Archive | IIAR

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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Gartner improves the vendor briefing process

In the most recent Gartner Analyst Relations Newsletter, Peter Kalinowski explains how the Vendor
Briefings
process has been simplified based on feedback received from AR professionals.

Amongst other things, all analysts now have access to the materials and the scheduling is easier. Also, vendors are getting a single point of contact -a welcome return to the client relationship model that META Group used.

This is a great improvement however some other questions like materials under NDA and access by Gartner’s consultants have been raised at the last IIAR Forum and would merit being clarified.

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Building the future of DARA and IIAR

Today, the German Analyst Relations Working Group, (Deutscher Analyst Relations Arbeitskreis, DARA) will meet for the first time this year (and for the 9th time since it was founded) at Fujitsu Siemens Computers‘ offices in Munich. It is interesting to see that more German-speaking professionals from technology companies are becoming interested in being a part in an organization that helps AR professionals network. One point we look forward to discuss will be the collaboration between DARA and the IIAR. Both organizations have made tremendous progress in the last few months:

  • Not only has the IIAR won new members, it has also helped to raise the profile of Analyst Relations as a profession and communications activity within the IT and telco sector. The IIAR has moved into the league of internationally recognized organizations which add value for analyst relations experts.
  • The DARA is just about to publish its book, “Industry Analyst Relations in Deutschland” and has produced a paper on ethical behavior in IAR. It has further developed its membership base and has become the most recognized German network for analyst relations professionals in
    the area.

What will be the role of DARA in the future? While the IIAR is an international organization, hosting guest speakers such as Gartner’s Aaron Yaverski, GVP High Tech Product Management and Andrew Rosenblatt, Product Development, the DARA could regularly contribute new pieces of
“local knowledge” to the AR community. For example, one guest speaker at the next DARA forum will be the Managing Director of Business Application Research Center, BARC, a growing Germany-based research house, mainly focussing on BI. Many DARA members are interested in learning more about this research firm and look forward to the session.

Simultaneously, the German forums will also transfer international knowledge to German AR professionals. The DARA will increasingly seek to host analysts from abroad, in person or via web conference: For example, Redmonk‘s James Governor will also present as a guest speaker at the forum.Of course, there is also the possibility to bring members from both locations together to organize an exchange of ideas and best practices. Such a forum would make a wide range of opportunities available and I think many of us believe something like this would be well worth a try.

In my opinion, one of the most important questions is where the AR community will see the most significant synergies between DARA and IIAR and how we can bridge any geographical distances better. A first step is already made: Two of the IIAR board members are German analyst relations professionals. Reflecting on the feedback from many IIAR members, I get the impression that these board members will have the remarkable opportunity to help connect both organizations better. They could facilitate further progress on the road to a global AR community.

I am interested in other views on this matter -please feel free to comment on this post.

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this blog post are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of HFN Analyst Relations or other members of the IIAR. We can’t be held liable for any unintentional misrepresentation on this post but are happy to correct any mistakes or nonconformities.

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A dream for a collaborative AR platform

Gartner Inc. (NYSE:IT) came around yesterday for the IIAR forum at CA’s offices (thanks to Geoff Dorrington for hosting). So, thank you Aaron Yaverski (GVP High Tech Provider Product Management) and Andrew Rosenblatt (from Product Development). They presented some of the roadmap for the “Gartner for AR” offering and this got me thinking…The first thing they spoke about was the progress they made on the granularity and refresh cycle of the inquiry mining service. This is great news for vendors as it means they can now have an idea of what sort of things IT users are asking Gartner analysts. Of course, for confidentiality reasons we can’t access the details but it’s fantastic to have some insights on the conversations Gartner analysts are having with their end-user clients. IMHO, this is really the value of Gartner, not the actual research notes they produce.And as David Taylor commented, having a deeper understanding of how Gartner’s Influences the sales cycle, could a great step forward in solving the “Holy Grail” of measurement.

About that research, another point of importance is that the five star rankings are now available to IT vendors, but we can’t rank them let alone comment on them – like we can do on Forrester’s. While I understand there may be some sensitivities around this, it would be great to see Gartner opening the kimono and harness the community around itself.

Then we went in to “pie in the sky mode” as Gartner asked what we’d like. It was very encouraging to see Aaron and Andrew proactively soliciting views and opinions from the European AR community on what we would like to see in the future.

For me, we need a paradigm shift: Gartner needs to move from being a super Google, from presenting us information in the best way they can (and they’re doing a good job at that) towards a partnership approach. I’d like Gartner.com to be more like Facebook and less like my online banking site: of course it’s great to be able to check which bank transactions I’ve made but it would be way better if I could use the site to work with the analyst.

My Gartner-Facebook site would look like this:

  • I could check the analysts availability and that would help solving one of the biggest headache AR people have: scheduling briefings for busy execs and busy analysts who have more chance to meet in the airport lounge than in my customer visit centre. Oh, and by the way, if that Australian analyst that I deal with all the time is planning to visit London, I’d like to know please. It would be both a best use of analysts time as their travels would be optimised and save vendors money collectively.
  • Andrew showed us a “my activity” box which displayed the latest searches any given user has made. But hang on, that’s NOT my activity with Gartner. What I’d like is a report of all my inquiries, all my briefings and all my SAS days, etc.. This would help solving my second problem: reporting back to my boss my interactions with Gartner.
  • Next is the collaborative aspect. We spend a lot of time PDF’ing, zipping and sending Powerpoints (because we like our 50+ slides decks with lots of customer logo pages and our email systems don’t like anything over 10MB), receiving draft research notes and sending them back with our comments. I’d like to be able to post them on the “analyst wall”, check she/he’s got access to the latest version of our deck because otherwise he’ll be advising customers using old information. And also, make it available to his/her colleagues –or not if it’s under NDA.
  • For SAS days, the GartnerFacebook site would have a project page with a checklist and attachments: first scoping call, presentation abstract and title if it’s a speaking gig (that’s important for our marketing teams to send invites), briefing material, agenda of the day, logistics, etc…
  • The list could go on and on, but I guess by now you understand what I’m up to: I’d like a workflow extranet to interact with analysts. Some of the pieces are there already: at the IIAR we use Google Docs to share and peer review documents, I use Google Calendar to discover that I can’t attend the Forrester drinks because it clashes with the School Bingo Night, we have an extranet to post content, etc…

So, in short, what I’d like is a tool that reflects what we do together with the analysts, rather than something were I can just consume research. Gartner for AR is going in the right direction with providing us better insight into our clients and prospects’ mind, but it’s still a one-way street.

PS: From what Aaron and Andrew said, there are going to be many more discussions in the next few weeks and months. I’d encourage you to share your views and thoughts with Gartner – either by commenting on this blog or talking to Gartner directly. It looks like there are going to be some good and interesting developments happening later in the year. Now is our chance to make sure our voices are being heard.

PPS: thanks to Hannah Kirkmann, Marius Jost, David Taylor and David Rossiter for their input and for reviewing this post.

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this blog post are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle or other members of the IIAR. While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and compliance with copyright laws, we can’t be held liable for any unintentional misrepresentation on this post but are happy to correct any wrongs quickly.

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IIAR Member Directory

The new IIAR Member Directory has just been posted to the IIAR website – to view, go to the Library section, under IIAR General Information (membership required for access).

The directory will be updated regularly so if any members who are not included would like to be added to future editions, please just drop me an email. If any information included is incorrect or out-of-date, please let Hannah know.

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AR Institute launches on LinkedIn.com

LinkedIn logoThe Institute of Industry Analyst Relations has expanded onto LinkedIn, the main business networking site.

The new IIAR group allows AR professionals to connect with each other, and allows members to pass on connections and requests for information to other people on LinkedIn. The site lists more than 500 current contacts at each of the major analyst firms: Forrester, Gartner and IDC, making it a useful tool for professionals wanting to better understand analysts interests and connections.

IIAR members will have had invites by email: if you have not had an invite, and think you are an IIAR member (or want to become one) then contact Hannah. Dozens of AR professionals have already joined the LinkedIn group, from firms including ARM, AtosOrigin, BT, GXS, Nortel, Oracle, and Symantec.

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Blogging…

I never thought this would be so difficult!

Duncan kindly suggested WordPress because it’s much better, which I did. It’s much more difficult to set up than blogger and as soon as I did Catherine was commenting on Twitter that it’s buggy. I finally got around redirecting it but still can’t get the domains to work on WordPress (apparently I have to do something to the INAME or whatever) so that it’s seamless between the blog and analystrelations.org.

Anyway, it’s now up and running and all the IIAR members can post. We’ll be accepting guest posts too.

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Welcome to the IIAR blog!

During yesterday’s forum, kindly hosted by Susan from Logica and masterfully chaired by Janine from Vodafone, it has been decided to create a blog for the Institute. So, here here we go.
In accordance with the IIAR philosophy, it will be open to all the members and won’t be a single version of the truth -because we don’t see the world in black and white. We want this blog to be a community forum where we can debate openly, some posts might be controversial and that all more intesting.  As such, it is also a way to share thoughts and engage with the analyst community, about analyst relations the industry in general.

We will also post here survey results highlights, Task Forces thoughts, ideas around best practices and more.  However, the detailed results, best practices papers, presentations will remain on analystrelations.org‘s members area.

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AR leaders to launch professional institute

Senior analyst relations professionals from across Europe have agreed to launch a professional institute. A meeting in London yesterday gathered together members of Europe’s two analyst relations networks to agree the goals, membership requirements and organisational framework for a new international association. Half of us went for dinner afterwards, and Marius’ photograph gives an idea of how convivial the meeting was.

The institute will aim to be a voice for analyst relations professionals and a framework to support their professional development. A meeting will be held on Thursday July 13 to register the progress planned over the coming months.

Lighthouse is very positive about this development. We think there are a number of tasks that this institute could take up.

  • It’s clear that an open dialogue is needed between the analysts relations community and the analyst firms on best practice. On many issues, one side has no idea of the frustrations with the other side.
  • Work needs to be done to promote the profession. PR agencies and AR consultancies have failed to co-operate to educate the industry about the specific and separate role of analyst relations. Too often, analyst relations is subordinated to the methods and tactics of media relations. By co-operating, we can clarify the specific role of AR professionals.
  • Professional development of AR professionals is weak. There are few training courses, and they are a poor substitute for the coaching, mentoring and learning-by-doing that is really needed to develop effective, self-confident, AR professionals.
  • Worldwide, analyst relations needs to resolve the cultural imbalance. A pragmatic, transactional and curtly neutral way of working has been coupled to an extreme narrowness in the information shared with analysts. This unnecessarily obstructs effective analyst relations outside the United States. An institute could point out the counterbalancing cultural norms, and help AR managers to adapt global communications approaches to better meet local needs.
  • We can encourage local or specialist networks to help people to build up contact with AR professionals in the same area. The meeting agreed that members should be able to set up open subcommittees look on particular topics or that bring together people in the same geography. Here’s an example. At the dinner after the meeting I was talking to an attendee from Germany: it’s clear that there is more than enough interest there to develop a German committee.
  • The accelerating rate of change in the analyst industry means that new firms can win greater traction with greater speed. We can use an institute to develop and share our appreciation of the analyst landscape.

The professionals who met yesterday are keen to take one step at a time. It would be foolhardy to attempt too much, too soon. However, the appetite is there to build a serious, open professional body. Serious membership fees will be levied to fund part-time staff. Membership will be open to all with an interest in analyst relations: we have no interest in excluding those with something to contribute (the only exclusion: analyst firms’ staff may not join). A formal managing committee will rotate its members, to maximize participation.

An online group has been set up for the Institute. If you’d like to get in touch please email analystrelations-owner at yahoogroups dot com (Correspondance will go to a committee, so don’t expect a quick reply).

Originally posted by Duncan Chapple on the 4/06/2006 09:50:00 AM

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