[GUEST POST] So what to social media?

The question of how AR professionals should use social media keeps cropping up.david rossiter

Even though social is a part of our daily lives, I am still asked whether it’s okay to use Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to contact analysts – never mind apps like WhatsApp, Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat. And I’m not alone.

There has been no shortage of social media gurus who happily told us that social media would radically transform the world of AR.

Yet my colleagues at the IIAR and I found ourselves continually asking the same thing. Has that transformation actually happened?

No-one would dispute that social media has had some impact. Still, has it really changed the fundamental way in which an AR professional needs to be work if they’re to be successful and effective?

Continue reading

[GUEST POST] 451 hires ex Ovum, Gartner chief to lead global research

Brett AzumaIt was good to hear from Brett Azuma last week. He got in touch to let me know he’s just been appointed to lead the 60-strong analyst team at 451 Research.

If you don’t know him already, Brett’s an experienced and well-respected leader.  He’s previously held senior positions at Ovum, where he was managing director, and Gartner, where he was group vice president/chief analyst. Continue reading

Why analyst sales people can never be stopped

Picking up on Marc’s recent post, one of the most common complaints I hear from AR people is about the behaviour of sales people from the industry analyst firms.

It goes something like this: “The account managers come in to visit people and start selling their research to people who have no budget. Then I’m the one who has to find the budget or -more likely – tell them that they can’t have what they want. I want the account managers only to talk to me!” Continue reading

Around Martin Hingley from ITCandor in 10 questions

Martin Hingley is one of the best known analysts in Europe. He really came to prominence during his long stint at IDC where he was Chief Research Officer for EMEA.

Martin recently set up his own analyst firm, ITCandor.  On his blog, there’s lots more information and the useful, interesting insights you’d expect.

1. What are your coverage areas?
The ITC Downturn and Recovery– at the last IIAR meeting I attended, I predicted that the ITC recovery would be over on July 5th 2010 – I’m hoping you’re going to invite me back to remonstrate or congratulate.

Cloud Computing – I started looking at this way back in March 2008. I’ve spent much of the last year interviewing customers, small and large vendors and have published a number of popular posts and presentations.

Corporate And Social Responsibility – documenting the ‘unique practices’ large suppliers are pursuing in order to do some good to their stakeholders. I’ve been writing about social development activities in Africa, as well as the development of the ‘disposal channel’. Despite the failure of the Copenhagen summit this area is going to become increasingly vital.

Continue reading

MQs, accreditation and a debate on IT services – all in the same evening

Those of us fortunate enough to be able to attend* yesterday’s IIAR Forum enjoyed a treat.

Ed Gyurko presented the latest IIAR whitepaper on Magic Quadrant submissions (available from Monday, free of charge to members).  It will prove immensely useful to those who have to work on the seminal Gartner reports.

Following Ed was David Taylor who spoke about the IIAR’s plans for AR accreditation. These are really starting to take shape. David and the group he’s been working with deserve a lot of thanks for their hard work to date.   There’s more that still needs to be done – but it’s definitely getting there and that’s very exciting.

And then we had the third highlight of the meeting – a spirited and informative debate with analysts from three firms that are focused on the IT services market:  Kate Hanaghan of Bathwick, John Willmott from NelsonHall and Puni Rajah of TechMarketView (who was joined by her colleague Anthony Miller).

There are some clear differences between the three firms but all three are in agreement: relationships with clients are the key for success in the next 12 months.  There was also consensus that good analyst firms would survive but there would be casualties among those unable to demonstrate the value they deliver.

While all three acknowledged the difficulties of doing business in the current market, TechMarketView was very upbeat about the future.  Puni and Anthony are predicting that the overall analyst market will grow in size over the next year (and as a result, there will be more demand for AR people).  It will be nice if those predictions come true.

There was plenty more discussion and our hour was quickly over. If you couldn’t make it, then I’m sorry. You did miss a really good meeting.

Finally, thanks to our analyst speakers for coming along and taking part in an absolutely fascinating debate.

Also a big thank you to Robert De Souza who chaired the analyst discussion, Laura Woodward who hosted the meeting and Hannah Kirkman, the IIAR secretary for bring it all together.

* Attendees came from a wide range of companies including Accenture, BT, Capgemini, Cisco, CSC, CustomerClix, Edelman, HCL, Hill & Knowlton, Logicalis, Nortel, Oracle, Prasada, Richmond Green, Sunesis, Weber Shandwick and Zeus.

Using a briefing request form to capture information for the sales force

I recently came across another blatant example of an analyst firm misusing the process by which analysts are invited to attend a vendor briefing.

I was looking to set up a briefing with IDC’s Energy Insights. Although the analyst had accepted the briefing, the company still wants me to complete this form. According to the group operations manager: “This is a standard company policy when requesting a briefing with our analysts.”

Now although it’s a pain, I don’t usually have a problem filling in vendor briefing request forms.

For those who aren’t familiar with them, these are normally used to capture information that will help:

  1. the firm ensure that all relevant analysts are aware of the request, and
  2. the analysts decide whether or not to accept a meeting.

But it’s a bit annoying when the analyst firm is using the process to capture information that is obviously more relevant for its sales force than the analysts.

For example, alongside the regular stuff (eg what’s the briefing about, who would it be with, tell us about your company), Energy Insights wants to know:

  • Who is the head of marketing for your company? (Name, title, email, and phone)
  • Who is the head of product marketing for your company? (Name, title, email, and phone)
  • Who is responsible for your company’s strategic planning? (Name, title, email, and phone)
  • Does your company use market research to assist in strategic planning?
  • Does your company currently have any relationships with other market research firms?
  • Would you be interested in learning more about our services in your market area and the benefits of having a relationship with Energy Insights?

Easy enough information to provide – but does an analyst at Energy Insights really need to know this information in order to qualify a meeting? I’d love to know.

Now if it’s for use by the sales force… well, that makes more sense. I can see why an analyst firm thinks it’s a smart idea to capture all this information. Lovely juicy contact data for the new business machine.

But IDC, why not be honest (and obviously honest) about why you want it. Otherwise, this feels a bit slimy and underhand.

Note
I checked the other IDC companies as well:

IDC itself requires a considerable amount of information but you can see that it would all be useful to the analyst team. It’s roughly in line with the information requested by Gartner. Forrester Research (registration required, but it’s free) and Yankee Group.

However, Manufacturing Insights, Financial Insights, Government Insights, Health Industry Insights and Global Retail Insights – well, they all demand the same information as Energy Insights.

The Fundamentals of AR Measurement and Evaluation

Most AR professionals recognise the importance of measurement and evaluation, but many admit that it’s a subject they struggle with.

To help AR professionals improve their knowledge and understanding, we held a best practice conference call during June on “The Fundamentals of AR Measurement and Evaluation”.

On the panel were two in-house AR leaders:

  • Kathy Nottingham – director of industry analyst relations for Lawson Software.
  • Pauline Respondek – senior manager, market intelligence – EMEA for Research in Motion.

Joining them were two specialist AR consultants:

  • Martin Tilling – VP services at Lighthouse Analyst Relations
  • Stephen England – president and partner at The Knowledge Capital Group

The final panel member was Dr Ralf Leinemann – marketing program director for Matchcode. Ralf has authored several books on marketing communications and measurement and evaluation across a range of PR disciplines.

The call heard a world class panel cover three main areas

  • why measure AR
  • how to measure AR (activity reporting v media coverage v perception tracking v report mentions v sales impact etc), and
  • the limitations (aka the importance of setting expectations). 

In addition, Kathy shared insights into the work that Lawson is doing on how analyst relations drives sales while Pauline talked about how RIM uses a range of tools to determine the effectiveness of its AR activities.

Many thanks to all our panellists for sharing their experience, knowledge and opinions.

Thanks also to T-Systems for donating the conference call facility.

A recording of the call is available for members to download from the IIAR website, along with the presentation slides used by Kathy and Pauline.

We are also writing a white paper on the subject which will be available in the next couple of months.

Around Ben Wood from CCS Insight in 11 Questions

ben Wood matrix Today we hear from Ben Wood who is a director at CCS Insight and one of the best known analysts in the mobile world. He and others in the CCS Insight team can be found blogging here.

1. What are your coverage areas?
CCS Insight specialises in research about the mobile and wireless industry — but we have a diverse range of customers from all sectors, because mobile is on the agenda of almost every company these days. Personally, I’m best known for my knowledge of mobile devices and everything that is associated with them — applications, services and so on. Continue reading

Ethics and Independence Among Industry Analysts

There’s been a bit of a discussion going around lately on ethics in the industry analyst sector.

I understand why the ‘pay for play’ model can seem an attractive option for smaller companies looking to generate business but firms that go down this route always tend to get found out. Their credibility is eroded, they cannot attract quality analysts and their business slowly disappears.

Any analyst firm which values its long-term reputation in the market has to ensure that its research is independent (and also seen to be independent: for instance, I’d argue that there’s a greater need for analyst firms which produce sponsored research to be very open about their methodologies so they avoid any suggestion of conflict of interest).

However we do need to be realistic about the economics of the analyst business. Most analyst firms couldn’t exist without vendor cash – be it via sponsored research, consulting projects or speaking engagements.

And so long as analyst firms clearly communicate who is sponsoring their work, I’m fine with that. After all, the old principle of “caveat emptor” must always apply.

But what about:

  • the UK company that publishes a company profile – but gives no indication that the piece was commissioned by the vendor (and for which the vendor was effectively given copy approval)
  • the analyst that writes blog posts promoting a project that his consultancy is involved in – without disclosing his connection
  • the division of a large group that prioritises briefings based on the likelihood of selling reprints of the resulting company profile
  • the analysts that use a briefing as an opportunity to pitch their own services
  • the global company that says its analysts are more likely to recommend vendor clients to prospective buyers (because the analysts know clients better than those that are non-clients)
  • the vertical firm that refuses to take briefings with non-clients because it’s so busy doing consulting work it can only handle briefing requests from clients
  • and what about this experience highlighted by the corporate AR team at HP?

Thankfully these kinds of behaviour are limited and the examples are few and far between. But it does still happen.

As analyst relations professionals, we face a challenge. What responsibility do we have for ensuring these practices are stamped out? Are we proactive or do we just refuse to support them? Do we have a ‘quiet word’ in the right ear? Do we out the bad apples in public?

Or do we turn a blind eye – because actually it’s good to know that you can sometimes bung a few quid to an analyst and get something positive written-up about the company we work for?

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