Author Archive | hkirkman

IIAR Christmas Cafe

Come and join the IIAR for an early celebration of Christmas at our next AR Café in Central London from 6:00 p.m. onwards on December 3rd. Members, non-members and analysts are welcome.

For more details and to RSVP, please contact IIAR Secretary Hannah Kirkman at hkirkman (at) analystrelations (dot) org.

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Next IIAR discussion group on Managing the Forrester Wave

Tomorrow, we’ll be holding our regular discussion group call, and this month the topic is ‘Managing the Forrester Wave’. The session will be led by Peggy O’Neill, who recently authored a white paper for the IIAR on this subject. IIAR members who would like to join the discussion, please contact IIAR Secretary, Hannah Kirkman. Details of upcoming events can be found on the events calendar.

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IIAR breakfast meeting at Forrester IT Forum

If you are planning to be at the Forrester IT Forum EMEA in Berlin next week, and are interested in finding out more about the IIAR and networking with your peers, we will be holding an informal breakfast meeting from 08:00 a.m. CET on Wednesday June 3rd at the Maritim Hotel.

If you would like to join us, please drop me a line to let me know at hkirkman (at) analystrelations (dot) org.

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Around Roger Kay from Endpoint Technologies Associates in 10 questions

Roger_L__Kay-189x244In our continuing series of analyst interviews, we are delighted to welcome Roger  Kay, Founder and President of Endpoint Technologies Associates, Inc.

 

1. What are your coverage areas?
Endpoints, those things at the end of the wire, e.g., PCs, phones, GPS, MIDs, UMPCs, blades, POS machines, ATMs, and the Hoover Dam (which does meet the criteria: has IP address, single user, and some sort of human interface).

2. What are your opinions of the IT Analysis Marketplace and where do you see it going?
For now, the public needs people to interpret technology’s impact and meaning. This may not always be the case.

3. What’s your typical day like?
Starts with reading the daily traffic, sometimes writing a bit, briefings, phone calls with clients and journalists, sometimes radio or TV appearances

4. Now, c’mon, tell me an AR horror story?
Finding out that some guy who was your rival at a big analyst firm has taken a position as head of AR at your largest client.

5. How do you position your firm? What is your business model? (where are your revenues coming from, mix between users and vendors?)
Mostly the vendor side; some financial community. We profess expertise in outbound communications.

6. What is your research methodology, in 255 characters or less?  (primary research, F2F or phone, secondary only, etc…)
Analysis of publically available information, correlated with proprietary information base, and primary sources.

7. Any favourite AR professional you’d like to mention? Any why?
My all time favorite AR guy was Bill Gesick at IBM, now retired. Bill was old school; elegant, courtly, thoughtful, and he promoted the interests of both IBM and the analyst.

8. Tell us about one good AR practice you’ve experienced or one good AR event you’ve attended.
AR can maximize its messaging impact by working closely with analysts in the days and hours before releasing the news. Some of it is crafting the message, and some of it is delivering it at the right time to the right people in the media.

9. What are your offerings and key deliverables?
Our model is retainer for inquiry. We do write in specific deliverables to contracts, but there is no fixed format for that. The writing Endpoint does is not sold, but given away as marketing and advertising for the firm. What’s sold is the relationship.

10. Any hobbies or favourite restaurant / food that you’d like to share?
I’ve recently taken up stone masonry, using native stone, which, around here, is glacial till. The stones are generally round, and so can be rocked out of the ground. Although they have been turned in the glacier, many have flat faces where they have been broken or just worn. These I use like cobbles to create walkways, stairs, and water run-offs, using slates and river stone to square things off and finish them up. Manual labor done mostly by looking and feeling is a good antidote to the abstraction of the analytical world. Planning is done over a period of months, and the product will likely be the longest-lasting work I ever do.

11. What is your biggest challenges for the upcoming 6 months? And for the next 30 mn?
Half-year challenge is rebuilding the business after some washout from economic distress. Half-hour challenge is getting the kids into bed, not helped by filling this survey out.

12. Is there another analyst (a peer in your firm or with another firm) whose work  you rate highly?
Tim Bajarin is one of the longest-serving analysts in the industry and is as hardworking and honest as the day is long.

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Around Richard Mahony from Ovum in 10 questions

Richard Mahony

Today, in our continuing series of analyst interviews, we have the pleasure of welcoming Richard Mahony, Enterprise practice leader with Ovum.

1. What are your coverage areas?
I manage Ovum’s enterprise communications services practice. We focus on the fixed and mobile managed services market for enterprises and SMEs. We also provide sourcing and commercial mediation services to MNCs.

2. What are your opinions of the IT Analysis Marketplace and where do you see it going?
The industry will need to continue moving beyond compiling market information and selling it on at premium price. The days of attending a supplier briefing and simply writing it up are over for Ovum. Carter’s point (http://iiar.wordpress.com/2009/03/12/dont-forget-analysts-have-a-unique-vantage-point/) about the analyst vantage point is on the mark for me – analyst houses that successfully combine their supplier and end user perspectives will be successful.

3. What’s your typical day like?
I
reply to the overnight e-mails first thing , respond to a handful of client enquiries in the early morning and typically have some content-related management to do such as planning or review reports with the team. We’ve normally got a project on the go so the remaining 50% of the day or so will be either working on fee earning assignments or writing content for the service. I look to limit my briefings to one or two a week – we increasingly have to be smarter about which briefings to attend.

4. Now, c’mon, tell me an AR horror story?
A few years back I attended a briefing where the supplier AR team guiding us through an open plan office on our way to the meeting room unintentionally walked us past marketing collateral mock ups for a new business which had not been announced. Personally, I once duly complied with an invitation to attend an analyst event in ‘business casual attire’ in my freshly pressed Chinos and my preppy shirt and jumper, only to find when I got to the event that everyone else had turned up in suits and ties. There’s a very funny photo of me in the auditorium with a back-drop of be-suited professionals behind me.

5. How do you position your firm? What is your business model? (where are your revenues coming from, mix between users and vendors?)
We are increasingly working with enterprise users – for the practice, this is the fastest growing area of our business. We position the firm as having great depth in data, combined with leading market research methodologies and practical advisory experience with end users which provides us with a real-world perspective. Since the acquisition of Ovum by Datamonitor, the depth of Ovum’s data has further improved and having access to industry experts in financial services, automotive, retail and healthcare has helped the whole enterprise services team. Reading some of the blogs, AR firms seem to have the notion that DM has somehow diminished the Ovum value. This is the polar opposite to my experience – we are in my view a stronger organization as a result of the acquisition… I’ve also had my research budget doubled, so my job is easier too!

6. What is your research methodology, in 255 characters or less?  (primary research, F2F or phone, secondary only, etc…)

Wherever possible we look to experience what we write about. It’s far easier to write incisively about an industry issue or supplier strategic intent having practical insight to share. However, we also turn to the usual research tools, including face to face briefings, telephone and online qualitative and quantitative research methods. I heavily rely on face to face meetings as I am all about personal contact and developing trusting two-way relationships between supplier and analyst. Such relationships are beneficial for both parties and the AR community is central in brokering this kind of interaction.

7. Any favourite AR professional you’d like to mention? Any why?
I would highlight Sally Elliott of BT Global Services who provides Ovum with excellent support and finds the time to connect us with the right people in her organization. She also has a firm grasp of BT’s business and positions her business heroically well. I am always impressed by the Cisco AR programme and would highlight David Taylor’s team at Cisco – I always come out of Cisco events with a new idea which I can build on and will therefore seek out their briefings. I am also seeing good things from the growing Telefonica team.

8. Tell us about one good AR practice you’ve experienced or one good AR event you’ve atttended.
The best event I’ve been to recently was the Cable and Wireless AR day run by David Thain. The format was relatively simple (but difficult to achieve) – which was a positioning of the business by CEO and key executives followed by open discussion with some of their largest enterprise customers. The frankness of the customer interaction was refreshing and as a result it is the stand-out event for me.

9. What are your offerings and key deliverables?
For Enterprise research we have a schedule of reports lined up this year on fixed and mobile global managed services providers and their markets; major new reports on unified communications offerings from telecoms service providers and systems integrators; surveys on multinational end-users and their global service requirements through an exclusive deal with the EVUA. We’re also expanding our annual survey of SMEs worldwide, taking in more countries. And because this market is changing and getting ever more demanding, we’ve got some new products in the pipeline—like our managed scorecard for service providers- that will tie all of our analysis together. We’ve got a pipeline of consulting engagement with enterprise clients and telecoms operators that is growing and we like to think that is a response to our research outputs last year on how to manage network services and budgets through the current economic conditions. These projects also help inform our understanding of today’s market conditions.

10. Any hobbies or favourite restaurant / food that you’d like to share?
I enjoy running and garner the strength to do a half marathon once a year. I also suffer the joys of being a Bristol City football supporter.

11. What is your biggest challenges for the upcoming 6 months? And for the next 30 mn?
My biggest challenge is to continue to differentiate what we do in the practice – there’s plenty of choice in the market and some good competition. Standing out from the crowd and articulating the team’s difference and value to our clients is therefore key. Any ideas how we can improve here from what you’ve seen from Ovum, give me a call. In the next 30 minutes, I will be defining some inter-company peering SLAs for a UC managed service. A very dry topic for most I am sure, but in my view will be increasingly important to many suppliers and enterprises as they deploy integrated communications.

12. Is there another analyst (a peer in your firm or with another firm) whose work  you rate highly?
Chris Lewis of IDC – although I am not really entering into the spirit of the question, as he’s my former boss and showed me the ropes of the analyst business. Chris has a great way of reaching the crux of the issue quickly and succinctly articulating his thoughts. Within Ovum, I think you will be hard pushed to find an analyst from any house more in touch with the UC market than Peter Hall. Eammon Kennedy has also done great things to improve our IT services business.

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Around Michael von Uechtritz / Gartner in 10 Questions

Today, we’re delighted to welcome Michael von Uechtritz, Research Director clip_image001with the Outsourcing and IT Services research team at Gartner, into the interview hotseat.

  1. What are your coverage areas?
    Business and IT Consulting
  2. What are your opinions of the IT Analysis Marketplace and where do you see it going?
    With some businesses being challenged by the economic downturn in a number of regions, practical advise such as from the IT Analyst community is of growing importance to the buying and selling side of the IT market. Therefore, in my view, the IT analysis marketplace will remain “large in size”, dominated by a few research firms but become more challenging for IT market analysts given the aforementioned situation.
  3. What’s your typical day like?
    I like my work – seriously, with roughly 400+ client calls per year, 30+ research document’s, conferences and sales support, six days make it a busy week I would say, but gaining so many new insights each day – I like my work.
  4. Now, c’mon, tell me an AR horror story?
    Well, leaving comments about an individual analyst for the presenting executive in the footnotes of a presentation, but sent to the analyst instead.
  5. How do you position your firm? What is your business model? (where are your revenues coming from, mix between users and vendors?)
    See www.gartner.com and its financial reports please, the business certainly is a mixture of both, end users and provider revenue streams from research, events and consulting.
  6. What is your research methodology, in 255 characters or less?  (primary research, F2F or phone, secondary only, etc…)
    The research methods are Gartner IP and include Scenarios, Magic Quadrants, Market Scopes, Vendor Ratings, Hype Cycles, Market Statistics and others. On my part I have conducted primary research, worked with our secondary research folks, did phone interviews, in person research leveraged web based tools etc.
  7. Tell us about one good AR practice you’ve experienced or one good AR event you’ve atttended.
    I found some IT services providers approach with small scale events (<10 analysts), short in duration (0.5 days), focused (consulting services), and targeted (European region), clearly prepared (facts send before! the event) and held in an open manner (NDA) very useful – the mix of financial analysts and market folks I found to be less productive.
  8. What are your offerings and key deliverables?
    Read my reports published in Gartner Dataquest or Gartner Core Research. It’s what you need to know, what you need to do, where you need to look, and who you should be paying attention to. It’s independent, insightful, and instantly applicable to your business challenges.
  9. Any hobbies or favourite restaurant / food that you’d like to share?
    My five kids Vincent, Oscar, Clemens, Cosima and Victoria are my livelong “hobby” and Friederike’s, my wife, cooking deserves a 5 Star Michelin certificate, other than this running – but not enough.
  10. What is your biggest challenges for the upcoming 6 months? And for the next 30 mn?
    Keeping the “right” balance of work versus life in a demanding job and my career progression.
  11. Is there another analyst (a peer in your firm or with another firm) whose work  you rate highly?
    In my area of business and IT Consulting, „Chris Adams“.
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IIAR launches the AR Cafe with opportunity to meet Ray Wang

The IIAR is launching the AR Cafe with an opportunity to meet Forrester Research Vice President and Principal Analyst, Ray Wang, on November 11th in London.

The AR Cafe is an opportunity to meet analysts and network with other members in an informal setting. Members who would like to come along, please drop a line to Hannah Kirkman.

Analysts: if you’re interested in meeting IIAR members at an AR Cafe, either local to your office or while traveling, please get in touch with IIAR Secretary Hannah Kirkman at hkirkman at analystrelations dot org.

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IIAR September Forum — London, September 17th

This is a reminder that the next IIAR Forum is this Wednesday, September 17th, from 3:45 p.m. at Edelman’s offices in London. We’re delighted to welcome speakers from Disruptive Analysis, Forrester Research, and Freeform Dynamics to this event to discuss the topic of AR 2.0. IIAR events are open to members. Non-members who have not previously been to an event are welcome to come along as a guest. If you would like to attend, please contact IIAR secretary Hannah Kirkman at hkirkman at analystrelations dot org. 

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In memory of Michael Selwyn

Michael Selwyn

We are very sad to share the news that Michael Selwyn, one of Europe’s most well  known and highly respected AR consultants, passed away last Friday. Michael was an active and enthusiastic member of the IIAR, always ready to share his great experience and knowledge, and he will be sorely missed.

Our condolences go to his wife Elizabeth and daughter Solange.

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Event: IIAR Silicon Valley meeting, September 25

Peggy O’Neill of Hill & Knowlton and Evan Quinn of HP will be hosting an IIAR meeting at HP’s Palo Alto campus in Silicon Valley from 6:00 p.m. onwards on September 25. Note that this a change of location from that originally announced to make the event more accessible to AR professionals in Silicon Valley. The aim of the meeting is twofold: to hold an industry dialog with independent analysts and gauge interest in launching a Silicon Valley chapter of the IIAR.

The meeting kicks off with a panel discussion about ‘Life as an independent analyst in Silicon Valley’, and panel speakers include Rob Enderle, Josh Greenbaum, Charlene Li and Maribel Lopez. AR teams frequently struggle with how much attention to give independent analysts, some of whom have more media influence than buyer influence. The non-compete clauses at some of the major analyst firms limits analyst mobility, resulting in more independent analysts in California particularly. Are these analysts undercutting the influence of the branded firms? What’s the best way to work with them?

After the panel, IIAR board member Ludovic Leforestier of Oracle will lead a discussion about the IIAR and take questions about membership benefits.

If you are interested in coming along, please either contact Peggy directly or drop an email to IIAR secretary Hannah Kirkman at hkirkman at analystrelations dot org by 19 September.

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Around Mitul Mehta of TekPlus in 10 questions

clip_image002Continuing our occasional series of analyst interviews, we’re delighted to welcome Dr. Mitul Mehta, Managing Director with TekPlus, into the hotseat to share his views on the industry.

  1. What are your coverage areas?
    My coverage area is fairly broad involving most of ICT. This came about due to my background from the very early days in this industry when I was the head of overall ICT research at a major US analyst house – I ended up having to advice a number of the leading end-user clients and most of the major vendors on overall IT and Telecoms direction and impact on their business processes, strategies and M&As. Focusing on too narrow a segment was not on and I had to learn fast to cover most technologies and segments else I could not have enough breath and depth to advice on overall strategy. Also given that a number of departments ranging from Technology areas like Servers, Storage, Software, Security, Networking, Telecoms to Services and Verticals like Banking and Healthcare were all reporting to me, I ended up being a strategist specialising in providing strategic and high level advice to the very senior executives and leaving the number crunching to my analyst colleagues . Over the years at TekPlus I have focused in a similar manner covering a number of areas strategically especially around infrastructure, software and services whilst leaving the number crunching and detailed product analysis and evaluations to my colleagues who specialise in Data Center Infrastructure, Security, Networking, Telecom Infrastructure, IT Services and Verticals.
  2. What are your opinions of the IT Analysis Marketplace and where do you see it going?
    In a way I see it going back to its roots of pre-Gartner times when both Specialist magazines and Analyst houses were both highly influential but could come from the same company, advice and training came from many quarters and an analyst house needed to use various associates and in-house mix to provide the right coverage and depth. I think given the new dynamics in the market place around blogs, free advice and the positioning of the ‘influencer’ the market will once again go through many providers and available avenues for general advice whilst paying big bucks for in-depth knowledge and highly strategic advice involving what actions to take. I believe globalisation will have a major impact and having observed the recent trends from the office we opened in India two years back we can already see that so long as you are experienced and have the knowledge, global brands don’t mean a thing – typically we as a small company still get highly strategic projects both with end-users and vendors in direct competition with some large brands due to the nature and depth of the advice we can provide. I believe this will become more and more true as the emerging markets grow and highly tuned advice comes from smaller analyst groups.
  3. What’s your typical day like?
    Currently most of my mornings go into managing both the Mumbai and London offices and making sure the senior management team and our analysts are all ok and on track. I spend a lot of time on Skype with my Indian office since it has started to grow. Around mid-day I generally have a number of vendor briefings lined up and I spend most of the early part of my afternoons on being productive with client meetings. The evenings are spent on writing or editing our publications.
  4. Now, c’mon, tell me an AR horror story?
    This was some time ago during the time of Compaq having the Alpha platform. I was advising some large financial institutions on the infrastructure landscape and had asked Compaq a number of times on what their intentions were with Alpha. Having spoken to a number of their executives across the board, I was coming to the conclusion that no new money was going into development and soon it would not be strategic for the company. By chance Compaq decided to have a briefing with a few key analysts and when we attended most of us found that no answers were forthcoming and the executive was very ill-advised. Two days later an analyst from IDC and me who were regularly interviewed by the IT magazines were quoted in one magazine under a big front page headline saying ‘Alpha is Dead’. You can imagine the calls that followed. I believe the writer had read between the lines from what both of us were saying and had come to that conclusion. My discussions with the Compaq AR team was to the effect that if you were more straight forward and we were better informed –we could have provided a more informed opinion! The Compaq AR team learned fast and were much better at keeping us informed from there on!
  5. How do you position your firm? What is your business model? (where are your revenues coming from, mix between users and vendors?)
    TekPlus has generally being positioned at the high end of the value stack for an analyst house in terms of us providing mostly in-depth strategy advice to both vendors and end-users around IT in business processes, architectural directions, eco-systems, global delivery models, SMB strategies, management and sales training, sales tools, executive workshops, etc. However recently we have changed direction as our Indian office has started growing and we have introduced a number of services in the lower end of the value stack especially around market forecasts for verticals and emerging markets, product analysis and comparisons, SWOTS and a number of new subscriptions around Security and Verticals. We have around 60% of our revenues coming from vendors – predominantly made up of senior level strategic advice. We see this slowly changing as the subscriptions and publications take hold. Currently around 40% of our revenue comes from end-user consulting from around three major verticals where we have had a presence now for a number of years. We are also bringing out more and more end-user publications so we see the mix here changing over time.
  6. What is your research methodology, in 255 characters or less?  (primary research, F2F or phone, secondary only, etc…)
    We do ‘in-depth bottom up primary research’ mostly via the phone but also F2F for all our publications (forecasts, products and end-user studies). We then analyse the data and findings with a ‘top-down approach’ of senior analysts and consultants sitting and discussing the data and then build up a view of our findings. We always have a detailed methodology published with all our products and clearly state up front how we undertake each project or publication.
  7. Any favourite AR professional you’d like to mention? Any why?
    Many over the years but a few that stand out – Bill Reed (IBM), Ludovic Leforestier (Oracle), Signe Loenberg (Loenberg-AR), Kim Horner (CustomerClix) and Malee Dharmasena (Cisco). Why? –in one answer they do not bullshit and tell you as it is, appreciate your value and make an effort to put the right calibre of executive in front of you!
  8. Tell us about one good AR practice you’ve experienced or one good AR event you’ve attended.
    The good meetings have always been when the executive knows his stuff and is not just marketing a message or telling porkies (some still do!). As an analyst who has been around – sometimes longer than the executive, you know what is in the company, where they are heading and what generally they need to focus on. So please put people who know what they are talking about in front of analysts. The early Cisco WW meetings with around 20-30 analysts and senior executives were very good. Your time was well spent and you got the answers and interaction you wanted. The same could be said of the early HP WW events.
  9. What are your offerings and key deliverables?
    TekPlus offerings are split into three boxes:
    1) High end Consulting
    2) Publications and Subscription Services
    3) Pathways

    High-end consulting is a key part of our business both at the end-users and vendors and we tend to do a number of senior/board level assignments.

  10. Our subscription services on the vendor side are split into two – customised strategic intelligence programmes (SIPS) ( currently on SME, Services, IT Enterprise, Next Generation Networks and The Channel) where we give regular monthly guidance, messaging as well as sit in quarterly meetings and Market Intelligence services (MIS) which consist of both market data and strategic guidance. We have just launched in the last two weeks new MIS subscriptions in security and health verticals. We also have a service directed to the end-user whereby our corporate advisories, SWOTS, Product evaluations, etc are given out free to them. We also produce a number of general publication reports around forecasts, end-user studies and guidance reports.
    In pathways we generally train executives and IT managers to new technology implications, vertical guidance, technology directions, sales training etc. They are generally delivered via workshops.
  11. What is your biggest challenges for the upcoming 6 months? And for the next 30 mn?
    Making sure our new subscription specializations get established. Grow our services in Asia and make sure the Indian office continues to grow at a high rate. Make sure the projects are still coming in despite the slow-down. In the next 30mins – making sure I am ready for my client meeting.
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IIAR Best Practice Teleconference: How to measure and evaluate your analyst relations activity

The IIAR will be holding a best practice teleconference on the topic of “How to measure and evaluate your analyst relations activity” on Tuesday June 17th at 4:00 p.m. BST/5:00 p.m. CET/11:00 a.m. ET.

The teleconference is free to attend for IIAR members. Non-members who are AR professionals can attend for a fee of £50. For further details and to register, please contact IIAR Secretary Hannah Kirkman.

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Dealing with AR

Alan Pelz-Sharpe In this article, Alan Pelz-Sharpe, Principal with CMS Watch and former VP North America for Ovum, shares some very interesting insights on AR from the analyst’s perspective.

Some tips on how not to deal with a critical ‘independent’ analyst

I have been an analyst and commentator for 10 years now – for most of that time I have written or contributed to detailed and critical evaluations of software technologies. My topic areas are the Content Technologies ranging from ECM and Document Management to e-mail Archiving – my audience is almost exclusively buyers and implementers of these technologies – and a typical deal size is in the high hundreds of thousands to the multiple millions. People read my research to create shortlist’s, and typically to ensure they have a better chance of selecting the right product. It’s a simple model really – much like a ‘Consumer Reports’ or ‘Which Guide’.

I play with the technologies, I see them in action, I talk to many users, I talk to channel partners, resellers and also consultants and integrators. I also talk to the vendors – but my use of vendors is more for fact checking, product demo’s and gaining insights on nit picky elements than anything else. I appreciate the help of vendors, but ultimately my research focuses on how products work and are sold in the real world, and the world of vendor marketing and sales is of peripheral interest. Granted that is an unusual research model, having been in the ‘industry’ for 10 years and having run research practices and undertaken extensive competitive intelligence, I am well aware that typically ‘research’ by analysts is heavily dependent, and in many cases almost entirely dependent on, ‘vendor briefings’. I am also aware that the vast majority of analyst firms are dependent on vendor funding of one form or another to pay the bills. Hence I go to great length with all those I write about to try and inform them of my requirements – and my methodology.

So to be clear, I am a realist – I know that most analysts make their money by selling ‘independent’ analysis to the very people they claim to be ‘independent’ of. It’s the way it is – whether I like it or not. I also understand that AR professionals have a very tough job to do. Frankly I do not envy your role – you have to try to keep everyone happy all the time, and that is an impossibility. I have deep admiration for many AR professionals, some of whom I am proud to call friends rather than contacts. I also have deep admiration for any vendor who stays in business more than six months, life is tough out there. Running a business or simply having responsibility for a P&L is always a challenge. At the same time, my job is to provide my customers with honest and critical evaluations of products. That means highlighting all the warts, along with spotlighting all the shiny positives. If anything my job is to focus on finding the warts. Because lets be honest, it is not hard for a buyer to find the positives. As they will be deluged by ‘White Papers’, Marketing Collateral and Sales Spin. Finding where the products sweet spot is or it’s drawbacks, is much harder. It’s my job to help them in that process, and by definition that is not going to make me popular at times.

It seems clear to me that some AR professionals simply don’t know how to deal with analysts like CMS Watch – and rather than continually lock horns, I thought I would jot down some thoughts to help the process – I am doing this as I am just about to publish a major report (major in the sense that it runs to over 300 pages) technical evaluation of 14 vendors. The frustrations and wounds of dealing with AR are very fresh! So here goes:-

1: Don’t assume the analyst is out to get you

You are not as important as you may think. The analyst is writing about many vendors, you are just one in a long list. You almost certainly have no context to judge their review of your product, in light of what they have said about your competitors – you may wish to consider slowing down before jumping to bias conclusions. In my most recent report, the AR group that had the biggest and nastiest hissy fit, ironically is the vendor that has received the best review of all in the report. They are also the vendor that had the biggest hissy fit last time they were reviewed (different product, different report, different analyst – again a great review). They are also the vendor that analysts from rival firms share AR horror stories about…. The firm has good technology, but a terrible reputation for bullying or attempting to ‘coerce’ analysts.

2: Do make an effort to understand the analysts research methodology

If the methodology is focused on talking to customers and partners and you have been asked to supply customer references. Respond in one of two ways – politely but immediately decline, or do your best to provide references. Ignoring the request for weeks or months is not a good policy. By that time customers and partners have been found by the analyst and interviewed. When critical views are captured from such interviews you cannot at the last minute claim “our customers love x or y or z” – we know they don’t and frankly you haven’t been able to supply any that do. Harsh as it sounds, we are not just going to take your word for it.

3: Don’t threaten analysts

If you don’t like what an analyst has written – try at least to be respectful and polite. You are far more likely to enter a dialogue that way. Provide facts to counter their critical assertions, if you cannot provide facts and instead rely on bluster you will only dig a deeper hole for yourself. Also remember that analysts are human, threats via nasty e-mails (the cowards way) or phone calls, hurt (no matter how long you have been in the industry) and they don’t get forgotten quickly. Using such a confrontational approach does not make the AR person look important or even imperious, it makes you look unprofessional.

4: Don’t quote your own press releases or other analysts reports as evidence

There is frankly nothing more silly than to tell an analyst that they must be wrong about your firm/product because “Forrester/Gartner/IDC…ranks us as a ‘leader’ etc”. The only thing that rivals this is to quote from your own press releases – trust me this has been done. Most of the time, this kind of response will simply result in an internal e-mail chain that shares the joke with other analysts. Bottom line, that kind of supporting evidence, looks desperate, patronizes the analyst, and suggests you have simply drunk too much of your own kool aid.

5: Never say “we provided an x% ROI…….to our client over six months etc etc.”

Its a silly thing to say, period – and its a daft thing to say to most buyers. It’s a little like Home Depot claiming that they dug my vegetable garden for me, when all they did was sell me a spade. You provide tools – people use the tools, the use of those tools provides business benefits (or doesn’t). And just like the spade I bought from Home Depot, most software likewise goes unused.

7: Understand the difference between a fact and an opinion

For every 10 vendors I evaluate there will be one or two that freak out – most work well with me and we agree to disagree, and where there are errors (I make many, and do my best to fix them) we work together to get them corrected. I never want my reports to contain factual errors, presumably nor do you. But my opinions are my opinions, I am paid to have opinions. To change my opinion requires a very different approach from AR. To change my opinion you need to understand why I have formed that opinion (see below) before attempting to ‘re-educate’ me. In addition, when you claim a report is full of factual inaccuracies, and then send an annotated Word document listing differences of opinions – and can quote no factual errors at all – expect your response to be ignored, and my respect for you to slip.

9: Understand that those that use and/or implement your systems have a very different perspective to share

Just as I will see your product or service differently to you – recognize that a sales person, a channel partner, a user, an implementer or a consultant will all have differing perspectives. When a report does not reflect your personal or corporately mandated vision, that does not mean it is wrong. Some vendors use my reviews of their products to change perceptions, in some ways they see my reports as free consulting – a fresh pair of eyes if you like. They recognize that the information and insights that I get are not usually available to them – they see criticism as potentially constructive. Some find out there are strengths to their product, that I have noted, that they had previously underestimated. Remember, if the only research you have read is from people you directly or indirectly pay – then it won’t be surprising if you find some kind of uniformity with your own viewpoint. True outside opinions will by definition differ from your own.

10: Don’t believe your own hype

We know it’s your job to be passionate about your company, about its product and its services. We understand it is your job to help sell this vision and to educate us all. But make the effort to really understand your competitors and your competitive landscape too. Work out who really influences your deals and those of your competitors – understand your competitors strengths in terms of product, sales focus, corporate culture etc – don’t live in a vacuum, analysts don’t. I applaud your enthusiasm, and I wish you and your colleagues the best of luck, I really do. But I wish all your competitors the same too. I am not passionate about your company, I am passionate about ensuring that buyers and users avoid costly and sometimes disastrous mistakes. That they pick the right product each time, and that they use it to its best advantage. We have different agendas, but they don’t need to be agendas in conflict.

Disclaimer: Alan is not a member of the IIAR and this post reproduce his own opinions, not those of the IIAR or its members.

 

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Around Josh Krischer from Josh Krischer & Associates in 12 questions

Josh KrischerThis week, in our continuing series of analyst interviews, Josh Krischer, founder and principal analyst with Josh Krischer & Associates, shares his insight on the IT analysis market.

  1. What are your coverage areas?
    I cover Mainframes, high-end computing, storage, disaster recovery techniques and data center consolidation.

  2. What are your opinions of the IT Analysis Marketplace and where do you see it going?
    Vendors, in particular large companies, tend to devote too much attention to analyst firms rather than to individual analysts. Much bigger spending with the large companies and not enough support for the small, independent shops.IBM EMEA, for example range the analysts according to their influence and reputation and not for which company they work. For example, despite being a “small shop” I evaluated last year several RFPs among them most likely the largest storage RFP in EMEA (two digit million EUR)
    Some time ago, giving interview to a German journalist I was asked what is the difference between the services which a small company (like mine) can give in comparison to the large players. My answer was that in analogy it is like the differences between a department store and a boutique. I can tailor my services better to customers’ needs.
  3. What’s your typical day like?
    Every day is different; emails, projects, meetings, admin , marketing, vendor briefings, writing, etc. Storage is very dynamic industry, with constant flow of news on announcements, acquisitions and new innovations therefore I spent a lot of time on self-study and research.
    For example an excerpt from a proposal for RFP evaluation:

    Scope of the Work
    To fulfil the above obligation, the Service Provider will provide the Client with the Service provider who shall perform the following tasks:

    1. Prepare validity proof of the vendors’ claims.

    2. Set decision criteria matrix and assign weights for each proposal according to this matrix.

    3. Verification of the assessment prepared by the procurement team.

    4. Prepare numerical and graphical presentation of each vendor proposal.

    5. Prepare price comparisons (against the prices obtained in other, especially European, countries) and suggestions for the negotiations with the vendors.

    6. Deliver arguments for negotiations and support during the negotiations with the vendors

    7. Comparisons of the proposals from the strategic point of view and according to bank requirements

    8. Prepare management summary and recommendations.

    9. PowerPoint presentation of points 1-7

    10. Two days discussions with technical and management staff in xxxx .

    Depends on the RFP size such evaluation will take from 3 to 10 days to complete. In my previous life, working for a large analyst company the output was usually 30 minutes conference call sometimes followed by an email.

  4. Now, c’mon, tell me an AR horror story?
    Too many; all the vendors which „danced around me“ when I was VP research in Gartner but disappeared since I left.
    A funny AR story (not bizarre) on NDA and confidential information:
    Being a new analyst I called Steve Bardige (AR manager EMC) and ask him about a project with code name „calypso“. After asking the question I could hear Steve fainting on the other side of the Atlantic. After few second he answered; „Josh, you are not supposed to know about this project and not to mention even this code name, how did you find about it?“ I answered, „it was easy, one of EMC marketing guys in Germany made a presentation about Calypso on GUIDE/SHARE (IBM users forum) meeting in Hamburg.
    The morals of the story are: 1) that in some companies the AR are too paranoid in relation to secrecy 2) Giving information to customers before telling it to analysts may put analysts ( who the users expect to know everything) in inconvenient situations 3) sometimes an analyst may know more than you may expect.
  5. How do you position your firm? What is your business model? (where are your revenues coming from, mix between users and vendors?)
    In 2007, about 60% of my turnover came from IT end users: I work with them on various projects, including RFP evaluations. With vendors, I author positioning papers, technical white-papers and carry-out sales training.

  6. What is your research methodology, in 255 characters or less? (primary research, F2F or phone, secondary only, etc…)
    Trying to attend any vendor briefing which I can (and trying to stay awake), speaking with customers and trying to learn from their experience. Trying to listen and to ask as many questions as possible. Searching daily for new information and evaluating it. Usually have more value speaking with CTOs or product managers than with CEOs.
  7. Any favourite AR professional you’d like to mention? And why?
    Hans-Jürgen Rehm IBM Germany, Bill Reed of IBM EMEA, Ludovic Leforestier of Oracle (ex-IBM EMEA), Steven Zivanic of DataDirect (ex-HDS US) – always very helpful in good times and bad times.]
  8. Tell us about one good AR practice you’ve experienced or one good AR event you’ve attended.
    Never lie to analyst and try not to waste his time
  9. What are your offerings and key deliverables?
    RFP evaluations, Assistance with RFP preparations, Pricing evaluations & negotiations with vendors, Strategy development, Proofs of concept, Refresh of knowledge.
    Competitive analysis, SWOT analysis,Operations management & engineering
    Presentation preparation & delivery, Market analysis & business development

    Pre-sales consulting, Authoring & education, Keynote speeches, Revitalizing and motivating sales organizations, Sales training, New product opportunity – research and introduction ,Major account development and management, Marketing communications planning
  10. Any hobbies or favourite restaurant / food that you’d like to share?Gardening, carpentry. Any food ( with the exception of English) which is “dead” in particular Thai, Lebanese and Italian]
  11. What is your biggest challenges for the upcoming 6 months? And for the next 30 mn?
    To be the best analyst in the areas which I cover
  12. Is there another analyst (a peer in your firm or with another firm) whose work you rate highly?
    Dave Russell, Gartner – professional, fair and modest
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Around R. David Hofferberth of Service Performance Insight in 12 questions

R. David HofferberthContinuing our series of analyst interviews, next into the hotseat is David Hofferberth, from Service Performance Insights, one of the few analysts covering the Professional Services market -a huge but little spoken about industry.

  1. What are your coverage areas?
    I cover business applications that are used in the professional services sector. Traditionally, these have boiled down to include Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Professional Services Automation (PSA). However, now I am also beginning to review other applications that include Human Capital Management (HCM), Procurement and Business Intelligence (BI) The lines have begun to blur as more product-driven organizations realize services will become one of their core differentiators going forward, I am now actually spending more time now talking to the professional services divisions of these companies.
  2. What are your opinions of the IT Analysis Marketplace and where do you see it going?
    There are obviously fewer major analyst firms than there were a decade ago, similar to what I have seen in the business application market. I would expect there will always be three to five large IT analyst firms to keep the market competitive and provide different points of view. However, I have seen a number of analysts, including myself, who have ventured out on their own. This independence has allowed us to focus on specific areas of interest, without the need to change our area focus every time some new supposed “breakthrough technology” comes along.
  3. What’s your typical day like?
    I have a long but enjoyable day typically. My commute is very short, as I only have to walk up one floor to my office. That is when I am not traveling. I begin each morning scanning the e-mail I received overnight as well as the headlines from the various technology and business-related periodicals. In the morning I normally interact with people over in Europe, while later in the day I speak with people on the West Coast and Far East when necessary. I try to deliver any information that is asked of me in the morning, as I prefer to spend my afternoons conducting research and writing.

  4. Now, c’mon, tell me an AR horror story?
    I have only had two AR interactions that went a poorly in my ten years of being an analyst. The sessions were argumentative and not very productive for either me or the company I interviewed. Ironically, neither of these two organizations lasted six months after my meeting with them. It probably came down to their ego in trying to tell me how the world has changed, and my disagreement that what they were doing was really world-changing.
  5. How do you position your firm? What is your business model? (where are your revenues coming from, mix between users and vendors?)
    I established my firm so that I could continue my research into workforce productivity through the use of information technology. Ideally, I conduct research in the professional services sector and how they use technology, then publish the research and sell it on my website. From time to time I do consulting with end-user organizations when they have a specific need such as an independent opinion of their application infrastructure and where they should go ahead going forward. I also give speeches at a number of software conferences as well as other independent conferences focused on specific topics that interest me. These conferences generally bring leads for additional work, as well as provide me contact information on organizations that I eventually survey. Currently my revenue is approximately 75% from end-user organizations and 25% from independent software vendors.
  6. What is your research methodology, in 255 characters or less? (primary research, F2F or phone, secondary only, etc…)
    I conduct primary research via surveys, by phone, or in person. I believe that primary research is fundamental to my ongoing success.
  7. Any favourite AR professional you’d like to mention? And why?
    I will say a Ludovic Leforestier of Oracle because he is the one who introduced me to this Blog. Most of the AR staffs that I have met with keep me informed on a regular basis. However, Ludovic does a better job than most of keeping the current with Oracle’s activities.
  8. Tell us about one good AR practice you’ve experienced or one good AR event you’ve attended.
    The larger software firms typically have the most seasoned and polished AR practices. They understand the importance of keeping analysts informed in a timely manner. Analysts don’t like to be caught off guard when announcements are made. I especially like it when they provide me with concise information on current announcements in a book or PDF format, so that I can keep it and review as needed. I also like when these organizations provide me with a CD or thumb-drive with all of the relevant presentations on them that I can use as needed.
  9. What are your offerings and key deliverables?
    My firm has a number of offerings: from marketing strategy, to solution development, to presentations to reports. Each of the offerings have key deliverables that range from a one page a write up of the meeting that I attended to more customized research and analysis, which ultimately leads to presentation slides.
  10. Any hobbies or favourite restaurant / food that you’d like to share?
    One of the great things about being an analyst is that during your travels you have the opportunity to eat at many great restaurants. Currently, my favorite restaurant is Boulevard in San Francisco. However, it is always nice to stop at a Wolfgang Puck restaurant during my travels. In London, my favorite restaurant is the Bleeding Heart, which combines excellent food and an intriguing atmosphere.
  11. What is your biggest challenges for the upcoming 6 months? And for the next 30 mn?
    When I became an analyst again two years ago I thought that I would be spending a majority of my time covering the PSA market, as that is where I gained market credibility a decade ago. However the ERP solution market has begun to make significant inroads in the professional services sector. I must continue to research the ERP solutions, as they are much more complex than the PSA solutions I spent most of the last decade covering. It is important for me to understand each of the vendors’ integration strategy, and how that will improve performance going forward. I suppose for the next 30 minutes I must work hard to get this document completed, as well as handle a number of phone calls that continue to interrupt me.
  12. Is there another analyst (a peer in your firm or with another firm) whose work you rate highly?
    There aren’t many analysts who cover business solutions for the services. I would suppose that I always had a lot of respect for Matt Light at Gartner Group who occasionally ventures into this area.
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Around Robin Bloor from Hurwitz & Associates in 12 questions

robinbloorhimself.jpgIn the second of our series of ‘email interviews’, we open up the IIAR blog to Robin Bloor (@robinbloor) of Hurwitz & Associates (and yes, the founder of Bloor Research) to share his views on the industry.

1.What are your coverage areas?
All technology except business applications such as SAP ERP or Oracle’s PeopleSoft.

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Around Clive Longbottom from Quocirca in 10 questions

Clive Longbottom / QuocircaThis ’email interview’ is the first of -we hope- a long series, in which we will open the IIAR Blog to analysts and get their insight on the industry. Being the quickest off the mark, the privilege to test this format comes to Clive Longbottom, the founder of Quocirca. Read below on his unabridged views on the industry… and one of the most unusual hobby/ice breaker conversation topic I’ve ever heard!

  1. What are your coverage areas?
    Predominantly, communication and collaboration approaches, along with business process. However, I’m a bit of a generalist who can cover most areas at a push. I come from a business background, and firmly believe that technology is just a means to an end – it is not the answer in itself. I also believe that analysts who are too focused cannot always advise anyone to the required extent – a business process is both dynamic and broad reaching, and someone who can only discuss one part of the process could well be like an automotive engineer who specialises in brake pipes trying to sell someone a whole car.
  2. What are your opinions of the IT Analysis Marketplace and where do you see it going?
    The market seems to be in a bit of flux at the moment – we have many different approaches from many different companies with different influence models. As the recession bites deeper, I see quite a few of the smaller companies starting (or continuing) to struggle, and many one man bands being given up as the analysts move back in to the “safer” big company model. In the long run, it’s probably safer to look at the overall “influencer” market, rather than just analysts, as many journalists have changed their models to be less focused on the headline (although, it has to be said, there seem to be quite a few analysts who have changed their model to be more focused on the headline rather than the content!), and many consultants are also seeing themselves as being a sort of analyst.
  3. What’s your typical day like?
    A mix of vendor briefings, report and article writing, reviewing of other Quocirca analyst’s output, discussions with existing customers, travelling, researching, prospecting for new work, web site management, and grabbing some sleep wherever I can. I tend to meet with a large number of smaller vendors – these are the guys where newer ideas are being tried out. They may never make it as a company, may never spend any money on research or analysis, but they help to coalesce views that we may be seeing elsewhere, and provide viewpoints on where the market may be going a year or so down the line.
  4. Now, c’mon, tell me an AR horror story?
    The best has to be Palm, when launching the original Treo. This is far enough in the past such that few people involved will still be around, so hopefully, it won’t upset too many people. Palm briefed the press in the morning (who all went “ooh, how pretty” as it was a gadget) and then briefed the analysts in the afternoon (who went “Aah – this is not a proper phone, it’s not a full PDA like other Palms, the battery lasts around 12 minutes, the interface sucks and it generally can’t be recommended by us at all”). Then, the press phoned us all up for our comments – which were negative, and were printed in full. Palm learnt, and briefed the analysts first from there on, listening far more to input.There are also those vendors who can only see as far as the big analyst companies, believing that the smaller companies or one man bands have no part to play in the influencer markets. I think I’ll leave that one as it is…
  5. How do you position your firm? What is your business model?
    Quocirca is a company that carries out “perceptional research”, along with the creation of business positioning reports, provision of strategic advice and analysts for presentations, seminars, webinars and so on. Our customer base is the vendor community who come to us for various reasons. We do not do market sizing, concentrating instead on the perceptions of end users as to how any emerging, evolving or maturing technology will impact them and their organisation. We interview end users on a continuous basis as a core part of our model, with world-wide coverage for telephony based interviews, all carried out in the respondent’s native language to minimise any mis-understandings in the surveys. Our end-user output is provided completely free of charge to the reader, and Quocirca has a reach to many tens of millions of possible readers through our agreements with the many large multi-national and global portal sites we work with. These agreements mean that Quocirca reports reach organisations who have no access to paid for analyst output, who would normally not consider utilising analyst output (seeing it as too expensive to gain access to), as well as the casual reader within other analyst companies’ customers who may well be unaware of any existing agreement that may be in place. We also have very strong relationships with the trade and mainstream press, writing articles for many of the major UK and US outlets, and being one of the most quoted analyst houses around.
    Although our research, reports and presentations are all sponsored/commissioned. Quocirca is strongly independent. The customer has full view of what we are writing, and can argue their cases as they see fit, but Quocirca will not add something to a document that it does not believe in itself, nor will it take something away that it believes is critical to the final result.
  6. What is your research methodology, in 255 characters or less?
    Quocirca majors on telephony interviewing, with face-to-face or email being utilised in certain geographies where telephony is culturally less acceptable. We concentrate on gaining the perception of the respondent – not trapping them into trying to second guess hard facts, such as the exact amount that has been set aside for Project A next year. In the technology world (as elsewhere), perception is reality, and this approach has been shown to provide solid depth of insight to our many customers. (May be slightly more than 255 characters – you’ll have to count them!)
  7. Tell us about one good AR practice you’ve experienced or one good AR event you’ve attended.
    There are still many AR people around who see their position as ensuring that their customer or company gains the biggest number of ears for their message as possible. For me, the best AR practice I see is where the AR person realises that a core part of their job is in matching their customer’s/company’s requirements with the best analyst resource for that need. Outbound communications are important – as analysts we do need to know what is going on – but even during these sessions two way communication should be encouraged.
  8. What are your offerings and key deliverables?
    Quocirca offers business-focused educational reports driven either by primary perceptional research or through our experience built up through previous research and in discussion with end users. With primary research projects, we also provide “eyes only” analysis which may address issues with the sponsoring vendor’s messaging, possible market penetration, comparisons of differing levels of maturity within markets, comparisons by geography, type of user, size of organisation and so on. We also offer internal strategic help for vendors of all sizes who may be looking for help in defining or refining core messages, looking at channel strategies, looking to break in to new geographical or technical product markets or who want some external viewpoint presented to the sales force, marketing group, product managers or whatever. We also present, facilitate and moderate events, whether these be physical seminars/shows or webinars/teleconferences.
  9. Any hobbies or favourite restaurant / food that you’d like to share?
    I’m a qualified wolf handler, working with the UK Wolf Conservation Trust in Beenham, between Newbury and Reading. Favourite restaurant would be anywhere that serves good food, and favourite food would be fish.

  10. What is your biggest challenges for the upcoming 6 months? And for the next 30 mn?
    The weakness of the dollar is leading to a tightening of budgets, and it is probably inevitable that this will have a knock-on effect to UK and European analyst comapnies, as many budgets are held in the US. However, we are seeing that many US-based companies are seeing that UK and European analyst companies provide different approaches and services to many in the US, and we hope that this viewpoint will continue through any possible market turn-down or recession.In the next 30 minutes, my main issue is getting this finished so that I can get back to earning money.
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