those solutions work in real-world business environments. It’s like taking restaurant advice from someone who hasn’t tasted the food.

That’s why I assembled an amazing team of natural language processing and machine learning experts to create Peerlyst, a social network built for tech pros. Instead of spending hours and days doing research and compiling endless spreadsheets, you just search for a product name. Our state-of-the-art search algorithms scour the Web for all the relevant data on products, delivering a comprehensive but concise result in seconds. With a few more clicks, you can see apples-to-apples comparisons of several products you’re considering.

Peerlyst’s unmatched search and reporting capabilities are game-changers, but its social side is equally unique. Tech pros investigating new solutions—or trying to make existing ones work better—can see user-generated product ratings and comments. You can also connect with colleagues who face the same problems, are considering the same technology, and are in the same industry or geography.

Decisions about IT products and services no longer need to be made in a vacuum. Tech pros can learn from each other, as well as connect with vendors in new ways. And those vendors won’t just be the usual suspects: Peerlyst clues users into best-of-breed solutions from smaller companies as well.

Not only will Peerlyst help you make better-informed IT decisions, it will help you stand behind them. Instead of relying on vendors’ claims, or analysts’ magic quadrants, you can tell your boss, “I’m picking this solution for reasons X, Y, and Z. And since it has a Peerscore of 9.5, we can feel confident about that decision.”

So that’s the origin of Peerlyst. I was trying to find the kind of objective product information that would make my job easier, and I discovered that it didn’t exist. That inspired me to create a solution that fuses groundbreaking search capabilities with the power of social networks. And according to the feedback I’ve gotten from people like you, Peerlyst makes your job easier, too.

Simply put, Peerlyst is out to revolutionize the way technology professionals evaluate the products and services their enterprises rely on. But we can’t do it without you. As our name implies, you, our peers, are the lifeblood of the network. So please join us. Research a product to learn from your colleagues, follow ones you’d like us to update you on, and rate and review solutions you’ve worked with. We’re excited about Peerlyst’s future and hope you’ll join—and help shape—our network.

www.peerlyst.com

We Make Your Life Easy

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You’re a sophisticated professional. We know. So we won’t waste your time. And you shouldn’t be spending it sorting through countless reports and endless Google pages to find quality information about the technology products you use. So we made something just for you. Sweet. Classy. Shaken not stirred.

http://www.peerlyst.com