Around Alan Pelz-Sharpe from The Real Story Group in 10 questions

Today’s featured analyst is Alan Pelz-Sharpe (@alanpelzsharpe, blog) from The Real Story Group, a firm apparently not quite fitting my simplistic and arbitrary analyst ecosystem taxonomy. Their income comes solely from end-users and they’re specialised on the CMS space, quite a unique and interesting case if you ask me.

  1. What are your coverage areas? ECM (Enterprise Content Management) is my primary area, but I stick my nose into other areas such as Portals, Digital Asset Management etc.
  2. What’s your typical day like? If I am in my office, then I start around 8am, iTunes is on with House music pumping loud, a mug of green tea, checking emails etc.  Skype with colleagues, write a blog post. Chat with customers, work on an RFP or evaluate RFP responses. Management conference call.  A product demo and update an evaluation. I work from home so lunch with my wife every day watching the forest change colour through the seasons out of the window. Till around 5.30-6pm. Nothing much to grumble about really.
  3. Now, c’mon, tell me an AR horror story? There are just so many, where to start? That being said, I am sure I am a walking horror story for some AR folk. So to pick one…. probably being told that I would never work in this industry again if I published a certain report was a standout moment.
  4. How do you position your firm? What is your business model We provide buyers of technology with independent and expert advice on content technology. By independent we mean we don’t work for technology vendors ever, we don’t write papers for them, consult or advise to them, speak at their events. Nor do we accept expenses or favours in any form, we pay our own travel and expenses.Though vendors can and occassionaly do buy copies of our reports they cannot buy advisory hours or access to the analysts, hence the vast majority of our income comes from end users and that is how we want to keep it. So far it has been a successful business model and we continue to expand our reach.
  5. What is your research methodology?We demo live products, talk to users and buyers of that technology and rate various technologies via a pretty strict structure.  We are most interested in peoples experience of using the technology and their experience of working with particular suppliers.  We have much less interest in future roadmaps etc, our customers are buying technologies today to fix both tactical and strategic needs today.
  6. Any favourite AR professional you’d like to mention? Any why? I have a few actually, and apologies to those not mentioned. Joely Urton (@jurton) at Oracle and Margaret Dobbin at Open Text are standouts. They are very professional, yet remain friendly, honest and approachable.
  7. Tell us about one good AR practice you’ve experienced or one good AR event you’ve atttended.
    I don’t attend many AR events, but the best AR folk are those that take a little time to figure out what we do (help end-users) and tailor to that, rather than simply trying to deluge us with generic stuff. Good AR practice is also sometimes taking no for an answer, if I say we will not cover you in our services then we won’t.
  8. What are your offerings and key deliverables?
    We are best known for our technical and in depth product evaluations of content technologies, however we also publish a range of advisory papers for our subscribers, along with a very popular blog.  We work directly with end users on their product selection processes and on broader strategic requirements ideally via phone but occassionaly in person.
  9. Any hobbies or favourite restaurant / food that you’d like to share?
    I am an artist of sorts and take that side of life pretty seriously (
    I I am borderline obbsessed with traditional American Diners and have visited many of them, my favorite is the Airport Diner in Shirley MA – no matter how long the gap between my visits Mary always remembers I like my coffee black and Big Tex hot sauce with my home fries.
  10. Is there another analyst whose work you rate highly?
    Back in the day Chris Harris-Jones at Ovum and Regina Casonato at Gartner were huge inspirations setting the bar really high. Today I really like the work of MWD Advisors in the UK, I worked with the team there when we were all at Ovum and really respect what they are doing now just as I did then.

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