Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Beware of Forrester's advice for AR professionals

We've always been somewhat puzzled by Forrester's AR role service, aimed advising AR professionals on, well how to influence work with analysts. Even though conflicts of interests can be managed (after all, it's something analyst firms have long practiced) we still wonder if the advice given by an analyst firm isn't going to be biaised?

We don't know how many enquiries they're taking but they certainly have published more in this domain than on other key topics (hardware or EMEA local research comes to mind for instance). Some of it is OK, other bits could easily feature in an AR for dummies guide but we thought it all fell in the "mostly harmless" category.... until we came across this piece:
AR Should Use The Main Web Site To Convey Information To Analysts by Maribel D. Lopez, Merv Adrian - Forrester Research

In a nutshell, Forrester found out that 60% analysts don't use AR portals. Rather than suggesting to fix'em (there are only very few vendors that actually have a real portal), they suggest to stick everything in the public domain. Dom suggested Forrester to follow their own advice and de-password their own site. (note: Forrester is the only firm that leverages the web 2.0 community aspects and allows comments on the research within their web site).

Ahem... not sure removing analysts the advantage of having priviledged information will be popular with them? Anyhow, this is not where the issue lies. There are very few vendors who actually have a portal, with password sign-on, personalised, updated and relevant content. It usually rather is another repository for press releases and out-of-date material.

When properly maintained, AR Portals can be a very efficient manner to communicate to a wide audience without informing your competitors of upcoming NDA briefings. If the information is relevant, it can also help the analyst to quickly find past briefings material and disseminate large files without cluttering their inbox.
Forrester found it that 30% of analysts do use AR portals. Rather than seeing an half empty glass here, we think it can reduce the inbound traffic and increases the AR team's productivity. Forrester does not see this potential though...

There's another bit of ill informed advice: Forrester advises AR professionals to "add keywords that your competitors would use, such as their branded terms". Mmmm, not sure how to get this one past Legal?

Other interesting fact: they surveyed other analysts than Forrester -they quote Middlewarespectra, Alternative Technologies, Illuminata, Frost & Sulliva).... We'd love to see Forrester trying to survey Gartner :-)

ARmadgeddon's take: for most vendors, the briefing requests and queries from analysts exceed the AR teams bandwidth. Of course, in person briefings is what analysts prefer, no need for a survey there. The only trouble is that you can't please everyone. Some prioritise according to Tiers (see passionate disscussions here , there and there), others use more one-to-many tactics such as mixing analysts together in AR Summits or with press or with financial analysts. Proceed with caution with those are those latter two are known drawbacks and risks:

  • reduced interactions quality
  • difficulty to respond to analysts need for detailed information
  • IT analysts ranting in front of press or financial analysts may result in negative coverage/advice as they not necessarily have the technical depth to appreciate the argument
The use of 1:many communication vehicules such as Summits, AR Portals, flashes and newsletters, if resourced adequately, is an effective manner to increase the productivity of AR teams and analysts satisfaction.

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