StorageMarkets.com is taking an unusual approach to storage marketing.
The Web site, brainchild of industry veterans John Ives and Rich Pappas, uses the opinions of storage professionals who join the online community to predict storage market direction.
The site had about 225 members before its public launch this week. And while many are senior industry experts looking for insight and a chance to express their opinions, Ives and Pappas say any opinion adds value to the site.
Vendors looking for market research approach Storage Markets with issues they want answers to, such as help with product transitions. Storage Markets then designs a question, posts it and promotes it, and a trend begins to appear within a couple of weeks as members weigh in.
One current question, for example, seems to suggest that iSCSI is still quite some time from catching up to Fibre Channel. Other questions look at hard drive transitions, de-duplication and other technical issues. Some of the questions are just for fun, such as the likelihood of storage companies getting acquired.
Pappas calls the results an "aggregation of everyone's belief." Ives adds that Storage Markets' brand of research "is really not available anywhere else."
Members trade the questions like stocks, and the top traders can qualify for prizes.
Asked if the site could create a self-fulfilling prophecy, with the answers dictating vendors' direction instead of simply predicting where the market might go, Ives and Pappas say they will revisit that issue in a few years "with the benefit of hindsight."
One top Storage Markets trader, a director of engineering at a server company who goes by the username 'sidv,' said the site is useful "to verify and compare my knowledge against a neutral industry backdrop. It is also very stimulating to compete with my peers on correctly ascertaining market trends."
Such "predictive markets" have already reaped benefits in other markets, such as entertainment and finance.
"Predictive Markets work," stated Alex Costakis, senior vice president and managing director of the Hollywood Stock Exchange. "We have been applying this technique to answer market intelligence questions for the motion picture industry for the past ten years. Studio executives would be paralyzed without the insights that the 'wisdom of the crowd' provides. I have no doubt that the data storage industry will find the Storage Markets tool extremely useful."