A couple weeks back, I had the opportunity to catch up with an SAP communications executive who was one of the leaders of the vendor's "blogging relations" group. As an aside before getting into the meat of this post, in my view, SAP has been one of the most progressive technology organizations in reaching out to the blogging community. They have truly embraced us and supported our work. But in helping make the case for building a blogging relations budget (e.g., to fly bloggers around to different events, much like the analysts), it came out in the course of conversation that he had not thought through all of the implications of bloggers in helping to reach small and middle market organizations. I'd argue that this is important for two key reasons.
First, the small and middle market is a huge push for all of the large enterprise vendors (Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP are all competing for mind and wallet share). Without question, much of the technology battle ground in the coming decades will be firmly entrenched by vendors taking sides as they fight for this share of a largely untapped opportunity.
But second -- and as important -- is the fact that small and middle market organizations typically do not subscribe to "paid" analyst research. And even the small minority of organizations that do will often discount recommendations that they see as largely targeted at the Global 2000 (because they do not have the time or budget to move down that path). Because of this, the small and middle market companies that I have spoken to who read blogs like Spend Matters see them as a breath of fresh air. And that air is not costing them thousands of dollars per year (or per hour, in the case of on-site advisory). Moreover, they often discover blogs like Spend Matters merely by going to Google and doing a targeted search.
As vendors and service providers begin to build blogging relations budgets and staff, they should not discount the opportunity of the middle market in building their business case. Even more so than the industry analysts, bloggers could very well be the most influential source of insight for small and medium sized organizations making Spend Management -- not to mention other -- technology and services decisions.
As a final aside, it is worth pointing out that at least one firm, Aberdeen, does provide targeted middle market research in the Spend Management area. And this is available to companies for little or no cost (provided they don’t mind being called by vendors chasing "leads" following a download of a report).