Archive | AR debates

[GUEST POST] An Insider’s Guide to Technology Analysts by Cormac Foster

Thanks a lot to ReadWriteWeb to allow reposting of this excellent entry by By Cormac Foster (LinkedIn, @cormacfoster).

The original post can be found here.

Gartner IDC Forrester logos - IIAR blog post

Gartner. Forrester. IDC. And lots of smaller fish, too. You can’t read a tech-industy news story, attend a conference or listen to a sales pitch without someone quoting an industry analyst. For tech companies, analysts are big news and big business, promising to help with transformation, monetization and a slew of other things ending in “-ation.”

But what do technology industry analysts really do? And how do you find the one that’s right for your company’s needs. Let me try to explain, from the inside. You see, from 1999 through 2001, I was an analyst at Jupiter Research, now part of Forrester Research.

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Gartner gets the IDEAs from Forrester

It seems Gene took Gartner‘s shopping trolley on a jumbo to Oz this week and a page from George‘s book: the research firm just announced it was buying Ideas International [ASX:IDE] was established in 1981 as a consultancy service and since 1986 has provided its special brand of research to IT users and vendors. This acquisition is still subject to regulatory and other approvals.

This move has a strong reminiscence from Forrester’s purchase of Springboard last year (read our post:Forrester joins the feeding frenzy, buys Springboard)

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Has time come for a disruptive analyst firm?

Wine connoisseurs take as much pleasure talking about drink than savouring it…. so let me indulge you into an analogy between research firms and some of my favourites.

As with fine wines and corporate buying trends, so goes analyst firms.  The shift of power from IT to Business signifies a move from Wine to Champagne….

Ray (@rwang0, LinkedIn, blog) writes here about the latest IIAR Forum London and he’s got a few interesting points.

  1. Client base and research approach
    • There’s a wine analogy there: Gartner is like a Bordeaux (predictable blends) and Forrester is more like a Burgundy (more variable but sometimes great).
    • Gartner tends to sell to a mature IT audience, which is where most of the IT budget is. Its research output thus tends to be more conservative, after all most people don’t really want to experiment the at bleeding edge. As a result, it’s unlikely you’ll be surprised by a genial piece of research.
    • Forrester does this as well, but because (or thanks to) its marketing research, also cater for that role and its research style tends to be more adventurous (the Giga legacy probably) even if its coverage quality and quality is less constant.
    • And IDC sells to IT vendors mostly, a little to industry leaders (has to be a Côtes du Rhône, with elements of both depending on the individual analyst for opinion whilst the trackers are more constant –Shiraz is a bit like Marmite, it’s “love it or hate it”).
    • The point there is that your client base is your legacy, and unless you’re Steve Jobs or Henry Ford, most fail to break away from ‘building a faster horse’. In IT research aspects, it translates into “IT must align with business” (yawn). Analysts have been preaching this for the last 15 years, and it seems the issue hasn’t gone away.  Some part of the IT will be run as a utility (a better word than cloud, and in the same bucket than facilities and real estate) whilst the innovative stuff will be done by the business. IT is the business, the rest is a commodity (this doesn’t mean that everyone knows how to provision a commodity efficiently).
    • Another interesting aspect is that because they sell to a mature audience, they will confronted to a bit of an issue when baby-boomers will (finally) retire in the coming 5 years and be replaced by Gen-X and Gen-Y who have no appetite for academic style research. [Note: there’s a discussion here with some fellow IIAR members on whether the Gartner client base is that, er, experienced. What do you think?]
      Indeed Gartner is trying (again) to grow its SMB user base, but unless they radically change the way research is written, they will probably fail again. Constellation has probably a good card to play there by targeting smaller, innovative companies –even though up to 2/3 won’t make it into adult age.
  2. On “design point”, Constellation is pitching itself right in the “future of work” trend.
    • For analysts, time will tell if it’s ensuring, but trying to retain them by force (check this letter from Forrester’s CEO George Colony on non-compete) isn’t going to build a star-stable. Indeed, whilst Gartner seems to be doing a good job at keeping its best analyst, but it’d be curious to see how the average experience of Forrester analysts has evolved over time. There seem to be more researchers who graduated as analysts than analysts who came from a previous career. That in itself isn’t a sole predictor for insight, though it helps, but one would think that there’s a cost aspect (it’s the Forrester vs. the Giga models).
    • For users, I’d venture out to say it’s again like Marmite.  For establish companies, dealing with established brands having real offices offices is probably deemed ‘safer’. For Constellation’s target customers, meeting in a Stabucks probably isn’t a problem. James Governor (@monkchips, blog) seems to have found out that being unconventional actually helps with his specific audience: developpers.
  3. On analyst access
    • In terms of business model, Ray is indeed accessible which is quite refreshing compared to other analysts who for instance reduce briefing slots to 30mn. Whether that can be scaled without administering Modafinil to the rest remains to be seen.
    • For end users, it would be a net-gain if the processes to ensure a constant user experience as Constellation grows in size work effectively.
  4. On research approach
    • Legacy firms underplay the community aspect indeed but let’s not forget that Gartner is quite a large community in itself.
    • From an end-user aspect, one could expect more innovative research.
  5. On sales
    • IMHO it’s where I’ll be watching Constellation as converting from a consulting model to a RAS one isn’t that straightforward. So far they seem to be on the right track though.

Bottom line:

  • Gaining enough scale to gain a sufficient end-user base is challenging for mid-sized firms but Constellation seem to be making all the right noises.
  • Establish firms need to break away from their traditional user base to reinvent themselves before baby-boomers retire.

Ludovic Leforestier (LinkedIn, @lludovic)

See also Duncan’s post on the IIAR Forum with Constellation:

And Ray Wang’s own post:

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[GUEST POST] Timing is everything

There’s no penalty for jumping the gun

On your marks. Get Set. Go. When the starting gun goes off, there is always going to be a rush of adrenalin, a surge of excitement, and a striving to get up to speed and do your best.

But when the starting gun goes off in relation to a Gartner Magic Quadrant (MQ) assessment of your company, in many ways it is already too late.

Magic Quadrants generally appear once a year. For the companies who are on the receiving end, they can be make or break factors, with a huge influence on business prospects for the year ahead.

For the analysts involved, they are important pieces of work, but they have to be fitted in alongside research reports, client inquiries and meetings, events and presentations, custom engagements, webinars, blogs, and a host of other commitments. Leaving all the rest of an analyst’s annual workload aside, producing a Magic Quadrant means identifying and investigating multiple companies that will appear in the final diagram. On top of this, the analyst has to give due consideration to all the peripheral candidates that need to be evaluated before decisions can be taken about whether or not they should be included.

The wonder is not that so many MQ assessments leave so many vendors feeling disappointed, but that so many MQs win general acceptance as being pretty fair, diligent, and useful assessments of the state of play in particular markets.

To read the full article click here.

Extract courtesy of Simon Levin, MD (Europe) – The Skills Connection

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[REBLOG] How to read an analyst report?

slfisherThis article was originally posted on hp.com: How to Read an Analyst Report. Good read.

Unfortunately we can’t reblog this, read the original report and some quotes below. The advice it gets can be summed up as follows.

  1. Picking a Firm
    • What kind of analyst firm is it? According to Ludovic Leforestier of IIAR, the Institute of Industry Analyst Relations, an industry group of analyst relations (AR) professionals, there are three major types of analyst firms:
    • The big three are Gartner (750 analysts and about $1 billion in revenue), IDC (1,200 analysts), and Forrester (300 analysts and about $300 million in revenue).
    • Midsize niches, typically with five to ten analysts, are often focused on a particular area, such as ESG for storage or Evans Data for software development trends.
    • Independents are a diverse category.
  2. Does the analyst take vendors for clients
    • “Is the report commissioned by a vendor or is it written prospectively?” asks Leforestier. “This is an important point: Although good AR people will avoid pay-to-play to get endorsements, some are known as analysts for hire. Check the research library on the analyst website and you’ll clearly see some are always writing positively about one vendor.”
  3. Is the report pay-to-play? 
  4. Where does the analyst firm get its information and analysts?
  5. What type of deliverable is it?
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Analyst firms: rock star bands or record label dinosaurs?

A recent contract renewal conversation with an IT analyst firm rep got me wondering how record companies ended up suing their best adopters and whether the end is nigh for them. Both music and research live on IP, and there are many similarities, though we’ll only explore the consumption and value aspects in this post.

Many have a better informed opinion than myself on the music industry but I tend to agree with Jon: there’s been a lack of innovation. The CD was a more practical format but quality wasn’t one hundred times better. I have yet to be immersed in a true quadriphonic experience, and so on. Sure thing, the mp3 format is much more practical but it would be far fetched to claim to say that the industry embraced it willingly. Actually, I would go as far as to say iTunes is Steve Job’s best ‘invention’, that was to get record labels to licence their music on it. In addition to the lack of technical innovation, there isn’t a great deal clarity in the offerings. Good new sounds maybe surfacing all the time however most are ephemeral. I can’t think of many that indeed built a following matching that of the 60ies  and 70ies (and even 80ies) household names. That last point is important, as building up a loyal consumer base is much more profitable than rotating new products. Continue Reading →

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Why do you need AR when you have PR?

I’m often asked why bother with AR when there’s already a fully-fledged PR team? To many analysts and AR pros, this may sound like a strange question, after all do you ask an electrician to do the plumbing?

However, I’ve seen many times in large corporations PR folks coming to manage AR teams (not always successfully I must say) and in small companies marketing types having to do AR on top of the rest (sometimes very successfully if not consistently).

Many AR pros, when asked will tell you analysts hate being dealt with by PR people. Analysts in fact hate being treated like journalists: sent a lot of content, not deep enough and expected to produce coverage. Continue Reading →

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Four ways analysts must respond to the crisis

The IIAR’s developing discussion on the crisis in AR (reflected by analysts’ declining comfort in recommending solutions) took interesting turn recently. In the the institute’s second conference call on the topic, I was asked to spell out suggestions for how analysts can reverse the falling quality of information sharing by vendors, which is the root cause of analysts’ lowering confidence. These are my four suggestions. Continue Reading →

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[GUEST POST] An Analyst’s Take on the Crisis in AR by Saverio Romeo / Frost & Sullivan

A New Approach to Market Analysis for the Evolving Mobile Communications Industry 

An argument in favour of multi-disciplinary analysts

By: Saverio Romeo, Frost 

The mobile communications industry has been infrastructure-centric for a long time. The core has been the network. The value added has been the services offered on this network. For many years, voice communications was the only service available. Then the launch of SMS brought enormous success to the mobile industry. But it also spread the fever for a “killer application”: When the success of SMS started to diminish and voice and messaging began to be transformed into commodities, the industry made parabolic journeys in order to find the next “killer application”. But the new Holy Grail was far from arriving. Continue Reading →

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[IIAR Teleconference] There’s a crisis in analyst relations

After more than a decade consulting to analyst relations teams, and some year before as an analyst, I’m seeing a deep, and deepening, crisis in analyst relations. It’s reflected in hard data from surveys of analysts and, in discussions over the last few weeks with AR colleagues in the hub of that crisis (the USA), I’m seeing it confirmed by the experiences and challenges facing AR professionals. Continue Reading →

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IIAR discussion group – So Where AR You Going?

Recently, the IIAR held a discussion group on AR careers following a series of blog posts by Marc Duke (@marcduke) on this topic.

AR still suffers from being in the shadow of PR and like Marc, most of those taking part in the call had fallen into AR careers by accident. What can we do, as an industry, to spread the word?

Fionnula Fitzsimons (@fionnula) from Bite Communications and Stephen England (@sfengland) from KCG emphasised that we need to do more PR to differentiate ourselves from PR. KCG estimates that there are about 1,500 full-time AR professionals globally – tiny in comparison to those engaged in PR. Even the investor relations community, perhaps the closest in terms of job function to AR, boasts around 100,000 members.
It’s difficult for such a small group to make much noise, and AR is a difficult story to tell. How many of our families really understand what it is that we do? The responsibility rests with us as AR managers to keep educating those around us on the value of analysts and AR to our organisations. As Stephen England put it, “if we each teach one PR person, one marketing person, and one sales person a quarter of what we do, our ecosystem would increase dramatically.” Marc Duke also felt that the IIAR could help raise the profile of AR by getting more content into the mainstream technology and marketing/PR trade press. Continue Reading →

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So Where AR You Going? – part 2

8In the second of his series of guest posts on AR careers, Marc Duke  (blog, @marcduke) looks at the skills required to succeed in AR and how to keep them in good shape.

The IIAR will also be hosting a teleconference for members to discuss the issues raised on May 3rd at 4 pm BST/11 am EDT.

So what does AR do then…?

Without wishing to sound trite, the answer to this question is dependent on a number of factors such as:

  • Size of company
  • Size of team
  • Experience/expertise of staff
  • How “AR-friendly” the organisation is

AR can cover any of the following:

  • Proactive outbound communications to support PR, marketing and sales
  • Inbound communications to support product or business strategy development
  • Reactive communication to support research questions and consulting requests from the analysts 

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So Where AR You Going? – part 1

What do you need to do to reach the top level in AR? Is it vital to work in the US? And what’s the future for the role of analyst relations? In a series of guest posts, Marc Duke (blog, @marcduke) will be looking at the issues surrounding AR careers and at how things may evolve in the coming years.

It’s a topic that’s important to all of us who work in AR and we welcome your thoughts and comments. The IIAR will also be hosting a teleconference for members to discuss the issues raised on May 3rd at 4 pm BST/11 am EDT.

I first encountered the heady world of AR in 1997 as a lowly account executive. The PR agency I worked for, Text 100, was the main agency for Microsoft in Europe. It had a very, very small AR programme which was passed around and found its way to me. That’s where my AR journey began. As the AR profession has matured, the question of where AR as a career is going is a serious one that merits consideration.

As part of the research for this piece, I spoke to several IIAR members to get a picture of their experience and thoughts on how their AR careers are likely to develop. I’ll try to summarise their perspectives and mine, with the hope of stimulating further debate on a topic which is as current as any other issue in the AR community.

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Gartner Wields the Most Influential Influencers, Peers, Not Analysts

A Glimpse into Peer Connect

Every AR person knows that many of the most influential analysts in the information technology industry work at Gartner.  But analysts are not the most influential influencers out there, peers are – IT buyerPicture showing ranking of influencerss and practitioners most trust the insights of other IT buyers and practitioners who have been through similar buying and implementation processes. The historical blockades to peer-to-peer exchange, however, have been (a) finding qualified peers and (b) providing a safe harbor for peers that prefer to remain anonymous in order
to participate. Continue Reading →

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[GUEST POST] Money, analyst attention, and implied analyst endorsement by Curt Monash / Monash Research

This post, first published on Strategic Messaging,  is reposted here courtesy of the author, Curt Monash (bio, @curtmonash)”

This was and is meant to be a generally-applicable post. It just turns out to be laced with examples from my own experiences. I hope those aren’t too distracting from the broader points.

It is widely believed among analyst relations professionals that one should engage the services of the analysts most influential in one’s industry, in the hope that the analysts one pays will speak well of one’s company, publicly or privately as the case may be. Thus, the best way for an analyst to make money is:

  • Become influential in the industry s/he covers.
  • Say nice things about the companies in it, especially the ones with larger budgets.

On the whole, I think I do better at the first of those tasks than the second.

Sometimes the connection between money and saying nice things is pretty blatant. For example, I’m often asked “Hey, would you be interested in doing a white paper that highlights our product’s advantages?” Unfortunately for my bank account, I almost never think it’s a good idea to accept the commission. It’s not that I dispute that it is possible to be ethical when writing white papers. I just don’t find it easy. And frankly, even analysts I regard as ethical commonly turn out white papers with somewhat more bias than I like to see in documents carrying my name.

Even more directly, I’m occasionally grilled to the effect “Is your view of us sufficiently favorable that we should retain your services?” Those discussions generally don’t end up in a paying relationship, but so be it; the companies who do that aren’t clients I’d much enjoy having anyway.

[READ THE REST ON STRATEGIC MESSAGING]

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[GUEST POST] Trends: Influencers Aspire For Market Maker Status by Ray Wang / Constellation

(This post is cross-posted on the SoftwareInsider blog.)

Eight Major Influencer Types Exist Today

Analyst relations, public relations, influencer relations and other interested parties have witnessed the rapidly evolving and emerging buy-side and market influencer models.  In the past, eight influencer types followed five distinct traits (see Figure 1):

  1. Fame. Awareness, notoriety, perceived market status.
  2. Fortune. Billing rates, wealth, earnings.
  3. Market impact. Buy-side decisions making, sell-side product direction.
  4. Personal impact. Individual decisions, behaviour changes.
  5. Initial business model. Revenue drivers, monetization strategy.

Figure 1. Five Traits Of The Major Influencer Types

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Gartner details the MQ process

Magic Quadrant ChartFollowing some debate on Quora ( How much does it cost to be included in Gartner Magic Quadrant?,  do make sure you check Nancy Erskine’s answer), Lydia Leong from Gartner did publish a very useful blog post on The process of a Magic Quadrant.

Gartner’s MQ continues to be the source of much debate, mostly since it pits vendors against each others some are bound to be disappointed (a MQ with all vendors in the leaders quadrant won’t probably be of much use to IT buyers).
Gartner has overhauled the process in the last 5 years and made it quite robust now, though the weightings and ratings are still not publicised (a key difference with Forrester’s wave and IDC’s Decision matrixShort List).

No one asked for my opinions, so here they are:

  • it’s better to be in than not, even if in the niche quadrant
  • an MQ is better than a Marketscope (I don’t like rating vendors against a linear scale because it implies you should choose the one to the right)
  • an MQ is still only 2 dimensions (hear below Gideon Gartner on this point)
  • allocate enough time, about 100-120 man hours per MQ on the vendor side
  • make sure you manage your constituents expectations and get their support
  • IIAR members should read @edgyurko’s Best Practice Paper (link below)

Does this help? What is your experience? Do you have any tips?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7zzl1RM02U]

Related posts:

 

13/1/11 edit: corrected the “IDC MQ” name after Vuk’s comment (below).

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[GUEST POST] It’s the quality of the quantity that counts…..

Today’s post is from Mark Duke (blog, @marcduke, LinkedIn), who is an independent AR consultant. See also this post on AR measurements by @elliewarner.

I picked up on Forrester AR discussion about examples of the quantified business value generated by AR. (see here) for full details. Continue Reading →

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[GUEST POST] Outsourcing Analyst Relations: A viable option? by Fred McClimans

By Fred McClimans / Current Ventures (LinkedIn, @fredmcclimans)

Last week I participated in an interesting discussion regarding influence and the role of analyst relations (AR) – specifically around the issue of how AR staff could increase their influence through a variety of different mechanisms or channels. But one key point that kept creeping into the conversation was one of limited resources: “we simply don’t have the staff to aggressively pursue everything that we would like to accomplish” (a point echoed by many in smaller or fast-growing firms).

After a bit of digging, two basic issues kept making their way into the discussion: a lack of full-time resources and a lack of “R”-level funding (which is often split between Analyst Relations, Investor Relations, Public Relations and Marketing).

That said, there seemed to be a general consensus that yes, there are “parts” of the AR function, regardless of the size of the firm, that could be outsourced based on the size/type of organization, the goals that need to be accomplished and the availability of “outside” resources (or more importantly, funding) – all with the understanding that there must be an accountable person in-house to properly manage and drive the effort. Continue Reading →

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