Paris report: oh là là cinq Forrester forums

Forrester ran this week its annual landmark European conference, or rather EMEA Forums. Indeed this year, the EMEA IT Forum was dismembered into five separate, co-located role-based events: Infrastructure & OperationsCIO, SecuritySourcing & Vendor Management (IT services in plain English) and Enterprise Architecture.

Those five events were marketed separately but they were in fact more like parallel tracks in a larger conference –without a main session, meaning many attendees did not get to hear from CEO, George Colony with regard to his views on the markets and emerging trends.

From an AR standpoint, this divide and conquer audiences strategy made scheduling one to ones somewhat tricky as attendees could only book meetings in advance for the “event” they were registered for (although Forrester subsequently commented this should not have happened). 

One to ones remain a sticking point at all analysts conferences, not only Forrester’s and most AR pros feel a bit short-changed on that side. They are often the main and sometimes single reason for AR attend (for some US analysts it can be the only time we can touch base with them) and the execs we wheel in (to meet face to face with analysts and to show them the awesomeness of them before we renew the research contracts). And yet there are restrictions on booking, it’s now only 20 minutes at Forrester, they sometimes don’t show or are jet lagged… Kudos though to the onsite team for herding the analyst cats and thanks to some delayed analysts for tracking down their one to ones onto the showfloor…  As a general statement though, the analyst industry needs to be better at speed dating as the value is in the interactions, not the written word.

On the content side, although it was possible to navigate between all five tracks, many commented the key sessions were scheduled on day 1 during the same slots while day 2 was somewhat light in content. The main theme was an extension from last year’s “app internet”, or why and how the transition to mobile is more challenging than the internet and as challenging as the transition to the PC era. Most analysts being from over the pond, the content was quite US centric.

Attendance was good according to Forrester at 650 delegates. That includes 150 Forresterites, but as they were not all sales reps (always useful at the bar), the research side was well represented with 60 analysts in attendance. Forrester did not answer our question on split between vendors and users.

From a business perspective, Forrester seems to at last have heard the message (see this post) and invested in Europe. They have hired four new analysts in the past months (some left, so not all are new positions) and are about to hire ten more.  In addition, there’s been a renewed focus on the three major geos by appointing Pascal Matzke (@pascalmatzke, LinkedIn), Christophe Favre (the French sales lead) and Christine Overby (LinkedIn, @coverby) as country leads for Germany, France and the UK respectively. Each is supported by a specific member of Forrester’s Executive Team. On a side note, the sales team has been reorganised by client size and so there’s no longer a separation between the sell and the buy sides (clients vs. vendors) sales teams.  This doesn’t impact the research side.

Finally, a note on the Playbooks –the new research structure introduced by Forrester earlier this year. The implementation is still under way with a formal launch scheduled for this summer and some confusion remains but in a nutshell it’s a another way to organise content below the roles. Sadly roles are not going away (could someone please tell George how much bad press they’re getting Forrester) and vertical research is still not on the agenda. The basic principle is that business leaders will be able to read research according to the phase of their initiatives: discover, plan, act and optimise (with a zee). The existing research deliverables will be weaved into the playbooks and some new formats should appear.

It remains to be seen how that will pan out. Early impressions are that it will work for some areas that follows  a project structure, less so to analyse technology and ecosystem shifts. It remains to be seen whether this further layering won’t impact negatively research agendas and whether force-fitting research deliverables into that structure won’t push research notes to an even higher abstraction level -a criticism often heard about Forrester.

What do you think of Playbooks? Any comments?

Forrester will be presenting to IIAR members on the 27th September at the next London Forum, so mark your diaries!

By Caroline Dennington (@cdennington, LinkedIn) and Ludovic Leforestier (@lludovic, LinkedIn). The opinions contained in this blog post are ours. They may differ from our respective employers’ and do not constitute an official IIAR position nor its board’s.

Updated 22/6/12.

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2 Responses

  1. [...] good news for us European is that they’re confirmed they’re investing in Europe, including a European accounting/operations hubs (note to [...]

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  2. [...] point I find interesting, as they have still quite a number of positions open, something I’ve long been concerned about. So this is great news for us, EMEA AR folks but overall I feel that there are still some coverage [...]

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