Friday, 29 July 2005

It cuts both ways

When it's coffee time on the ARmadgeddon campus we often talk of the power that industry watchers have over the vendors. It's fair to say that Gartner has the power to break of break us, both as businesses and as climbers of our corporate ladder. This weekend, let's give a thought to Michael Lynn, who career has been so toasted by Cisco that we suspect the only work he can get now is either for Kim Jong-il (who now prefers the company of technocrats) or being an assistant at Stanford.

For those of you who don't know the story, here it is. ISS researcher Michael Lynn found a major flaw in Cisco's routers. "Not to sensationalize, but it would be the digital Pearl Harbor we've heard about," Lynn said. Lynn agreed to address the Black Hat conference to draw attention to the dangers, and to push Cisco to act. "I felt it was the right thing to do for the country and for the national critical infrastructure" added Lynn. According to AP:
"Cisco, the leading maker of Internet equipment, was originally supposed to join Lynn on stage. But the company and ISS changed course earlier this week and tried to cancel the session, going so far as to hire workers to yank pages from conference handouts and seek a court order."

Lynn had to choose between keeping his job or making his presentation. Bravely, he chose the latter option. AP reports Lynn saying that his demonstration was stripped of any information that would lead anyone to figure out how the technique works. Nevertheless, Cisco's full legal apparatus was thrown at Lynn. ZDnet reports:
After the talk, Lynn retained attorney Jennifer Granick in the face of legal action by his former employer ISS and Cisco. Granick is the executive director of the Stanford Law School Centre for Internet and Society.
"Without her help I would be in some really serious trouble," Lynn said Thursday.

Stanford's Centre for Internet and Society(CIS) is playing an essential role in ensure the Internet serves the public good. To track their work, go to to subscribe to the CIS cyberlaw newsletter, Packets.

Tuesday, 26 July 2005

Analyst insight: "Gartner absorbs vertical services from G2"

As hinted here and revealed here, Gartner is moving to streamline their organisation and make sure the borg speaks to the borg. And since David is back from holidays, he produced a nice summary of the recent Gartner teleconference for AR professionals:
Analyst Insight: Gartner absorbs vertical services from G2

So, consulting will report to Sondergaard and that means the verticals are in the same organisation than the research silos.

Outsell has more in Going, Going, Going Vertical: Gartner Announces New Vertical Industry Products. Namely "client-shaped research agendas" and more transparency.

Bottom line: we think Gartner is moving in the right direction to address shortcomings of its silos and business practices. We welcome in particular the merging of G2 with research, but with a word of caution on the compensation model as analysts are not financially compensated to partner with consulting. This creates tensions in the organisation and has historically created situations where consulting and research have conflicting recommendations.
Another sore point for vendors remains the fact that the event business is still a separate entity as this will continue to present challenges for vendors to leverage their investment with Gartner across the whole product portfolio.

Monday, 25 July 2005

B3: Resistance is ... umm ... fertile

Andy's done a long post in his bit blue blog (any connection with Big Blue?) with answers to Joe and ARmadgeddon: Resistance is ... umm ... fertile. We've posted comments :-)

Friday, 22 July 2005

One more cat in the Valley gang

Update from Fred Abott to our previous post (Valley View Ventures: successfully herding cats?): Roger Kay (formerly IDC) has just established his own firm -Endpoint Technologies Associates- and selected V3 for representation.

The start of a federation against the Borg?

Thursday, 21 July 2005

Gartner Watch: an open debate is good!

Have we got an axe to grind or are we contributing to an open debate?

Check all those comments: Joe first and foremost, Andy Bitterer (here and here), Silicon Valley Guy, R.E. Searcher (here, here), Ann Honimhous (here, here), James Governor (here, here and best of all there), Tony Byrne (here too), Indie Boy (here) but also to Duncan, David, Vinnie and all the other ones we can't possibly cite...

So, what do you think?

Keep your feedback coming! Agree, disagree, we love it!! And we're not moderated!!!

Bahahaaaahhha (private joke between James and Andy a.k.a. Drone #26022)

Wednesday, 20 July 2005

SPAR-ing partners

We just noticed Duncan's post asking What sort of AR association is needed?, which is a nice summary -- and more or less the only public one -- of some discussions going on about getting AR people closer together, including our repost yesterday from Stephen England.

As we posted last month, around three dozen people were represented at a Palo Alto meeting recently to discuss setting up an analyst relations professionals association. This is the third such attempt, and we hope it will be 'third time lucky'. A follow-up meeting will be held in Palo Alto in a few months' time, and a meeting will be organized in Orlando for attendees at Gartner's Symposium.

This is a promising development, and something we've talked about before (See our May post 'First signs of a professional association?'). The AR community is atomized and there is little wide-spread adoption of, or agreement on, best practice.

However, previous attempts to develop similar associations have failed. Those organizations struggled to gain scale, organizational resiliance and widespread acceptance. To succeed, this society needs scale, resiliance and respect.

Those who gathered at HP's offices were energetic, enthusiastic and appreciative of Carter Lusher's initiative in gathering them together. Nevertheless, that goodwill and energy is no guarantee of progress, no more than steam without a turbine can produce power.

The core issues of scale, resiliance and acceptance were not fully addressed in the discussion. Without resolving those tasks, the meeting at HP can be as successful as Kensington Group's AR Forums, KCG's Connect sessions or Lighthouse's European AR Club (which some in the Bay Area have also had a taste of). However, the appetite of some at the meeting is for a global and respected AR organization: that requires resolving these three issues.

Scale. Should colleagues 'tainted' by media relations or consulting be allowed to participate? Some forums are limited to those who organise AR outreach full-time. But then what about Microsoft's PR agencies, which contain almost 100 AR and PR specialists? Less than a handful of them work on AR full time, but surely there must be a lot of insight there. And what about the AR consultancies? ASG, Kensington, KCG, Lighthouse and the rest have a lot of insight and, as consultancies, they will have very broad experience that most of us don't have. We just don't see any good reason for excluding anyone. It looks really bad too. Some cynic told me the rule is there because Lusher and Hopkins will take any excuse to avoid seeing each other. Whatever.

Resiliance. Carter has huge energy and self-confidence, but broad active participation and professional organization will be needed. However, so did the earlier projects. If we want something that is representative, then it needs to be professionally organized. That needs a formal structure. If we reply on people to do it as a hobby, then it will fall apart.

Respect. It's not clear if we are launching a valley, national-wide or global organization. I would guess that the people at the meeting at HP represented 8% of people managing AR programs in California; 4% of those in the US; and 2% of those worldwide. Here we are, preparing charters and deciding on names. If we are organizing a Valley-wide networking group, then that's fine. However, if we assume that we have the authority to establish a global body, then that will stink of arrogance. It needs to be a slow and respectful process; not just a show of hands at a meeting at the US Symposium, while ignoring folk who attend Symposium in other countries, or who can't make it along that day.

Tuesday, 19 July 2005

Who needs a quango?

We thought we'd repost this article by Stephen F. England (who is English. Even through he's learnt how to spell 'program' right, I think he needs to remember that 'cheap' means something rather different in the USA [where cheap is bad] from what it does in England [where cheap is good]). We'll write something ourselves this week to summarize our thoughts on this topic, but this is an interesting place to start...


Quango is a strange English term for “Any administrative body that is nominally independent
but relies on government funding” but is generally used to describe a body or association that isn’t really what it claims to be. So what?
So - we have watched several “birthings” of so-called AR professional’s associations. And now we hear about another attempt on the West Coast – and we wanted to lay out a few things about what any such body should do and a few it should not…..

Industry body – thou SHALT:

1. Provide regular and cheap places for AR professionals to meet and talk to each other.
Part exchange of best practices and part therapy is – above all else -- what AR folks need.
2. Be positive. It’s all too easy to prove faux editorial independence by bashing the analyst
firms – especially Gartner. There’s a world of difference between being honest about a firm’s shortcomings and just plain old bitchiness. We see a lot of axe-grinding by ex-analysts- but to what end? Our clients tell us that they need real world advice on how to form and maintain the kind of relationships that pay off in the long run, not just ever more vitriolic problem statements.
3. Be honest. Represent truthfully the role that AR plays in the decision cycle of large technology deals. Don’t propagate the false ROI stories that are at best self serving, at worst cheap internal salesmanship.

Industry body – thou SHALT NOT:

1. Be just for big AR groups – 90% of all AR “departments” are one or less than one person. Assuming that multi person AR departments are the norm will cut out the majority of the audience. If you build a club for big AR groups, be honest in your membership requirements and what you intend to provide. Our clients tell us that they get value from anybody that also does AR, not just those that do it big.
2. Blend your “content”. By the same token, there are things that big company AR teams need to worry about that other folks don’t and vice-versa. Forrester’s ARM council is an extremely well thought out program - yet its biggest challenge is how to produce value to the big AR teams and the solo or part time players at the same time. Remember that one size of content, advice or best practices will never fit all – there needs to be content that address the needs of every constituency.
3. Confuse experience with skill. When you choose your speakers/leaders/trainers remember it’s not years that count, it’s results. The mere fact that you have done AR for 15 years or were an analyst for 5 years doesn’t teach you a thing by itself. Unless your program actually has net positive results, and you can show it, it isn’t proven that you know anything about AR.
4. Be “Valley centric”. There are more AR professionals outside the Valley than in, so you need to come up with creative ways to bring everybody into the fold and build a real, global community.

Monday, 18 July 2005

Miss META?

''Miss META?" is the latest campaign from Forrester Research. Despite the name, this is luckily not a beauty pagent for the META diaspora, but a weak imitation of what Burton Group announced in April.

Forrester is offering META clients some free research and a chance to have Forrester put together a customised package.

Speaking about the offer in a cheesy video, George Colony, Forrester's Chairman of the Board, says that many buyers are now worried about industry consolidation. He is using this campaign to stress Forrester's idea to give insight into business trends, technology vendor selection -- and its unlimited access and unique money-back guarantee.

However, we think it's a pretty limp deal compared to Burton's offer -- and what other firms are offering more quietly.

Friday, 15 July 2005

The Borg Blander

Amusing post from Joe: looks like Gartner's research is becoming more and more insipid, or that in other words the Borg is revving its Blander....

Gartner Watch: Lend me your watch and I'll tell you the time

Thursday, 14 July 2005

Gartner's stock starts trailing up

It's two weeks until Gartner gives the market some real insight into the META merger, when it publishes its next quarterly results.

The stock trend has been strongly upwards this week - and over the last few months. This suggests that Gartner's agressive outplacement of META staff has cut out a lot of the acquired firm's overheads, and that more the income is thus going straight forward to the bottom line.

Who knows, if the results are really good it might even stop Andy complaining for an hour or two!

Wednesday, 13 July 2005

Germany II

After some agitated debates on our previous post (see Germany) and on Analyst Equity (Bundling outside the English-speaking world), Duncan seized the bait and published a more detailed blog entry on a new entrant on the German market: Meta succeeded by Meton. Actually, it's not bad!

What a creative name! Good luck to them though.

PS to the Borg: it's not we don't like you, we just like to keep you on your toes -for a reason...

PPS: also on Duncan's blog, this amusing post on on Bloor vs. Oracle (Oracle freezes out Bloor Research). If you're not employed by one of those two, it's quite amusing to watch the whole trail of articles on IT-director....

Tuesday, 12 July 2005


This post by Duncan Chapple suggests that since Gartner threw the META consultants with the bath water, there's a large opportunity up for grabs, especially in Germany. But why is he surprised that Forrester is nowhere? Well, finally things move and we read (again in Dunc's blog, maybe he's got a split personality?) that Peter O'Neil, the former META Group Consulting EMEA VP has joined Forrester, together with a few others like Pascal Matzke and Larry Velez. Good luck to them, but this said we think they still are too thin on the grounds in EMEA to present a credible alternative to the Borg. For a start, they lack manpower to cover significant as hardware.

Back to the borgs, the feedback we got from within is consistent: analysts are not encouraged to be close to the consultants, they're also not really incented to sell consultancy. This was one of the characteristics of META (RIP). But again, this is in perpetual motion as we hear that G2 now also report to Peter Sondergaard who heads up the research, so let's hope for the best...

Monday, 11 July 2005

Tragic Quadrant series: episode I

In true intergalactic style, episode I naturally comes after number II: it looks like following our post (The Gartner Magic Quadrant: shaken, not stirred), the borgs have come forward with a public statement on the new MQ process.

It's here on the Gartner ombusman blog, although Joe and James said it's neither a blog nor a real ombudsman:

The Gartner Ombudsman blog

And as we said before, we like what we see, as the borgs seem to address most of the concerns that our dear anonymous readers have shared with us over the past months. Watch this space...

Other related posts:

Friday, 8 July 2005

META's Fred Amoroso surfaces

Fred Amoroso, formerly President of META Group, is off the employment line at last. He's now CEO at Macrovision.

KCG and ASG on Ovum

I just noticed that Ovum has a web page where they cite a KCG review of their firm, which states: "Ovum is one of the most respected and trusted advisory firms in the European Telecoms and IT marketplaces. They enjoy a reputation for quiet competence and trusted advice and we believe that over time, and if not squandered, this will eventually make Ovum one of the stronger players in the marketplace."

This is a rather different assessment from that of the Analyst Strategy Group, whose 2004 study rates Ovum as one of the least influential firms in Europe.

Personally, both statements seem overstated to me. It's pretty hard to build a analyst firm up to $30 m if no-one takes it seriously. But the most respected firms in Europe must be Gartner, IDC and Forrester, surely?

What do you think? Are they just disagreeing for the sake of it?

Thursday, 7 July 2005

AR 101 series: Measuring Analyst Relations

The measurement question tends to be close to the top of the issues list for most AR practitioners: not a surprise as the majority of AR managers are increasingly asked to justify ROI for budget and headcounts. However, it is notoriously difficult (i.e. costly and complex) to measure the impact of analysts on sales, either directly or indirectly, and derive a dollar value for AR contribution. As a consequence, common metrics include activity, published reports and anecdotal evidence. Those metrics are usually used to support objectives assigned to AR. Those objectives largely depends upon the functional reporting line, either communications, marketing, sales or sometimes directly at board level.

Empirical evidence suggests the following AR models:

  • Outbound: pushing information out to analysts in the hope of generating reports. Usually observed when AR reports into communications, and the most common case.
    - Pros: messages and resources aligned in support of the overall communication strategy, synergies between AR and PR in terms of resources and career planning.
    - Cons: may bring an emphasis here tends to be on "clippings" by measuring the number and not quality of reports published, tends to ignore impact of relationships on sales and adopt a short term approach. As Duncan puts it in On the folly of rewarding A, while hoping for B, there's potentially a risk that AR managers focus on the analysts publishing the most or being most frequently quoted in the press.
  • Transactional: pulling targeted analysts into a relationship with the firm. Where AR depends from marketing or sales, the focus tends to be building the sort of rapport that leads to sales recommendations, providing sales with 'silver bullets' report reprints and on speaking engagements, plus of course tactical engagement in sales situations (for instance outsourcers benchmarking).
    - Pros: good alignment with AR objectives, tends to offer more flexible funding.
    - Cons: emphasis on gaining collateral rather than recommendations may badly impact the relationship by treating analysts like an extension of the sales force.
  • Insight: primarily using analysts to develop internal understanding and direction. Where AR's primary customer is the board, it tends focus on using analysts for strategic advice and promoting execs profiles.
    - Pros: tends to be a win-win relationship.
    - Cons: Trades off winning recommendations and volume; focusses on supplier-centred analysts rather than those advising buyers.

1. AR managers should not lose sight of the key objectives for the function: create a positive external environement for business, by developping relationships with key influencers and helping to ensure accuracy of research.

2. Focus should be put on using balanced metrics to measure AR not only on raw clippings and quotes , but also by weighting them to reflect the importance of the analyst; by surveying all analysts [including those who may not often be names in the media]; and through independent perception audits.

3. AR need long term objectives and can contribute positively to developing corporate strategies by using analysts to coach execs. Do not let short-term tactics waste this potential.

Wednesday, 6 July 2005

The Gartner Magic Quadrant: shaken, not stirred

Duncan has committed a review of the changes presented by the borgs during a recent call to what is one of IT industry's best known marketing tool in his (long) post: Gartner Curries the Magic Quadrant.

In a nutshell:

  • Gartner has defined a 20+ steps to render the research more credible and bring some much needed transparency to the process (no more MQ research meetings at the bar for Gartner analysts?)
  • Significant improvements are carried over from the METAspectrum methodologies -kudos to Gartner for assimilating this
  • This will bring consistency across Gartner silos (don't the borgs like talk to each other?): while some MQ are frankly not well researched, some areas stand out. Like for instance the servers MQ which are supported by the ASEM (Application Servers Evaluation Methods, consisting in series of user-weightable criterii).

Bottom line:

  • These changes are very positive overall and take into accounts years of vendors whinges
  • However, vendors and end users should remain cautious at what should currently be seen purely as a marketing tool with little substance and by no means a credible decision support tool and closely monitor initial deliverables

We recommend Gartner to:

  1. Publish a transparent schedule
  2. Publish the criteria chosen to allow users to weight them according to their individual situations
  3. Detail the impact that the MQ has on product selection: in some cases, it is perfectly acceptable to choose a product ranked as a "challenger", for instance when specific features are required. Gartner should detail those users scenarii.

(thanks to our anonymous contributors for their help with these recommendations)

Previous posts on the subject: The Gartner Magic Quadrant (contains a few links of interest, including to Louis Columbus' famous post).

Closing note: looks like Forrester is trying a frontal attack -try this google and check the sponsored links....

Tuesday, 5 July 2005

Valley View Ventures: successfully herding cats?

What differentiates a one-man-band from a fully blown up philharmonic orchestra?

Most insiders agree that there are excellent self-employed analysts and that the recruitment quality of large firms is at best inconsistent. A customer (end user) mentioned to us recently that he did not know what he'd get from Gartner when he picked up the phone and asked for advice: either a very smart chap would turn up or he'd deal with a librarian on the phone. However, economies of scale are an important factor in this business: to max-up the utilisation of unique (and expensive) analyst resources, one need a good sales, marketing and back office support to allow them to concentrate on gathering and writing research and consulting clients. If you're a one man band, when you sell you don't deliver and if when you're delivering you're not selling.
Selling is tougher too, for the same reason that you hear small groups singing in a noisy crowd. Which probably explains why independent analysts tend to go through peaks and troughs of activities?
The other thing individual analysts lack is a strong brand: a vendor usually do not commission an IDC paper (check the number of hits here!) for the high-quality prose but for results it delivers in terms of leads.

This is where Valley View Ventures claims to have a solution: they're a broker agency for IT industry analysts, apparently doing well and not afraid of a bit of emphasis:
"With a triple digit annual growth rate, V3 is the fastest growing group of IT industry analysts in the world."

V3 markets, represents on a commission basis and invoices for 11 firms (and 30 individuals) covering a range of subjects, providing a one-stop-shop. V3's founder, Fred Abott, is a seasoned professional who can advise on which analyst to use where, for a range of services, including good old papers, advisory and consulting. The fact he's worked everywhere -Gartner, Aberdeen, DH Brown, Hurwitz, Giga- probably helps.

We wish best of luck to V3, hoping they can create all the conditions for a balanced IT Analysis market.

PS: there are also a handful of papers authored by Fred Abott on the IT Analysis industry on this page -including....

Friday, 1 July 2005

Pay for play?

Interesting comments on pay for play on this post:
Post-scriptum on "Yankee, analyst impartiality and circular references"

Open question to the vendor readers: Are you asked to pay for play? Directly or indirectly?