We've been alerted by a reader that the Gartner Borg is stepping up its "audits": they're trawling their useage stats and sending warnings to those they suspect are passing on the research. Oooohhh, no AR or MI professional would ever do this, would we?
We suspect this might has something to do with their upcoming product for AR Managers....
The issue lies with the fact that the guidelines around "unfair use" are not public and it sems different rules apply, depending mostly on the overall contract value.
We also heard that the Borg is trying to enforce a policy that its sales reps should attend every briefing. It's quite unclear what they are trying to achieve but we would appreciate readers feedback.
Talking about feedback, it has been abundant and entertaining on our Datamonitor post: Datamonibores penetrates the gametes. It looks like Ovum analysts are in two camps: happy ones with shares to cash in and the others.
Wednesday, 20 December 2006
We've been alerted by a reader that the Gartner Borg is stepping up its "audits": they're trawling their useage stats and sending warnings to those they suspect are passing on the research. Oooohhh, no AR or MI professional would ever do this, would we?
Friday, 15 December 2006
Random Friday thoughts...
- A Jack Berry from BigBlue has added us to his briefings distro list. Why we're not quite sure, but we thought we'd post the text of his briefing invite below. Do you think it's best practice? Apart from tiering his audience a little better, what else could he improve?
- The other James has blogged about Open Source Analysis, a subject we discussed a while back here, here, here and there. He asks a few good questions about the business model. The whole area is interesting: in EMEA, the independents are happy to cooperate, some collaborate (like writing books together) and others are talking about uniting against the Borg. For AR professionals, it is both a challenge and an opportunity. Good luck guys!
- Finally, we have seen interesting comments, as usual:
- on Reviewing Gartner's Top Predictions - who will step up?
- on IDC attacks the user market -slowly
- and on On Blogger Relations and Influencers Relations
- Open source analyst business model?
- The Governor, ancient Iraq and Gartner
- Governor attack!
- Weekly roundup: Forrester, IT-director and Quocirca (Part I)
From: Jack Berry firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Wednesday, December 13, 2006 4:03:48 PM
Subject: Dec. 14 - IBM's Global Financing Quarterly Teleconference
I do not mean to bury you under multiple e-mails on the same subject but, Iwanted to be sure you know about the IGF IT Analyst Teleconferencetomorrow. I have a short list of analysts that may not all be on the moreformal list maintained by our Analyst Relations Support Group.I just picked up a new news items a few minutes ago, which I will share onthe call, that may prove of interest to those of you following IGF'sbusiness expansion strategy.SNAPSHOT: Join IBM Global Financing for a quarterlyupdate regarding the latest activities on financingofferings and some significant new areas of focuson Thursday, December 14, at 1:00 p.m. EST (18:00 UK).
IBM IT Analyst RelationsTeleconference Alert
The call this quarter will feature innovative new offerings in the commercial and partner space, the latest on what IGF is doing with facilitating customer challenges with assetdisposition, and a look at how we are leveraging the totalcost of ownership with PC Financing. We will also presentbrief updates on the latest news from SMB and Vendor Financing.
Jack Berry, Manager, IBM Global Financing, Analyst Relations
Thursday, December 14, 2006
1:00 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. EST
18:00 - 19:15 UK
HOW TO PARTICIPATE
To enroll in the teleconference, reply to Kate xxx, email@example.com or call 1-xxx-xxx-xxx. A conferencenumber and password will be provided with your confirmation.
PRESENTATION MATERIALS & REPLAY INFORMATION
The charts will be available on the IT Analyst RelationsWeb site at: http://www.ibm.com/itanalyst/teleconferences/prior to the teleconference. Replay and additional materialswill be posted following the call.
INVITATIONS TO THIS TELECONFERENCE ARE NOT TRANSFERABLE
This invitation is intended solely for the IT analystcommunity within your firm and must not be shared withpress, financial analysts or other companies.
NON-DISCLOSURE OF CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION
By accepting this password or participating in theteleconference or both, you agree that the informationdisclosed to you is confidential to IBM, and you furtheragree not to disclose, publish, disseminate or use theinformation prior to its general announcement by IBM.IBM IT Analyst Relations E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.orgVisit the IT Analyst Relations site: http://www.ibm.com/itanalyst
Monday, 11 December 2006
After our post on unpredictions, we have seen this post from Alan Pelz-Sharpe discussing the recent Gartner Magic Quadrant on Enterprise Content Management:
Trends: Of magic quadrants and buyers' choices [CMS Watch]
George has also posted a critique here:
9 Comments on Gartner's ECM Magic Quadrant [the ECM blog]
Read also other posts on the infamous Borg Tragic Quadrant:
Saturday, 9 December 2006
One of the common comments about Gartner is the poor quality of the analyst work. However, it is rare that anybody actually does the work of analyzing any Gartner research: as we have commented before. So, dear readers of ARmadgeddon, do you want to do commentary on Gartner’s predictions?
To provide an example, please see the “Comments” for an analysis of a Gartner prediction “In 2005, AT&T will be acquired by BellSouth and MCI will be acquired by SBC” which proved to be completely wrong in a very short amount of time.
If you think this is waste of time, please say so.
Wednesday, 29 November 2006
Here's more decade-old wisdom we found on archive.org; this time it's an article by Efrem G. Mallach.
Admit it. You're an advice junkie. Need proof? The industry analyst business rakes in more than $1 billion annually, mostly from IS managers who seek advice on trends, vendors and products. Consultants take in even more for advice tailored to a specific situation.
If you spend that much on advice, you pay attention to it. Vendors know that. So U.S. vendors spend more than $100 million per year to get analysts and consultants in their corner. These efforts don't always work, but they help.
Why do vendors go to this expense? Because some parts of an analyst's advice are objective, but others aren't. It's one thing to say that vendor A's hub supports X ports at Y bit/sec. That's objective. It's another thing to say that vendor B is a technology laggard, or vendor C's strategy is flawed. That's where opinions come into play and where analysts' attitudes toward vendors matter.
What's more, feelings should matter. A vendor's treatment of analysts may not mirror its treatment ofusers precisely, but it's a guide. When vendors give analysts prompt, clear responses to questions, access to experts when needed and truly useful presentations, the analysts will conclude that users are likely to get similar attention. Analysts who get the opposite will conclude the opposite. The logic may not be perfect, but experience can't be denied.
Yet this situation of vendors courting analysts with varying effectiveness makes analyst evaluations inherently subjective. What's an IS manager to do?
- 1. Don't kick the habit. It's OK to need advice. Technology is complex and moves quickly. You can't spend all your time evaluating vendors and technologies. Go to people whose job it is, and pay them for what they know.
- 2. Remember you're at the end of a long information chain. Everyone in the chain helped shape what you hear. And everyone in the chain has an ax to grind, personal favorites or entrenched dislikes. They put their spin on the elusive ``truth.''
- 3. Get multiple analyst perspectives. If you can't subscribe to more than one service, read what others say in the press, pull summaries off World Wide Web sites or exchange views with colleagues.
- 4. Probe. Only a minority of analyst subscribers take full advantage of their call-in privileges. Join that minority. Find out what assumptions the analysts used, what their methodology was and how they chose the vendors to examine.
- 5. Be aware that analyst firms receive millions of dollars from vendor clients, too. Although few analysts will ``fudge'' evaluations to favor clients, they are more likely to know client firms in depth. This makes them more likely to write about clients and more aware of their products' true capabilities.
- 6. Check the record. What did this firm or even this particular analyst say about the vendor, product or technology a year ago? Two years ago? And what really happened? As mutual-fund advertisements say, past performance is no guarantee, but it's another calibration point.
- 7. Evaluate recommendations in the context of your firm's approach to technology. Is it leading-edge or conservative? Is management centralized or distributed? Does your business stress market share or current profits? The right recommendation for one company profile could be disastrous for another.
That's work. But if you don't do it, your analyst experience could be a bad trip.
Saturday, 18 November 2006
Gartner's Symposium event has closed up in Sydney. If you haven't been there, I recommend it -- and not just because the city's amazing. There's also a more practical edge to the discussions. They are less policed than in Orlando, and at times more surprising. Or perhaps it's just the jet-lag that makes them seem that way.
Mark McDonald reported on the results from the CIO Agenda survey, for example, which showed some pretty major changes over the last year. Few analysts' presentations would dare to suggest similar shifts over such a short period of time.
Despite the slight differences between the different Symposiums, the discussions over lunch in Sydney are pretty similar to ones back in the States.
Many people feel that Gartner Invest is an time-bomb. Even if Gartner is not issuing buy, sell or hold recommendations, they are naive to think that fair disclosure regulations do not already apply to vendors briefing Gartner. I've read reports that Gartner's Office of the Ombudsman is lobbying internally to have Gartner Invest communicating with both vendors' IR and AR departments. However, while we can review research, we can't review advisory calls with investors. The risk remains clear: private information given by vendors to Gartner under NDA is different from the public information that we give to investment banks. This is a calculated risk by vendors. When we brief Gartner under NDA, it's us who would suffer if this information got through to the financial markets.
Nobody believes Chinese walls will appear between Gartner Invest and the rest of Gartner. Some analysts have written research on the same topics for Invest and for mainstream Gartner. Even if there are separations, who is there to prevent verbal interactions between analysts? How can a vendor prove whether or not a leak spreading on Wall Street did or did not come from Gartner Invest?
All these problems seem massive. We just can't see how this can work. Gartner Invest should close, and close soon.
Of course, the other complaint we have is about pricing. Gartner's price hikes will go on, and on, and on. They just don't care about vendors' complaints because the extra revenue from higher prices is more than the revenue they lose from lost sales. The different product groups have a duty to make money, and they will keep on truckin'. Anything they can break out and sell as a stand alone service will be salami-sliced off from our core contracts. Gartner is adding ten sales people a month, and they will be have to work increasingly hard as the new products get successively less valuable.
Friday, 17 November 2006
We have received some echoes of the last IIAR meeting. Apparently James came to present about blogger relations and independent analysts. He made a few good points about blogs allowing an open peer review, his other views are pretty well summed up here. John Simmonds, an IBM AR Manager, also posted on the subject here and there.
James' conclusions in a nutshell are that:
- In today's Web 2.0, conversations are in the open: blogs force corporations to rethink the line between what needs to be protected (actively) and what can be left in the wild
- Communications need to be crafted around communities, not articulated for the masses
This is both a significant departure for AR, traditionally more used to one-on-ones and NDA's. As we expressed before, it is a unique land-grab opportunity for AR departments:
However, it requires a rethink not only from AR Managers (Open Source Briefings anyone?) but also from analysts (Coo-petitive Reports folks?)
We'd like to ask the question back to James: how would you envision a Briefing 2.0?
Sunday, 5 November 2006
Well-known analyst Laurie McCabe was kind enough to write down for Kensington Group her suggestions for how she'd like vendors to treat her. As she points out toward the end, she's probably pretty typical in most of these respects. Laurie was at Summit Strategies back then, and is now VP at AMI-Partner. We thank her for taking the time to write this and urge vendors to heed her words carefully.
Industry analysts' opinions can influence how the press, customers, prospects, partners, financial analysts and competitors perceive a vendor and its standing in the market. Particularly in an age of information overload, many of these constituents turn to analysts to get an inside "take" on vendors' products and services.
In the three and a half years since I transitioned from the vendor to the analyst side of the business, I've responded to many surveys about what it takes to run a successful analyst-relations (AR) program. Lately, vendors seem to be putting more energy than ever into creating effective conduits to the analyst community. Judging by the increase in surveys conducted on behalf of larger companies with existing AR programs, many appear focused on making their programs more effective. More interesting, smaller companies, which may not have bothered with AR programs before, also are launching them and trying to determine what it takes to build a successful program.
Responding to this flurry of surveys has given me ample opportunity to think about the necessary ingredients for vendors to create successful AR programs. In the interest of sparing at least some Summit Strategies subscribers the aggravation and cost of broad surveys, I'll share my perspectives on this topic.
First, let me state that the views expressed in this article are purely my own--and do not necessarily reflect those of this firm or the analyst community as a whole. So, without further ado, here are my top seven suggestions for creating a win/win analyst relationship:
- 1. Call us early. Give analysts a heads up before calling the press about an announcement. The press expects vendors to brief analysts first--and expects us to have knowledgeable commentary ready for their articles. Leaving analysts in the dark about announcements that are within their areas of expertise, at best leaves the analyst with nothing to say, and at worst leads the analyst to think you don't have your act together.
- 2. Don't "spam" analysts. This, of course, is the other end of the spectrum--and you don't want to go here either. Unless analysts specifically request them, most of us don't want to be bombarded with daily releases about every new customer you get or every new person you hire--unless of course it's someone we know. Don't get me wrong, we're happy for you, but e-mail overload is at an all-time high. Try aggregating all this wonderful news on a monthly basis instead.
- 3. Schedule early, send briefing materials in advance, and, if a file is big, "zip it." Believe it or not, we are not just sitting around watching Oprah and soaps, waiting for a call to get a briefing scheduled in 24 hours! Try to schedule briefings a couple of weeks in advance--and get your materials to us at least 24 hours prior to the briefing. And, please, zip large files so that they don't take excessive time to download.
- 4. Know your analysts, and use their time wisely. Companies that profile analysts' areas of interest and target meetings and mailings based on their specific interests score big points. Big vendors need to send analysts information relevant to their areas of interest, but they shouldn't overload us with press releases about everything going on in their companies. Similarly, briefings are much more productive when the vendor's representatives align with the analysts' areas of expertise. Use marketing personnel to brief strategic and market-oriented analysts and technical staff when briefing product-centric analysts.
- 5. Use what you pay for. Take advantage of any paid analyst-consulting time. We are going to tell you what we think anyway, so why not test your message with selected analysts that you respect before making a broader announcement?
- 6. Use technology effectively! Everyone's time is getting spread too thin, and many analysts work remotely. Conference calls are adequate for contacting them, but I'm surprised at how few vendors utilize some of the easy-to-use Web-cast solutions available (such as PlaceWare, which requires no software downloads beforehand) to provide more interactive calls. On the flip side, please avoid using solutions that require us to download something beforehand--the odds are good that we won't have time to.
- 7. And schedule free time earlier in those events! If you are going to fly us all to a posh, tropical resort for an event, build recreational time into the beginning or middle of the schedule. Many vendors tack on all kinds of amenities--golf, tennis, spa, road races, sailing tours, etc.--at the end of events. Many analysts end up skipping these to leave early, and vendors miss a key opportunity to bond a bit more personally with their event attendees.
Despite my disclaimer above, I think that most analysts share my opinions. These tips seem pretty straightforward to me, but I keep getting surveyed about them--so maybe they're not. The bottom line is that, as with any other target audience, it's about building relationships. Vendors that design their AR plans to foster timely communications, open dialogue and mutual productivity are on track to create a winning AR program.
Friday, 20 October 2006
ARmadgeddon predicted accurately a while back a concentration of the IT analyst research firms market was to happen.
In the last 18 months and in random order, Yankee changed hands, Aberdeen is now owned by a marketing company, Ovum went public, acquired RHK and Orbys... and now it they're about to be eaten by another big fish in the name of Datamonitor who themselves acquired Butler.
We can't wait to read former Egghead Duncan's analysis on this, including on how much Chris Dines and co made in the process...
ARmadgeddon's take: this curious Finchley-Hull-Farringdon menage-a-troie might be interesting if they can sucessfully cross-market their research and drive deeper into RAS for users. Datamonitor is strong in banking and consumer, Butler sort of ok in technology but have a successful events business and Ovum is strong in public sector and telecos. All 3 combined can be a reasonable leader in the UK with revenues over £50m and gain significant market share with end-user. However, the Datamonitor needs a stronger US base to be able to successfully target US technology vendors and compete with the Gartner borg.
PS: thanks for all those pinging us the news...
Update: Duncan published a glowing commentary on this acquisition (he's a shareholder too), we received some other comments hinting that an international merger with a firm like IDC might have been much better for Ovum. We still think that a strong end-user base is necessary to gain independence and respect, let alone to compete with Gartner.
Thursday, 19 October 2006
Originally published in Business and Technology Consultant, March 1990.
Much has changed in information technology and in the analyst/consultant world since this article by Efrem Mallach first appeared. It reflected an understanding of the world at that time but, like anything written about high-tech then, does not necessarily apply today.
As a consultant, what do you sell? Knowledge.
Where do you get it? Anywhere you can.
Would you like a willing source of free, accurate, up-to-date knowledge about computer and communications products? You bet!
Believe it or not, there is such a source. In fact, there are several. Yet many consultants are unaware of them, don't use them, or don't use them effectively. If you would like knowledge for the asking, read on!
These sources are the vendors themselves. Every computer or communications firm worth its salt knows how vital consultants are to its future. Debra Rabin, until recently responsible for Mitel's relationships with consultants, has the figures: 60% of Mitel's 100- to 500-line PBX sales, and 76% of those over 500 lines, were influenced by consultants. The numbers are similar on the computer side. If a company wants to survive, let alone grow, it must treat consultants right.
Most firms do this by establishing a program to deal with consultants. They may call it consultant relations, consultant liaison or consultant support. They may give it a catchy name, such as telephone company U.S. West's Consultant Connection. By whatever name, it's there to help you. You'll get maximum mileage out of this free service if you know how to deal with it, what to expect from it, and what not to expect.
WHAT A CONSULTANT RELATIONS PROGRAM IS
Most vendors' consultant relations programs provide a range of services to consultants. Common ones include:
- A newsletter, or other periodic mailings, to keep you up to date on what the firm is doing: new products, marketing strategies, plans.
- A telephone "hot line," to give you specific information when you need it for an engagement. You can often obtain marketing and technical literature via this route.
- Consultant meetings and seminars to keep you informed.
- Often, a loose-leaf reference manual about the firm's products.
- A contact when you need to access a firm's resources for your client: for a visit, a demo, or (heaven forbid!) problem-solving. If you are particularly influential - in your own right, or because of your position with a major firm - these people will keep in touch with you, by phone or with personal visits. The rest of us must initiate contact ourselves. In either case this contact point can be invaluable when you need it.
As Nancy Shotwell of Tandem's Marketing Communications group puts it, these services "provide one-stop shopping for consultants. They don't have to call around the company blindly hoping to get the right person."
With the possible exception of the reference manual, the consultant relations program's services are free. Since vendors can't offer them to every curious high-school student who has their phone number, they may impose qualifications on whom they support. These qualifications are seldom arduous, and never get in the way of a genuine consultant with a legitimate need.
If vendors didn't provide this central service, getting information would be a chancy proposition. Many consultants call local sales offices. Fine - if you have a specific client whom you can identify, have convinced a salesperson that your client is a qualified prospect, don't mind dealing with a different salesperson for each client, like having your requests drop off the priority list when a hot prospect calls, and don't want to be updated on an ongoing basis. In short: dealing with local salespeople, unless one of them is your significant other, is frustrating. A central team, whose only aim is helping you, is usually more accommodating.
Nobody sets up a program such as this out of the goodness of their heart. Charity is nice, but doesn't translate into operating budgets. Vendors expect something for their efforts. In this case their wishes are simple: more sales. If you, the consultant, trust a vendor to deliver quality products which will keep your client happy, you will tend to recommend that vendor. If you don't, you won't. By giving you information, vendors hope you will grow to trust them. By giving you good service, they hope the "halo effect" will make you feel your client will get equally good service.
Tandem's Shotwell describes the reasons simply: "Our sales force can only reach so many prospects. Consultants who are knowledgeable about Tandem can expand that prospect base."
3Com consultant relations program staffer Lorraine Valenti gives many examples of how this works in practice. One example involves market research firm A. C. Nielsen of Chicago. Nielsen engaged Director of Management Consulting Gary Moucha of Office of the Future, Inc. Moucha went through an extensive evaluation working closely with Lorraine and her colleagues. Result: a 3Com installation worth about half a million dollars at the end of 1989, with considerable growth potential in the future. "All of that would not have happened without Lorraine's and her boss's help," stresses Moucha.
Not surprisingly, this self-interest means that vendors will send you information that puts them, and their products, in the best possible light. That doesn't mean the information is wrong. On the contrary: it is scrupulously accurate, often more so than information from other sources. Vendors know that consultants are savvy and see through hype. "We give them facts, no hard sell or fluff, so they can reach their own conclusions" says Valenti. She continues: "If they decide something on their own, they will stand by it."
Most vendors will not send you information that puts down their competition. They know that competitive knock-offs are often inaccurate, get out of date quickly, and leave a bad taste in consultants' mouths even when correct. Besides, when sent to a consultant, mud-slinging usually generates a call to the competitor for a response. This lets the competitor get in the last word. Vendors will present their own strong points and let competitors fend for themselves. You may get a feature comparison chart, but you'll have to do your own comparative evaluations.
WHEN TO CONTACT THE CONSULTANT RELATIONS PROGRAM
There are two times to contact a vendor consultant relations program: before you need them and when you need them.
Contact a firm before a specific need if you think that you, or a client, may be interested in its products at some point in the future. It never hurts to get on their program's mailing list, establish personal contact with its staff, and become familiar with the way it operates. By reading their newsletter, you'll keep up to date on the firm with a minimum of effort. When you have a need, you'll know who to call, you'll ask informed questions, and your request will get priority treatment. 3Com's Valenti says "I want to get to know them and to build a relationship where they trust us and we trust them." For this to happen, lead time before a specific need is vital.
If you haven't contacted a firm in advance, get in touch with it when you need specific information for a client engagement. Explain who you are, what you do, and what you need. Even if they never heard of you until that moment, you should get prompt and courteous results.
HOW TO FIND CONSULTANT RELATIONS PROGRAMS
Call. Most corporate switchboards have lists of departments as well as lists of people. If the switchboard hasn't a clue, ask them for the PR group. PR and CR often work together, so PR will know where to route you.
Alternatively, if you have had contact with the local sales force, ask them. Most consultant relations groups make it a point to keep their sales force aware of the consultant's role in the selling process, and of their own support programs for consultants. Salespeople are delighted to get you out of their hair and into the hands of professionals.
HOW TO DEAL WITH THE CONSULTANT RELATIONS GROUP
A few hints to improve the return on your time investment:
Tell the consultant relations group as much as you can about your client. You should be able to say something about the company (size, industry, approximate location) and the application they have in mind. If you can identify your client, do so; it helps credibility. If you can't, you won't be the first. Explain why you can't, don't play games, and say what you can. The more they know, the better they can tailor what they do to what you need. Remember, these folks don't always have the information you need themselves. They may have to ask others for it. These others, in Product Marketing, R&D, or elsewhere, may need to know more than just "tell me about your widgets."
Do your homework. "I've checked Datapro Reports and couldn't find ..." will go over better than "Can you tell me ...," even if the requests are identical.
Limit your request to what you need. You will get a faster answer to "What are the maximum baud rate and line count of a Model 602?" than to "I need specs for all your digital elbats." If you do need everything, you can get it - but explain why.
Finally, give them all the time you can. Emergencies come up. Consultant support people have dealt with emergencies before and will again. But for each real emergency, they also see ten consultants claiming to have an emergency - usually because they, the consultants, procrastinated.
IF THEY WON'T TELL YOU SOMETHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
This rarely happens. When it does, there are a few things you can do:
- Explain, precisely, why the information is necessary for your client decision and what will happen if you can't get it. By itself this probably won't change things, but it is an important preliminary for the next steps.
- "Can I sign a non-disclosure agreement?" (Your client may have to sign too.) If you sign one, take it seriously. Slip and you won't be trusted again - and not just by this vendor. The consultant relations community is small and close-knit. They talk to each other. Word gets around.
- "Is there anyone else who can authorize me to get this information?" Sometimes there is.
- A popular ploy is "If you can't tell me, I'll have to assume X and Y." If X and Y are much less favorable than the facts, you may get somewhere. Then again, you may not - especially with pros. They know the rules. Their primary loyalty is to their employers, not to you. Even if this scheme gets you an answer, you may be resented for having used it.
One gambit that will not work, by the way, is to call several people at the same consultant relations program, if it's large enough to have more than one staff member. They update each other on who calls whom for what. (Some log contacts in a shared database.) If you strike out with one, that's it. You can still call your cousin in sales or your friend in R&D. That's your business. Just don't try another consultant liaison.
IF THE COMPANY HAS NO CR PROGRAM
Sad to say in this day of niche marketing and infrastructure consciousness, not every computer and communications firm has a formal consultant program. Sometimes you'll call a switchboard, ask for Consultant Relations, and hear "Huh? Was that employee relations or public relations?" I have personally been bounced through six different departments (at a billion-dollar computer firm that ought to know better) before giving up in disgust.
After a good primal scream, there are some things you can do. First, of course, is to get the information you need. Best bets are the PR department, the marketing communications folks, and the local sales office.
Having gotten what you need - at three times the effort it should have taken - don't stop. By then you'll be on first-name terms with at least a few people at the firm. Tell them what you had to go through so your client could buy their product. Ask them to multiply that effort, that frustration, by the number of sales campaigns they mount each year. Ask them if they think frustrated consultants help their cause. Tell them that the profit on one solid sale will pay for a consultant relations program for years. (It will.) Make sure they know that their competitors are wooing consultants for all they're worth. (They are.) If enough of us pound away at this message, it will eventually get through.
AFTER THEY HELP YOU
Most support groups, for consultants or anyone else, labor under great pressure and with little appreciation. A sincere thank-you by phone is always in order. Beyond that, you may be surprised to realize how much good will a brief thank-you note will generate. If the consultant relations group has more than one person, and you dealt with someone other than its head, send the note (or a copy) to the boss. If you recommended their firm and your client placed an order, tell them that too.
If you didn't recommend a firm that helped you, it's not a disaster. Consultant relations people want their firm to win, but they're not on commission and don't feel each loss in their wallets. Says 3Com's Valenti: "If I can help someone I'm going to do it, whether it's a $2 million or a $25 sale." They see more campaigns in a year than a sales rep does, so they can accept the law of averages more readily. They know that a consultant who is in a position to evaluate their firm once will be in the same position again. They'll continue to support you as long as they feel you gave their firm a fair shake, didn't use them just to improve your bargaining position with a preselected supplier, and may recommend them at some point in the future.
A few firms may ask for the reasons behind a negative recommendation so they can improve their products and services. (More should.) If that happens, ten minutes of your time is bread cast upon the waters: it will return manyfold.
Thursday, 12 October 2006
This column by Efrem Mallach originally appeared in Computerworld, November 25, 1991. A few details - a date, some microprocessor names, the speed of a modem considered "fast" - were updated later that decade, but it is otherwise unchanged.
Much has changed in information technology and in the analyst/consultant world since this column appeared. It reflected an understanding of the world at that time but, like anything written about high-tech then, does not necessarily apply today.
According to esteemed expert Oscar Porkchop, the market for X (fill in the X of your choice) will grow by Y percent (not less than 25) until the year Z (two to five years from now). You can sample Oscar's wisdom for a few dollars in this paper, for a few hundred dollars in a research house report, or for tens of thousands by subscribing to an industry analysis service. The message is the same for all three sources.
Now try an experiment. Pull any five-year-old issue of Computerworld out of your dusty archives. See what Oscar and his ilk said then. Compare their forecast with what happened. How good was their crystal ball? Chances are, it wasn't wonderful.
That by itself is not a reason to criticize the Oscars of this world. Weather forecasters make mistakes, but we still wear galoshes when they say it will rain. The difference is that computer industry gurus are consistently wrong in the same direction: they overestimate the speed with which new developments will displace the tried and true. What's more, they do so for specific reasons that we can analyze, understand, and take into account the next time we read a computer industry forecast. The result: our forecast, based on the analyst's opinion but aided by our understanding, can be better than the analyst's was.
The three factors that make analysts anticipate change faster than it will really occur are analyst bias, survey subject bias, and misleading comparisons.
- Analyst bias arises because industry analysts have an economic ax to grind. Consider the publisher of a report on UNIX. The more important UNIX will be in the computer industry picture, the more people will buy the report. The more people who buy the report, the more money the analyst's firm makes, the more raises/promotions/etc. the analyst gets. The analyst's economic self-interest motivates him or her to inflate the UNIX market. Most analysts do not consciously fudge their numbers. They do, however, give them the most favorable interpretation - usually without realizing what they are doing. The publishers of generic reports, that discuss overall industry trends without focusing on a specific product area, are subject to the same pressure. People need their services more in times of rapid change, less when change is slower. Who will pay $40,000 to hear "next year will be like last year and this year?" It is in their economic self-interest to predict rapid changes. They, albeit subconsciously, react as predictably as Pavlov's dogs.
- Survey subject bias influences the numbers analysts use. Many market forecasts come from asking MIS managers "When will you start using hula hoop storage?" or "What fraction of the PCs you buy next year will use the 786 chip?" MIS managers are human too. They want to be seen as being with it, at the state of the art, using the most modern equipment and the latest technologies. Are 786-based PCs hot? By golly, that's what we'll buy! Put down 100% for me on that one, Oscar! Even in anonymous surveys these folks want to see themselves as current. They can't admit - even to themselves in the most private of whispers - that their shop might be falling behind. The facts of the matter, of course, are quite different. A lot of 486-based machines are still doing useful work, the Pentium is mainstream technology, most people still find a 250MHz Pentium II "fast." Dreams of 786s next year fall victim to harsh realities of budget justification, lack of software, and other mundane issues. The MIS manager who says "Oh, yes, we'll be using UNIX next year" often means "we'll get a server" or "one of our engineers will have a Sun workstation," while the corporate IS shop sticks to MVS. A respondent's "We're using multimedia" must be translated into English as "we've learned how to put clip art on our overheads."
- Misleading comparisons result from comparing the R&D promise of a new technology with available commercial products using the old one. Veterans may remember how many years semiconductor memory was "around the corner" as a replacement for core. It did replace core eventually, of course. Nobody has bought core memory for ages. But the switch took far longer than gurus, who compared semiconductor memory lab devices with real-world core memory products, thought it would. They forgot that, during the years that it takes a new product to emerge from the lab, the previous technology will not stand still. By the time Year X semiconductor memory technology reached production levels, it was no longer competing with Year X core, but with Year X+3 core. Since then scads of other products have been in the same boat. Some, like bubble memory, never made it. ISDN is falling victim to the same syndrome, at least in part: many of the benefits that were trumpeted for ISDN when it was conceived years ago can now be had more simply and less expensively via other approaches, such as fractional T1. The reason is the same: older telecommunication techniques didn't stop evolving while ISDN got its act together. When ISDN was conceived everyone "knew" 2400 bps was the theoretical maximum speed of dial-up phone lines. Today they're at 56Kbps and counting. ISDN may still have a future, but it won't be as dramatic and as universal an improvement over the alternatives as it was once. The same is true of any other technology - pen-based computing, object-oriented databases, whatever - that you read about: it may make it to the mainstream, but this blessed event will almost surely occur far later than the analysts are saying.
The next time you read a technology or product growth forecast, ask yourself - or the analyst, if you get the chance - these questions:
- Where did the raw data come from? What is the bias, conscious or subconscious, of that source?
- What is the analyst's, and the firm's, interest in creating a perception of rapid change and/or high growth? (If they say "none," either they are lying, which is unlikely but possible, or they're blissfully unaware of their own inner motivations.)
- Are lab results or pre-alpha software versions being compared with generally available products? How long will it take the new technology to reach real users? How far will the old technology have advanced by then?
If you can answer these questions - often, the act of asking will suggest the answers - you'll be on your way to a better forecast than your guru can sell you.
Wednesday, 11 October 2006
Tekrati reports today that IDC is using its successful Insights Services to target IT users:
IDC Launches Insights Advisory Service for IT Executives Tekrati Analyst Firm News
By the look of it (see the un-edited press release here), they seem en route to eating some of the IT user RAS pie enjoyed by Gartner, Forrester, Ovum, AMR and the local boutiques.
ARmadgeddon's take: although their analyst line-up currently only covers North-America, it is an interesting move. All three analysts listed have experience with RAS firms: Melinda Carol-Ballou at META, Stephen Elliot at Forrester+Hurwitz and Joseph Pucciarelli at Gartner. Although today it almost exclusively serves IT vendors, IDC enjoys a great brand recognition and global footprint with offices almost everywhere noteworthy. However, its management is conservative and they have been very slow to move out of their comfort zone. If they can successfully leverage those assets to target the IT buyers they might well become a credible alternative to Gartner in the long run. We would suggest them to stick to those vertical markets they cover well through their Insights programme and focus on emerging countries where the Gartner Borg Empire is not an oppressing force.
Update: Tekrati also posted this release about 3 more analysts joining IDC:
IDC Fortifies Software Research and Advisory Capabilities in EMEA Tekrati Analyst Firm News
- Alys Woodward, ex-Ovum, for Business Intelligence and Analytics research in Europe
- Jonathan Share, ex-Citiwire, in the consulting group (really?)
- Eric Domage, now head of security solutions research in Europe for IDC
- Erik Bruin, changing focus from IT services solutions to enterprise applications
Finally, there are recent comments from Han Honimous below and on this other post... someone out there must not like IDC very much. We thought of them they as genteel and harmless...
Monday, 9 October 2006
Looks like the AR jobs market is in full swing. There's been a lot of movement recently in EMEA, including at CA, Avaya, IBM, CSC, Marconi, Oracle, Unisys, etc...
And looking at the links on the left hand sidebar, there are a few positions advertised at major vendors:
Sr. Manager, Analyst Relations - US LeadMclean, VA - BearingPoint
Analyst Relations ManagerRedmond, WA - Microsoft
Vice President, Analyst Relations &San Jose, CA - BEA Systems
Vendor Relations SpecialistUS - Gartner
And also one to join the Gartner vendor relations:
Director, Marketing Communications andSan Francisco, CA
This Borg vendor police job description makes an interesting read:
This position will be responsible for ensuring the Gartner brand is protected in the marketplace and is presented to reflect independence and objectivity at all times. This is achieved by receiving; reviewing and approving all formats (press releases, presentations, brochures, etc) by which vendors will attempt use Gartner research externally.
Thursday, 5 October 2006
In April we wrote about whether AR should cater for wider audiences: Step up a geAR or disappeAR!
Two related posts bring further points.
James McGovern wrote that AR should focus on bloggers, and on analysts independence in this post:
Enterprise Architecture: Thought Leadership: Software Vendors and Analyst Relations...
"Analysts’ claims of impartiality are being eroded in our minds on an almost daily basis. The bigger analyst firms stand accused of engaging only with organisations that buy their services, such as not showing open-source projects next to commercial closed-source offerings in terms of ESB, BPM and Portals thus eroding the perception of even-handedness. Meanwhile, “Analysts-For-Hire” can be commissioned to write collateral on behalf of vendor clients.
In this other comment of his here, one might read a hint of envy?
In the meantime, Duncan Chapple from Lighthouse posted a robust response to Influencers50 on their paper indeed dramatically titled "Analyst influence is diminishing": Is the headline mightier than the humdrum?
We planned to respond but Duncan got there before us. We can't either support Influencers50 research methodology or conclusions. What's more, Influencers50 seem to ignore (deliberately?) the "ripple effect": IT analysts are super-influencers: they are a small target audience (less than a few thousands for a given vendor, from which 50-100 are top tier) who influences other influencers such as media, bloggers, consultants, system integrators, financial analysts, etc... Bearing this in mind, it does seems that maintaining close relationships with top-tier IT analysts might be a good idea. This should probably include other top-tier influencers such as super-bloggers. Second and third tier should be dealt by one:many tactics, maybe such as this one?
Bottom line: tiering the audience is AR best practice. In those diminishinging budgets and need for increased accountability it is a logical choice to concentrate on analysts directly impacting the sales cycle. In addition, firms such as Gartner, IDC and others do in turn influence other key influencers. AR leaders should nevertheless look at ways to scale their programs in a one:many fashion to include other super-influencers, on a case-by case basis.
After harvesting those "low hanging fruits", they should establish a strategy to transform AR into IfR.
UPDATE: a great conversation on IfR or Influencer 2.0 started in the comments threads of this post (see below) and on James'. Our position is that people influence to people. Consulting, advising, blogs, research reports, press articles, speeches, web sites, etc... are different medium with specific attributes. One has to revert to communication studies to frame it ; in the end, only a few things matter:
- trust & reputability
- medium and its characteristics (synchronicity, etc...)
What about bloggers then? Does the read-write web change everything? Can boutiques be heard over Borgs? We're sorry to disagree with Jon, but we don't think he gets the point. It's all about who has to say what. Some bloggers are super-influencers and we also know of dull analysts.
Are there pragmatic guidelines for AR Managers then? Yes, focus on the person, on the research agenda, on the real, original content and first and foremost on one's real influence, to tier your audience, not on the medium. Make sure you end up with a manageable number of Tier 1's which whom you want to have deep and regular conversations, regardless of whether they are bloggers or analysts.
- Step up a geAR or disappeAR!
- Should AR run Influencer Relations? [Analyst Equity]
- ARmadgeddon to AR pros: Get up off your ass [Helzerman]
- Its time for analyst relations to step into the 21st Century... [Monkchips]
- The Changing Influence Game [Deal Architect]
- Analysts determine opinions industry-wide [Analyst Equity]
- The influence of blogs [Infuse by Influencer50]
Friday, 29 September 2006
Saw this on Catherine's blog: Forrester's Charlene Li advises not to rely on analysts to ask for briefings.
There are a couple of reasons why [emailing directly to the analyst] isn't always a good idea. First, you're relying on the analyst to have their act together and be able to respond to your request.
After this amusing admission, she also provides some tips for better briefings. AR 101 surely, but always worth having in the back of your AR mind. Norma made similar recommendations a while back.
See also the following posts:
- AR 101: briefing analysts
- Blon-idc and briefing 101
- Redmonk: how to brief analysts
- Is Gartner subtly going pay-to-play for briefings? (update: they're no longer subtle about it!)
- Should vendors institute a pay-to-brief policy?
This starts to look like a body of good practices around briefings... and no more excuses for bad briefings!
PS: we've added links to AR jobs on the left-hand-side-bar.
Thursday, 28 September 2006
This article in PR News was published on January 8, 1996. The information technology and the analyst/consultant world have changed in the time since this article appeared. It reflected an understanding of the world at that time but, like anything written about high-tech then, does not necessarily apply in the same way today.
Companies need to build relationships, supply information, access
In high-tech, it is critical to stay in touch with the key market analysts who follow and project the fortunes of markets and companies.
While they do not always do so, companies should have a formal program for communicating with and being responsive to the needs of analysts (e.g. The Gartner Group, Forrester Research, etc.), advises Norma LaRosa.
Two Biggest Problems
LaRosa said two problems loom above all others: companies fail to establish strong relationships with key analysts, and then provide product information in the context of a comparison with their competitors instead of the marketplace.
"People don't know how to establish positive relationships with analysts," said LaRosa. Being responsive, promptly providing the information that analysts need, and hooking them up to the technical/business experts they need to speak with at the company is the bridge to building these relationships.
Secondly, while an awareness of competitors is crucial given the dizzying of high-tech markets, analysts need to know "where companies' products fit in the realm of customers' problems," she said.
Product Information is King
The most popular and most-requested type of information is product information: problems products solve, availability, cost, compatibility, interoperability, how does it work, how is it being sold, etc.
While companies often resist giving out this kind of information, LaRosa says that analysts will get it from other sources, such as customers or research firms.
"The information is available publicly, anyway," LaRosa notes. "What companies are doing is cutting off their nose to spite their face."
Web Sites Becoming Critical
Given analysts' need for timely information, it is no surprise that they increasingly are turning to companies' web sites for the technical, financial and market information they need.
"It's essential to have a good web site," said LaRosa. "More and more analysts and press people are too pressed for time. They need information now in a format they can use."
What Analysts Want From Vendors
(Listed in priority order)
- 1) Information on vendor strategies
- 2) Access to staff members
- 3) Access to top executives
- 4) A central contact point
- 5) Pricing information
- 6) Visits by vendors
- 7) Private meetings at vendor locations
- 8) On-line info (via modem)
- 9) Technical "backgrounders"
- 10) Analyst days at vendor locations
Source: Kensington Group
Monday, 25 September 2006
Friday, 22 September 2006
Who would have thought it? Analyst relations is getting so old that some of the early, classic writing about AR is off line and out of print. Over the next few weeks, we'll be publishing some of them. To start the series, this article by Norma LaRosa originally appeared in Software Marketing Journal, vol. 3, issue 1 (November, 1997).
Whether vendors like it or not, industry analysts and consultants have a profound effect on sales. One analyst's "thumbs-up" on a vendor or its products can equal millions of dollars in revenue. Similarly, negative analyst reports can severely impair sales, cause misuse of employees' time, or worse yet, effect irrecoverable damage in the public's eyes.
Not all industry analyst reports have such impact, but their influence is far-reaching. Analysts and consultants are, in fact, the ultimate target audience. By communicating effectively with this audience, vendors can influence all of their other target selling audiences: customers, prospects, the press, Wall Street, resellers, and other business partners. This ripple effect is the reason information technology providers spend enormous sums of money and resources in attempts to compete for analyst and consultant mindshare.
The problem is that some vendors, particularly large, well-established players, wield more ability to influence industry analysts than others. Analysts are more likely to provide positive reports about a vendor's product if the vendor allocates funds for spending "face time" with analysts. Face time can serve a number of purposes, but it's not cheap. Large ($50 to $100 million) and very large (over $100 million) vendors spend at least $1 million annually on industry analyst research, excluding custom consulting and special projects.
For example, a vendor will secure an analyst's billable time early in the product development cycle for "pre-testing," so that products are as robust and competitive as possible at the time of their unveiling. At this stage, an analyst can consult on market needs, product development, interoperability and connectivity features, competitive launch strategies, competitive analysis, distribution strategies, and service and support issues. This process also helps hammer out responses to the litany of questions that the analyst community will have at launch time. The cost of this kind of consulting service varies among analyst firms and independent consultants. Contrary to popular belief, consulting rates are negotiable. Some vendors have even offered analysts stock in lieu of cash, though this practice is ethically questionable.
Vendors also set aside funds for briefing key analysts prior to a launch, and for ongoing communications and support. The time and travel expenses of the presenters, the preparers, and their administrative staff present additional costs, along with lost productivity from being away from the office. If the vendor uses an outside agency to make appointments with analysts, or conducts the briefing session at a hotel, those costs are incurred as well. Funding is also required for the development and distribution of analyst support materials and vehicles, including Web sites, faxing, telephone briefings, and video conferencing. These costs can amount to between $500,000 and $1 million a year.
Another facet of the financial issues affecting vendors is that some research firms pay their analysts a commission on research and consulting as an incentive to sell the firm's services and support the paying client. As a result, analysts from these firms are more likely to concentrate their product focus or technology awareness on vendors who pay for services and require support. All analysts will claim they cannot be bought, but few vendors, based on their experiences, believe this to be true.
Size Doesn't Matter
A vendor is not an underdog based solely on the size of its analyst relations budget. An underdog is any size vendor that operates at a disadvantage, as perceived by industry analysts and consultants. Recent bad news such as widespread product bugs, poor quarterly earnings, and long delays in product delivery can have major negative effects on the way analysts perceive the vendor's viability and the competitive benefits of its products.
Vendors that have historically struggled with repeated loss of market share, inability to meet market needs, false starts, lack of vision, or other negative factors also create an uncomfortable situation for analysts and consultants. Analysts want to believe in such disadvantaged companies, but it will take carefully executed communications, backed by substantial changes, to win their confidence. In this way, small, relatively unknown vendors operate at an advantage, as they have an opportunity to put their best foot forward with all analyst communications, instead of being stuck in recovery mode.
Another potential disadvantage concerns attitude, a touchy-feely area that is difficult to quantify, yet has everything to do with how analysts and consultants feel about a vendor and its products. Complaints about a vendor's attitude may be real or perceived to be real. Does the vendor have a history of arrogance? Has it been unresponsive to analysts' and consultants' needs? Does it show little respect for the intelligence of analysts and consultants? Does the vendor disregard analysts' time constraints and deadlines?
What Motivates Analysts
The majority of analysts and consultants want the underdog vendors to succeed. Analysts and consultants are motivated to keep them as clients - clients whose research budgets continue to grow. Still, they are hard-pressed to speak favorably of struggling vendors, let alone recommend their products. After all, their reputations are at stake, not to mention their contract renewals. Therefore, new underdog initiatives must be well-founded and precisely executed to receive any analyst's backing.
However, simply throwing money at this endeavor is a mistake that smaller vendor organizations cannot, and should not, make. The key for underdogs, especially smaller firms, is to work smarter. Instead of dedicating endless resources to the problem, it is critical for these firms to step back and assess the quality of their analyst and consultant support programs. Knowing how analysts and consultants view a company and its products, and how the program measures up to competitors' programs, can maximize an underdog's limited resources and eliminate costly pitfalls. To assess a support program, a vendor must do the following:
- Understand what kinds of information individual analysts and consultants need. For example, certain analysts want product strategy information, but vendors frequently do not understand how to define a strategy. The "strategies" they produce are often misplaced mission statements or selling objectives. Product information is frequently considered important to analysts, but only some of them want deep technical detail, and only on an occasional basis.
- Assess where it stands in providing the needed information and how it rates compared with competitors. Again, this is not a one-size-fits-all assessment. Say that a vendor regularly provides "standard" list pricing to an analyst because that is what the company dictates - the party line. But the analyst would rather have "street" or enterprise prices, or information about how the pricing is structured. The vendor may be making it harder for the analyst to get the information when his or her time is already tight. That analyst might rate the vendor lower than competitors in this area, because the analyst is not receiving effective support from the vendor firm. The result can translate into a subconscious negative perception about the vendor, its products, or both.
- Understand how individual analysts and consultants want to receive information. Blanket e-mails, faxes, "snail" mail, and overnight deliveries are overused. Some analysts prefer to be briefed with a succinct telephone call. Others want to interact with the vendor's executives in person. Others have gone full circle and now want information by mail so they can read it on a plane or at home.
- Identify how the company rates comparatively in the ways in which it provides the needed information. Briefings are a good example. Vendors often fail to qualify the analyst's area of expertise in advance to make sure they aren't wasting the analyst's time. Even vendors who qualify analysts often provide standard marketing pitches that don't get to the point quickly, or worse, don't require a briefing at all. Not only does this waste time, but it results in a less-than-positive attitude about the vendor or its products. Competitors that perform this and other analyst communication functions well will usually gain more mindshare.
- Be aware of how analysts and consultants feel about the firm and its communications with them. Traits such as responsiveness, candor, and credibility often affect an analyst's perception. A perceived lack of responsiveness could result from simply not returning a telephone call immediately, a turn-off for analysts that can have critical repercussions. Perceived lack of candor or credibility could results from discussions with analysts that are based on the "party line" or hype, rather than honesty and trust forged from establishing a relationship. Demonstrating a lack of respect will surely yield negative results.
A Company-Wide Effort
Annual benchmark studies of vendor best practices conducted by the Kensington Group reveal how firms can be more effective in working with industry analysts and consultants. Recommendations for underdogs are based on individual vendor situations and are multi-faceted. However, a few words of advice apply to any underdog's situation:
LEVERAGE THE COMPANY'S BEST ASSETS: PEOPLE. Executives should be available for analysts and consultants to answer questions and communicate strategy, vision, company viability, and execution plans. This is providing, of course, that they are knowledgeable, can easily address analysts and consultants without relying on visual aids, possess the ability to discuss strategy and vision, and can be perceived as candid.
COMMUNICATE CONTENT; CUT THE HYPE. Analysts and consultants have heard it and seen it all before. They can tell a marketer what the vendor's strategy is before the marketer gets through the first foil. They not only want meat; they want you to show them how you will emerge. Strategies must include investments for execution. Prove that the company is focusing on core competencies. "Just say no" when interrogated about providing new products or features that are unrealistic - it is simply the analyst's test of the company's focus. Provide consistent messages across departments and people.
LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD. Demand the same amount of analyst time as analysts allott to larger companies. Challenge analysts on their commitment to providing a complete picture of product choices. Demonstrate to analysts how the company's products solve business problems without creating any. Differentiate the products and their features, services, performance, and functionality. Define how the company is competent, positioned, and focused to compete.
BE COMMITTED TO THEIR NEEDS. Treat analysts and consultants as the company's largest account. Personalize communications. Make sure they get what they want, when they want it, and how they want it. Convince everyone on the marketing team to have this same commitment and understand the value of working effectively with industry analysts.
BE AWARE OF THEIR ATTITUDE. In a way, underdogs have a unique advantage in this regard, as their position is one of relative weakness. Underdogs have no choice but to do whatever it takes to satisfy and establish positive relationships with this target audience, because they are competing for analyst and consultant mindshare. This audience knows it, expects it and welcomes it. They believe that vendors who are undergoing change are the most receptive to their feedback.
DIFFERENTIATE THE COMPANY. Show analysts and consultants how the company has a clearer understanding of business problems and their impact than competitors do. Prove that solutions are well thought out, and show how they are unique. Messages and their supporting facts must be industrial-strength for this audience.
APPEAL TO ANALYSTS' EGOS. Grab analysts' attention by doing things that larger companies often fail to do. Interact with them openly and enlist their help. Show them how their analysis and advice contributed to company efforts and made a difference. This closes the communications loop, makes them feel useful, and helps them look good to their management. Let's face it, there are no shortages of ego here.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE BALL. Remember that the objective is not just to have a "good program." The objective is to be competitive in reaching industry analysts and consultants, and the overall goal is to have a positive impact on sales.
Roles of underdog and winner change frequently. Companies that come ouit on top understand that the entire business is centered on relationships. If a vendor does nothing else, it should show respect for analysts and consultants, understand their motivations, be responsive to their needs, and establish ongoing relationships based on sincere communications and trust. That will be the wisest and easiest investment, and the returns will be abundant.
Thursday, 21 September 2006
Dom finally gets into blogging and was the first to post on Abderdeen's purchase by Harte-Hanks -a direct-marketing and customer database company. Yes, those guys filling your mail boxes with the entire contents of a forest and calling you about cruises in Caribbean Sea during TV prime time.
Dom says it gives AberdeenGroup a new lease of life. Their business model is actually pretty much staying the same: Aberdeen was an analyst for hire and they're now a marketing company. At least it's now clear what they stand for. Some of the respondents of this survey thought they were on the rise. They're now officially wrong.
ARmadgeddon's take: vendors wishing to spend time briefing Aberdeen should be very careful with potential conflicts of interests. Since Aberdeen can no more claim being independent, they ought to probe how the information will be used and who comissionned the study. Vendors commissionning white papers should be wary of their fast decreasing reputation.
By the way, on the other end of the spectrum, Redmonk was awarded the 2006 Tekrati Analyst Transparency -at least according to James McGovern (who, despite all appearances, is not related to James Governor) since we could not find a confirmation on Tekrati.
Dom's post is here: AberdeenGroup given a new lease of life? [ARcade]
The press release here on HH's web site: News Releases: Harte-Hanks.com
Wednesday, 20 September 2006
It looks like the AR clubs are making progress into their journey to unite into a formal AR association, now called the IIAR. Training and industry representation are the stated objectives.
Duncan posted a summary of their latest meeting here:
ANALYST EQUITY: AR Institute focuses on measures, training and representation
More is available on the Yahoo Group.
Tuesday, 19 September 2006
In a nutshell, Gartner is trying to extend their reach into the financial community. They are not the first ones here, IDC is already considered as the reference for financial analysts and The 451 who was also selling research into the investment community bought Tier 1.
H&K is absolutely spot on when raising the China wall issue: until now, AR professionals could isolate The 451 and apply strict governance rules to IDC and Gartner/Dataquest for numbers disclosure. Gartner's foray into this market is problematic for vendors as the RAS analysts (those advising IT users) will exchange with those Financial Insights analysts -when they're not the same ones!
ARmadgeddon's bottom line: make sure that your spokespersons are properly trained on disclosure regulations (for instance they should avoid breaking down numbers by country or predicting future revenues, etc...) Provide guidance usign a consistent and centralised process.
PS: commenting on a previous post, a reader indicated us where Katy Ring went...
Monday, 18 September 2006
It is a pre-conception that the Gartner Borg is has an anti-vendor stance.
Richard (Stiennon, ex. Gartner analyst now independent) pointed us to this case study:
AXA Financial Uses BI to Help Focus Its Sales Force
It is hosted on Gartner's product, the reprint being paid for by a vendor through the Gartner Connects programme. While the Borg does not write commissionned white papers, this certainly looks like like the real McCoy...
Saturday, 16 September 2006
We've received some interesting comments recently...
On how much analysts are paid (the answer is much more than AR managers, but there are great inequalities between IDC/the Borg and the small boutiques).
On Ovum and Orbys, a great conversation...
On the same post, Anne O'Nimous wonders about PAC, a French-founded vendor-facing firm -anyone got views?
Some Forrester bashing goes on here.
Is CEB the future of analyst firms?
Tuesday, 12 September 2006
Duncan relates here Ovum's acquisition of Orbys, a UK outsourcing analyst/consulting firm. Coincidentally, this acquisition takes place shortly after the departure of Katy Ring who was covering this space. The press release is there.
Although we were critical of Ovum's inaction after the Borg annexed META Group, they actually seem to be gathering momentum to a point where they can in some areas be considered as a viable alternative to Gartner.
Update: Katy's new bio can be found here on NelsonHall's site.
Friday, 8 September 2006
More revolving doors from David:
Analyst Insight: Analyst moves: FS, Mobile, Security
Forrester is now very very thin on the ground but still organised in narrow silos -they're looking for analysts to cover several segments...
Thursday, 31 August 2006
Tim details here his next Adobe Analyst/Customer Day.
It's interesting on several counts:
1. The format is good, packed with customer interactions. Analysts like that kind of events and it should have a positive impact for Adobe.
2. The invite is on a blog, in the open. This is a departure from most AR events invites that tend to be more on the secretive side. This has a competitive impact as Tim is letting his rivals (Microsoft for instance) know of his event. He also has to extend the invite to all analysts who read his blog!
3. The wine should be good, ain't James?
Wednesday, 30 August 2006
My sister always sounds happy for me when I tell that I'll be spending a day in downtown San Francisco. Although it just means a day working from the Courtyard, it does give me a few hours to exchange news with friends who work nearby. Given a lobby with both Starbucks and pretty fast WiFi I can multi-task, and multi-gossip.
The most repeatable story from breakfast concerns our friends at Hill and Knowlton and the guys at Knowledge Capital. It seems that H&K feels that KCG has been presenting H&K as if it's a happy customer of theirs. However, the opposite seems to be true. H&K ended its token partnership with KCG a few years ago, and didn't get much out of it. Now H&K is developing the same sort of advisory services, as well as metrics like those that KCG resells from Biz360 and Evalueserve.
Personally, my impression was that they have been buddies: I'm pretty sure I've seen H&K listed as a KCG partner, and Stephen certainly made me think they were close. Perhaps the two firms have drifted apart. My friend feels that KCG has continued to talk about H&K as if it gets its AR strategies and skills from KCG; meanwhile H&K has gone in its own direction, learning more from its work with Carter's team at HP can anyone could learn from KCG. KCG and H&K are now, more or less, full competitors -- even if H&K is more focussed on selling AR to exisiting PR clients.
This cold war has turned hot after a client asked H&K about its link to KCG. It turns out that KCG's materials referenced H&K. H&K has told Bill to remove all the references. My friend feels KCG has been too slow to make that happen. Everyone seems to be ratty with everyone.
Glancing at Bill's website, I can't see any references to H&K. However, I also think that KCG has pulled its client list from its website, perhaps temporarily.
Monday, 28 August 2006
We've been sent the following link (thanks Jeff):
Computerworld > It’s time to step into the light.
The main thread is a realisation that most reports are paid for and questionning on Gartner's credibility. This seems to be a growing concern in the press and should worry any AR professional (see alsoMore reations to the Information Week Credibility of Analysts article).
"Former employees say that where once the independence of Gartner and other large US-based research companies was totally accepted, there is now a level of discomfort about that same independence. "
Probably more interesting are the reports on how Gartner lost ground in New Zealand:
"But because of expectations in the wider Australasian region, the company withdrew from New Zealand and tried to sell its services from Australia. It has only recently reopened an office here. It is generally accepted that the company lost its ability to engage with its customers on a personal basis."
Sunday, 27 August 2006
An interesting piece of research was recently published on Gartner's web site:
To Save Time on Product Selection, Flip a Coin (by Jeffrey Mann) (password required).
The piece argues that users spend too much time and efforts in the evaluation process, should draw a short list, then randomly select a winner and stick with that decision.
Interesting advice. We wonder what Gartner consulting customers -who pay for selection and evaluation advice- think of this recommendation?
Friday, 25 August 2006
Duncan has done the maths on an IDC report (does it make it an extrapolation of an estimation?) and figured out AR spend rose to 28% of PR spend [Analyst Equity]... which is still only 2% of marketing spend!
It would be interesting to compare AR and PR spend (7.1% of the same marketing treasure chest) with their respective impact on sales...
We bet that the results could be could have an impact on the PR planet... Any volunteers to challenge its status in the marketing galaxy?
Friday, 18 August 2006
Looks like the summer analyst job market is in full swing (see previous post
David, him again, lists a few more in this other post:
- Jakob Heckscher joining IDC covering SCM and CRM
- Joao da Silva moves to the IDC European Mobile and Wireless team
- Phil Sayer and Ricardo Arruda both join Forrester covering telcos and Financial Services
- Pete Cunningham and Mehar Zulfikar joined Canalys
- Louella Fernandes joins Quocirca
- David Perry joins Freeform Dynamics
Saturday, 12 August 2006
David summs up various movements in this post: Analyst Insight: Various analyst changes.
In brief, Quocirca finally signed up a new analyst, Butler loses another analyst (fed-up with compiling door-wedges-reports?) and Forrester shrinks too. It looks like the latter still has some open headcounts to cover consumer markets and applications to further enrich their "molten core". Quite why they missed the train of departing soon-to-be-ex-META analysts still puzzles us...
Monday, 7 August 2006
Wednesday, 26 July 2006
I have found a fascinating page at Topix. It tracks mentions of META Group. Interestingly, even though Gartner announced the purchase of that firm in 2004, there are some.
A great example is this story from May this year, in which a META Group analyst comments on Dell's performance.
How serious are journalists' conversations with analysts if they don't even check the name of the analyst firm they are citing?
Wednesday, 19 July 2006
In the wake of SageCircle and Kensington Group, we can now report at Serendipp, a UK analyst relations consultancy, has also closed.
Readers might recall that last December we had some criticisms and harsh comments about that company. In Serendipp's opinion, "Analysts only do two things: size markets and do case studies".
Our comments was this: "This is so far from being right, it's not even worth calling wrong. Sizing markets and writing case studies is what gets outsourced to India. The real work of analysts is quite different: and that is why analysts have substantial advisory, consulting and custom research businesses. If an AR advisor doesn't realize this, then heaven help their clients."
Indeed, the company has now closed. A posting on the firm's blog explains that those the firm's partners have taken employment elsewhere. Rest in peace.
However, this story has a little tickle are the end. Our chiding of Serendipp last years ended this this comment which, in hindsight, is amazing prescient: "It would be far better to understand one's limitations and keep only do what you know how to do. In that respect, kudos to Hill & Knowlton. If Duncan's latest post is correct (my Norwegian is rusty) their European AR is led by their partner agency in Oslo, Gambit, which hired a former IBM AR manager in 1999."
What's interesting is that one of Serendipp's partners has been hired by H&K to work on its European analyst relations. Let's hope his boss in Oslo doesn't let her analyst relations business go the same way as Serendipp.