Continuing Forrester's commitment to helping clients understand the technology marketplace and simplify difficult product selections, Forrester Research introduced the Forrester Wave – a new standard graphical representation of Forrester's call on vendors, marketplaces and other emerging technology products and services. The Forrester Wave helps businesses decipher confusing vendor offerings before purchase and clarifies the competitive landscape.

Unlike other companies' technology research rankings, the Forrester Wave is built on an open methodology and a straightforward algorithm that expose the vendor scores, key attributes and weightings in an interactive spreadsheet available to both users and vendors. This open framework prevents random placement of results, empowering users to customize the data, create vendor shortlists, and challenge questionable offerings.

The Forrester Wave was designed to evaluate and categorize companies as either a Risky Bet, Contender, Strong Performer, or Leader. A vendor falls into one of these positions based on a composite score from three dimensions:

1) Current offering. This dimension analyzes the strength of a company's current solution, including product capabilities, ease of implementation, service and support, and implementation and training (Y axis).

2) Strategy. This dimension evaluates the strength of a firm's future product direction, including the company's ability to articulate its strategy, demonstrate its commitment and forge technology partnerships (X axis).

3) Market presence. The final dimension reviews a company's financial and market strength, including company financials, installed base, average deal size, and distribution partnerships (size of point).

Vendor solutions must have strong scores in both the current offering and strategy dimensions to be ranked highly in the Forrester Wave. Market presence helps users break ties between vendors and make selections based on their vendor risk tolerance. The Forrester Wave results are depicted in a color-coded research graphic that enables companies to easily determine if vendors are:

  • Leaders. Leaders have both a strong product and strategy. Startups and established companies alike can rank as Leaders, distinguished by the market presence dimension.
  • Strong Performers. Strong performers receive medium-high scores on both the product and strategy dimensions, and they are likely to appear on many users' shortlists. On at least one dimension, however, they fall behind leaders.
  • Contenders. Contenders have products and strategies that, while credible, lag behind Strong Performers and Leaders.
  • Risky Bets . Risky bets either are not particularly strong in any of the dimensions or are strong in only one of the dimensions – e.g., a strong current offering but a weak strategy for the future or a great strategy but without a product to match.

Additionally, the Forrester Wave findings are available to clients in an interactive spreadsheet in which users can customize weightings to see the impact on vendor rankings.
Forrester employs a rigorous 14-step process to create each Forrester Wave, starting with a comprehensive taxonomy that identifies 30 to more than 100 attributes that a product or service must meet across three dimensions. Based on the taxonomy, each Forrester Wave participant is assessed against the weighted attributes. This effort may include detailed surveys, product demonstrations, and customer reference checks. Written documentation is often required to back up vendor claims. Finally, after the data has been gathered and validated, a Forrester Wave is created using a data-driven algorithm and attribute scoring scale of 0 (not offered or won't disclose) to 5 (best).

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