Non-disclosure is a non-starter

  • 15-Feb-2019

We've mentioned this before, but some confusion emerged in recent dealings with vendors that RSG evaluates, so it bears discussing one more time: vendor NDAs are not conducive to telling the real story to enterprise technology customers.

We have a policy at Real Story Group of not signing NDAs with the vendors we evaluate. Nondisclosure agreements are antithetical to what we do; fundamentally, we're in the disclosure business. We perform research and then reveal what we've learned to our research subscribers.

Embargoes Are Fine

We do, on the other hand, honor news embargoes. Commonly, a vendor will have a new-product announcement that carries a specific go-live date. The go-live date might be a week in the future, but the press release is written and the vendor wants to show it to us. As long as the embargo period is reasonable, that's fine.

NDAs Hide Things

NDAs are a different beast. It's a legal contract. NDAs typically carry all kinds of fine print that inhibit disclosure in various ways even after the information in question has entered the public domain. Vendors sometimes choose the NDA mechanism to share with analysts when the information in question involves business strategy or an acquisition. Public corporations in particular have to be very careful about how they disclose certain kinds of information.

Fine.  But we don't want to be a party to those kinds of disclosures. We want to be free to explain to you, our research customer, whatever needs to get said, based on the research findings we dig up.

Some Analyst Firms Will Sign Them

Vendors routinely send us NDAs because that's what they do with other analyst firms.  It establishes a kind of secret intimacy that of course vendors use to help influence analysts.  Of course analyst firms love it because it allows them to "get inside" the vendor — less for the purpose of informing enterprise customers like you, because they can't reveal what they learned — and more because they want to sell that vendor some advisory services.

We don't roll that way.

So if you're a vendor, please don't ask us to sign an NDA. We understand the need for secrecy on certain matters, but in that case, please keep it to yourself, and don't brief us on what you don't want made known.

From a buyer's perspective, a real demo is worth a thousand words anyway...


Our customers say...

"Your CMS Report was helpful indeed, both in giving an overview of the market, but also as a means to increase our professional level in dealing with the selection and purchase process. This goes for me personally as well, as it helped me structure the process, ask the right questions, and focus on the important issues. We had a successful project!"

Anders Conrad, Senior Consultant, The Royal Library, Copenhagen

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