Analyst says vendors offer pretend reference customers
Microsoft's 'Contoso' may be more real than some users
Gartner senior research analyst Jarod Greene has alleged vendors sometimes suggest he call reference customers that may not exist.
In a blog post, Greene offers the following three examples of odd things that happen when he asks for customer references:
- ”I’ve been sent emails from Analyst Relations people that brag about recent wins for companies we cannot verify exist;
- I’ve spoken to customers who did not have the tool set up in production;
- I’ve spoken to vendor-provided references who turned out to be resellers of that tool.
Greene says he has also “... run into situations that were a bit 'fishy' There is always the possibility that the person on the other end of the line isn’t who they say they are. It’s possible that I could be thinking I’m talking to Earl in North Carolina on his recent implementation of Vendor X’s product, when in reality I’m talking to an intern in Vendor X’s office.”
“I also find it strange that a vendor will claim to have hundreds of customers, but can’t get a single one to speak to us,” he adds.
But he is sufficiently suspicious that he feels he must “... vet every single customer reference a vendor gives me make sure the person on the other end of the phone is who they say they are.”
Fake customers aren't entirely new or entirely suspicious: Microsoft famously uses a fictitious company, “Contoso”, as the setting for numerous demos. The company, and wonderfully-named employee “Misty Shock”, even pops up on TechNet.
Contoso is even sufficiently well-known beyond Microsoft that Google bought an April Fools' day ad suggesting the company had ditched Microsoft Office and adopted Google Apps.
Whatever the source of a customer reference, Greene advises those relying on them do so with great care, as “there is usually an incentive for the vendor-provided reference to say good things about the product they use.” ®
Re: Microsoft's "Contoso" is not a fake company
> "To suggest that it is a fictitious company that Microsoft refers to, like the other companies that are referred to in this article, can only be an attempt to slur Microsoft."
I'm assuming you didn't RTFA: "Fake customers aren't entirely new OR ENTIRELY SUSPICIOUS: Microsoft famously uses a fictitious company, “Contoso”, AS THE SETTING FOR NUMEROUS DEMOS. "
How can that possibly be a "slur" against MS?
Pot Kettle etc
In the "watch out for lying toerags" stakes "analysts" must be near the top of the watch list
What? You mean Misty isn't real after all?
I'd better cancel that dinner reservation for two then...
Or keep it, and turn up alone like I usually do claiming my date stood me up so I get a sympathy icecream...
Ha, and people said being a geek would be bad for my social life.
@Ian Easson Re "Microsoft's "Contoso" is not a fake company" I suggest old chap that......
............you take as your motto "think before you post". The subheading on the front page was "Microsoft's 'Contoso' may be more real than some users" and the article did make clear that Contoso is a known "model". This was in fact the author's point - that some of the "customers" given by vendors as references are less real the Redmond's "fake". The difference being that MS are using Contoso as a model as in "Everyone who knows anything about IT knows this" and are not attempting thereby to fool anyone, whereas some unscrupulous vendors are most certainly trying to pull the wool over peoples eyes.
Re: Old hat.
I can tell you where Gartner finds them - in the middle of the "Magic Wankdrant", sorry quadrant...