Tuesday, 18 December 2007

PR Week discusses analyst relations

One more breakthrough for the analyst relations community: a feature in PR Week.

Craig McGuire's article, Reaching a different type of influencer, explains how the practice of analyst relations has evolved a great deal over the past few years. It includes a nice comment from Susan:

The traditional model for analyst relations (AR) gave tech vendors a tool to influence industry analysts who develop paid reports for sale through independent research and consulting firms.

Today, with so much more noise in the market and such a need for reliable, independent validation, AR is now as likely to engage earlier and leverage analysts to build brand as much as to build buzz. AR's appeal has also spread beyond b-to-b tech into such verticals as pharmaceuticals, entertain- ment, hospitality, professional services, consumer goods, and more.

AR pros must continually adapt to navigate an evolving ecosystem of influencers as online, digital communities rise and relationships overlap, says Susan Galer, MD of Burson-Marsteller's technology practice. "Along with the evolving, multifaceted roles analysts now assume, we're finding that more pragmatic, metric-based industry analyst relations programs are very much the norm," she says. "For example, the reality is most organizations have a defined scope of sometimes-limited resources for industry analyst relations."

To counter, Burson developed an ROI-based methodology that allows clients to allocate AR efforts based upon proven scope of influence that will help achieve specific business objectives. Such services and strategies can only proliferate.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Carter reincarnates as a Sage

Carter Lusher, the internationally acclaimed food critic, kindly sent us an email to let us know about his new life after HP (his original farewell post is no longer on hp.com but we've saved it here). Actually, it seems he sent more than one email since Duncan, Duncan, Babara and Jim already blogged the fact he's going back to relaunch Sage Circle, now free to blog with a revenge! For those interested,Duncan actually wrote quite a few posts on this competitor of his.

Sage Circle is already planning best practices events, training and we hope will continue its thoughts provoking blog posts in their new SageCircle blog.

So all the best to Carter and associate Dave Eckert.

In the meantime, we've been once more forwarded a SPAR post on predictions by Carter and thought it was interesting enough to post it below. Jonny also posted on the same subject: Analyst predictions 2008.

ARmadgeddon's take: too few analysts do review their past predictions, if any: check our list here. On predictions, we suggest to follow Carter's advice, but be a little more pro-active: do invite your analysts for a Xmas lunch (too late if you haven't thought about it till now) and ask about predictions. Better to be warned than surprised...

Previous posts on predictions:

Are you checking for the year-end prediction research notes? – Well, it’s thattime of the year when thoughts turn to holiday parties, mistletoe and… theannual deluge of analyst predictions for the coming year. The rollout of GartnerPredicts research notes started in November with 12 so far. IDC just releasedits “IDC Predictions 2008: The Post-Disruption Marketplace Takes Shape”, whichis available here to non-clients. It’s easy to miss these annual notes if youhave alerts keyed to your company name because often companies are not mentionedin the notes. However, your sales people can be blindsided by one of these notesif the analyst denigrates your market, even if your company is not directlymentioned. Don’t be surprised if the content of a prediction appears to be alittle wild-eyed and out of character for your favorite sobersided analyst –they are encouraged to write in an edgy style in order to be entertaining andperhaps get press attention. Oh, don’t forget to check the firms’ press releasesas well, because they can be different from the original prediction. I rememberthe brouhaha caused by a Gartner prediction in 2004 that by 2007 three of thetop 10 PC companies would exit the market. The original prediction did not causemuch of stir. However, the press release that came out a couple of weeks latersaid that HP was a likely candidate to get out of the PC market and that, myfriend, caused a real kerfuffle inside HP. Why? Prospects with multi-million PCproposals were literally waving the prediction in the face of HP sales reps andasking why they should sign the contract. Yowza.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

News from the Colony

Having seen our previous kitchen nightmares post the Forrester Comms VP, Karyl Levinston, came back to us to let us know that Norbert Kriebel just left Europe, not The Colony: he is now based of San Diego, surfers paradise but exposed to... forest fires. No update on David Metcalfe though...

Why does this matter? In true ARmadgeddon style we said that we commented on the new role-based strategy introduced earlier this year by Forrester Research Inc. (FORR). Their offerings are focused on 17 roles including eight IT professional roles, four technology industry (vendor) roles, and five marketing and strategy roles. Our concerns were about their abilities to add roles to the existing technology and industries research agenda, as well as Forrester's European presence.

Mark Nemec, Forrester's Managing Director, Technology Industry Client Group was kind enough to answer our questions -which is posted below verbatim.

ARmadgeddon's take: Forrester's openness is in stark contrast with The Borg approach towards ICT vendors and their thinking is often refreshing. They're sticking to their guns on role-based research although their own analysts seem quite uncomfortable with it. However, a recent IIAR members poll seems to indicate that AR professionals see them on the way up.


The European coverage has long been a source of frustration, how do you plan to address this issue?
As part of Forrester’s role-based strategy which we announced earlier this year, we are committed to being a global company. As a result Europe continues to be a primary market for us. Not only have we increased the number of employees in Europe, we continue to increase the amount of European-based content in our research and consulting, and in our Forrester Leadership Board offerings. We also launched two additional role-based events in Europe this year – Security in Amsterdam, and Services and Sourcing in Nice.

Additionally, experience has shown that roles are the most universal and global organizing scheme -- working with a CIO in France is oftentimes very similar to helping a CIO in Chicago. As we move forward we will continue to hire more local resources –including analysts – for our European clients. Organizationally more Forrester executives are now based in Europe including a number of Research Directors and the head of our Marketng and Strategy research, not to mention the Managing Director for our Marketing and Strategy client group.

What is your positioning in the IT Analysis landscape?
The landscape is changing but still very robust. The need for professional analysis is greater than ever. “Googlization” and the Internet mean that while information is ubiquitous, comprehensive insight is not. Analyst and peer community perspective provide the wisdom and guidance beyond the content on the Internet – the kind of insight that our clients say they need.

How do you compete and win against Gartner?
Many of our clients buy both Forrester and Gartner. We don’t compete with Gartner on size. That’s not our goal and it’s not what our clients necessarily want. Our goal is to make our clients more successful every day and that now has to do more with how to best serve them in their professional role – their responsibilities, objectives, aspirations – with the content, analysis and community they need. In addition to the IT roles and the professionals at technology providers that comprise our client base, we also serve marketing and strategy professionals – a group that Gartner doesn’t cater to at all.

What do you make of open source research and of the industry overall?
(Please see our response to the IT landscape question.)

How is Role-based research being received by our clients?

We’d love you to ask them but based on what we’re told and how we’re doing, very well, thank you. While it hasn’t been a year yet, clients appreciate that we’re listening ever more closely, focusing more on what they need in their role and delivering it to them in a more targeted fashion. In a word, they appreciate the greater relevance. One clear example of that is the rapid growth (70% year on year in revenue) of our Forrester Leadership Boards which are our role-focused knowledge communities. We continue to refine the offering so look for more role-based content and services next year.

In addition to what our clients tell us, a group of them responded to a recent survey of analyst relations professionals by the Knowledge Capital Group (KCG). Forrester was rated number one overall out of the top ten most established industry analyst firms.

Can you justify offering role based research without having analysts who have been in the role they're covering?
Role-based research is about listening to our clients and helping them with their professional responsibilities, objectives, and aspirations. In recent years we have been privileged to be joined by more analysts who have worked professionally in the role that they’re now serving. We have former CIOs, enterprise architects, marketing leaders, application developers, interactive marketers, security professionals, etc. They’re complemented by those analysts who have worked at many of the primary technology companies as well as others who are experts in certain technology, marketing and strategy disciplines. Again, for many of our clients, analyst insight is supplemented by additional expertise -- the peer insight of our Leadership Boards.

How can you span industries, roles, products and vendors without significantly expanding the number of analysts on the payroll? Or put in another way, is the role based system merely to cover up the fact you don't have enough analysts?
Not at all. Our decision to implement a role-based strategy was clearly because of our client need and demand.
On the flipside of the argument, would it not make sense for you to focus on less areas and cover them more extensively? For instance, the industries altogether and concentrate on fewer hot topics?
Once again our decision to pursue the role-based strategy is primarily due to our clients’ input and our goal to help make them more successful every day.
You now seem to have the largest social media analyst team of any company: are you betting the farm on this and is it a change in focus for Forrester?
We are fortunate to have a wealth of extraordinary resources supporting the coverage of, and analysis of social media. As we do with all of our research-based offerings, we provide our clients with both a practical and forward-thinking perspective, whether this is about the technologies behind social media or the issues, trends, applications and business impact of this rapidly growing area.

What are the main themes that Forrester expects to see over 2008?
Many of Forrester’s key themes for next year emanate from our clients’ key challenges and opportunities as well as our own expertise. In addition to ongoing coverage of such annual “favorites” as IT spending, e-commerce, SOA, and evaluating key technology vendors, broadly speaking, we will continue to pursue burgeoning themes which we call:

  • Green IT (Technology-powered Green Business)

  • Tech populism (Turning Business and IT Inside Out)

  • Social computing (Web 2.0, Social media)

  • Design for people; build for change (Human Factors of Technology and Business)

And finally, who are you planning to buy in 2008? :-)

As we’ve told Wall Street many times, we continually evaluate companies and when we find the right fit, we’ll let everyone know.