Tuesday, 18 December 2007

PR Week discusses analyst relations

One more breakthrough for the analyst relations community: a feature in PR Week.

Craig McGuire's article, Reaching a different type of influencer, explains how the practice of analyst relations has evolved a great deal over the past few years. It includes a nice comment from Susan:

The traditional model for analyst relations (AR) gave tech vendors a tool to influence industry analysts who develop paid reports for sale through independent research and consulting firms.

Today, with so much more noise in the market and such a need for reliable, independent validation, AR is now as likely to engage earlier and leverage analysts to build brand as much as to build buzz. AR's appeal has also spread beyond b-to-b tech into such verticals as pharmaceuticals, entertain- ment, hospitality, professional services, consumer goods, and more.

AR pros must continually adapt to navigate an evolving ecosystem of influencers as online, digital communities rise and relationships overlap, says Susan Galer, MD of Burson-Marsteller's technology practice. "Along with the evolving, multifaceted roles analysts now assume, we're finding that more pragmatic, metric-based industry analyst relations programs are very much the norm," she says. "For example, the reality is most organizations have a defined scope of sometimes-limited resources for industry analyst relations."

To counter, Burson developed an ROI-based methodology that allows clients to allocate AR efforts based upon proven scope of influence that will help achieve specific business objectives. Such services and strategies can only proliferate.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Carter reincarnates as a Sage

Carter Lusher, the internationally acclaimed food critic, kindly sent us an email to let us know about his new life after HP (his original farewell post is no longer on hp.com but we've saved it here). Actually, it seems he sent more than one email since Duncan, Duncan, Babara and Jim already blogged the fact he's going back to relaunch Sage Circle, now free to blog with a revenge! For those interested,Duncan actually wrote quite a few posts on this competitor of his.

Sage Circle is already planning best practices events, training and we hope will continue its thoughts provoking blog posts in their new SageCircle blog.

So all the best to Carter and associate Dave Eckert.

In the meantime, we've been once more forwarded a SPAR post on predictions by Carter and thought it was interesting enough to post it below. Jonny also posted on the same subject: Analyst predictions 2008.

ARmadgeddon's take: too few analysts do review their past predictions, if any: check our list here. On predictions, we suggest to follow Carter's advice, but be a little more pro-active: do invite your analysts for a Xmas lunch (too late if you haven't thought about it till now) and ask about predictions. Better to be warned than surprised...

Previous posts on predictions:

Are you checking for the year-end prediction research notes? – Well, it’s thattime of the year when thoughts turn to holiday parties, mistletoe and… theannual deluge of analyst predictions for the coming year. The rollout of GartnerPredicts research notes started in November with 12 so far. IDC just releasedits “IDC Predictions 2008: The Post-Disruption Marketplace Takes Shape”, whichis available here to non-clients. It’s easy to miss these annual notes if youhave alerts keyed to your company name because often companies are not mentionedin the notes. However, your sales people can be blindsided by one of these notesif the analyst denigrates your market, even if your company is not directlymentioned. Don’t be surprised if the content of a prediction appears to be alittle wild-eyed and out of character for your favorite sobersided analyst –they are encouraged to write in an edgy style in order to be entertaining andperhaps get press attention. Oh, don’t forget to check the firms’ press releasesas well, because they can be different from the original prediction. I rememberthe brouhaha caused by a Gartner prediction in 2004 that by 2007 three of thetop 10 PC companies would exit the market. The original prediction did not causemuch of stir. However, the press release that came out a couple of weeks latersaid that HP was a likely candidate to get out of the PC market and that, myfriend, caused a real kerfuffle inside HP. Why? Prospects with multi-million PCproposals were literally waving the prediction in the face of HP sales reps andasking why they should sign the contract. Yowza.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

News from the Colony

Having seen our previous kitchen nightmares post the Forrester Comms VP, Karyl Levinston, came back to us to let us know that Norbert Kriebel just left Europe, not The Colony: he is now based of San Diego, surfers paradise but exposed to... forest fires. No update on David Metcalfe though...

Why does this matter? In true ARmadgeddon style we said that we commented on the new role-based strategy introduced earlier this year by Forrester Research Inc. (FORR). Their offerings are focused on 17 roles including eight IT professional roles, four technology industry (vendor) roles, and five marketing and strategy roles. Our concerns were about their abilities to add roles to the existing technology and industries research agenda, as well as Forrester's European presence.

Mark Nemec, Forrester's Managing Director, Technology Industry Client Group was kind enough to answer our questions -which is posted below verbatim.

ARmadgeddon's take: Forrester's openness is in stark contrast with The Borg approach towards ICT vendors and their thinking is often refreshing. They're sticking to their guns on role-based research although their own analysts seem quite uncomfortable with it. However, a recent IIAR members poll seems to indicate that AR professionals see them on the way up.


The European coverage has long been a source of frustration, how do you plan to address this issue?
As part of Forrester’s role-based strategy which we announced earlier this year, we are committed to being a global company. As a result Europe continues to be a primary market for us. Not only have we increased the number of employees in Europe, we continue to increase the amount of European-based content in our research and consulting, and in our Forrester Leadership Board offerings. We also launched two additional role-based events in Europe this year – Security in Amsterdam, and Services and Sourcing in Nice.

Additionally, experience has shown that roles are the most universal and global organizing scheme -- working with a CIO in France is oftentimes very similar to helping a CIO in Chicago. As we move forward we will continue to hire more local resources –including analysts – for our European clients. Organizationally more Forrester executives are now based in Europe including a number of Research Directors and the head of our Marketng and Strategy research, not to mention the Managing Director for our Marketing and Strategy client group.

What is your positioning in the IT Analysis landscape?
The landscape is changing but still very robust. The need for professional analysis is greater than ever. “Googlization” and the Internet mean that while information is ubiquitous, comprehensive insight is not. Analyst and peer community perspective provide the wisdom and guidance beyond the content on the Internet – the kind of insight that our clients say they need.

How do you compete and win against Gartner?
Many of our clients buy both Forrester and Gartner. We don’t compete with Gartner on size. That’s not our goal and it’s not what our clients necessarily want. Our goal is to make our clients more successful every day and that now has to do more with how to best serve them in their professional role – their responsibilities, objectives, aspirations – with the content, analysis and community they need. In addition to the IT roles and the professionals at technology providers that comprise our client base, we also serve marketing and strategy professionals – a group that Gartner doesn’t cater to at all.

What do you make of open source research and of the industry overall?
(Please see our response to the IT landscape question.)

How is Role-based research being received by our clients?

We’d love you to ask them but based on what we’re told and how we’re doing, very well, thank you. While it hasn’t been a year yet, clients appreciate that we’re listening ever more closely, focusing more on what they need in their role and delivering it to them in a more targeted fashion. In a word, they appreciate the greater relevance. One clear example of that is the rapid growth (70% year on year in revenue) of our Forrester Leadership Boards which are our role-focused knowledge communities. We continue to refine the offering so look for more role-based content and services next year.

In addition to what our clients tell us, a group of them responded to a recent survey of analyst relations professionals by the Knowledge Capital Group (KCG). Forrester was rated number one overall out of the top ten most established industry analyst firms.

Can you justify offering role based research without having analysts who have been in the role they're covering?
Role-based research is about listening to our clients and helping them with their professional responsibilities, objectives, and aspirations. In recent years we have been privileged to be joined by more analysts who have worked professionally in the role that they’re now serving. We have former CIOs, enterprise architects, marketing leaders, application developers, interactive marketers, security professionals, etc. They’re complemented by those analysts who have worked at many of the primary technology companies as well as others who are experts in certain technology, marketing and strategy disciplines. Again, for many of our clients, analyst insight is supplemented by additional expertise -- the peer insight of our Leadership Boards.

How can you span industries, roles, products and vendors without significantly expanding the number of analysts on the payroll? Or put in another way, is the role based system merely to cover up the fact you don't have enough analysts?
Not at all. Our decision to implement a role-based strategy was clearly because of our client need and demand.
On the flipside of the argument, would it not make sense for you to focus on less areas and cover them more extensively? For instance, the industries altogether and concentrate on fewer hot topics?
Once again our decision to pursue the role-based strategy is primarily due to our clients’ input and our goal to help make them more successful every day.
You now seem to have the largest social media analyst team of any company: are you betting the farm on this and is it a change in focus for Forrester?
We are fortunate to have a wealth of extraordinary resources supporting the coverage of, and analysis of social media. As we do with all of our research-based offerings, we provide our clients with both a practical and forward-thinking perspective, whether this is about the technologies behind social media or the issues, trends, applications and business impact of this rapidly growing area.

What are the main themes that Forrester expects to see over 2008?
Many of Forrester’s key themes for next year emanate from our clients’ key challenges and opportunities as well as our own expertise. In addition to ongoing coverage of such annual “favorites” as IT spending, e-commerce, SOA, and evaluating key technology vendors, broadly speaking, we will continue to pursue burgeoning themes which we call:

  • Green IT (Technology-powered Green Business)

  • Tech populism (Turning Business and IT Inside Out)

  • Social computing (Web 2.0, Social media)

  • Design for people; build for change (Human Factors of Technology and Business)

And finally, who are you planning to buy in 2008? :-)

As we’ve told Wall Street many times, we continually evaluate companies and when we find the right fit, we’ll let everyone know.

Friday, 30 November 2007

The IDC is in expansion !

IDC has just put out this press release:
IDC's Expansion Efforts Validated in New Report from Outsell, Inc.

It is quite interesting that they are seeking third party validation themselves, a trick vendors often use IDC for. The release gives some facts (like they now have 950 analysts) but not IDC's actual revenue and is highlights their Insights businesses. We've been hinting before that Insights cannibalises their current business and does not sell too well to users. Indeed, this line does little to reassure us: "IDC now has the fastest growing end-user advisory business among the large market intelligence companies." As every analyst knows, "fastest-growing" always means smallest.

They know about segmentation though...

See also:

Monday, 19 November 2007

Rebels vs. Dinosaurs: What Carter's Law Means for AR

After a lot of discussion (what influence is, Web 2.0 and open source mean for the analysts business model) it is time to come back to Carter's Law: Finite AR resources need to be carefully managed if AR is to be effective.

AR professionals often face a dilemma. How can we balance focussing on the most influential analysts, on the one hand, while using the other hand to serve a widening community? New influencers are less visible but still can be crucial, either in today’s complex IT ecosystem or in the hearts of our executives.

In layman’s terms, this is quite a simple equation. A Tragic Quadrant vendor review can consume as much as 3 FTE over 2 weeks. However, the risks of not providing a structured response on that same Gartner Magic Quadrant can waste months of efforts and much goodwill in the marketplace. We can despise Gartner’s pricing, but a bad MQ can still be career-limiting for an AR professional. It can also lead to lost sales and depressed share values.

That means that the two options for reaching out to a wider community are:

  1. to increase the resources available for AR, especially headcount and budgets and/or

  2. to adopt tactics similar to consumer marketing or PR: newsletters, multi-firms briefings, etc…
The second options assumes that what is lost in targeting (analysts hate mass emails) is made up by the increased audience. Marketeers have long known there’s a direct relation between accurate targeting and response rates: not a trade-off. Better targeted materials aimed at a smaller audience produce better overall results than junk. But just try telling that to those colleagues who over-value the long tail. Dale has picked up the gauntlet and responded to our previous post. Check his post and the comments at What does analyst relations have in common with the Telco industry?

ARmadgeddon’s take for AR Managers:
Analysts influence unfolds in different markets through many different channels and it is important to segment this audience more finely than just in 3 tiers. AR managers should, more than ever, align their goals with their stakeholders' business plans and use carefully chosen goals to impact carefully selected analysts. For instance, in the software world some analysts influence the developer community and it might be right for a start-up to target those analysts rather than those who influence CIOs, others might influence a key region or industry and should be focussed on if, and only if, that specific region or industry is a business priority.

It nevertheless remains true that filtering insight from noise is increasingly difficult: AR managers should explore Rebels -- but do not ignore the Dinosaurs. We should be, however, careful on how they engage with a fast-flowing and dynamic community: bloglysts tend to be very reactive and it is not enough to deal with them in a one-way mode as PR is often accustomed to.

AR managers should also be wary of preserving reputations and not waste analysts’ brands and community goodwill by being over-aggressive: in the best case the output of pressured analysts will be bland and irrelevant, in the worst they will be stifled publicly. Do read Dale on the patronage model for more.

Armadgeddon’s take for Analysts:
Bloglysts need to figure out what new business models are coming out of the Web 2.0 age and how to provide value to the IT buyers community or face being commoditised.
Independent analysts need to find a way to put aside their egos and work as a community to effectively compete for their fair share of the IT analysis industry. They also need to provide more proof-points for their influence than just simply citing names of clients they work with.
Traditional IT Analysts need to embrace communities and Web 2.0 tools and move up the value chain by offering contract negotiation and other high-value services.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Rebels vs. Dinosaurs: Are new analyst business models that revolutionary?

The original IT analysis model was about selling detailed reports advising users on either products or pricing. It’s how Gideon started Gartner Inc. -something not mentioned here. One of the last surviving examples of this era, made of typing up (and sometimes translating) technology reports, and sell copies is Sievers – a quaint German boutique analyst. This model soon evolved into selling annual subscriptions. Then, value added services were added in the shape of inquiry time to make something known in the business as RAS: Research Advisory Services. The model is simple: write enough to keep subscribers hooked, make it difficult to understand to push users to use up their inquiry time and all sales then have to do is sell renewals. The 800 Borg reps still largely work this way and wake up at renewal time to negotiate the increase and go back in hibernation for 10 months.

On top of those staple offerings, analysts firms sell consulting days (SAS or Strategic Advisory Service in Borg speak) that vendors use for speaking engagements and pre-launch product messaging sessions. Users use consulting services from analysts for contract review, vendor selection and generally speaking to cover their backside when they’re making a politically charged decision. In the industry it is sometimes referred as to the BACS –Borg Ass Covering Service. Some firms also make good money from their events business (although this is more cyclical).

The clients for the services described above are both IT vendors and IT users, in variable proportion. Examples of IT analyst firms operating on a RAS model include Gartner Inc. (IT), Forrester Research, Inc. (FORR), AMR, NelsonHall, Ovum, Yankee Group Research, etc…

Those firms and some others have also sussed out that by speaking to all vendors, they could reverse-engineer their business model and work-out their market shares: this is what spreadsheet jockeys at IDC and GartnerDataquest do for a living. Note that since most journos have no clue whatsoever on the market, IDC and DQ enjoy a high SOV with their numbers being quoted by IT and business press day in and day out.

The clients for number crunchers are IT vendors (market shares tend to be quite useful for those strategic planning exercises at the end of every fiscal, and sometimes also for setting performance goals, at which point it usually goes pear shaped when a product manager calls up on AR to know why is product’s share is not doing great).

This is nice and simple, even if you add quite a large numbers of independent analysts, trying to make a living of selling white papers, consulting and speaking engagements to vendors.

However, two trends are changing the face of the IT Analysis industry: Open Source Research and Web 2.0. We’ve discussed open source research in this post and there have been great discussions on Jonny’s praise of open source analysis. Not to start over the conversation again, but we’d agree with Duncan that free at the point of delivery is not the result of a collaborative and transparent process where producers and consumers are the same. The lack of wikis (check also here) does not mean that James’ thoughts are not shaped by his interactions with the community nor than there’s not a vibrant community of independent analysts working loosely together –see The Enterprise Irregulars and the BritsGang for instance.

However, free does not mean valuable, rather plentiful and it makes sifting through bloggers and wannabe-analysts difficult for the AR professional trying to figure out who’s influential and who’s not. In that sense, the Rebels contribute to aggravate the “internet clutter” as expressed by Joseph Martin. Noise doesn’t equate with influence and this is why IT buyers like “reference libraries” –repositories of a single version of the truth. Gartner provides this and it partially explains their success.
Librairies are fine but someone to show you around is even better. Richard puts elegantly (or not?) here that the value of analysts is in the conversations more than anything else, that reports are only an entry ticket to the "inner sanctum". Egoes aside, a conversation with a good analyst is always the best way to cut through that clutter.... James would surely agree with this point on conversations but gives the research away -at no cost.

Redmoonk seems to be doing fine even though we see no Porsche in front of their offices, so one can wonder why doesn't everyone switch to open source research? The software and web markets are full of successful examples like at Linux, Wikipedia, surely the analysts can make a living from support (consulting) revenues just like Jboss, Red Hat, etc…?

There are two fundamental issues limiting the options for new entrants:

1. There’s a big difference between direct analysis (commentary) and in depth reports requiring primary research. At one end, there can only be so many James (thank God!): there’s intense competition, low barrier to entries but a given community has a finite attention span and number of relationships that can be established. On the other hand, primary research is expensive and needs to be syndicated –except if one relies on self-selecting samples and e-polls (see this honest comment from Dale here.

Few can comment eloquently on the issue of how different are sponsored research and open-source research. Dale, take this as an invitation: we’d love to hear your views on this very fine line…

2. Skip makes a really good comment when he says that monetizing new media is something we all are struggling with. Tough question, but the ones that will figure it out will make some serious dough and probably also crack the black hole of industry analysts… SMB. Ahem.

Bottom line: The industry is changing fast on the surface, yet IT analysts still have to figure out which business model will allow them to deliver something close to a collaborative “reference library”, containing one version of the truth rather than many in-compatible open-source distributions. Other factors limiting the adoption of open-source research are the delivery mechanisms (frankly, sifting through blogs to gather intelligence is as tedious as resolving Linux driver issues). On the other hand, the enthusiasm of the Rebels and their innovative use of Web 2.0 tools generate a huge deal of goodwill in some communities and some are already making a living of the brand they’ve built.

Stay tuned for the final post in the series: Rebels vs. Dinosaurs: So What Does it Mean for AR?

Read also:
Will the Borg be dis-intermediated?
The Governor, ancient Iraq and Gartner
Open source analyst business model?

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Rebels vs. Dinosaurs: Influence is Everywhere

In this post, we’re coming back on the numerous conversations about the changing nature of influence and its impact on industry analysts.

Fred from V3 started the debate a while back even though his paper wasn’t picked up by many: New Opportunities for IT Industry Analysts. Maybe it is because bloggers have a short attention span and find reading short posts easier? It nevertheless contains a few interesting points about influence in today’s world. In particular, Fred advocates that Web 2.0 allows analysts to reach out to a much wider audience than before, especially in today’s world where awareness of IT issues has become widespread in business.

Stephen has a good point though in his Burning The Influence Straw Man post: influence is exerted at multiple touch points in any given customer by various influencers. He claims to influence bottom-up adoption (those geeks installing Apache on Linux in a Mainframe under their desk). He implies that because established firms are conservative, geeks listen more to the blogs and it drives innovation.

O'Grady is probably right about the influence on those buying technical issues, but what about the top of the food-chain, the suits types with thick wallets? Who influences them?

Many have said that Cxx are probably not swayed by bloggers, so who do they trust?

Research by KGC, Omniboss and SageCircle points out that they trust mainly peers, Industry Analysts and Systems Integrators. The latter ones can be worrying for IT vendors: after all Accenture or PWC have probably way less understanding about cooling issues in a datacentre or database licensing than themselves, have a questionable track record after all but clients do trust them because they’re “independent”. It is fair game for AR Professionals to advocate that analysts know better: they have a tight relationship with vendors allowing them to be ahead under the game: they’re briefed under NDA. Those AR pros who are confronted on a daily basis with cynical comments and questioning by analysts know in their inner self they’d trust a good analyst above consultants.

James-the-mammal has also got a point here, but we're not sure which one?

Large customers also know this and anecdotal evidence suggests that analysts are influencing almost all large deals: AR managers often get feedback from those hard-nosed sales colleagues about the infamous Borg analyst advising THEIR customer (at least for IT deals, this is less true in telco’s and services). Note in passing: as someone said last week, they always win a deal thanks to their superior sales abilities, and invariably lose it because Gartner pushed a competitor… Incidentally, it’s always the Borg, we rarely get summoned on deals where The Colony or AMiseRy are involved. Sad and worrying but true. We wrote a while back on why Gartner and Forrester will NOT be Disintermediated: established firms just cut the "Internet Clutter that has turned internet searching into an exercise in frustration" (Joseph Martin). IT managers need someone to aggregate, summarise, simplify and help them with vendor selection, contract negotiation, etc… For instance, we heard Ovum was very successful in picking what business Gartner left on the table when they exited APac.

So, is that it? Gartner influences deals and the bloggers influence geeks? Life would be wonderful and AR would be able to concentrate on a few very influential analysts, give them the VIP treatment and escort the others politely back to their SecondLife world.

Unfortunately, life is more like a bazaar than a cathedral: not everything can be measured or even understood and so is influence. Coming back to Carter, he concludes his post by saying that other established firms should follow Gartner’s lead in Web 2.0 adoption (Note to Carter: interestingly enough, there were no Web 2.0 sponsors at the Orlando and Cannes Symposium and we view Forrester as much more innovative in the use of social media tools –Web 2.0 is more than just blogs).

Where does this leaves us? After an appetizing title, we were waiting for a better main course but Carter stops short of drawing a conclusion on whether the insurgents are (were) influential enough for him to care.

This is where Skip brings another interesting dimension: speed. Traditional analysts will be overtaken by communities and, he implies, lose influence. On the one hand, he’s right: bloggers are quicker on their feed and the good ones have an audience many mainstream media would envy. This is because the fundamental nature of Web 2.0 is that it ripples through communities and so does the influence of bloggers.

Analysts' influence also ripples onto mainstream media: one could think of them as tattoo artists that spot trends early and help shaping thinking of a much wider community. This extended-reach factor can be quantified in the number of press articles containing analysts quotes: way over half of IT trade press cuttings reference analysts. However, community often equates quantity and not quality: the internet chatter has grown to such a point that it is increasingly difficult to separate insight from noise, especially since blogs posts are short and sometimes cumbersome to read. This is probably the most limiting factor on blogs' influence.

We have been saying, way before Duncan Brown, that AR should mute into IfR –Influencer Relations. It seems that some vendors are already doing so: some have appointed Influencers VP’s, running Influencers events, etc… It does not suit every company as it requires a great deal of openness, candour and political capital. But it can be done, sorry for the doomsayers.

Another point is made by good old Jonny: the Borg does not cater for SMB’s. But Dale sure can! Vinnie has also an interesting point in his post on Gulliver's Travels (all those chaps should work for a tabloid –great headlines, just miss the page 3 totty): his revenues come from users and he’s well quoted. Not more scientific than Stephen’s name dropping but nevertheless hard to ignore?

We quite agree with Vinnie than quite a few of those Irregulars and other rebels are smart, some maybe too much for their own good but unfortunately we have been wating too long for those “Lilliputs” to join forces. The Federation never came out of the garage black hole!

Bottom line: Influence is difficult to define and even more to measure. Because it is far easier to getting budgets and headcounts to focus analysts directly impacting deals, AR has traditionally aligned to those directly impacting deals, the likes of Gartner, Forrester, Ovum, AMR, NelsonHall, etc… This is not necessarily the right model for every vendor.
Other boutique analysts and firms, are also influential and derive their revenues from end-user contracts, either in some countries (like Penteo, Sievers, CXP…) or in certain segments like Gartner alumni Vinnie Mouthful at Deal Architect.
Finally, a third type of influencers are those with a high SOV in the media, like for example IDC, PAC or Quocirca. Others such James Governor of Redmonk with his Monkchips and the other ones picked up by Jonny have a definite impact in the blogosphere.

Stay tuned for the next post in the series: Are new Analyst Business Models That Revolutionary?

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Rebels vs. Dinosaurs: there’s nothing like a good argument

Was the whole thing planned? Just three weeks before “rather suddenlyleaving the Industry Analysts Circus, Carter launched this missile:Will established analyst firms become dinosaurs to the new media-oriented analysts?

This post has sparked quite a lot of noise on the AR blogs, and many interesting discussions and reactions, but nothing like ARmadgeddon’s usual cynical and one-sided views. Until today.

In his post, the ex-AR guru observes that traditional IT research firms (dubbed as dinosaurs in the post) are slow to adopt Web 2.0 while in the same post asking for proofpoints of the claimed influence of the new “insurgents”. Those proofpoints, he says, are essential for a vendor to commit all too scarce resources to service the needs of those new kids on the block.

The debates extends way beyond the moderns vs. ancients as many other bloggers joined in with points ranging from influence to business model –we’ll deal with these two aspects in a series of posts. Stay tuned for the next post in the series: Rebels vs. Dinosaurs: Influence is Everywhere.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Borgosium echoes

Thanks to those who have passed some echoes from the Cannes Gartner Symposium.

Content seemed rather bland: the keynote was poor and lacking a strong theme carried through the event, mega vendors sessions have been replaced by sessions on a given industry (one server, one services, one software, instead of the old IBM, Microsoft, HP, SAP, Oracle sessions). The SAP interview was however more incisive than some of the previous vendor interviews.

The number of analysts on site has been reduced, quite a few did not stay the whole time, restricting the main pull for the event from an AR professional's standpoint: the ability to interact and have one to ones with many analysts in the same week.

The event was a step down from last year: it finished at 11 sharp and most analysts were in functions at some nicer places with vendors anyway.

The AR meeting was another let down from last year: apparently Gene Hall decided this crowd was definitely not worth his presence and dispatched some staff members who did a reasonable job explaining their research methodologies and the Customer Insights: this is an option that can be bolted onto the AR role to provide some insights on inquiry trends. It all sounds good and interesting... until you hear it's between $20 and 40k extra. They also said in passing that they were happy with the uptake of the AR role and had 340 registered users. This is quite surprising as we haven't heard of anyone in Europe subscribing to this role -we would be interested in some feedback here.

Some interesting statistics came from this meeting: Gartner has 47 research communities, take 57,000 inquiries per year.

Finally, someone asked about EXP analysts and consultants and it emerges that the briefings materials never reach those communities... although they advise end-users.

ARmadgeddon's take: Gartner Inc. (NYSE:IT) is under-performing in its events business (down 10%) compared to research (+18%) and consulting (flat) in their latest quarterly results. Symposium is suffering cannibalisation from successful summit events and reduced sponsorships. This might explain the recent tumble of their share price.

Read also:

Monday, 12 November 2007

Gabriel Consulting Group: the Currie Motors of the Analysts world

Here's a forgotten post, our apologies to Dan Olds from the Gabriel Consulting Group.

It all started on this post from IBM Sun IBM AR Professional: Helzerman.com: interview with an odd Gabriel. We then started a conversation with Dan about research, and it turns out it's a small firm that still does primary non-syndicated research. So it's not all just fluff and opinion, which is refreshing (Dale and Clive [ouch, managed to put them in the same sentence, that hurts] will certainly agree...).

After this, Dan sent us some background on GCC, which is reproduced verbatim below. Not exactly concise but interesting, candid and straight.

ARmadgeddon's take: independent analysts can bring value to vendors is used appropriately. Do research them and check the links above for examples on how GCC was used by a vendor. For analysts, the Currie Motors motto "Nice People To Do Business With" might be a good positioning.

I started GCG in early ’02 with a partner. We didn’t initially intend for Gabriel to be an analyst firm, we were aiming to do strategy work with vendors coupled with a customer education program that would teach them how to better execute IT projects (a pet project/obsession for my partner). We were semi-successful in that the vendor side of the house earned revenue and the education program never really got off the ground. Disagreements over the future of the business led to a breakup and my subsequent re-directing of Gabriel towards analysis. There’s probably no reason to tell you guys about this, as this first incarnation isn’t really relevant to anything GCG does today, but it is where the GCG story began and thus might be of passing interest.

I started generating research reports in early ’03, but later moved towards doing more basic research so I could generate my own data to supply grist for my analyst mill (jeez, that was a horrible analogy). My first ‘big’ project along these lines was a survey of enterprise Unix shops that asked them if they are using their Unix systems as consolidation platforms – if so, why? If not, why not? I was very happy with the results of this survey – it gave me a lot of data and the results contradicted some of my own long-held beliefs – forcing me to change my mind about several factors. Another survey looked at buyer criteria for x86 servers (what’s most important? Purchase price, feeds & speeds, support, etc.?) and I also introduced our Unix Vendor Preference and x86 Server Vendor Preference surveys. I’m thinking about applying this survey model to other areas of the industry – storage, new usage models (looking at virtualization/consolidation again), etc.

My experience in the industry, up until GCG, is mainly on the vendor side. Here’s a quick bio:

My formal education is in business. I have an undergrad in Finance, plus a MBA from University of Chicago with concentrations in Finance and Marketing (although I tried to focus on strategy)
After graduation, I went to work for Sequent Computer, beginning as a competitive analyst and ending up in Strategic Marketing, trying to get a handle on what and where the company should go in the future.
I was then recruited away from Sequent by Cray Research, and was arguably the last employee hired by Cray (I accepted my offer that day SGI announced the Cray buyout). Even though the company was a bit precarious, I had received an NDA briefing on their upcoming E10000 system and knew it was going to be big. Cray was purchased by Sun Microsystems shortly after I joined Cray. One of my initial duties was to help roll out the E10k to the Sun sales force and customers. This was the start of many hundreds of customer meetings and presentations.
One of the big problems we had was how to justify such a huge server (then 64 cpu, 64 GB memory) to customers. We initiated one of the first server consolidation programs in the industry and I was the first manager of that effort. This gave me lot of opportunities to talk to huge numbers of customers and get a real feel for their pain points and possible solutions.
I was then recruited away from Sun by IBM, first working as their ‘big Unix expert’ in the mainframe division, then moving onto their pSeries/xSeries divisions. I left IBM in ’01, or actually they left me when they shut down much of their operations here in Beaverton, Oregon.

Before discussing how GCG is different from the rest of the analyst community, I gotta cover how I have seen the IT markets evolve over my career and where I see them going in the future…

One of the biggest changes from the 90s is that the IT department doesn’t have nearly as much access to the corporate checkbook as they did previously. IT spending has now come under corporate control and buying technology for its own sake is now taboo in more organizations. In short, now IT purchases have to undergo the same cost/benefit analysis as factory equipment or machine tools. Business management is now more firmly in control.
With the above in mind, the ultimate decision makers are more often people with primarily business backgrounds. I’ve noticed this change when making presentations to customers. While covering technical points, everyone nods their heads and acts like they know the score. Later on, in emails and conversations, these same folks furtively ask questions that reveal that they really don’t understand the topics under discussion. It isn’t that these guys are dumb or aren’t paying attention – it’s just that there this is complex stuff and there aren’t many folks who are willing and/or able to break IT mumbo-jumbo down into understandable chunks or translate the techie stuff into terms a business person can understand. I can certainly sympathize with these guys and I was (and still often times still am) in the same boat. I’m not the most technical guy in the world, so when I’m getting briefed or doing research, I’m constantly asking “Why is this important? How will it make a difference in the real world?”
On the vendor side, it is getting much more difficult to differentiate products. In servers, for example, most of the products work fairly well, aren’t hideously over or under prices, and are reliable. Kind of like the car market – most car manufacturers put out a decent product that is relatively standardized (same pedals, steering wheel, etc.) It’s also getting harder and harder to gain any sustainable competitive advantage that is technology based. All of the vendors have access to pretty much the same technology, some will have it sooner than others, but all have the ability to field at least an arguably competitive product to respond to an advance made by a competitor. So what’s a vendor to do? I believe they need to prove their differentiation and gain advantage by playing to the business value of their products and proving that value through customer experience. My vendor preference surveys are aimed squarely at showing how customers rate/rank their experiences with the various vendors on a wide variety of technology and support criteria. Since it is extremely difficult, if not impossible to objectively ‘prove’ that one server brand is better than another, the next best thing is to measure which brand of server customers (the large majority of whom have had significant experience with multiple brands) believe is best.

One of the tougher questions I wrestled with is how to explain how GCG is different from the hundreds (thousands?) of other IT analyst firms. Here’s my best shot: Remember how in high school, there were always the guys in wood shop or in the locker room who constantly talked about cars – the merits of turbo chargers vs. superchargers, Ford vs. Chevy, or, in better high schools, BMW vs. Mercedes? These discussions/arguments were never ending, but pretty interesting and entertaining for the car guys. I see many of the other analyst firms in this mold, they love the technology, the bits & bytes, and all the inner workings of things like TCP/IP stacks. But there’s another set of folks who are very interested in cars, but for entirely different reasons: rental car fleet managers. They need to know that the cars they purchase will reliably help them service their customers, if they’ll break down, if the auto manufacturer is behind them, if maintaining or managing the fleet is better/easier than before, plus a myriad of other considerations. More and more IT decision makers – the ones who actually own the check book, are much more rental car fleet managers than they are car nuts. These guys are the audience I am aiming at and who I think I can best help understand what’s important in the industry and what isn’t.

At this point, I’m learning more about this whole analyst business. I’m still feeling my way along, and have lots of questions about what to charge for things, if and how to develop a better end-user business, how to build relationships with more vendors, get more press mentions/speaking engagements, etc., etc., But it looks like I’ll be around for at least the foreseeable future, and I’m going to keep pushing forward.

Damn, that’s more than “a little background on Gabriel”…sorry for going on so long. It wasn’t my intention to give you the full double-barreled history+resume. Anyway, that’s the Dan Olds/Gabriel Consulting Group story. If you want to refer to GCG in a note, that would be great, but could you hold off until I get my new web site up? The site now is pretty crappy and static, while the new site should be less crappy (at least 50% less crappy by my estimates) and will have a blog – yeah, I’m late getting on the blog bandwagon, but at least I’m finally doing it. I’m pretty sure my ancestors were the ones who thought that fire was just a passing fad and that the wheel was just some sort of fancy frippery that would never be useful…

Friday, 2 November 2007

Friday post: brownian scheduling

Analysts have usually little ideas how much work is involved in AR. Take scheduling for instance, it takes a hell lot of time to figure out where and when your exec might meet the analyst as both seem to be in a constant brownian motion between airports.

Stephen might have cracked gained many brownie points by publishing his schedule. Much easier than the dreaded Borg scheduling team, who comes back to your 3 days after you sent your request, and with a 30 mn slots. One more reason why you gotta love independent analysts: they're much more accessible if you need to do some message testing before a launch and easy to work with.

Another thing that AR professionals have to deal with is long, technical, boring briefing teleconferences. Maintaining your attention to jot down the follow-up points can be tough, especially after a relationship management lunch meeting. Don't read the Borg earnings release, there's nothing there: they're executing well, though not growing consulting very much. No new news. Best to try figure out what to do with your airmiles...

[Furl] 's Headlines for November 2, 2007

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From - http://www.furl.net/members/ARonaut

Analyst Equity: Penteo: a case study in defendable borders
Rated 3 in topic About analysts
From analystrelations.blogspot.com on November 1 at 9:18 PM

Enterprise Architecture: From Incite comes Insight...: So, why
aren't industry analysts providing deeper coverage of open source?
Rated 3 in topic Analyst business model
From duckdown.blogspot.com on November 1 at 4:42 PM

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Thursday, 1 November 2007

[Furl] 's Headlines for November 1, 2007

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stephen o'grady's MyFreeBusy Calendar
Rated 3 in topic AR tools and techniques
From sogrady.myfreebusy.com on October 31 at 11:38 AM

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Tuesday, 30 October 2007

[Furl] 's Headlines for October 30, 2007

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From - http://www.furl.net/members/ARonaut

Who are you? Who? Who? Who? Analysts better make sure they are in
the AR directories.
Rated 3 in topic AR tools and techniques
From hp.com on October 29 at 12:10 PM

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Monday, 29 October 2007

Be candid and cooperate

Duncan for once posted something quite interesting on Analyst Equity: Credo 1. AR should be co-operative .

In this post, he says that AR should focus on the analyst goals rather than on written research. Why? Because focusing on written research only antagonises AR and Analysts (think of the arguments and escalation arising from some research notes "courtesy" vendor reviews) and does not eliminates negative comments from analysts to their end-user comments.

ARmadgeddon's take: while Duncan is quite right to say that AR should not be transactional and focus on working with analysts on their goals and research agendas and on relationships, AR still need to master two processes. The first one is segmenting analyst audience: some analysts only influence through written research and focusing on reports is the right thing. The second one is vendor reviews: AR managers still need to understand this process and devote enough bandwidth to carry reviews rigorously.
One final observation is that it's easier to be cooperative with EMEA analysts than US ones, who tend to be more adversarial and transactional themselves.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

[Furl] 's Headlines for October 27, 2007

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On Briefing Analysts, When You Can't Say Everything You Want To »
Delusions of Adequacy
Rated 3 in topic AR tools and techniques
From johnsimonds.com on October 26 at 8:21 AM

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Friday, 26 October 2007

[Furl] 's Headlines for October 26, 2007

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On Briefing Analysts, When You Can't Say Everything You Want To »
Delusions of Adequacy
Rated 3 in topic AR tools and techniques
From johnsimonds.com on October 26 at 8:21 AM

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Thursday, 25 October 2007

[Furl] 's Headlines for October 25, 2007

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AnalystPerspectives: Analysts are increasing coverage or
environmental issues - follow the coverage on the new "Greening of
IT" blog
Rated 3 in topic Analysts unpredictions
From books24x7.typepad.com on October 24 at 9:06 AM

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Wednesday, 24 October 2007

HypeWatch: Green IT

As Jim puts it rather plainly Analysts are increasing coverage or environmental issues. So the guys at Books 24x7 ("a leading SaaS provider of on-demand business, technical and engineering content" -interesting combination of software as a service and content in the same phrase...), following the hype, have launched a new new "Greening of IT" blog."

ARmadgeddon's take: Green IT is the 00'ies Y2K and currently very much in its "Peak of Inflated Expectations" . Indeed, it seems Marc has already jumped on the GIT bandwagon -although maybe a little late?

[Furl] 's Headlines for October 24, 2007

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From - http://www.furl.net/members/ARonaut

AnalystPerspectives: Analysts are increasing coverage or
environmental issues - follow the coverage on the new "Greening of
IT" blog
Rated 3 in topic Analysts unpredictions
From books24x7.typepad.com on October 24 at 9:06 AM

The CIO Weblog: Show CEOs the money, says Gartner
Rated 3 in topic Gartner
From cio-weblog.com on October 23 at 8:21 AM

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Tuesday, 23 October 2007

[Furl] 's Headlines for October 23, 2007

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The CIO Weblog: Show CEOs the money, says Gartner
Rated 3 in topic Gartner
From cio-weblog.com on October 23 at 8:21 AM

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Saturday, 20 October 2007

Forrester's kitchen nighmares

Forrester has announced their earnings in August and Dominic has reported that 3 new analysts just joined the firm in Europe:

Analyst Movements: changes at Forrester Research [ARcade]

Don't rejoice too quickly though, the news on the joiners are not as good as it looks: although we could add Kevin Lucas and Duncan Jones as a recent joiners (George Lawrie is also old news as joined over 8 months ago...) to Pete Nuthall, Forrester EMEA has nevertheless still lost Norbert Kriebel, Lars Goddell. Martha Bennett also jumped ships a while back... This leaves only Alexander Peters and Pete Nuthall as real new hires. We also heard that David Metcalfe was on the way out, although this is still unclear.

On the earnings side, sources at the company say they're pleased but they're still growing slower than their competitors. The AR community was irked by their absence of reaction following the assimilation of the market's #3 by the #1. Concerns that they could be used in a dual-vendor strategy grew further after they failed to explain their strategy a couple of years back. However, they since have come forward at a recent IIAR Forum and gave a compelling presentation on their business model and role-based strategy. Some still doubt whether they can effectively cover regional trends, technologies and roles with a still limited local presence -looks a bit like an episode from Ramsay's Kitchen Nighmares where the chef struggles to deliver 72 dishes combinations.

Is Forrester trying to be too many things to too many audiences?
Yankee for instance, during their own presentation at the last IIAR Forum were very clear that their strategy is all about focus on global connectivity issues.

However, despite coverage issues, Forrester's research remains more thought-provoking as opposed to the institutionalised Borg content. Their research agenda maybe quite random but the result is sometimes fresh thinking.
They're also more innovative on their approach of delivering research to their customer: here again it's hit and miss. Roles-based research may not work but as Carter says "Kudos to Forrester for permitting clients to comment on research notes". We wholeheartedly agree.

ARmadgeddon's take: while signs that Forrester is at last taking Europe seriously, we're still watching their delivery and resources commitment with great attention. AR Managers should use them as a second source after Gartner rather than merely a bargaining chip but still be aggressive while negotiating RAS contracts with them.

PS: we're looking for a good nickname for Forrester, all entries to be posted as comments below please


  • Barbara suggested the Colony or the Beehive -we like the former more and will adopt it.
  • We received an email from Karyl Levinson, VP CorpComms at Forrester with some precisions:
    "We saw your recent post dated Oct 20 and simply want to let you know that Norbert Kriebel is still an analyst with Forrester. He has relocated to San Diego . Here’s a link to his bio should you want more information: http://www.forrester.com/rb/analyst/norbert_kriebel"
    Our apologies for the factual inaccuracy and thanks for the vendor review. As a side comment, this confirms that The Colony is more open than the The Borg -kudos to them for opening the kimono.

Previous posts on Forrester:

  • How to get a briefing from Forrester?
  • Summer revolving doors
  • The revolving door is in full spin...
  • Why Gartner and Forrester will NOT be Disintermediated
  • Has Forrester missed a golden opportunity?
  • Weekly roundup: Forrester, IT-director and Quocirca (Part II)
  • Vinnie shoots at Forrester!
  • Germany
  • After GigaWorld: the future for Forrester
  • Forrester's 2005 newfies

  • Furl Forrester archive.

    [Furl] 's Headlines for October 20, 2007

    Daily Furl Headlines for October 20, 2007
    From - http://www.furl.net/members/ARonaut

    AnalystPerspectives: The Wiki of Research
    Rated 3 in topic Other AR blogs
    From books24x7.typepad.com on October 19 at 2:32 PM

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    Friday, 19 October 2007

    [Furl] 's Headlines for October 19, 2007

    Daily Furl Headlines for October 19, 2007
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    Kudos to Forrester for permitting clients to comment on research
    Rated 3 in topic Other AR blogs
    From hp.com on October 19 at 1:17 AM

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    Thursday, 18 October 2007

    BorgARbash in Cannes

    Got an email from the Borg inviting us to an Analyst Relations Forum at the Cannes Symposium. Although it sounds like an IIAR Forum it actually doesn't seem to be connected?

    Last year was interesting as related here and the Mickey version of this year was apparently trying to be non controversial. As would say James, it's all about conversations...

    Anyway, the bash is on Tuesday 6 November at 5:30 pm, we'll see how good a Borg Gene can be.

    Friday, 12 October 2007

    Duncan report back from Orlando

    Duncan has been to Orlando and gives a candid account on the AR session:
    Analyst Equity: What Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2007 meant for AR managers

    It makes for an interesting read, assuming you have the context (just read our archive otherwise!) of the tensions between the Borg and AR Professionals. It's also amusing that Gartner seems to calculate its own market share. Probably makes sense not to use IDC?

    ARmadgeddon's take: although Gartner wasn't poised to comment on delicate issues such as pricing or the 30 mn rule, it seems they might address some other annoyances such as third party surveys -some time soon.

    [Furl] 's Headlines for October 12, 2007

    Daily Furl Headlines for October 12, 2007
    From - http://www.furl.net/members/ARonaut

    Freeform Comment: SAP blots out Business Objects
    Rated 3 in topic Analysts blogs
    From freeformcomment.blogspot.com on October 11 at 12:07 PM

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    Thursday, 11 October 2007

    [Furl] 's Headlines for October 11, 2007

    Daily Furl Headlines for October 11, 2007
    From - http://www.furl.net/members/ARonaut

    NelsonHall taps Howard Spode as MD, Advisory Services | Tekrati
    Analyst Firm News
    Rated 3 in topic About analysts
    From analystnews.tekrati.com on October 10 at 1:28 PM

    Quocirca: Use and Abuse of Analysts
    Rated 3 in topic AR tools and techniques
    From quocirca.com on October 10 at 1:23 PM

    infuse - the blog for Influencer Marketing: How analysts can
    increase their influence
    Rated 3 in topic AR tools and techniques
    From influencer50.com on October 10 at 1:14 PM

    Keeping Tabs » Blog Archive » When the medium becomes the message
    Rated 3 in topic AR tools and techniques
    From opinion.tekrati.com on October 10 at 1:12 PM

    Analyst Equity: Empty seats at Gartner's Symposium
    Rated 3 in topic Gartner; AR tools and techniques
    From analystrelations.blogspot.com on October 10 at 12:30 PM

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    Is the Borg in bed with vendors?

    Vinnie says the Gartner Borg is "defensive of vendors, especially large ones":
    deal architect : The Stockholm Syndrome

    Well, given the ammount of bitching we heard from AR professionals on Tragic Quadrants or renewals we doubt the relationship is as cosy as Vinnie says. However, for having witnessed the pitiful spectacle of a same VP being interviewed by Peter Sondergaard in 2002 and 2003 it is fair to say that Gartner analysts are not very challenging in public, so seeing Amy going against that trend is reassuring.

    Is that what clients want though? Are C-level execs who attend Symposium expecting a Punch & Judy show?

    ARmadgeddon's take: while there's a fine line between fruitless controversy the META way and challenging vendors in a balanced way, we nevertheless agree with Vinnie that the real value for users lies in the advice analysts provides buyers. Gartner's strategy of moving to a leveraged model and away from consulting, it might open up avenues for other firms offering negotiation advisory services.

    Saturday, 6 October 2007

    [Furl] 's Headlines for October 6, 2007

    Daily Furl Headlines for October 6, 2007
    From - http://www.furl.net/members/ARonaut

    Gartner Analyst Relations Newsletter
    Rated 4 in topic Gartner; AR tools and techniques
    From gartnerinfo.com on October 5 at 4:20 PM

    Evaluator Group launches eLearning for storage professionals |
    Tekrati Analyst Firm News
    Rated 3 in topic Analyst business model
    From analystnews.tekrati.com on October 5 at 2:18 PM

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    Friday, 5 October 2007

    The Borg "how to"

    The Gartner Borg has sent its first AR Newsletter. Like it or not, they're good at selling and know their target audience -might be too well for most AR folks actually.
    This newsletter is well thought and contains some good tips on briefing analysts:

    • phrase well your briefing request to allow the vendor briefings teams to include other relevant analysts
    • address hot issues upfront, resolve disagreement offline with the analyst after the briefing

    ARmadgeddon's take: seasoned AR professionals might not learn new tricks however it is a good refresher and essential reading for AR newbies.

    Thursday, 4 October 2007

    [Furl] 's Headlines for October 4, 2007

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    From - http://www.furl.net/members/ARonaut

    OSS & IT Analyst Firms « rand($thoughts);
    Rated 3 in topic Analyst business model
    From saviorodrigues.wordpress.com on October 3 at 1:32 PM

    Are industry analysts doing their part to respond to open source?
    Rated 3 in topic Analyst business model
    From itgumbo.com on October 3 at 1:31 PM

    Keeping Tabs » Blog Archive » Four high-profile bloggers turn
    Rated 2 in topic Analysts blogs; Other AR blogs
    From opinion.tekrati.com on October 3 at 9:00 AM

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    Wednesday, 3 October 2007

    [Furl] 's Headlines for October 3, 2007

    Daily Furl Headlines for October 3, 2007
    From - http://www.furl.net/members/ARonaut

    Keeping Tabs » Blog Archive » Four high-profile bloggers turn
    Rated 2 in topic Analysts blogs; Other AR blogs
    From opinion.tekrati.com on October 3 at 9:00 AM

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    Tuesday, 2 October 2007

    [Furl] 's Headlines for October 2, 2007

    Daily Furl Headlines for October 2, 2007
    From - http://www.furl.net/members/ARonaut

    Top 100 analyst blogs « Technobabble 2.0
    Rated 3 in topic Other AR blogs; Bloglysts
    From technobabble2dot0.wordpress.com on October 1 at 9:55 AM

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