Should You Trust Frost & Sullivan Awards?

Author: John Honovich, Published on Apr 03, 2009

Frost & Sullivan awards are common in the security industry. In the last decade, Frost has named dozens of video surveillance companies award winners. Winners have marketed their awards heavily in press releases, presentations and marketing.

Awards are important. Awards should help us make better decisions and identify the best choices. Therefore, trust in the award granter is crucial. We need to be confident that awards are based on merit.

Frost & Sullivan Awards

Frost & Sullivan grants awards to video surveillance companies multiple times per year in a variety of categories. They describe their selection process:

"Frost & Sullivan analyst team tracks end-user requirements and market dynamics within the industry. The process includes interviews with suppliers, end-users and industry experts. The product lines are compared with customer base demands, and the top-ranking provider is then presented the award."

In a interview with Frost & Sullivan, I was told that award recipients did not pay for awards and that comparison/evaluation data is not released to ensure the confidentiality of manufacturers.

Problems with Frost & Sullivan Awards

After interviewing various award recipients and examining the public documents, I saw 4 critical problems:

  • Vendors tell me they pay to use the awards
  • No criteria or justification is ever provided
  • The award categories are often dubious
  • Frost & Sullivan stated goal is to help manufacturers

Pay to use the Awards

The consistent theme I hear from award recipients is that awards are granted at no cost but the manufacturers cannot publicly announce awards without paying thousands of dollars to Frost & Sullivan.

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No Criteria or Justification Provided

It is impossible to determine or understand how or why one manufacturer was selected over another. Accomplishments of the award winner are cited but nothing is shared on the comparative evaluation.

Dubious Award Categories

Frost awards have numerous categories that are often repetitive, narrow or vague.

Last year, direct competitors Vidsys and Orsus both won awards. Vidsys won the "2008 North American Award for Emerging Company of the Year in the Integrated Security Market" while Orsus won the "2008 North American Emerging Company of the Year Award for Situation Management". The awards are almost identical.

This is fairly typical with Frost awards. Recently, a manufacturer won for "European Megapixel Camera Product Line Strategy of the Year Award" and another for "Homeland Security Surveillance Product Differentiation." The first is very narrow and the second is so vague that it's hard to understand how the award is even judged.

Stated Goal is to Help Manufacturers

Frost' stated value proposition is to be a "Growth Partnership Company that helps clients accelerate their growth." They list their clients as "Global 1000 companies, emerging businesses and the investment community."

Frost's interest and revenue comes from helping manufacturers that they award. This is a conflict of interest.

For another discussion on Frost problems, read a series of comments from people who claim to be former Frost employees. They discuss how awards are 'licensed' and how award winners are 'targeted.'

Conclusion

Awards are important and trust is crucial. If we are going to have awards that claim to judge and identify the best companies or products in the industry, we need to be confident that the judges are doing so fairly and with the interest of the community.

Frost & Sullivan and the award recipients should be clear about their financial relationship and the process of selection so that industry professionals can assess these awards appropriately.

Frost & Sullivan Response

Frost posted this response to us:

"We at Frost & Sullivan respectfully disagree with John Honovich's conclusions.  Our Awards are the result of disciplined research that annually represent millions of hours of cumulative analysis, research intelligence, and contributions.

We follow a rigorous methodology for the production of our Awards.  OurAwards are intellectual property, and are part of a research deliverable available to paying clients.

Frost & Sullivan licenses the publication of our Awards, and we charge a fee for the recipient to leverage our research findings as it pertains to their company. The fee covers the cost of the research and represents a standard industry practice no different from that of other industry award producers.

We are more than happy to respond to all inquiries surrounding our Awardsprogram.  Please feel free to contact me directly at 210.247.3806 or jake.wengroff@frost.com to discuss.  Thank you."

UPDATE 2014:

Since publication of this article 5 years ago, there have been very few Frost awards in the physical security industry.

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