Friday, 29 April 2005

Post-scriptum on "Yankee, analyst impartiality and circular references"

More on the ethics/conflict of interest/independence: there are two schools of thoughts here -analyst firms either do white papers or they don't.

  • When they do -and we have nothing against vendors paying for white papers as long as it's done openly- it can be quite tempting to influence analysts (check this old but excellent Ben King article) or even threaten them if they're small. We've seen in the comments about "Get the facts" in our previous post that it can backfire.
  • Or they don't. The point we were making here is that it is hypocritical to oppose independence to doing white papers -because the vendor influence then moves away from public scrutiny to paid for "consulting session" (that is getting x analysts in a room -Gartner charges @ $10-12k each- for what is in fact a paid briefing).

Additional note: the argument that smaller firm are less independent may be true for some, but those who compromise their business model by having short term vision don't usually last long as a reputation is quicky compromised. We also question what benefits IT vendors would get from analysts they employ that would only agree with them?

Check also this Computerworld article by Thomas Hoffmann on the same subject: Market research providers confront credibility concerns.

Finally, more circulyperlink orgy: Joe presses reporters to "ask the tough questions about research you use, or not use the research at all." in his GartnerWatch blog.
Can't agree more: D.O. Y.O.U.R. R.E.S.E.A.R.C.H.!


R.E.Searcher said...

You must have been out of the analyst relations business for some time....

>> "consulting session" (that is getting x analysts in a room -Gartner charges @ $10-12k each- for what is in fact a paid briefing)

... or you have been in too many sessions where the vendor folks are simply unprepared and don't know how to listen. Because consulting sessions are NOT briefings.

Or... your just don't D.O. Y.O.U.R. R.E.S.E.A.R.C.H.

Anonymous said...

Your are right that consulting sessions should not be briefings, but I think this post may be referring to something you have not encountered yet. My experience is that it is quite common for vendors to not be able to get briefing appointment with analysts, and that it's only after accepting a suggestion from the account manager that the vendor buys some consulting time that the analyst will meet the vendor. In particular, this was a solid, formal, policy with META, which would explicitly decline requests for breifings on the ground that the vendor was not a client.

ARonaut said...

Note to R.E.Searcher

We would argue that yes, you are right: many vendors come unprepared to a consulting session, give a sales pitch to the analysts and are not ready to take in the feedback in a truly bi-directional exchange.

However, we maintain that some analyst firms -and we don't point at Gartner here, although we agree it was ambiguous to have their day price in the same post- ask to pay for play. We agree with Ann Onymous that it was a standard practice at META.

James Governor said...

big means independent is the most pernicious load of bullshit. look at the mainstream media.

look at the Big 4 or three or whatever it is now accounting firms. Oh sure Grant Thornton was independent from Parmalat because it was big. Yeah Andersen was sure independent from Enron.

its a frame, and an ugly one at that.

And its a frame that it would serve you well to question, imho.

briefing for pay - is a practice that Redmonk disapproves of because it penalizes small vendors. its an unacceptable barrier to entry.

I do agree that firms should be allowed to license their content for use in vendor marketing. At Redmonk we refuse to take commissions on reports - content can only be licensed after the fact (which also cuts down on the massive admin overheads of horse trading about what is and what is not fair and reasonable comment in a report). Its not perfect, but we reserve the right.

We are also big fans of DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH. we will happily coach users on how to use alternative models for research. its about knowledge transfer not service based lock in. Although obviously we're happy to provide services too.

Tony Byrne said...

The simplest and best route for any analyst or analyst firm, IMHO, is to be clear about whether you work for the technology buyer or the technology seller.

You cannot work for both seller and buyer in the same marketplace and be completely free of conflicts of interest.

bitblue said...

Note to anonymous

>> In particular, this was a solid, formal, policy with META, which would explicitly decline requests for breifings on the ground that the vendor was not a client.

This is pure nonsense. I worked at META and there was no such policy. I talked to every vendor in my coverage space (and beyond), regardless of whether they were a client or not. Now, I too declined vendor briefings, but only those that came through some obscure PR company that apparently tried to get any analyst into a briefing, for which I had not even a marginal interest in the technology. I typically come down pretty hard on those PR clowns, that basically google analysts and spam them with briefing requests.

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