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.


Stephen England @ KCG said...

Just for the record I do understand the different uses of the word "cheap" on both sides of the pond and I use it here exactly as I intended - tawdry, crass and tasteless as opposed to inexpensive.

theARpro said...

So when you said "thou SHALT: 1. Provide regular and cheap places for AR professionals to meet" you actually WANT us to meet in places that are "tawdry, crass and tasteless"?

So we all have to join you in Austin at Rosie's Tamale House?

Carter in a string tie? It's just mad enough to work...

Stephen England @ KCG said...


Although the idea of that kind of meeting place in actaully quite appealing it's not what I meant.

So here's the deal. I am going to alternate between using the east and west side of the pond definitions of cheap OK? - and of course in these cases - you are right.

In the first use I mean inexpensive in the case of the venue but in the second I mean sleazy in the case of internal selling - OK?

BTW the Rosie's reference is very impressive. Maybe we'll see Willy.