Monday, 13 June 2005

A new Aberdeen arises

Analyzing the Analysts Azul Partners, a research company that writes supportive marketing content for its clients, has been hired by Aberdeen Group. The master has become the student: this is exactly the sort of research that Aberdeen was disrespected for in the 1990s. Its reputation for bias was legend. Now the firm has a new, and better, business model. However, old habits die hard. Aberdeen has commissioned a report (http://www.azulpartners.com/Downloads/AzulPartners_TheRealDeal.pdf) which shows their firm to be every bit the equal of Gartner.

Azul's report has the same problems as those of the 'old' Aberdeen: In tendency, perhaps the findings are partly correct. However, the stark extremity of the findings leaves the whole thing very doubtful. Aberdeen Group may have a new model, but it seems that Azul is the new Aberdeen.

7 comments:

ARonaut said...

Absolutely hilarious: Aberdeen commissioning another firm to create a "survey" to restore their long lost credibility. This is so... Microsoft!

Azul said...

Thanks for reading the piece. But your statements are factually incorrect and not in the spirit of the study. Here are the actual details:
- Aberdeen commissioned the study for their internal marketing planning
- Azul Partners suggested publishing the results once the study was complete based on the findings (which we found to be quite interesting and revealing and thought other readers would as well).

- Jason Busch (Azul Partners)

theARpro said...

Hi Jason,

Here's a quote from your website:
"Azul Partners works with executive teams and marketing organizations to develop content that takes a point of view and stands above the crowd, displaying a depth of knowledge and subject matter expertise that tells the market that they need to be talking to you.
"From product positioning to thought campaigns designed to change the basis of competition, Azul Partners develops content to help organizations take their marketing to the next level. We don’t just help you sell to the market. We help you influence it."

Your firm exists to write marketing content. No-one would hire your firms to do research that was not developed with marketing in mind. The process you describe is well known to all of us who hired Aberdeen in the 1990s: write the study and, if the results can be made to look good, publish them.

No-one can blame you for maintaining this charade in order to defend Aberdeen's investment. You are certainly doing great work for this. But we both no that no independent third party, not working from a list of contacts largely provided by Aberdeen, could replicate these results.

Honestly, you need to learn from the 'old' Aberdeen. Even they limited their clients excesses.

Azul said...

Very fair point from the website ... however, this was the first time we have ever published a study in our name. The reason we did it is because of our background in working with the analysts and because we maintain a small practice (less than 5% of our business) advising our vendor clients how best to invest their analyst dollars as part of broader marketing efforts.

In the past 18 months since launching Azul Partners, we've published hundreds of pieces of private-label content for our clients (whitepapers, newsletters, blogs, diagnostics etc.). That's how we work on the content side of the business (the other half of the business is market strategy, like the research we did for this project). We will never be a firm that validates products and companies from a third party perspective. That’s not our business. We published this piece because we thought our clients -- and the general public -- would benefit from seeing it. The intention was never to carry out a research project for Aberdeen and then publish the results under our name -- publication was an after thought 1 1/2 months after we completed the research and presented the results. This was an internal study we choose to make public external after the fact. I can assure you, we will not be getting into the “pay for play game”. I’ve spend the past 10 years in the industry, and that’s not a business model you want to be in. Read the “content” section of our website: www.azulpartners.com and you can read our perspectives on the type of content we think is valuable and that we produce – 99.9 times out of 100 in a private label fashion.

Cheers, Jason

theARpro said...

Louis Columbus indicates some of the issues with this study...

"Free trial to Aberdeen Access as an incentive. This is troubling. The fact that one in three took it says that respondents may have felt compelled to give glowing reviews to Aberdeen to make sure they got this.

"Show us your respondents. I couldn't find a listing of the companies contacted, and the description of respondents in this report doesn't really indicate how many companies there are included. Red flag: Aberdeen provided the respondents out of their database -- were they cherry-picked or random? We don't know.

"Questionnaire needs to be shown. Like the Little Caesar's example above, how can anyone be sure the questions were unbiased? No one knows -- but solid research always provides the questionnaire as an appendix.

""...no firm or individual had undertaken a primary research study to look at how vendors and end users perceive analyst firms in today's market." Azul Partners, please Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) the following companies: Analyst Strategy Group; Lighthouse Analyst Relations; Outsell; Photizogroup. Each has a current study exactly on this topic with results varying from the Azul study."

Louis' article is at at
http://www.crmbuyer.com/story/Q3kH38RY1EpnNd/Discovering-Real-Influencers.xhtml (See under 'Analyst heal thyself'.

Anonymous said...

There are times to just shut up and put up. The comments from Azul here do nothing to convince anyone that this once rancid firm is ever going to convince anyone that they are worthy of respect.

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