Friday, 2 December 2005

Who do the advisory analysts think are their clients?

Listening to advisory analysts give speeches at conferences or talking to them during inquiries or briefings, analysts say the word "client" all the time. However, who is this client?

The word "client" to an advisory analyst like Gartner or Forrester is almost exclusively meant to be end users, AKA IT managers at mid-sized and above organizations. Even though the vendors spend hundreds of millions with the advisory analysts, the vendor is clearly never thought of as a client, just a checkbook.

8 comments:

ARonaut said...

This is an interesting comment. And thinking about it, it's quite clear that the large IT analyst firms -those who have both vendors and users as clients- don't seem to care about their vendor clients too much.

In fact, their very arrogance is a source of much of the frustration vendors have towards Gartner or others.

Arrogance is annoying to deal with, even more so when there seem to be little value for money...

Anonymous said...

One major exception here is IDC, which is almost entirely devoted to vendor clients and makes no excuses that vendor advisory is its core business.

sembo said...

Are you really sure that analyst firms are so devoted to end-users vs. vendor clients?
Tzk tzk, c'mon...

Anonymous said...

Firms such as Ovum are almost exclusively dependent on vendors for their income - they have very few genuine end user clients.
So you comments may well be true of Gartner - but not sure how valid this is in terms of any of the other leading firms.

Vinnie Mirchandani said...

I am an ex analyst and now consult with CIOs. I am not sure I would agree with your comment - analyst firms spend way more face to face time with larger vendor clients than they do with buyers - listening to product pitches, going to their user conferences etc. Analysts SHOULD be spending more time with buyers. If vendors just want to be loved or just want market data there are plenty of firms available to do that...that does not mean being rude to vendors, but many vendors want "friendly" analysts. Buyers on the other hand want crisp, independent advice. And let's face it...they make or break products and vendors - the analysts just report it.

theARpro said...

I agree. IT analysts really place much more emphasis on end-user challenges, and on information from end users. Vendors are just a sources of data, and normally their information needs are pretty similar: end-users have very different needs, so they are much more interesting for analysts to work with.

I would be surprised if most of Ovum's money came from vendors, but I agree with the point about end-users. I would guess that most revenue comes from network operators and regulators, with the rest split between vendors, the public sector, and -- almost certainly -- end users coming last

Silicon Valley Guy said...

Vinnie,

There is a difference between wanting to be "loved" or having analysts being "friendly" versus wanting a paid services provider (in this case the analyst firms) to act professionally, be objective and deliver business value. Frankly, vendors want to hear tough but fair opinions, delivered by well-prepared analysts.

The Gartner RAS, former META and former Giga analysts are often rude to vendors’ executives, even during client engagements (i.e., inquiry and analyst consulting days).

Objectivity is not just being even-handed between IT vendors (e.g. IBM/Sun, EDS/Accenture), but also being even-handed between types of clients (e.g., IT managers/vendors). End-user advisory clients often gratuitously beat up on vendors because the advisory analysts want to be the “champion of the IT buyer.” At one of the Gartner services conferences last spring in LA, the analysts were explicitly rude and hostile toward vendors, even calling the vendors “bastards” from the stage during plenary sessions.

Business value means that analyst creates research and recommendations for the client that meet the client’s needs. The end-user advisory analyst throws content written for the end user at the vendor and says “Here, you’ll find this useful.” While knowing what the analyst is telling the IT manager is useful for the AR managers for influencing purposes or the account rep for selling purposes, it often does not meet the need of executive for decision support. However, the advisory analysts are constantly selling their services to the vendor executives because of the high value for decision making.

So if the advisory analysts do not want to act professionally, be objective or deliver business value to vendors, then they should not demand the vendors’ money. Certainly, the advisory analysts should not be referring to vendors as “clients” when talking to vendor executives and staff, because it is untrue and feels like hypocrisy.

BTW, these comments do not pertain to Dataquest-heritage analysts and “classic” Forrester analysts, who understand that an analyst can be tough but fair and deliver business value.

Finally, your comment “…And let's face it... [IT buyers] make or break products and vendors - the analysts just report it. …” is so patently ridiculous that I will address it in a separate full post.

Your comment reflects a RAS-analyst perspective, which I believe you were. It is useful to get that perspective so I appreciate your comments and encourage you to continue to post comments.

Vinnie Mirchandani said...

see my response to your post. I was a RAS analyst and one of the reasons I left was I did not feel close enough to the buyer. A typical buyer would call for short listing advice then 3 months later fax me the contract for review the day before they were about to sign it. There were too many "blind spots" in the procurement process . Analysts get a number of data points because of their sheer volume of calls - and that is valuable information for them to package for vendors - but they are far less influential on individual deals than you may think.