Friday, 21 October 2005

Does size implies relevance?

Dan Scholler argues in his blog (Dan Sholler's Musings) against the Valley View Ventures paper “IT Industry Analysis Myths: Business of IT Industry Analysis Revealed”.

One of the interesting points of the discussion (read the comments from James Governor and Fred Abott) is whether size allows the
Gartner Borg to be more relevant by “leverage[ing] the conversations with hundreds of clients in a short period of time, whereas an independent analyst is unlikely to be able to access the same volume of information"”?

We’ve commented numerous times before that the Borg is acutely afflicted by siloisation: despite Andy’s comments, we maintain that Gartner analysts do not have incentives to work with consultants (this conversation may be sooo yesterday anyway) but also that the information exchange within Gartner is poor, both across services silos and also between DQ and RAS analysts. This would indeed negate Dan’s point.

The issues caused by that siloisation are chiefly about interaction inconsistency (both in content and quality) for Gartner clients. We heard several user and vendor customers complaining about getting different analysts for each engagement, and of very variable quality.

There is however hope as the Borg management seems to be aware of the problem. We advise Gartner clients to remain vigilant on this point and to assess regularly their progress.

Thursday, 20 October 2005

Techra and cousins: pot noodles for AR dinners

We (and about everyone else it seems) got pinged by Jim Zimmermann from Techra, a new venture he founded after creating and selling Analyst Views to Bitpipe (subsequently assimilated by TechTarget and then resold to Northern Light -do you still follow the plot?).

Both sites are pretty similar, and if one add Tekrati the market is quite crowded. All those aim to aggregate analyst content and make it easier for AR managers to trawl through research (probably the most exciting part of AR?), while offering analyst firms directory. They differentiate on the added value services: Tekrati offers an analyst profiles database while Techra and Analyst view create "consensus reports" amalgamating the opinion of several analysts in document.

Our opinion is that they all help AR newbies by providing directories and ready made information -quite useful for briefing books or to know who to brief. Established AR practices within large firms will often be better resourced though.
The consensus reports is an interesting option to create a report compare and contrast the opinions of the various firms on a given subject for $25k (or 12-18k for a brief).

Monday, 17 October 2005

Gartner ≠ Consulting ?

ARpro posted earlier on Gartner selling their custom research department: Gartner exits Custom Research ?!? Some more thoughts on this: as we mentioned earlier (Resistance is futile, All resistance is futile, Germany, Gartner, a natural monopoly), the Borg already killed META Group Consulting (MGC). We also heard at the KGC Connect sessions in Orlando (a nice AR gathering at $500 a pop!) that Bill thinks Gene Hall is planning to spin off the consulting business within 6-9 months.

Killing the golden goose?

This move is quite surprising as MGC was boasting a double digit growth and a good utilisation rate and we'd love to hear what the securities analysts are saying about Gartner's strategy.
Conversely, it seems like a nice opportunity for IDC and META’s illegitimate offspring but also independent analysts if ever they can coalesce to balance the market or turn open-source.

What’s the Borg strategy then?

Well, so it seems determined to keep the prices high at the risk of alienating key vendors, keep making good money from their events business. Would this mean a deliberate attempt to curb the influence of vendors? If that was the case, they plan may be to increase the perceived independence and therefore justifying the premium they can charge? Will the market accept that high-integrity means high-value?

Sunday, 16 October 2005

Just don't take their fashion tips

It's the first day of Gartner's Symposium today. Having unpacked my bags here at DisneyWorld, I picked my way through the crowds of little Snow Whites and Peter Pans to the Coronado's convention center, where Bill and his group were organising a networking event for almost 60 seasoned [over-seasoned?] analyst relations professionals.

Those of us who love Bill know that he has a lot to share. So, it was a bit of surprise to be at an event where he let other people do the talking: AR pro's and people from the analyst companies. It was a great day.

Needless to say, Bill still found a way to make an impact by dressing Stephen, Chris, Niwas and himself in these matching shirts made of the Texan flag.

Let's hope they have enough to wear them for the whole week. It will certainly brighten the week up!

Friday, 14 October 2005

Reacting to an analyst attack

Interesting points from Duncan on How to react to negative reports: [Analyst Equity] “When analysts attack”.

We’d add two points to his analysis:

  1. Vendors need not to over-react to negative reports; it has often unwanted consequences like the analysts sniffing a sweet-spot.

  2. A fair criticism is often not a bad thing, as it positions the research note as truly independent. If you want marketing brochures, write them yourselves.

He however assumes one’s always dealing with rational, unbiased and honest analysts. Quite unfortunately, this is not always the case, as we’ve seen analysts verging on the sanity engage in passionate and irrational arguments with vendors for the sake of having an intellectual contest.
We believe those are actually a small minority, but most vendors quite rightly do not react well to this treatment. Seeing an analyst spitting out a competitor’s FUD year after year probably also falls into this category.
In those extreme cases, we suggest escalating to management level, to cut funding (at least temporarily) and ignore deliberately the analyst for a while…

Thursday, 13 October 2005

Gartner exits Custom Research ?!?

Now it gets interesting. Duncan has pointed out that Gartner has sold its Custom Research business.

My first thought was: how come research is no longer a core competency for research companies. It's not like Gartner needs the money, is it?

But then I started wondering about the money side. The sale involves an eight year outsourcing contract from Gartner to keep on running the IT panel surveys. So this makes GCR a really valuable asset.

I'll leave Joe to run the numbers, but I can't see how this works out to be good news for Gartner. Gartner is stepping out of customer research just at the time when Forrester is moving into it (if I am to believe my account manager there). And it's giving a guaranteed income, against which it can borrow, to an upstart analyst firm that intends to buy other analyst firms, more than double in size, and becomne a full-service analyst firm.

It's just really, really strange.

Wednesday, 12 October 2005

SPAR, not Spas, in Orlando

In a few days the AR community will be gathering in Orlando for Gartner's Symposium. Of course, all our colleagues think we have a week of pampered fun in our DisneyWorld resort. Sadly we are all too busy to take advantage of the hotel spa. Our only trip to the Magic Kingdom will be to bring back lost executives.

So while there's no spa time, there will be SPAR time. Those of us in the Valley who want to establish a society for professional analyst relations people are hoping to expand our support on our annual pilgrimage to the Atlantic. For those of you who haven't read earlier posts on this topic, the plan is NOT that we combine to pressurize the analyst houses. Instead, we want to network, develop professionally and promote analyst relations as a real profession. There's some flexibility: not only vendors, but also external service providers like freelancers and PR agencies and those who are in-between jobs.

Progress has been slow. Out of nine action items from the first SPAR meeting, nothing happened on most of them, because no-one had the time to volunteer: Everyone is really busy. The majority of us have corporate managers to deal with, and that limits our spare time. A few external service providers really have time and energy to support something like SPAR -- Tom, Bill, Duncan and Barbara -- but they are excluded for some rather spurious reasons (but they'll be hanging around at the edges, and Duncan is even flying over from London).

At Symposium we'll be seeing what progress has been made, and discussing how we can communicate outside meetings with blogs, online communities, LinkedIn, newsletters and so on -- especially because AR is a big global community, and not everyone can come to a central location.

In November, we'll have a meeting (probably at SAP) which will have a lot to review: charters, goals, structure, some common projects like a survey and directory -- and a series of how-to discussions on case studies. It's a busy agenda, so I remain a little unsure about whether we have enought support yet to make everything happen. However, it's certainly a move in the right direction.

Thursday, 6 October 2005

[Analyst insight]: John Collin's blog

David (Rossiter from Sunesis) points to Jon Collin’s blog: The Days Are Just Packed. We learn the interesting things on the drudgery analyst life, but to the difference of ranting Andy (Bitterer, not to be confused with randy Andy or even with Andy Butler), this is with a good dose of English humour. A most needed quality indeed, as we learn of the London mishaps, the gazpacho and thumb incident and bumper episode
We also learn he’s writing book on Rush and it all makes up for an entertaining read in the end…

While we hope John will keep posting frequently, the departure of Dale Vile from Quocirca may keep him busy on other fronts?

Wednesday, 5 October 2005

Hiring Gartner analysts to increase business intelligence?

From an Onymous reader: Hyperion Hires Former Gartner VP As Chief Strategy Officer. This business intelligence software company hired Howard Dresner, ex Gartner Research Fellows (now only 12 left...) and "led the formation of Gartner's business intelligence research practice". Hyperion must have liked what they got from Gartner: a happy soon-ex-customer?

Who will be next to gain from the brain drain?

Tuesday, 4 October 2005

Microsoft hires from Gartner, right, left and centre!

We don’t know if it’s a policy or a trend, but several Borg analysts have defected for the software giant: Earl Perkins (ex-META, security research?), Ashim Pal (ditto and to do AR) and Michael Haines (Americas channel strategy).
ARmadgeddon wishes them good luck: advising is often easier than doing…

Devious minds would suggest that MSFT’s position in the Magic Quadrants is going to improve.  On the other side, they are still using several PR agencies to execute their AR tactics, not getting a lot of kudos from the analysts anyhow…