Where lies the boundary?

Interesting post by Carter Lusher from Sage Circle lasty week:
Spoon feed analysts public information « SageCircle Blog

Is it AR’s job to do the research for analysts? Or put differently, where’s the boundary between the analysts’ research job and AR’s job of providing information?

What do you think?

6 thoughts on “Where lies the boundary?”

  1. Simple. I expect the analysts to do as much as they can with what they know/can find out through the public domain and then work with me in a review/fleshing out process. Happy to facilitate as many briefings as are necessary to ensure an accurate report, but feel analysts have a responsibility to do the groundwork themselves. Requests to complete questionnaires that ask “what is the size of your company” are declined. If the vendor in question is publicly trading, analysts should do their homework.

  2. There’s a responsibility angle to this question but there’s also an impact question. There’s no doubt that the professional analyst should be reasonably expected to have a very broad grasp on publicly available information and also be plugged in to channels that gives them insights into things that aren’t necessarily publicly available. However, what’s the impact if there are gaps in their knowledge base? To the analyst, at least in the short-term, there’s very little consequence. In client situations they can bluff, hide or otherwise compensate for gaps in their knowledge base. Heck, they can even acknowledge it. We’re only human (contrary to popular opinion) and there are going to be gaps. So we can skate on by. Conversely, what’s the impact to the vendor and the AR professional? For the vendor, it can be significant, leading to a misrepresentation of the vendor’s position or equally bad but more sinister, the omission of the vendor from consideration in contexts where they should have had consideration. For the AR professional, the consequences can be personal. Answering “how could the analyst not know about blah” is an uncomfortable position. You may be totally right that the analyst should have known about it but if you didn’t personally assure that they did and in a contextually relevant fashion (you knew they were writing the report, didn’t you), then your job perception is at risk.

    So clearly it’s the analyst’s responsibility…and the AR professional’s risk. In that setting, it’s pretty clear where the real burden lies.

  3. This is an interesting discussion and I think the answer is not black and white. It depends on the context. If we are talking about a significant player in an important market there is no question that it is the responsibility of the analyst to be educated and know the market space. However, there are times when the shoe is on the other foot. If a company is in an emerging space and is not one of the top players I think it makes sense for the AR team to provide background to the analyst. Some of us follow a broad cross section of the software market and are swamped with project tasks. I think that good AR teams that I have worked with build solid relationships with analysts. They understand who they are, what they know, and are there to provide an important bridge of understanding.

  4. I think it hard for AR professionals to underestimate the volume of work that analysts are faced with. Analysts often feel like individuals, with only their personal resources, and they tend to see that the vendor can sometimes have more resources. Furthermore, there’s a reflection there of vendor’s misplaced ‘build a better mousetrap’ obsession – the reality is that influential analysts are marked out by their ability to build rapport with clients and help clients answer their own questions, rather than by perfect research methods.

    Furthermore, vendors often do provide and circulate inaccurate or partial information – at least if the vendor provides the information directly, then the analyst has plausible deniability.

    Complaining about how different firms work is pointless; if you want different research methods, become an analyst! For AR professionals the point is to understand how different analysts work, and to use that to better build rapport with influential analysts.

    In that respect, it’s quite effective to do some basic research for influential analysts, if that’s what they ask for, since they then become more dependent on the information you give them, which is one important goal for AR professionals.

    Of course with less influential analysts, use interns, third-party providers (I can help) or just tell them to use your website.


  5. Duncan,

    I don’t think you’re getting it. The amount of work tht’s going into an MQ, Wave, Evaluation, etc… is huge. It’s often in the region of about 60 to 100 man-hours!

    I sometimes joke with analysts that we should charge them for the work we’re putting on some reports (especially since we’re supposed to buy the reprints after….)

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