Tag Archives | AR Best practices

“How to take on the Digital Wave”

A growing issue for AR pros and their companies is defining what ‘digital’ means. Or, more importantly, understanding how the different industry analyst firms define digital and “digital transformation”. It is certain that digital will “disrupt”, and that more existing businesses will get ‘Uber-ed”, as one of our panellists put it. However what is less clear is just how and where digital transformation will impact existing business models over the next few years, as well as what the opportunities and threats will emerge from digital. How might the AR pro navigate the new digital landscape when briefing and engaging with industry analysts firms? These were just some of the questions posed to a distinguished panel of leading industry analysts at the latest IIAR event hosted at the glamourous Heron Tower on August 13th 2015.

photo 1-2

Aniruddho Mukherjee of the IIAR kicking off the evening with an overview and update on IIAR to its members,whilst Debleena Paul and Neil Pollock also both from the IIAR look on

Is 2015 a tipping point in terms of digital transformation?

The convenor, Debleena Paul, got the ball rolling by asking the panellists whether 2015 is a tipping point in terms of digital transformation. Are digital technologies beginning to bring the kind of disruption that has been promised for some time? Marianne Kolding (Vice President and Executive Sponsor, European Digital Transformation Practice at IDC) responded that it was coming but that it was not there yet. A lot of firms have it on their agenda and are “dabbling”, but change wasn’t happening everywhere. Tim Walters (Co-founder and Principal Analyst at Digital Clarity Group), saw that ‘phase 1’ of the change had occurred, where companies beginning to educate the public about how digital was something that they would need, but that ‘phase 2’, where companies were beginning to think about what they were going to do about it, was only just beginning.

photo 2

Pictured, from left to right, Debleena Paul (IIAR), Dominic Trott (PAC), Tom Reuner (HfS), Gerry Brown (Ovum), Tim Walters (DCG), Marianne Kolding (IDC)

Digital transformation can be anything. The first problem is identifying it, says Gerry Brown from Ovum

Very quickly the panellists got to the issue plaguing discussions of digital transformation thus far: What exactly is it? Tom Reuner (Managing Director for IT Outsourcing Research at HfS), thought that digital transformation meant different things to different people. The term was being used by everyone simply as a place holder. Debleena quizzed the panellists on what their definition was – noting how each industry analyst firm seemed to have a different conception of digital transformation.

Digital transformation is a process, not a project, says Marianne Kolding from IDC

Marianne Kolding told the audience that IDC saw digital transformation as where the business model for the company was fundamentally changed. This was both in the way it served its customers but also how its employees operated. For IDC, digital transformation was not just about reconfiguring the front-end but also transforming back office processes. Firms had to build a new way of looking at technology. Digital transformation cannot simply be another project, she argued, it has to be a process. Dominic Trott, (Senior Analyst Digital Business at PAC), told the audience that PAC has two definitions for digital transformation. The first is tackling the front end where the company attempts to build tighter customer interactions but the second is a broader change in culture and mindset in terms of reorganising the business around the needs of the customer.

photo 3

Debleena Paul (IIAR) grills Dominic Trott (PAC)

Digital is a wave but has unexpected force, Tim Walters from DCG notes that companies need to understand and react appropriately to the energy

Tim Walters reminded the audience that the kinds and amount of change that companies were undergoing today was not unprecedented. Companies had been subject to similar waves of change through earlier technologies. And like these waves before companies needed to understand and react to the specific energy in the wave. What is different this time, argued Tim, was that whereas in past waves it was the company that led the change, this time around it is the consumer that is empowered; it is the customer that is driving the change.

photo 4

Tim Walters and Gerry brown debating the finer points of the digital ecosystem

AR Pro Tip 101 on how to improve a presentation: Ask the analyst what they would find valuable!

The conversation turned to how AR pros might improve the way they present their companies digital transformation strategy to industry analysts. Here, rather than dissensus, there was much agreement. Tom Reuner strongly pushed for companies not to present technologies but “narratives”. Companies needed to come up with narratives which were true for their organisation as they were for the problems experienced by their customers. Rather than standard ‘corporate decks’, Gerry Brown, (Senior Analyst, Customer Engagement in Digital Technology at Ovum), wanted to hear ‘war stories’. This includes what has worked and what hasn’t; the upsides and downsides of the digital transformation strategy. Tim Walters was similarly interested in hearing the ‘process’ by which the company understands their customers’ problems. He was much less interested in companies telling him what they can do, but rather how they were now doing things they couldn’t do before, because a client has a new problem and has asked for it.

Your Point of View!

You’re read what we think. We’d love to hear your point of view on what digital transformation might mean for companies and how AR pros could do a better job of communicating their transformation strategies to industry analysts and others. We’re working on a longer version of this blog post, and would like to incorporate your feedback into a white paper that would be circulated with IIAR members. Let us know your experiences. Add your comments to the blog or email us.

photo 5

Event attendees

It wasn’t all digital transformation, however. There was also time for some of the event attendees to enjoy an expert talk on the famous Heron building fish tank! We learnt it was the largest privately owned fish tank in Europe, and the names of quite a few fish too!

photo 6

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Pin on Pinterest

Analyst Relations Manager – Tata Communications – London

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 09.16.39

This is a critical role reporting to the Associate Director, Analyst Relations and involves executing the AR plan for the business, both internally and externally, as well as supporting thought leadership and analyst activities in the global arena.

You will also be responsible for ensuring that all internal product, sales and marketing teams are adequately serviced by the Corporate Communications team and that product and segment AR programs and initiatives are effectively executed, within delivery and budget agreements.

Essential skills and experience include:

Understanding of B2B Telco, business and tech space

Understanding of analyst landscape

Excellent inter-personal and communication skills (including writing skills)

Strong analytical skills and high attention to detail

Superior project management skills

Positive, high-energy, integrity, passion

Flexible working style to accommodate a global team, timelines and varying work styles

For a full job description and to apply go to LinkedIn

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Pin on Pinterest

[GUEST POST] Five timeless questions about analyst relations

Over the last 12 years, my colleagues and I have run dozens of webinars and telephone conferences to address the most frequently asked questions of analyst relations managers. This week I’ve been running the numbers, looking to see which topics got the most attention. Several of these topics were used more for than one event and, indeed, looking back even to 2003 I can see that some of the topics are timeless. Five thoughts come to mind. Continue Reading →

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Pin on Pinterest

[GUEST POST] Building credibility to boost sales with IT Analyst Relations

This Guest Posting was first published on Influencer Relations and Marketing, author Sven Litke, Kea Company. Many thanks for allowing the IIAR to re-publish.

When talking to IT vendors eager to grow their business I usually come across a number of common challenges they face. One of the biggest issues which lies outside the companies (as opposed to e. g. finance requirements to fund the growth or adding enough skilled people to their workforce) is that once they are moving out of their comfort zone they are facing prospects that are much more skeptical than those in their home markets.

It seems to be a common pattern that vendors manage to grow to a certain size (depending on the size of their home market this is often somewhere between five and twenty million dollars) and then start thinking about ways to expand further. This often is when they are confronted with the ‘real outside world’ for the first time. Before this they managed to successfully leverage their network, or simply were the vendor with an office location closest to where the customer was. This kind of home advantage usually works up to a certain point. You might be able to successfully sell to new clients based on recommendations from your network to 2nd degree connections but that’s about where it stops. When you are dealing with prospects who have never heard of you and who don’t have any other obvious connection path (be it geographically or personal) to your company the selling gets much tougher. Obviously the first thing any vendor will do is to bring his USPs to the attention of the potential buyer. But be honest: How many competitors are out there who are making similar claims in regards to their or their solution’s capabilities? At this stage it doesn’t matter if their (or your) claims are true because at this stage the only thing that matters is the question of who is going to get the chance to proof their claims either by further demonstrations, POCs, trials or ideally by closing the deal.

A similar challenge vendors are facing is connected to the deal size. A lot of customers are willing to ‘risk’ a limited amount of money on a new vendor or a solution that is new to the market. With increasing deal size this inclination to take some risk quickly declines which is why smaller or new vendors often fail to win the larger deals in the market. This is also true in regards to the ‘business criticality’ of a solution. Buying something that is a nice to have from a new vendor is much easier than buying a solution that is business critical or security relevant from an unproven source.

Credibility wins business.

With markets where there are typically multiple vendors offering multiple solutions for a problem the buyer needs to significantly narrow down the field of potential suppliers. So being on the short list for further evaluation must be the primary goal in the early stage of the sales process. This is where the topic of credibility comes into play. When competing in their home markets a vendor is virtually guaranteed to get a place on the short list. Once competing outside: Not so much. Credibility means that a potential customer has enough trust in the claims you make about your company and your solution to give you the chance to prove yourself. Having credible sales people goes a long way towards that goal but obviously they are very hard to find. In addition some customers will never accept anything coming directly from a vendor at face value.  Also references help to generate trust, even though the effectiveness of a reference quickly declines when they are not meeting the criteria a specific customer is looking for. This can include the requirement for a reference from the same country, the same vertical or of similar size – or ideally all of this at the same time. And of course if you were not lucky enough to acquire the right mix of reference customers in your home market this only brings you back to the initial problem of getting new customers in the first place. So the question remains how to best handle the credibility issue.

Influencers create credibility

This is where influencer relations has its place in the marketing mix. People like journalist and industry analysts make their living from evaluating technologies, vendors and solutions. Industry analysts in particular are heavily involved in advising technology buyers in regards to their vendor selection and short list creation. With industry analyst groups such as Gartner, Forrester, IDC and Ovum influencing between 40% and 60% of commercial technology sales their market reach is much bigger than anything a midsize vendor can hope to achieve on its own. This means that being mentioned by analysts – either in written research or in 1:1 inquiries – will open up indirect access to many potential customers. Coverage in official research publications is the most powerful tool for your sales people and your marketing materials to demonstrate that your technology, company, products and service offerings and methods are highly recognized and credible.

Analysts are writing about your market, whether you like it or not. Being pro-active in reaching out to analysts gives you the strategic advantage of being able to influence their research by providing them with the insight they need, when they need it. Analyst Relations is not a billion dollar club. It is critical that analysts are well informed of your company strategy, products, and services. This needs to be an ongoing process to maintain a top-of-mind status, especially for a vendor that aims for higher name recognition and company growth. Early engagement with analysts is a great way to get analyst buy-in and top-of-mind presence to increase credibility and in turn to secure your place on the short list and to boost sales.

This Guest Posting was first published on Influencer Relations and Marketing.

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Pin on Pinterest

[GUEST POST] So what to social media?

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

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

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

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

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

Continue Reading →

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Pin on Pinterest

IIAR Webinar – Best Practice Paper – “Rules of Engagement” – 4th April 2014

DAY: 4th April 2014
TIME: 16:00 (GMT), 17:00 (CET), 11:00 (New York)
Agenda Your opportunity to provide Peer Review and input, prior to final publication, of the latest IIAR Best Practice Paper – “Rules of Engagement”. We appreciate your valuable knowledge and experience and look forward to your input.

Abstract from Paper – The relationship between industry analysts and technology companies is built upon a notion of trust. Specifically, analyst relations professionals and analysts work on the basis of undocumented principles, which sometimes only become apparent when they are broken or abused. In this best practice paper, we present a starting point for understanding how AR pros and analysts can best engage, to the benefit of both sides.
The paper is available on Huddle here, for members to review, before the Webinar. We are happy to receive your comments before the Webinar, send to here.
 The Webinar will be open to all IIAR Members, new members are especially welcome. Please contact us here if you wish to join the Webinar or join the IIAR.
Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Pin on Pinterest

Making the most of CeBIT (even at the last minute)

CeBIT logoIt’s big, and it’s just around the corner – it’s CeBIT time again. For AR professionals attending the show, the IIAR has put together a new paper sharing expert tips, both from ARs and analysts, on how to best use CeBIT to connect with and build relationships with analysts. This is available free of charge in our IIAR Members Area.

Even though CeBIT looms large – many vendors begin media briefings in Hanover on Sunday – both ARs and analysts also agree that it is still possible to set up meetings at short notice. However, CeBIT is not the place to expose analysts to a full-on deep dives into a new or revised strategy. See the white paper (link, membership required) to learn more about what leading Forrester analyst Pascal Matzke (LinkedIn, bio, @pascalmatzke) recommends for AR professionals. Continue Reading →

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Pin on Pinterest

[GUEST POST] Ode to the Analyst Firm Salesperson and Other Key Non-Analysts

I just survived Gartner Symposium in Orlando and as part of my regular post mortem, I analyze what went well and what I can do to improve the experience next year. A critical player for me this week is my Gartner salesperson, which got me thinking about how many AR managers neglect this key participant in their program.

Analyst firm salespeople are unsung heroes in the AR world because AR managers tend to overly focus on our analysts and overlook these useful resources. I remember one year when I was at Oracle OpenWorld, I took out my account execs for dinner one evening – no analysts, only my key salespeople from the major firms to a fun dinner as a thank you and hosted them, as usually it’s the salesperson hosting us. This was years ago so hopefully things have gotten better out there, but I was saddened when one of my account execs said it was the first time he saw an AR manager do something special for sales rather than for an analyst. Continue Reading →

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Pin on Pinterest

Don’t tell my mother I work in AR, she believes I’m a pianist…

Whilst public relations and marketing are mainstream in commercial companies, most analyst relations (AR) professionals are often at pain to describe their role.

AR is a relatively new discipline, tracing its origins in the last 15-20 years when a handful of very large ICT firms institutionalised a function to handle consultants and analysts relation. Nowadays all major technology vendors and services players have established sizeable analyst relations (AR) departments –50 to hundred strong for mega-vendors such as IBM or HP. Its raison d’être is to liaise with industry analysts, providing them a single point of contact and managing the relationship between them and the suppliers. Continue Reading →

Share this...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Pin on Pinterest