Friday, 23 December 2005

AR 101 series: the research process

In this post, the ubiquitous James Governor points to a post by a Richard Monson-Haefel, an analyst at Burton Group (a US RAS client-side firm): Burton Group’s Brutal, but Effective Review Process. It is an interesting and detailed insight into a firm's research process.

ARmadgeddon's tips: AR professionals should do their research and me aware of the research process followed by the firms they track. Questions they should be able to answer are:

  • Do you have a research agenda?
  • Do you publish different kind of notes?
  • If yes, do they follow the same validation process?
  • Do you review research notes internally?
  • Do you systematically send your reports for vendor review?
  • Even if the vendor is not a client?
  • Do you send the whole document or just the portion related to the vendor?
  • Do you accept discussion on your positions and recommendations?
  • Do you communicate on changes made?
  • Do you take calls to discuss the review?
  • Even if the vendor is not a client?
  • What turnaround time do you expect from a vendor?

Tuesday, 20 December 2005

An after thought on Serendipp

Lunchtime are made for Google, aren't they? I've been trying to find out a bit more about our new friends at Serendipp, Ahmed and Dominic. Dominic used to be COO at SalePlane, so I ran this Google search to find out more. For some reason, the one link that comes up goes through to a Metropolitan Police warning about internet fraud.

Monday, 19 December 2005

Forrester's 2005 newfies

Just so that it's convenient for everyone, here are Forrester's 2H05 new EMEA hires:


  • Larry Velez, Global and European WAN procurement; VoIP communication architecture, infrastructure development (ex. META)
  • Jenny Lau, Advice to mobile operators on strategic issues like mobile commerce, 3G mobile networks and services, and enterprise mobility; strategic advice to mobile telecom vendors and firms looking to launch mobile services
  • Pascal Matzke, European IT services and outsourcing trends, as well as underlying vendor market dynamics; IT services and sourcing strategies (ex. META)
  • Euan Davis, European IT services and outsourcing trends, as well as underlying vendor market & end-user dynamics
  • Peter O’Neill, Focus: Infrastructure Management (ex. META)
  • Name can’t be disclosed – Security Analyst
  • Cliff Condon, How European financial institutions can use emerging technologies to improve the retail customer experience (channel distribution, self-service delivery, changes in business models)
  • Luca Paderni, Consumer marketing, consumer trends, branding, consumer strategy, online advertising, and online retail (including online banking)
More on Forrester in Weekly roundup: Forrester, IT-director and Quocirca (Part II)

Saturday, 17 December 2005

Ahmed Argues Against ARmadgeddon

Ahmed Siddiqui has written in self-defense against our earlier post:

As someone who has worked as an analyst at senior level (and who knows many other senior level analysts intimately), I reiterate and clarify: the source of most analyst opinion and data is from market sizing and developing case studies of clients, vendors and markets. How this is actually used is secondary to your own original point. It can go into published work or can form the basis of the credibility and trust used to win consulting work. Any analyst who cannot understand the market sizing process or create case studies- whether it be for a report, building an RFP for a client, or advising on vendor capabilities- isn't worth his/her salt. Market sizing and developing case studies is pretty much must of what analysts do. And as my posts says, the AR function is still important for this, just as it is for the bigticket consulting work.

I would love to hear readers' comments on Ahmed's opinion. Personally, I am baffled by it. Ahmed worked for Datamonitor's London headquarters, and his account makes me think that most of his time was spent sizing markets and writing case studies. I understand that as individuals, we primarily judge the world on our own experience of it. However, it seems to me to be self-evident that most analysts outside Datamonitor are not spending most of their time sizing markets and writing case studies. Market sizing is an activity primarily conducted by vendor-facing analyst firms, or by specialist teams like Dataquest. Many analysts are looking at the features and benefits of solutions, rather than the market shares of vendors.

Ahmed knows many analysts, as he points out. However, his fresh face compares favorably to my wrinkles. I deeply believe that I have met, and worked, with many, many more over the years [and years]. Very few are focussed on market sizing, outside IDC and Dataquest. As for case studies: how many analysts send more than a day a month working on them?

The gap in our viewpoints astonishes me. I appreciate that analysts are more quantitative in Europe, but are the differences so deep that mosts analysts there are engaged in such highly structured, and easily offshored, work? Can anyone think of a good reason why our views are so distant?

Friday, 16 December 2005

Do analysts only size markets & do case studies?!?

The wonders of Trackback! I've discovered Serendipp's sniping at us and Duncan. We are "almost hedghoglike" while Duncan is "bilious".

I am not familiar with Serendipp, but it seems they are AR advisors in England. Good luck to them because, if their blog is evidence, they have a lot to learn.

They feel that we and Duncan are missing the point in our discussion about analysts and how deeply they need to research: 'Analysts only do two things: size markets and do case studies'.

This is so far from being right, it's not even worth calling wrong. Sizing markets and writing case studies is what gets outsourced to India. The real work of analysts is quite different: and that is why analysts have substantial advisory, consulting and custom research businesses. If an AR advisor doesn't realize this, then heaven help their clients.

It would be far better to understand one's limitations and keep only do what you know how to do. In that respect, kudos to Hill & Knowlton. If Duncan's latest post is correct (my Norweigan is rusty) their European AR is led by their partner agency in Oslo, Gambit, which hired a former IBM AR manager in 1999. It takes guts to admit when you need help, but it's much wiser than pretending you know what you don't.

Feedblitz now available

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Or just follow this link:

Tuesday, 13 December 2005

C'mon guys, sell to us!

Analyst Relations is a quite stressing job as AR professionals sit between external and internal constituencies and try to make both happy. What AR managers don't need is more aggravation when they want to work with analyst firms, but it seems that it's exactly what's happening: analyst firms in general do a terrible job at selling themselves to vendors. One of the reasons is that analyst firms sales reps try to SELL when often analysts often feel their ethical boundaries are being pushed. We imagine the conversations inside some firms between sales and analysts sales going like: "Would you be nice to my client so that they can buy reprints?" followed by "Do you mean I should tell something I don't believe in?"

We'll leave them to decide where they want to draw the line, for instance and to their credit, the Borg don't sell white papers (but do read Post-scriptum on "Yankee, analyst impartiality and circular references" for the caveats).

However, we thought analyst reps could do with a few ARmadgeddon tips to improve their sales process. Most of them are very basic but we've seen those mistakes many times.
So, hear, hear, sales reps:

  1. Sales lead: track those those converations your analysts are having with vendors, invite yourself to brefings. Too often, reps have little idea of research agendas and of vendor marketing plans.

  2. Qualified prospect: follow-up with your AR person to see if there's a real need.

  3. Need identification: for complex projects, do schedule a conversation between the analyst, AR, the vendor's decision maker(s) and don't forget to include the consultants who'll end up doing the work. For speaking enagement, come back with topic and spokesperson real quick.

  4. Proposal (business): it's amazing how long it takes for IT Analysis fims to send vendors a proposal. Get it out, even if it's sketchy or you'll loose the sale. If it's a speaking engagement, you need to turn around in hours, not in weeks! An email will do, but please do us a favour: make sure you include VAT number, physical address, firm name and delivery dates…

  5. Closing: again a basic skill but it seems that some analyst firms can't be asked to call to close a sale! Amazing…

  6. Deal transaction: we've seen so many firms being rubbish at admin. Send the invoice and get paid!

Another common mistake is not fitting into vendors budget processes. If a vendor closes its fiscal in March, make sure you get in their FY+1 plans in before February!

Finally, don't make the common but fatal mistake of not involving AR: they can and will block your proposal if they feel it's not addressing a need or simply if you bypass them. Help them and they'll help you.

Monday, 12 December 2005

More on Analysts’ Data Sample Size

In “My customer is not your client, or why RAS analysts need to go beyond DRE” ARonaut makes a number of excellent points about the sample size and skewing of data points. Here are a few more issues to consider when using analyst commentary based primarily on conversations with IT managers:

Small sample size on any one topic – In its 2004 annual report, Gartner claimed that it receives 230,000 client inquiries per year. It sounds like a large number, but how statistically valid is it? The average number of end-user data points is probably less than 400 to rarely more than 700 per analyst per year or about eight to 15 per week. Remember that an analyst answers questions on a variety of issues. So, of those eight to 15 inquiries per week, how many inquires concern a specific vendor or its products? A couple, maybe a little more or a little less? Forrester has even a smaller sample size because its business model and its client base is smaller.

Limited to firm’s clients – Another issue is that data points are limited to clients of the analyst firms. Gartner’s CEO has stated that Gartner has only 15% of the possible end user market at companies. Does Gartner’s or Forrester’s client base represent a statistically valid sample of the overall IT buyer market?

Further limited to advisory seat holders – Another limitation is that only advisory seat holders can conduct inquiries with analysts. Thus, there might be hundreds of IT managers at a company but only a handful actually talk with the analysts using inquiry. Are the analysts hearing the full story from only a subset of the IT managers?

Limited still further by caller self selection – The advisory analysts passively sit and wait for clients to call them. Thus, their data points come from self-selecting callers. What motivates these callers? Probably the most common reason is that they are working on a project (e.g., buying an ERP system). The second most common reason to call an advisory analyst is likely they are having a poor experience with a vendor and want to check with the analyst to see if other companies are having the same experience and what the end user should do to correct the situation. It is unlikely that IT managers who are happy with their vendors are calling up the analysts simply to complement their vendors. As a consequence, analysts are only hearing from a vendor’s disgruntled customers, which is not a statistically valid sample.

Limited once more because of no follow up by analysts – Advisory analysts rarely proactively follow up with end users to see how something was resolved by vendors. Maybe within days or weeks the vendor corrected the situation to the satisfaction of the customer, but the analysts never hear about that. Thus, the analysts are left with only negative data points.

No data warehouse, knowledge management or business intelligence tools – None of the advisory analyst firms have invested in infrastructure to capture, store and analyze the information that surfaces during inquiries. As a consequence, the advisory analysts rely on their memory to store this information and we all know how faulty memory can be. In addition, this means that when an advisory analyst leaves a firm, all those data points leave with them.

Second hand information – The advisory analysts claim that the number of data points they work with is actually much larger because they pool data from the entire team. However, without a knowledge management infrastructure then this pooling is little more than sharing stories around a camp fire. Over time significant errors can creep into the share pool of information as second hand information is passed on from analyst to analyst.

Bottom line: The primary information that advisory analysts have is not statistically valid because of the limitations mentioned above and in ARonaut’s post. For instance, a vendor might have thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions of satisfied customers, but the analysts are relying on information from only a few dozen or less disgruntled customers. While the inquiry-based information can provide interesting insights it cannot take the place of fact-based research from surveys and other systematic research.

Recommendation: All clients, end user and vendor, of the advisory analysts should take responsibility for checking the validity of analysts’ data from client inquiry. Question that could be asked include:

1. Pin the advisory analyst down on how many data points they specifically have on the relevant topic. Don’t let the analysts be vague or talk about how many inquiries that do they – this could be masking a very small set of relevant data points.

2. Pin the advisory analysts down on how many different companies are represented in the sample size. There could be a number of inquiries the analyst that the analyst could point to, but the number of unique companies could be much smaller because a few end users make multiple calls.

3. Have the analysts discuss the time frame that the data points were gathered over. There could be a problem if the data points are out-of-date or too recent.

4. Have the analysts discuss the characteristics of the companies that were the source of the inquiries. Are the companies similar to your company (if you’re an end user) or your target market (if you are a vendor)?

5. How much follow up has the analysts done to determine how effectively the vendor responded to the situation.

What other questions or issues should be raised by advisory analysts’ clients?

Sunday, 11 December 2005

Deal Architect on changing the influence game

Vinnie Mirchandani posted in his blog Deal Architect on The Changing Influence Game after discussing this with HP's AR chief Carter Lusher on this ARmadgeddon post (check the comments).

His views are worth a read: he suggests technology vendors need to look beyond the PR+AR+IR influence trio and start addressing procurement consultants (including Gartner's) and blogs. The comparison he uses in lieu of conclusion is striking -and smart.

While we agree that the sphere of influence is changing, we would also add that vendors need to do a better job at focussing on AR and ressourcing it properly. James give a couple good reasons why in this post: Analyst fingerprints on billions of HP’s revenues, Gartner 0wns GAO. Once it's covered, it is surely a good idea to address those second tier influencers... maybe with the exception of systems integrators (Vinnie mentions Accenture and we can't agree more that their consultants also need to be brought up to speed by tech vendors).

Friday, 9 December 2005

Weekly roundup: Forrester, IT-director and Quocirca (Part III)

This is the third instalment of last week's round up ‑following Weekly roundup: Forrester, IT-director and Quocirca (Part I) and Weekly roundup: Forrester, IT-director and Quocirca (Part II).

We'll conclude this serial post with Quocirca who are now actively recruiting analysts (wannabe must send CV to Clive) after loosing John Collins who went writing another music book (after Rush and Marillion) and Dale Vile who went with his wife Helen (also ex. Quocirca) to form Freeform Dynamics. They just formed a partnership with The Register to use El Reg as an outlet for their research and plan to tap onto its reader's base for research and surveys. It's interesting to note that Quocirca was (or still is???) a partner of The Register… Anyway, this seems like an obvious duplication with what Justin's boyz have launched on Wednesday. While we're talking about Quocirca and in guise of conclusion, Dave pointed out that Clive Longbottom has started a blog hosted on IT-Analysis (for more on this, see Weekly roundup: Forrester, IT-director and Quocirca (Part I)). But COME ON Dale, you need to post something now –perhaps not a novel every time tough! And also, we'll argue that this is not a real blog: as Catherine says here, you miss comments, trackbacks, serial entries and RSS. Tsss, no comments Dale, bad boy!

Thursday, 8 December 2005

Weekly roundup: Forrester, IT-director and Quocirca (Part II)

Following up on our previous post Weekly roundup: Forrester, IT-director and Quocirca (Part I), here's the rest of last week's round-up.

On Friday, Forrester organised a breakfast for AR professionals, which was very well attended with over 50 AR (lost of blue chip AR but also some AR agencies and smaller firms represented). On the Forrester side, we had Ian Taylor, Principal for the Oral Programme (their AR "club" with membership fee), ex. META Group Consulting Peter O'Neill, now turning infrastructure analyst, Martha Bennett, VP & research director for their European financial practice and Luiz Olivera, runs the ARM council in Europe. No execs, just the ubiquitous Dunc' who pitched on AR rules: be candid was the key takeaway.

The rest content was... interesting. Martha came out very well with content and with her top vendor peeves about analysts and vice versa (Read David's post for the detail: Forrester: Biggest moans about vendors). All entertaining. They also provided some trends on the industry, and amongst other things predicted IT vendors would stop selling directly to users by 2010. Things got even more interesting when some vendors asked if they intended to cover hardware -which in Forrester's view is becoming less strategic/important. Peter O'Neil was at pains to explain why he got the job to cover infrastructure, when his new colleagues predict it's going down the drain. Someone asked a quick run down on Forrester's strategy and they seemed to collectively struggle to answer. Martha hopefully gave an elevator pitch but they were clearly not at ease. And Luiz rushed through the Analyst Relations and & Marketing council, which is a combination between a gated community and a RAS seat. At £21k a pop, including event tickets and a dedicated contact. Oops.

The opinion of the AR professionals we spoke to was that the event was inconclusive at best, we learnt nothing on Forrester's strategy and differentiators, nor did they give vendors any good reasons why they should do business with them.

So what was the point? For AR professionals, great networking opportunities as David puts it. On Forrester's side, it's quite unclear what they were trying to achieve: maybe this was a lead generation for the ARM council but they never really got down to the sales pitch. It's quite striking that Forrester, alike most of its competitors, don't know how to address the AR community –one of its key decision makers/influencers! The pastries were nice though, thanks for the brekkie...

Wednesday, 7 December 2005

Weekly roundup: Forrester, IT-director and Quocirca (Part I)

This is in fact the roundup for last week, which has been quite eventful indeed.

On Wednesday and
at last, Justin Speake and his mates re-launched the newly spun off IT-Analysis, as a multi-analyst firms delivery vehicle. In other words, it’s a web site where research from various firms such as Bloor Research, Evalubase, Hewson Group, Hurwitz, IE4C, Luenendonk, Macehiter Ward Dutton, Metra Martech, Quocirca, Sageza and TechConsult is hosted. Delivery is free for most but the web site sells research through Infoedge, guidance through Amazon and is also supported by advertising (has anyone got memory problems?)

For more details, both David and Duncan (interesting to note that he was invited to speak but never made it to the stage –let's blame Lewis PR for that?) have published extensive posts on this:

We'd agree with David that everyone wins: small analysts get more exposure (fragmentation of the independent analyst world makes it difficult to navigate), users get a lot of research in one place and vendors get more visibility for sponsored research.

Overall, the business model is interesting and probably over time an alternative to the Borg: is that a first step towards
open source analysts? We'd love to hear James' opinion and even more to see him join!

Just one
comment for Justin though: you should replace the term "articles" by "research notes" or "reports"…

(to be continued)

Read also our previous post on Justin's plan:
Have you seen my plan, my plan, my plan?

Tuesday, 6 December 2005

Microsoft boosts its AR

Gartner Watch reports that two ex. Borg Members have joined Microsoft: Anne Marie Roussel, Mika Kramer. Are they going in AR or is it a sign that Microsoft is ?
In addition, we heard they've hired Naomi Higgins from Peoplesoft.

Monday, 5 December 2005

ARmadgeddon keywords

This month brought an interesting set of keywords leading to our blog:

  • armageddon ovum
  • kgc association
  • microsoft pr
  • west kensington
  • fred amoroso

Interesting indeed...

And as far as links, quite a few interesting ones too:

Sunday, 4 December 2005

Advisory analysts do impact vendor sales and make/break products

Vinnie Mirchandani in a comment to Who do the advisory analysts think are their clients? wrote “…And let's face it... [IT buyers] make or break products and vendors - the analysts just report it. …”

This statement is patently ridiculous.

If the analysts were merely reporters, would the IT buyers spend over US $1 billion per year with the advisory analysts? No. Reporting can be gotten for free over the Internet.

Advisory analysts like Gartner RAS are not just reporters, but are extremely influential when it comes to specific sales deals and the success of a product. There have been a number of formal studies by the Analyst Strategy Group, Hill & Knowlton’s Penn, Schoen & Berland unit, InformationWeek, Optimize and SageCircle of how the IT buyers use industry analysts. In all these studies, the IT buyers themselves tell the researchers how extensively they rely on IT analysts for critical decisions like which vendors to put on a short list. The buyers use the analysts for this type of product decision making support for similar reasons why companies outsource payroll handling to ADP or their employee cafeteria to Marriott.

Besides these objective third-party studies, every vendor relate can specific instances where an analyst have negatively or positively impacted a sales opportunity. These sales impacts occurs because the analysts do more than mere reporting, rather they are active advisors to buyers and key influencers in the industry.

Saturday, 3 December 2005

Norma becomes president of rs-unix

It's a loss for the analyst relations world: today I heard that Norma Larosa has been hired as President of rs-unix, an IBM reseller up in San Francisco.

Norma will be well known to AR veterans as co-founder, with Efrem, of Kensington Group, Inc. (KGI).

Norma was been one of the most widely respected and trusted AR advisors through the 1990s. KGI became part of MetaSource in 2002, but the new owners were not able to give KGI the backing it needed to grow. After KGI decellerated, it wasn't able to offer clients the sort of support they wanted. Of course, analyst relations needs are developing all the time and weak support from MetaSource wasn't enough to keep KGI ahead of the market.

Efrem returned to academia in 2002 (through he still does some research and training through Lighthouse). Through 2003 and 2004 Norma worked hard to keep some of KGI's services running for existing clients. KGI's website hadn't been worked on since 2003, and that reflects how she was focussed on meeting existing clients' needs. Earlier this year the KGI website was taken offline, and not much as been heard from Norma since.

In the long run, even someone with Norma's intense client loyalty cannot have her interest held by a low-growth mature business.Her skills are very broad, and rs-unix look set to gain.

KGI's collapse, like SageCircle's, shows the rapid maturing of the AR market. Nimble firms like KCG, ASG and Lighthouse have been able to deliver similar value at lower prices by copying those pioneers. Norma has not left a minute too early. We wish her every success in the future.

Friday, 2 December 2005

Who do the advisory analysts think are their clients?

Listening to advisory analysts give speeches at conferences or talking to them during inquiries or briefings, analysts say the word "client" all the time. However, who is this client?

The word "client" to an advisory analyst like Gartner or Forrester is almost exclusively meant to be end users, AKA IT managers at mid-sized and above organizations. Even though the vendors spend hundreds of millions with the advisory analysts, the vendor is clearly never thought of as a client, just a checkbook.

Thursday, 1 December 2005

My customer is not your client, or why RAS analysts need to go beyond DRE

Following up on 79.7% of all Gartner RAS statistics are made up, part of the mis-understanding between RAS analysts and vendors AR is down to the customer set surveyed, aka sample size and dispersion. RAS analysts (Gartner, Ovum, Forrester) need to recognise that they have often a much smaller sample size (amazingly, not everyone consults the Borg!) and this sample may be distributed quite unlike a vendors client set. Another factor is that RAS analysts tend to (re)act to client queries. End-user clients tend to pick-up the phone to the consult analysts when thy have an issue, not when their application or piece of kit works just fine (happens apparently). This explains why analysts are often the bearer of bad news and are reluctant to cover stuff that does what it says on the tin. For analysts, one could also argue that such behaviour drives their consulting revenue?

Another sample skew is about geographical and vertical distribution: vendors have a far greater sample size but obviously the dispersion is skewed towards specific industries or geographies where that vendor is stronger. So if you're doing great in say AsiaPac where analysts tend to be thinner on the ground, it's tough to get that recognised by analysts.

Finally, as as SVG points out, it would be nice RAS analysts could be a little more thorough with research and avoid discovering "trends" which are often only based on very few data points.

ARmadgeddon recommendation:

  • VENDORS need to be open with analysts, share installed base demographics and maintenance calls data (at a high level).
  • RAS ANALYSTS need to stop annoying AR with "my client this, my client that" statements and work on their own demographics too; they need to also start covering products that are not generating enquiries.

Monday, 28 November 2005

Are Outsell and Gartner’s blogs real blogs?

As blogs move out from the early adopters community into mainstream, what had to happen is is happening. The spirit of blog is being perverted from the ideal of a participative forum enabled by tools into something which is in fact just a "diarised web" page as as "pseudo-bloggers" do not enable comments on their "blogs". We’ve posted on this before at Gartner’s expense (see Symposium Blog and Gartner Ombudsman Strives for Control) but discovered today another example: Outsell Now does not allow comments either. Shame.

We thought James Governor may have an idea on the question, now that he’s back into action…

Friday, 25 November 2005

79.7% of all Gartner RAS statistics are made up

Gartner RAS analysts are constantly spouting off very authoritative sounding statistics, but is there anything behind those pronouncements?

It’s important to distinguish between the analysts who generate market share number for the Dataquest services and those that primarily deal with end users, AKA IT buyers at corporations and government. The analysts supporting Dataquest services, go out and do the hard work of getting the numbers from vendors and doing their best to validate the information. Dataquest analysts might not always be right, but at least they are making the effort.

On the other hand, the traditional RAS (research advisory service) analysts that deal with end users do very little systematic research. The RAS analysts count on their informal conversations with a statistically small and invalid population of self-selecting clients for much of their information. Most of the rest of the information then comes from vendor briefings. In both cases, none of the data points gathered goes into a knowledge management system or a data warehouse for systematic analysis – it all resides between the ears of individual analysts. Long time Dataquest analysts when discussing their RAS colleagues say “For those RAS guys one data point is a trend, two is confirmation and why bother with three?”

After a few beers, Gartner RAS analysts will tell you that many of their statistics and numbers are DRE – direct rectal extraction. Should end users and vendors be making critical decisions based on recommendations pulled out of some analyst’s behind?

Thursday, 24 November 2005

Ovum seeks intelligence head, Gartner Watch in quest of integrity

Not a very good title, we agree. Nevertheless, those two posts caught our attention today:

Wednesday, 23 November 2005

Gartner rediscovers price benchmarking

Tekrati reports here that Gartner just expanded its “IT Outsourcing Price Benchmarking Service”. This was a service that META Group used to offer and it’s, hem, interesting to observe that it took the Borg 8 months to discover it. Many vendors liked this approach better than the cost based benchmarking Gartner still offers. The Borg may finally have come to realise what META Group Consultants were up to? Shame it decimated the lot though…

Tuesday, 22 November 2005

Ex. Quocirca founder launches Freeform Dynamics

We planned to post on this earlier but Dave got there first: read [Analyst Insights:] Quocirca analyst starts new firm.

Dale Vile has sent us an email to describe this new venture he formed with Helen (Vile) and his web page advertises the following:
"The company was founded on the principle of adopting a more freeform approach to analysing the business impact of developments in the IT and communications markets. As boundaries come down, lines between solution categories blur and convergence takes place at both a technology and a business level, this approach provides more accurate insights into industry dynamics than the traditional category driven research model."

Still confused? Here are the coverage areas:

  • "Communication and collaboration: Convergence, mobility, service provision, information sharing, collaborative working
  • IT infrastructures and application architectures: Virtualisation, utility / grid computing, Web services, SOA, enabling middleware
  • Customer Relationship Management: Call centre solutions, field service automation, sales force automation, best practice
  • Resourcing / Outsourcing: Professional services, outsourcing, off-shoring, platform hosting, application hosting

All this at a business level. Sounds like Dale's getting into an already crowded train...

Our point of view is that the independent analysts marketplace is a very fragmented market with few strong brands. It makes them more difficult with and leverage for vendors (their main clients). However, they balanced this with low overheads enabling them to undercut larger research firms. We however think there is a space for collaboration ; this may be what James is calling Open Source Research?

Seen the release about her silver frequent flyer card?

A friend of mine just sent me a press release to about Absolutely PR’s Maggie Chamberlin Holben. She now has certification as an Industry Analyst Relations Practitioner. Take a look.

I really know the meaning of a slow news day but this is the very opposite of news. The IARP multiple choice quiz is simpler than some hotels' hang-on-your-door-knob breakfast order forms.

The real quiz is this: did Maggie think she was helping KCG? Or did KCG think it was helping Maggie? It looks pretty lame either way.

Monday, 21 November 2005

The inside track of Borg vs. Vendors

We have received this email from Silicon Valley Guy:

“I heard over in Orlando at various receptions, bars and other functions where alcohol was flowing, that one of the companies Gartner lists as a “Powerhouse Vendor” has not renewed its annual contract with Gartner. Evidently it was not related to research or any analyst commentary. What I heard – don’t know how accurate – is that this vendor’s market researchers thought that Gartner was not delivering much value for all the money being spent with it.
Wow, what a novel concept, expecting an analyst firm to deliver value and not just use the contract as a bribe!
I would never let my company do that for fear that the analysts would punish us. I admire this vendor for its stand, but I wonder how much retaliation it has already suffered. The Gartner Sales reps are always telling my company that the contract is important for the "relationship" -- which as near as I can figure out is some kind of code word for something.”

ARmadgeddon commentary: selling RAS (research and advisory services) and other products to vendors as a means to gain access to analysts is always tempting for sales. To their credit, the Borg do not sell white papers to avoid being seen retailing influence and in fear to compromise their brand. However, as they are now in a monopolistic situation, every move to exploit their situation will be scrutinised closely. For vendors looking to purchase market sizing or published research, there are numerous competitors in this space and we recommend to implement a dual vendor policy -at least for the quantitative research. IDC is a strong alternative to Gartner Dataquest in this area and each of them have different strength and weaknesses. Make sure to evaluate carefully those two players as well as specialist players (e.g. Canalys, Analysys, etc...) with a balanced research portfolio in sight. On the product evaluation side, look at Forrester, Evaluator Group, Ideas International, Ovum and other niche/regional players...

“I also heard – amazing how booze loosens peoples’ tongues – that Gartner Sales is playing hardball with other vendors as well. Gartner is doing such client-friendly actions as:

  • Accusing clients of violating the contract and that Gartner might take legal action – but this only occurs during tough contract renewal talks, not during the year when the so-called violations are occurring and Gartner could have raised it earlier

  • Raising prices without adding value

  • Telling clients to cut back on the number of research notes downloaded or the number of inquiries even though the contracts states that there are no limits to these services

In addition to the vendor mentioned above, I heard that other major vendors have had enough with the G-men. Some went without a Gartner contract for weeks or months. Other vendors have severely cut their contracts. Guess what? All these vendors have survived and even prospered without having access to the Gartner analysts”.

ARmadgeddon comments: smaller vendors in particular tend to be bullied with these sorts of ttactics. We recommend suggesting the Borg you may go public or hint you're evaluating competitors.

Friday, 18 November 2005

Weekly digest

The AR blogging community has been busy this week:


Tuesday, 15 November 2005

Is Gartner going Symposium frenzy? Part 2/2

Following our previous post on the Gartner Cannes Fall Symposium (Is Gartner going Symposium frenzy? Part 1/2) on the content side this time, we would start with agreeing with Joe that there was no real news (read Does Symposium have a future?) and he may have a point as the Borg picking up noise and no real trend (read also Does size implies relevance?). His analysis leads him to predict Symposium the same fate as Comdex.

Gartner’s CEO, Gene Hall introduced the event. He evidently got himself a presentation coach after the nervous and wooden spring performance but was still reading from the prompter. We advise the Borg to purchase a W magic jacket and matching earpiece. The opening keynote was rehearsed OTT, long and not bringing much to the theme (Faster ROI) launched by Gene in the introduction. We suggest the Borg to make an effort to actually follow-through the theme during the whole event and to apply Fast ROI to their vendor clients, for instance by making sure the EXP crowd actually sets foot on the show-floor…

As for the rest of the content, it was not very different from the Barcelona gig and they obviously kept some in store for the Amsterdam Data Centre Summit.

Monday, 14 November 2005

Is Gartner going Symposium frenzy? Part 1/2

Starting with the good news, the event production team as usual did a top job (those guys can really run a large show neatly) and the James Bond party at the Carlton hotel was impressive, with its ice scultpted artefacts, a casino room and even oysters… Quite an improvement over previous years, although some say Florence was still the nicest one. We wonder how the Orlando do was in comparison? Miller Lite, chicken wings and Mickey Mouse till 7:30 pm? Just in case you were wondering where your platinum sponsorship package went, we scientifically guesstimated the party budget to $200+ a head (.2 probability).

The estimate we have on attendees numbers vary (we won’t get the final numbers until the event sales team has finished massaging them) between 3500 and 4000, which seems down at lest 500 on last year -a similar in proportion as for the Orlando event. About 60% of those are users (in Europe at least). The unfortunate choice of dates (November 11th is a bank holiday in France and most like to be home early on Fridays) might be one of the causes explaining this audience drop. We also think budgets are tights and events drag less attendee nowadays.

Going on about numbers, we heard some vendors commenting on the number of events: in Europe, Gartner will hold a spring and a fall Symposium, the new Data Centre Conference that will take place in Amsterdam in 2 weeks and other specialists events. Would that symposium frenzy be a good illustration of the law of diminishing returns? This would mean a logic of more events, less attendees for each and decreased ROI for sponsors. BTW, that gala party was quite useful to pickup the exhibitors’ mood (those rich enough to buy stands and vendor sessions) which was quite bleak. After a few glasses of Moet champaign, most of them confessed on being disappointed by the poor audience showing up on the ITxpo show-floor.

As a side comment on Stephen from KGC who was probably high when he accused Gartner to have moved the Symposium dates to kill KGC’s event (read Gartner Disconnects KCG Connects). We agree with SGV that they had to cancel either due to low audience or careless planning this on a Sunday. Or both. But that business of blaming Gartner for having to cancel, even if they’re now becoming a monopoly… tsss…. Side note two: the reason for starting on a Tuesday was that the Palais des Festivals was booked till the WE, which also had a knock-on effect on the show-floor build –ITxpo was not accessible during Tuesday’s lunch.

Bottom line: we recommend vendors to use this year's Symposium shortfalls to negotiate a rebate for 2006.

To be continued tomorrow...

Thursday, 10 November 2005

Strategically monopolistic

Joe (Guralnick) seems to have woken up this week, as he did commit quite a few Gartner Watch posts. In Good debate on price hikes he relates a discussion with Fred Abott from Valley View Ventures on whether Gartner is a monopoly who has freedom to push its prices up. Fred seems to think Gartner is up for sale. ARmadgeddon’s long stated opinion is that Gartner is indeed increasing prices (see (Distant) Echoes from the Barcelona Symposium) and that, while we agree with Fred that their competition is diverse and morphing, Gartner with about 40-50% share is behaving as a natural monopoly. For more on this subject, see Gartner, a natural monopoly (Analyst Equity and Gartner Watch and also Revealed: why Gartner took over META!!!.
Tipping in some more kerosene, Silicon Valley Guy tipped us with the following: “In the October 27th Q3FY05 earnings call, Gartner CEO Gene Hall told the Wall Street analysts that on November 1, Gartner will be doing an across-the-board price increase of 3% to 5%.”

SVG also wrote us about the new industries research & advisory services, which he presents as a “new premium fee-based research services from its core research offering as well as the old GartnerG2 and META standard research. So what use to be included in the core syndicated research, now people have to pay additional to obtain. The premium services run from $25k to $35k. What is really outrageous is that to get access to the Industries services, a client also has to have core research seat, so the real price of Industries access is $35k to $55k depending on your discount for a core Advisory Seat.”
The information we have received so far is that the Industries RAS will be separate deliverables though very similar in form but more business issues focused. However SVG points out an interesting “improvement” over G2: the inclusion of tragic magic quadrants and Marketscopes (a dumbed down version with just a 1 to 5 rating) which of course should prompt vendors to subscribe to get what is said on them and buy reprints. We’ll reserve our judgment on Gartner Industries but based on initial conversations our expectations are low.

The logical outcome of monopolistic position is usually arrogance and fall. Research is commoditizing and Gartner has to make it more relevant to IT buyers. Unfortunately we doubt of their ability to move up the value chain to compete with BCG, system integrators and others. Finally, we know their consulting business is not getting traction (see Gartner ≠ Consulting?).
With all this in mind, it would be nice to get an update on Gartner’s strategy but it is interesting to note that the Borg hasn’t bothered to organise a meeting for the AR profession during the Cannes Symposium…

Wednesday, 9 November 2005

Back in the high life again?

Stephen England's just written his balance sheet of Gartner's Symposium. His verdict: "Last week saw a significant milestone for the tech industry – the return of one of the most reliable bellwethers in the business -- Gartner’s annual Fall Symposium -- to the state it was in before the bubble popping tech crash and the dreadful events of September 11th 2001."

Okay, with a name like ARmadgeddon no-one expects this blog to be optimisitic. But we think Stephen has sniffed one yellow rose too many. He comments that "8,500 people attended the Orlando event (netting out 1,000 odd vendor attendees and a similar number of Gartner team members that’s 6,500 end user technology buyers or ETB’s)." That is a long way short of where Symposium was in 2000, when the conference center was packed solid. I seem to remember being told that there were well over 10,000 there that year.

But Stephen's estimate of the attendance this year also seems a little high to me. 6,500 attendees from end user organizations is 50% higher than the figure Gartner cited in the 'come back soon' packet given to departing firms that had exhibited at Orlando: and not all of those end users are end user buyers. Every year the ITxpo is filled with an increasing percentage of human locusts who seem to be there only for free pens, t-shirts and chicken wings. Indeed, his estimate of Gartner having 40% market share also seems high. My Gartner account manager claimed a much lower percentage.

Of course, since Stephen's biggest asset is a former Gartner analyst, it figures that he and his colleagues want to emphasise Gartner's leadership. But the reality is that Gartner's revenue is smaller now than it was at the peak of the boom; and that is remarkable considering that Gartner acquired META Group.

And that leads us to a rather different conclusion from Stephen: that Gartner's market share is probably lower than at the peak of the boom, and attendance at Symposium seems unlikely to return to the peak before the crash. Indeed, Gartner's recent choices, such as those to sell its custom research wing and to effectively cancel the first full day of the Symposium in Cannes, are signals that it expects hard times ahead.

Monday, 7 November 2005

Symposium Blog

Whether visiting the Gartner Symposium or not, make sure to have a look at the Symposium Blog. The analysis there is pretty dismal (looks like Dell and Microsoft purchased a sponsorship package), but you’ll find menus (we’re looking forward to the food in Cannes :-) and why Disney places toilets strategically. Oh, and yes it’s a moderated blog

Friday, 4 November 2005

Gartner Disconnects KCG Connects

Last month I mentioned how Bill, wearing a Texan flag, hosted a day of discussion for analyst relations professionals attending Symposium in Florida. Gartner's CEO, Gene Hall, was the guest speaker - and did not have the best day of his life there. I've just heard that, thanks to Gartner, the KCG Connects event at the Symposium in Cannes has just been canceled.

KCG says that Gartner has suddenly moved the first full day to Tuesday from Monday, meaning that many people are delaying their arrival, and that a falling number of sign ups for their Sunday event makes it unprofitable for them to fly over to France.

We have to admit that even though it sounds very unlikely that a whole day of the conference was junked at the last minute, we don't think KCG could be making this up. Of course, Symposium always opens with an half day -- for registration and tutorials. And as far as we can see, the tutorial day in Cannes was always scheduled to be the Monday [in contrast, it was the Sunday last year]. Either way, it's certainly easier blame Gartner than to suggest that most Europeans think they have better plans for Sundays.

Wednesday, 2 November 2005

Vinnie shoots at Forrester!

Great post from Vinnie Mirchandani on Forrester in his blog [deal architect:] Forrester's Fortitude. He describes them as bold and taking risk on analysis (i.e. headline research). The SAP case (stock fell 10%) is scary.

What impact has Forrester on European AR professionals?
Headline research, or bold claims with little substanciation, is difficult to deal with for AR people, as getting a retractation from an analyst is difficult. That is unless of course the relationship with the analyst is good and makes him/her more predictable. On the the other hand, Forrester's presence in Europe is far from what it should be (they don't cover hardware for instance).

Friday, 21 October 2005

Does size implies relevance?

Dan Scholler argues in his blog (Dan Sholler's Musings) against the Valley View Ventures paper “IT Industry Analysis Myths: Business of IT Industry Analysis Revealed”.

One of the interesting points of the discussion (read the comments from James Governor and Fred Abott) is whether size allows the
Gartner Borg to be more relevant by “leverage[ing] the conversations with hundreds of clients in a short period of time, whereas an independent analyst is unlikely to be able to access the same volume of information"”?

We’ve commented numerous times before that the Borg is acutely afflicted by siloisation: despite Andy’s comments, we maintain that Gartner analysts do not have incentives to work with consultants (this conversation may be sooo yesterday anyway) but also that the information exchange within Gartner is poor, both across services silos and also between DQ and RAS analysts. This would indeed negate Dan’s point.

The issues caused by that siloisation are chiefly about interaction inconsistency (both in content and quality) for Gartner clients. We heard several user and vendor customers complaining about getting different analysts for each engagement, and of very variable quality.

There is however hope as the Borg management seems to be aware of the problem. We advise Gartner clients to remain vigilant on this point and to assess regularly their progress.

Thursday, 20 October 2005

Techra and cousins: pot noodles for AR dinners

We (and about everyone else it seems) got pinged by Jim Zimmermann from Techra, a new venture he founded after creating and selling Analyst Views to Bitpipe (subsequently assimilated by TechTarget and then resold to Northern Light -do you still follow the plot?).

Both sites are pretty similar, and if one add Tekrati the market is quite crowded. All those aim to aggregate analyst content and make it easier for AR managers to trawl through research (probably the most exciting part of AR?), while offering analyst firms directory. They differentiate on the added value services: Tekrati offers an analyst profiles database while Techra and Analyst view create "consensus reports" amalgamating the opinion of several analysts in document.

Our opinion is that they all help AR newbies by providing directories and ready made information -quite useful for briefing books or to know who to brief. Established AR practices within large firms will often be better resourced though.
The consensus reports is an interesting option to create a report compare and contrast the opinions of the various firms on a given subject for $25k (or 12-18k for a brief).

Monday, 17 October 2005

Gartner ≠ Consulting ?

ARpro posted earlier on Gartner selling their custom research department: Gartner exits Custom Research ?!? Some more thoughts on this: as we mentioned earlier (Resistance is futile, All resistance is futile, Germany, Gartner, a natural monopoly), the Borg already killed META Group Consulting (MGC). We also heard at the KGC Connect sessions in Orlando (a nice AR gathering at $500 a pop!) that Bill thinks Gene Hall is planning to spin off the consulting business within 6-9 months.

Killing the golden goose?

This move is quite surprising as MGC was boasting a double digit growth and a good utilisation rate and we'd love to hear what the securities analysts are saying about Gartner's strategy.
Conversely, it seems like a nice opportunity for IDC and META’s illegitimate offspring but also independent analysts if ever they can coalesce to balance the market or turn open-source.

What’s the Borg strategy then?

Well, so it seems determined to keep the prices high at the risk of alienating key vendors, keep making good money from their events business. Would this mean a deliberate attempt to curb the influence of vendors? If that was the case, they plan may be to increase the perceived independence and therefore justifying the premium they can charge? Will the market accept that high-integrity means high-value?

Sunday, 16 October 2005

Just don't take their fashion tips

It's the first day of Gartner's Symposium today. Having unpacked my bags here at DisneyWorld, I picked my way through the crowds of little Snow Whites and Peter Pans to the Coronado's convention center, where Bill and his group were organising a networking event for almost 60 seasoned [over-seasoned?] analyst relations professionals.

Those of us who love Bill know that he has a lot to share. So, it was a bit of surprise to be at an event where he let other people do the talking: AR pro's and people from the analyst companies. It was a great day.

Needless to say, Bill still found a way to make an impact by dressing Stephen, Chris, Niwas and himself in these matching shirts made of the Texan flag.

Let's hope they have enough to wear them for the whole week. It will certainly brighten the week up!

Friday, 14 October 2005

Reacting to an analyst attack

Interesting points from Duncan on How to react to negative reports: [Analyst Equity] “When analysts attack”.

We’d add two points to his analysis:

  1. Vendors need not to over-react to negative reports; it has often unwanted consequences like the analysts sniffing a sweet-spot.

  2. A fair criticism is often not a bad thing, as it positions the research note as truly independent. If you want marketing brochures, write them yourselves.

He however assumes one’s always dealing with rational, unbiased and honest analysts. Quite unfortunately, this is not always the case, as we’ve seen analysts verging on the sanity engage in passionate and irrational arguments with vendors for the sake of having an intellectual contest.
We believe those are actually a small minority, but most vendors quite rightly do not react well to this treatment. Seeing an analyst spitting out a competitor’s FUD year after year probably also falls into this category.
In those extreme cases, we suggest escalating to management level, to cut funding (at least temporarily) and ignore deliberately the analyst for a while…

Thursday, 13 October 2005

Gartner exits Custom Research ?!?

Now it gets interesting. Duncan has pointed out that Gartner has sold its Custom Research business.

My first thought was: how come research is no longer a core competency for research companies. It's not like Gartner needs the money, is it?

But then I started wondering about the money side. The sale involves an eight year outsourcing contract from Gartner to keep on running the IT panel surveys. So this makes GCR a really valuable asset.

I'll leave Joe to run the numbers, but I can't see how this works out to be good news for Gartner. Gartner is stepping out of customer research just at the time when Forrester is moving into it (if I am to believe my account manager there). And it's giving a guaranteed income, against which it can borrow, to an upstart analyst firm that intends to buy other analyst firms, more than double in size, and becomne a full-service analyst firm.

It's just really, really strange.

Wednesday, 12 October 2005

SPAR, not Spas, in Orlando

In a few days the AR community will be gathering in Orlando for Gartner's Symposium. Of course, all our colleagues think we have a week of pampered fun in our DisneyWorld resort. Sadly we are all too busy to take advantage of the hotel spa. Our only trip to the Magic Kingdom will be to bring back lost executives.

So while there's no spa time, there will be SPAR time. Those of us in the Valley who want to establish a society for professional analyst relations people are hoping to expand our support on our annual pilgrimage to the Atlantic. For those of you who haven't read earlier posts on this topic, the plan is NOT that we combine to pressurize the analyst houses. Instead, we want to network, develop professionally and promote analyst relations as a real profession. There's some flexibility: not only vendors, but also external service providers like freelancers and PR agencies and those who are in-between jobs.

Progress has been slow. Out of nine action items from the first SPAR meeting, nothing happened on most of them, because no-one had the time to volunteer: Everyone is really busy. The majority of us have corporate managers to deal with, and that limits our spare time. A few external service providers really have time and energy to support something like SPAR -- Tom, Bill, Duncan and Barbara -- but they are excluded for some rather spurious reasons (but they'll be hanging around at the edges, and Duncan is even flying over from London).

At Symposium we'll be seeing what progress has been made, and discussing how we can communicate outside meetings with blogs, online communities, LinkedIn, newsletters and so on -- especially because AR is a big global community, and not everyone can come to a central location.

In November, we'll have a meeting (probably at SAP) which will have a lot to review: charters, goals, structure, some common projects like a survey and directory -- and a series of how-to discussions on case studies. It's a busy agenda, so I remain a little unsure about whether we have enought support yet to make everything happen. However, it's certainly a move in the right direction.

Thursday, 6 October 2005

[Analyst insight]: John Collin's blog

David (Rossiter from Sunesis) points to Jon Collin’s blog: The Days Are Just Packed. We learn the interesting things on the drudgery analyst life, but to the difference of ranting Andy (Bitterer, not to be confused with randy Andy or even with Andy Butler), this is with a good dose of English humour. A most needed quality indeed, as we learn of the London mishaps, the gazpacho and thumb incident and bumper episode
We also learn he’s writing book on Rush and it all makes up for an entertaining read in the end…

While we hope John will keep posting frequently, the departure of Dale Vile from Quocirca may keep him busy on other fronts?

Wednesday, 5 October 2005

Hiring Gartner analysts to increase business intelligence?

From an Onymous reader: Hyperion Hires Former Gartner VP As Chief Strategy Officer. This business intelligence software company hired Howard Dresner, ex Gartner Research Fellows (now only 12 left...) and "led the formation of Gartner's business intelligence research practice". Hyperion must have liked what they got from Gartner: a happy soon-ex-customer?

Who will be next to gain from the brain drain?

Tuesday, 4 October 2005

Microsoft hires from Gartner, right, left and centre!

We don’t know if it’s a policy or a trend, but several Borg analysts have defected for the software giant: Earl Perkins (ex-META, security research?), Ashim Pal (ditto and to do AR) and Michael Haines (Americas channel strategy).
ARmadgeddon wishes them good luck: advising is often easier than doing…

Devious minds would suggest that MSFT’s position in the Magic Quadrants is going to improve.  On the other side, they are still using several PR agencies to execute their AR tactics, not getting a lot of kudos from the analysts anyhow…

Friday, 30 September 2005

Gartner hires new SVP

Tip from Sillicon Valley Guy:  Gartner submitted a SEC form 4 granting options to a new officer, Kendall Davis, SVP of Strategy, Marketing & Business Development. No press release and Davis not listed on the management page yet...

Thursday, 29 September 2005

Gobernator attack: redux

Looks like the hunting season has started and the Redmonks are after the Borg:
A Gartner Analyst walks into a bar...

The post is about Gartner making bold statements (like "UNIX is dead") and "fall into the trap of binary thinking".

James, like many other bloggers, think conversation will outflank conventional anlayst firms:
Governor attack! (check the comments) Alike the JBoss model against the IBM/Microsoft one?

Wednesday, 28 September 2005

Tekrati announces Gartner Datacentre conference

Tekrati nicely reworked Gartner’s press release to make it readable: Gartner Plans Annual European Data Center Summit 2005. However, this is not the first DataCentre Conference –the Borg ran one a few years in London back and dropped it after sponsor complained that audiences did not meet expectations. The conference will be fronted by Tom Bittman, Andy Butler, Brian Gammage and some other 9 BorgMembers.  On a related topic, we hear a star German datacenter analyst has parted with Gartner but have not yet received confirmations of his destination. Andy may know?

Tuesday, 27 September 2005

Note to PR agencies: stop spamming analysts! (and just everyone else)

What's wrong with all those PR folks? Is it just because they think they "own" the messages (note the differences with "understanding"), that they feel authorised to send alerts to just about everyone, follow-up with a release, a pitch, etc, etc, etc...?

Here's a wake-up call from Borg-Andy Bitterer (as ex-META Group, he's got an excuse though), in case previous posts (Analysts say tech waffle is 'most frustrating') doe not make the point clearly enough: [bit blue blog;] This is Ground Control to PR Tom

Monday, 26 September 2005

Governor attack!

Redmonk’s James Governor launches at the big ones: in this post (Why Forrester isn't part of the conversation. Its like NY Times Select) he describes why you need to be in the open to start the conversation. And in this one (How Gartner competes with IBM. we all do?) he assesses how the Borg is threatened by open source analysis, such as Wiki and blogs.

The issue for Gartner and Forrester is that he’s right: even if BigCorp, Inc will probably always spend some bucks with the Borg and others to cover their asses (analysts are quite open to the fact they’re often engaged to give their advice on a purchasing decision a posteriori just to justify the budget before their CIO or board), we think that the days of the subscription model are counted. The first victims will be door stoppers retailers such as the poor Butler guys, unless they can recoup the drop in subscriptions with their events business.

This said, the economic model for open source analysis is still challenging…

Saturday, 24 September 2005

Murphy's PR Hype Cycle

Analysts get a pleasing name-check on the PR Hype Cycle. This is the invention of our Tom Murphy, who writes PR Opinions when he's not collecting frequent flyer points jetting between here and his home in Dublin.

This is an entertaining diagram, but it gives us a couple of thoughts - not only about Tom's chart but also about the Hype Cycle in general.

It's very interesting that Visibility is Gartner's axis, alongside time. The more I look at Hype Cycles, I am sure that the results are totally subjective. Looking at the Time axis, for example, items tend to be charted neither in the order of their invention, nor of their arrival on the 'Plateau' but rather their mainstream acceptance by mature market players. For example, email is way more visible than VNR.

Nor, indeed, are items in the 'Peak of Inflated Expectations' necessarily over-inflated. Gartner says that RFID and smartphones are there at the moment, but both those technologies are delivering a lot of value to the agressive early adoptors that use them.

However, looking at a few other Hype Cycles, we've also noticed a great feature, which is the indication of how long something will take to each maturity, if at all. Some things on Gartner's Hype Cycles just drop down dead, the way that fax has.

Friday, 23 September 2005

Insystek buys Gartner's independence

The more I tell people I don't want dessert, the more I want it. Am I the only person who feels like that? Maybe not -- because Gartner seems to have the same contradiction.

The more Gartner talks about its independence and rigor, the more its people on the ground are love-hate bombing us -- telling us that good things happen to those pay their way.

Informally, they suggest that Gartner will be half-way to being a channel partner. Only now it seems it's formal.

On Insystek's home page they are highlighting their major business partners: along side the usual suspects like Microsoft and LANware is Gartner!

Try to imagine how all of Insystek's competitors are speaking about Gartner right now... then double it. The account manager at Gartner must have gotten a very sweet upside from Insystek to make outrage worthwhile.

P.S. It look five days, but Gartner got Insystek to full the listing on September 28. Score one for Team ARmadgeddon. To see how Gartner was presented, check out Google's cache.

Thursday, 22 September 2005

AR manager in search of automated reporting

James Governor quotes some IBM bloggers in this post: On IBM AR, "I dream of a world of standard reporting", and death of the analyst business.  One of the IBMer blogging mentions automated reporting.

We suspect James and that AR bloggette may not be speaking the same language: one of the chores of AR managers and agencies is reporting. In PR agencies, they call it clippings because they usually employ slave-labour to clip all the press articles that the PR agencies will claim as results of their activities.

In this post (Measuring Analyst Relations) we argue that most AR teams are measured based on clippings, hence the reporting issue mentioned above.

Solving this issue is tricky, as most services do no offer tonality analysis, other than through human readers.  As the Kensington Group (anyone seen Norma lately?) experience shows (they went bust), the costs involved are such that it does not make a sustainable economic model.  That’s why AR managers spend their time collating reports and marking them positive, neutral or negative.  This is a bad method of reporting for at least two reasons: it automatically leads to self-selecting samples and self-evaluation bias.

Wednesday, 21 September 2005

EMEA analysts: loving but cynical

Duncan has a nice post (Four Rules for Global AR) on doing AR in EMEA: it is too often that US based corporations forget their business is influenced predominantly by local analysts.

EMEA analysts tend to have a broader coverage are (like hardware vs. UNIX low-end servers) and are most of the time more cynical (Duncan says “candid” but I suspect he’s trying to be polite) and can be edgy to deal with for execs not used to British or German humour.

However, because they are cross-topic and no-nonsensical, they can present an invaluable outside opinion on strategy and messages and should be considered for WW product launches pre-briefings.

Sunday, 18 September 2005

Models of the AR process

I've just re-discovered a cool chart that Bill Hopkins put together for the AIIM Advisory Trade Members meeting in Phoenix earlier this year. Bill's presentation outlines the eight steps for a successful AR program:

  1. Target the right analysts
  2. Establish the right partnerships
  3. Build a contact strategy and plan
  4. Nominate an interactor team
  5. Arm them with the best presentations
  6. Train them in analyst interactions
  7. Integrate AR with the sales force
  8. Measure the results of the program.
These are okay, but they focus on how to start up an interaction program with analysts. More is required to start-up and maintain AR. So a number of questions remain unaddressed:
  • How do you get buy-in to AR in the first place?
  • What goals can be 'sold' to executives in order to get resources for AR?
  • Is there more to AR than telephone and face-to-face interactions -- what about newsletters and extranets?
  • Is there more to integration than connecting to sales - what about marketing, PR, competitive intelligence and senior executives?
  • How can you get the most benefit from your relationships with analysts?
Perhaps these are questions that don't concern many of Bill's clients. Serving 700 organizations (according to his website; over 800 according to the slides) must mean that most of his business is with mid-sized firms. He's explicit that he isn't doing in-depth consulting with most of them. It did seem to be that these are questions that SageCircle addresses before it went bust, and I am hopeful that we'll start to dig deep on some of those questions as SPAR gets going.

A lot has been happening with SPAR recently. Most of you outside the Bay area won't know what we're doing, so I'll make another post about that next week.

Saturday, 17 September 2005

Microsoft AR plays Darth Vader at Linux love-in

We've clearly been slacking over the summer, because we missed this bizarre clipping.

At the leading Linux conference, Google look on Microsoft in a technology quiz. The report states: "Microsoft led by Analyst Relations Specialist Rob Curran, wore a full Darth Vader suit, while the others donned Stormtrooper costumes."

Rob, by the way, doesn't actually work for Microsoft but for one of its public relations agencies, Waggener Edstrom, who seem to be looking for new AR staff. The view from this cubicle is that Rob probably got promoted. Microsoft will have been delighted to have its representatives linking its brand to the epitome of evil.

With bright thinking like this around, maybe we should rethink our Underperform rating on PR agencies? Or maybe not...

Thursday, 15 September 2005

Analysts say tech waffle is 'most frustrating'

Analysts say tech waffle is 'most frustrating', according to the new AR division of Rainier PR, an agency in England. Its research reports that EMEA analysts feel that AR by PR agencies with with an AR division is better than AR from a PR firm without one. However, our first reaction is cautious: after all, they would say that, wouldn't they?

Regular readers of this blog know that our stance is that almost all PR agencies stink at AR: we have met them all, and just don't feel comfortable using them. While many PR firms do claim to have AR divisions, we've always Googled these guys when we've come across them. Most of them seem to be full-time PR people with an extra set of business cards.

Needless to say, our stance touches a raw nerve especially amongst AR people in the PR world, like Duncan, who previously worked for Brodeur. A terse little email from him tells us "It's totally counterproductive to focus your fire on PR agencies that are trying to make analyst relations better. There aren't many AR people, in-house on in agencies, that will take the time to ask analysts what they really want. Our surveys of analysts show that even major vendors, with mature AR outreach, aren't giving analysts what they need".

It seems to us that this is partly right, but we still think it's Duncan who's missing the point. Most PR agencies think that AR means organizing briefings. Period. That's what the research that we mentioned earlier focused on, to the exclusion of anything else. It's certainly a step forward for PR agencies to understand that briefings should be better, but it doesn't help them to wise up to a broader view. Research like this encourages people to focus more on the briefing, and less on how to build and leverage a relationship with analysts. Rather than making the annual corporate road trip a little better, why not try to break the cycle of briefing and silence that seems so very comfortable for both PR agencies and executives?

Monday, 12 September 2005

Evalubase falls out with XMG

Following on from our post about XMG, a depressingly amusing war of words has opened up on Analyst Equity about former META analyst Doug Laney's working arrangements.

Duncan's post lists Laney as a XMG analyst, even though he is also listed as an analyst at Evalubase. In start-up firms like this, it's smart to work for two firms -- but perhaps Evalubase and XMG didn't both know, since Doug, XMG and Andy Bitterer are been slugging it out on the comments page. According to Doug, he isn't part of the XMG team. That's news to XMG.

Since even Andy seems to hold down a second job, as a mystery shopper for KLM, I don't see what the problem is.

Friday, 9 September 2005

Gartner's Copyright and Quote Policy: it's just stupid

Gartner's so-called copyright policies shouldn't fool anyone: the firm is claiming rights that is it not granted by copyright laws.

The firm states "To use the "Gartner" name, take excerpts of Gartner research or quote Gartner analysts, a usage request must be submitted in writing to Gartner Vendor Relations for approval." Clearly, even Gartner can't believe that is has any legal right to prevent people from using the word "Gartner". The firm would clearly be overwhelmed if everyone did do.

Nevertheless, it states "Gartner reserves the right to impose quote bans of varying durations, including a ban on all use of the Gartner name." Perhaps some companies have contractual obligations with Gartner not to refer to that firm with its permission; we doubt that Gartner could make such a claim hold up in court.

Underpinning this bombastic intimidation is a reasonable desire: Gartner only wants recent quotes to be used, and used in context.

However, its policies give vendors a difficult choice:

  • Either they work within Gartner's quote request process, which makes them give up a whole range of legal freedoms in exchange for nothing.
  • Or they work outside the quote request process (or get legally independent entities like PR agencies to do so) which will chill the relationship with the office of the ombudsman but will leave them with all the normal legal rights to quote from copyright materials which intellectual freedom and scientific progress rests on.

Has anyone heard of Gartner getting legal with firms that didn't follow the quote policy?

Another META offshoot

Reported in Analyst Equity: after Meton Group in Germany (forced by the Borg to rename as Experton and cancel their conference), another analyst outfit, XMG, has been founded on the remains of META Group after it was wiped out by the Borg competitive wipe-out and META Group Consulting was disbanded. The eXMetaGroup includes William Carlson, Edan Puritt, Sylvia Stolk, Eugene Talasch, Lauro Vives and Michael Zammit.

Good luck to them…