I’ve been watching analysts for a long time and think this is fascinating -I was waiting for such a “JD Power of Tech” for a long time.
If they get it right, it will finally change the analyst business. Analysts are not going to disappear anytime -they may just be called something else: you’ll still need curators, pundits, showmen and showwomen, futurists and other shamans. But if the data collection could be automated instead of those more or less bad quadrants, they could focus on experience. It remain to be seen whether firms can be weaned off subscriptions? We, vendors, all know that moment when your rep suddenly wakes up and invites you to lunch… They’re all hooked onto subs: it’s relatively easy to renew, they can sneak in a 7-15% uplift tax (I did not say racket, did I?) every year, they produce the research once and sell it many times (Gene Hall calls this leverage and it certainly worked so far for Gartner).
This reminds me of a debate between the transition from on premise and SaaS: in the industry analysis industry, moving to an experience model would be a similar business model shift.
The other reason why analyst firms find moving towards being an experience business (despite some talking ad nauseam about the age of the customer) is psychology. Analyst firms are geared up to create technology myths and own the truth. To them, crowdsourcing is abdicating. The larger the firm, the harder it is: some smaller firms are very inclusive in bringing folks together (I was really impressed by a recent Constellation event for instance) while on the other hand I always thought that networking at Gartner Symposium was hard work. Both Gartner and Forrester market services aimed at specific communities, for instance respectively EXP and the Councils but it remains analyst-centric (although I haven’t paid the required 200k to try the EXP CIO service, so my guess is as good as anyone’s here).
One final thought. What everyone forgets (except maybe Le CXP) is the role of the smaller (and not so small) consultants and system integrators. Large firms have the scale to have research desk and even publish research and thought leadership (that’s actually my day job) but smaller ones don’t have that luxury. What they have however is hands-on experience of implementing solutions, deep relationships with their end-user clients and often an extremely good knowledge of a functional or technical niche.
In other words, consultants have insights that is complementary to analysts and are not competing with them. With a mechanism such as G2crowd, analysts could leverage them. Consultants on the other hand could get access to detailed benchmarks which the analysts currently struggle to produce. That would be Uber for research and I think the concept sounds cool.
What do you all think?
See also my post on analyst business models >Analyst firms: rock star bands or record label dinosaurs?