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…

Thursday, 8 September 2005

Does scale matter?

Interesting comments from James at Redmonk on our post from yesterday: Redmonk and the open source analysts.  

Indeed, does scale matter?  We would not dispute that Redmonk those two nice lads in a niche are doing well -a refreshing piece of news in the analyst landscape.  But is this model replicable or scalable to balance the frantically assimilating and aggressive Borg dominance?  Some, like Bloor, seem to think aggregation will help -we Just don’t know yet.  Nice plan though…

Note to James:

  • by replicable, we mean other firms’ ability to emulate the model

  • as for size is concerned, we would define it by number of “employees” (ideally while maintaining the revenue per head ratio)

Wednesday, 7 September 2005

Redmonk and the open source analysts

Interesting Q&A from Redmonk's Steven O'Grady (Open Source, Meet RedMonk. RedMonk, Meet Open Source) following his associate's maxi-manifesto (Things To Do in the Analyst Business When You Are Dead). James and Steven are two very nice chaps but it's still unclear whether their model is scalable and profitable...

Read also our previous post: Open source analyst business model?

Tuesday, 6 September 2005

Playing the surveys game

It is always tempting the feed the journos with a good survey, especially if it comes from a "reputable source", such as analysts for instance. If you fancy chasing ambulances, check this one from Aberdeen for Planview.

Of course, you don't have to be Aberdeen to deliver the number wanted:

Not that we're picking on a vendor in particular, Microsoft is not by far not the only vendor incriminated -it's just their GTF page is helping a great deal finding examples!

Spin Bunny, the (great and notorious) PR blog, has a good one on why PR agencies like doing this:
Spin Bunny: Surveying PR surveys

Monday, 5 September 2005

AR 101 series: Analyst vs. press (Analyst Insight)

In the Analyst Relations 101 for newbies and useful reminders for others, by David Rossiter @ Analyst Insight:
Analysts v Press…Understanding the Difference

In a nutshell, reporters are paid to increase the readership/circulation of their paper/newsfeed/ broadcasting service, and thus seek headlines and soundbites which can be newsworthy.

Analysts are paid to help making sense of what vendors try to sell to users and therefore to help the latter ones in their procurement decisions.

The question is "why then so many vendors treat analysts like press?", even we're in 2005 and AR is now mainstream and better understood?

In this previous post (AR 101: Measuring Analyst Relations) we argue that when AR is measured on raw clippings and quotes, it does deliver only a very small part of its potential. As a matter of fact, concentrating on getting analyst for hire to publish on new product announcements does little to help creating a positive external business environment, let alone making sure that key analysts influencing sales are properly looked after.

Saturday, 3 September 2005

Kensington goes offline?

I hate bookmarks in my browser, so I loved Kensington Group's listing of analyst websites. But I've had a shock this morning... no

Does anyone know if there's a similar listing -- bigger than the Tekrati one? And does anyone know what's happening at Kensington: is it a web problem or are they closed?

Friday, 2 September 2005 interview with an odd Gabriel

The big blue AR blogette Catherine Helzesomehting has interviewed Dan Olds from Gabriel Consulting, a small US (mostly) vendor facing analyst firm. It’s quite sweet and worth a read!

There are some gems in this interview:

  • Being an analyst involves work: when asked for his advice for newcomers, Dan's response was that “I personally believe that everyone should get out of this business as soon as possible”. He seems to find tough “selling to strangers” and that he “also have to actually do the work”. Really?

  • He seems lonely, as he goes on suggesting AR professionals to “Give me flowers for no special reason.

  • There’s a real interesting vendor horror story, involving vendors posing as a research firm, legal threats, bullying, cancelling briefings at virtually no-notice, etc… Could it be the same vendor as this one? This section alone is enough to read the interview and save itin your “what not to do” file.

  • For AR beginners, check the “pay for play” question too.

  • Finally, it’s worth noting what he expects from events: access to execs and techies. We’ve heard this so often that it’s probably worth engraving above your cube. : Interview with Dan Olds, Gabriel Consulting Group

Thursday, 1 September 2005

Have you seen my plan, my plan, my plan?

Looks like Justin's done it again with Duncan Chapple: "The cunning plan of Bloor Research".

For those he has not visited yet, here's the elevator pitch that will avoid you the meeting:

  • Bloor has been founded by, well Robin Bloor (after falling out with ex-associate Martin Butler that is)
  • He moved to Austin (Texas that is) to work with Carol Baroudi (author of Internet for Dummies), hence Baroudi-Bloor
  • They then went trio with Judith into Hurwitz
  • Robin is no longer active with Bloor, since Justin took over and brought his mates -even though there are persisent rumours of sightings at the Magic Circle

So here's a quick rundown of Justin's grand plan:

  1. Spin off IT-Director + IT-Analysis and open them as a publishing tool to other firms
  2. Open source their research, or parts of it
  3. Help users with selection with a venture quite alike yellow pages for the IT world
  4. Sell vendors with "market access" products (aka analyst for hire, which is what they mainly sell today in their spare while not mending the relationship with Oracle)

We will watch this space with great interest, and in particular on the "ability to execute". "Completeness of vision" is... grand, in particular the collaborative aspect of open sourcing methodologies to the independent analysts community. We like the fact it enables them to collaborate on frameworks while playing on individual strenghts to compete for projects.

If that plan succeeds it would be a calming force against the ever greedy Borg. (Even if money was no object, Bloor is still way easier to deal with.)