Announcing the 2014 IIAR Analyst Relations Team of the Year

IIAR AR Team of the Year 2014

Working for a large IT or Telco vendor brings many perks but it’s not all plain-sailing. Having worked for the likes of HP and IBM, we know a thing or two about life in the megavendor fast lane: long hours, multiple internal stakeholders to please, ever-increasing targets to meet, ever-decreasing resources at your disposal, and of course even larger numbers of analysts with more varied coverages to service.

We also know that AR programs can vary widely from one large vendor to another, which is why we wanted to provide a ranking of these firms. We initially wanted to have a ranking of the ‘top 10’ megavendors, but we soon discovered that there are not that many companies which fit the criteria. In order to keep things serious, we established a cut-off point of revenues over US$20 billion, and in order to bring as wide a bearing as possible to the term ‘megavendor’, we decided to stipulate that those vendors should sell a mix of at least three of the following: IT hardware, networking equipment, telecommunication services, enterprise software, IT services and outsourcing, Business consulting.

The line-up of vendors included (in alphabetical order): Accenture , Cisco, Dell, EMC, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle.

So what were the analysts’ views of the megavendors’ AR teams?

First of all, it’s worth pointing out that no single vendor stood out as providing a service recognised as being head and shoulders above the others. Second, it seems the analysts are pretty critical about the large vendors – all of which could improve their scores. It’s always worth to remind at this point that AR is providing analysts with a free information, granted in return for coverage (hopefully at least). In some cases, agendas may not be aligned and therefore their views on the service they get might be tainted by the fact AR might have prioritised other analysts. However, we believe that for successful long term relationships, interests have to be aligned or there should be at least clarity about the objectives leading to lack of engagement.

Bottom of the class is Oracle, with an average score of 2.1 out of 5, while IBM is top of the class with 2.8 out of 5. After IBM, Cisco and EMC share second place with 2.7, Dell and HP share third place with 2.6, Accenture stands in fourth place with 2.4, while Fujitsu and Microsoft share fifth place with 2.3 out of 5.
Megavendor Table
Things change only slightly when we look at the 3 Rs separately: EMC gets top marks for Responsiveness along with IBM, voted by the analysts as being the most important aspect of AR, but moves down a notch to third place for Relationships, incidentally seen by the analysts as being least important. Dell manages a slightly better score than HP for Responsiveness but the tables are turned when it comes to Results.

Overall, the results could be better: no firm managed to score even a middle of the road 3 out of 5. One explanation could be in the demographics. As pointed out in the previous post [link], two of the large firms did not collaborate with us so the numbers of their participating analysts are low”. Given the megavendors often prioritise the larger analyst firms due to the perceived level of influence these analysts have in the market, the missing votes could indeed have an impact. Likewise, a significant number of boutique analysts firms participated in the study – many of these firms are seen as having less influence and are therefore not prioritized by the megavendors who already have to attend to larger numbers of analysts. The low scores could well be symptomatic of the lack of attention these analysts receive.

We’re not excusing anybody here – in the freeform field where analysts were invited to provide feedback on what AR does not do well, many analysts decried the lack of responsiveness of AR pros, not to mention various other practices which make us blush from shame. On the other hand, we know only too well that often we just don’t have resources to answer all requests and this is probably the biggest problem of all that AR has to face.

AR professionals can sign up for the webinar on April 11th to get more detail on how the megavendors line up and complete rankings of the top AR professionals as chosen by the analysts themselves. See details below.


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Laura Brownrigg (LinkedIn)
Ludovic Leforestier (LinkedIn, @lludovic)



WEBINAR DETAILS  –  IIAR members can register now for the announcement IIAR Webinar on the 11th April at 1600 BST.  IIAR Webinars are free to attend for all IIAR Members, a good reason for joining the IIAR. For non-members there is a fee of $25/£15 (pay here) that is redeemable against IIAR Membership over the next 12 months. Join the IIAR via the form on this page, new members are always welcome !


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36 thoughts on “Announcing the 2014 IIAR Analyst Relations Team of the Year”

  1. Could you please explain the methodology behind this award and detail the number and make up of the analysts participating – what percentage from Gartner/Forrester vs ID vs other firms? Is this the same “voter” base as the AR Pro of the Year awards? Previous commentary had bemoaned the lack of response from the big firms.

  2. Hi Ludovic, can I suggest that as the IIAR is publicising these awards / ranking on the blog site it would be appropriate to also publish the methodology in public rather than just limiting it to members. It seems only fair that those who are being singled out (for good or bad reasons) understand how the scores have been calculated and for others to also know. I don’t understand why the IIAR would fear transparency as I’m sure you, Laura and the Board have ensured a solid methodology has been used. Actually, if anything, it makes a stronger case and shows just how valid these awards are.

  3. I am speaking on behalf of many, many analysts here. IBM’s AR is, by and large, terrible. It is over-staffed with far too many incompetent idiots – most of whom have no clue about the IT industry – and are only trained to suck up to their internal executives. Most are rude, arrogant, and incredibly unresponsive. Their only goal in life is to minimize their workload – and try to avoid IBM partaking in analyst reports unless they are literally forced to by their superiors.

    These results make so sense at all and discredits whatever “methodology” you applied here. IBM’s AR sucks.

    Sorry to be the bearer of this news, but talk to 10 analysts across the firms and most will agree with me.

  4. I applaud the IIAR for such an initiative but since the big two firms didn’t participate, it’s too flawed to have any value. It’s like asking people to vote for their favorite cola but excluding Coke and Pepsi…

  5. @Industry Analyst. I don’t agree to your comment about IBM AR, in my experiences in Gartner and as independent analyst they always responded fast and never delivered wrong info. EMC deliberately delivered me wrong information several times and a SVP of Sun lied to me and P. Sondergaard directly in face.
    What I expect from AR is : responsiveness, telling me the truth and not wasting my time. I don’t care what they studied as long as they to their job.

    1. Josh – am glad that one Gartner analyst, and who can barely write English, has had a good IBM AR experience. Maybe this is a dramatic reversal in strategy and that IBM is finally offloading some of its 20 year+ AR dinosaur veterans from a forgotten era?

      You must have gotten lucky, as most of IBM AR is useless, useless, useless – and dumb as shit.


      1. Dear Anon, you’re entitled to your opinions but please watch your language. In my own experience, IBM casts a wider net than some others and this might explain the result. You may have a grudge against that company but please stay courteous or I won’t approve your comments.

      2. 1) I am not anymore in Gartner
        2) Knowledge of English is not the subject of this discussion. BTW,
        I speak and present in four languages and I never lived in English speaking country. How many languages do you speak?
        3) In my area of coverage there is not even single 20y+ IBM dinos.
        4) Without disclosing your name you calling IBM AR useless and “dump as shit” my suggestion is to change your nom de guerre to “anonymous coward” – it may suit you better.
        5) Advise for a future – check with whom you starting a fight.

  6. Three major issues with this awards program:

    1. Lack of transparency of methodology and sample – what %age of voters were from Gartner, Forrester and IDC? Is this really just a vendor consultant survey?

    2. You are comparing vendors with high degrees of “federation”/centralization of AR practices across their massive organizations with those that have vastly different practices by business unit and act, in effect, like multiple separate teams.

    3. Your three metrics – “responsiveness, relationship, results” do not cover many factors of the job – including frequency and efficacy of AR’s communication with the analysts.

    Having spent the past six months building the KCG AR awards program, I do understand the challenges – but I can’t help feeling this program (particularly with such low participation by the big 3) is fatally flawed.

    1. Stephen, I wonder where you got the idea from… Anyway, it’s great that a commercial organisation such as KCG also came up with its own awards, though your criticism feel a bit out of place.
      Since you asked those questions in other threads, I won’t respond to #1, plus it’s the subject of Friday’s webinar.
      On #2, it’s more or less true: most of these megavendors are disjointed to some extent if you ask the analysts.
      And on #3, you can over-engineer it as I am sure you did, but in the end of the day AR is pretty simple. Of course, you might have an agenda in saying otherwise, but IMHO it’s about trust, timeliness and earning your keep.
      On that last point, the irony of asking the analysts what they think about AR getting results isn’t lost on me -as a matter of fact, it’s deliberate.

    2. Stephen, feel free to join the webinar on Friday where you will get full details of the methodology and % of voters.
      Of course, this survey was run by AR pros for AR pros which means we applied a very simple approach: make it inclusive and give all analysts the opportunity to provide their point of view. We also asked a number of analysts from major firms as well as boutiques and independents to review the survey – which we started building back in September (at least 7 months ago – given we are volunteers it’s taken some time to bring to fruition as we have AR programs to run during the day) so if you criticize the survey you criticize those analysts’ inputs as well.

  7. Odd that SAP isn’t considered a “megavendor” in this study. I see your criteria for inclusion, but the reality is SAP is one of the foremost thought leaders & is at the spearheading the next generation of software in the industry. I’d be interested to hear feedback on SAP’s AR program that consistently gets ranked one of the highest in the industry in most other evaluations.

    1. Hi Jennifer, yes, we will probably review this next year. We have received informal comments and are happy to go through them during Friday’s call. I would also like to point out that the IIAR is a non-profit members organisation and that as such would welcome your involvement.

    2. SAP should be included if it qualifies for the criteria – which include “sell a mix of at least three of the following: IT hardware, networking equipment, telecommunication services, enterprise software, IT services and outsourcing, Business consulting”. If however, SAP does not, it should not be included…

      1. Simon, SAP does software and services so miss a third. Oracle does hardware as well. But as I said to Jennifer, we’ll review this next year -there’s no doubt SAP is an important player in the industry! We just wanted to come to a manageable list of less than 10 megavendors.

  8. Laura,

    Thank you, and as a former IIAR Board member I know exactly what you’re up against.

    I’m not prepared to pay to find out who voted, sorry.

    Of the dozens of AR Pros I speak with every week, not one has shown any support for this methodology (what little we get to see) when questioned. The lack of Gartner participation makes it of such limited value.

    And I’m not denigrating the primarily sell side analysts that DID vote – I just wish we could all understand who voted and draw our own conclusions about what the survey means.

  9. I think it’s a great idea for the IIAR to run these awards. I don’t think the respondents should be half Gartner. Gartner’s not half the industry. Less than one-third of the top analysts are at Gartner. I also think it’s not a problem if the participants are not named. Analysts say different things when they are anonymous because they can be more candid.

    1. If you measure influence on sales to end users (what else matters?) Gartner is well over 50% (70%+ by spend) of the market and employs at least 50% of the analysts they listen to. Sell side analysts and consultants make up most of the “analyst population” by volume BUT are not relevant to the TRUE business of AR. Any awards panel that contains almost zero Gartner analysts is severely compromised..

  10. IIAR, applaud your efforts here, as these types of measures always meet with some degree of criticism. These general survey’s are difficult to tune, its like a multi-client survey pleasing everyone. All you can do is review the respondents and draw conclusions and explanations based upon on the data. As a vendor, I would view this in the following ways: (1) its an attempt to measure AR teams from a very mixed audience, (2) some of the analysts (or many) may not apply to me, therefore I dont care, and (3) I am focused on a very targeted analyst list and my outreach is specific to my AR goals. As long as my team has impact with those analysts, I am happy and I can plan to build on this. To Jenn Bartolo’s point above, SAP has come out extremely well when we have conducted analyst opinion studies on their behalf, with a portion of the study to rate the AR team. Whether a vendor fares well or not should be due to measuring analyst opinion from the analysts that matter to their business. Just as in the case of other large vendors not mentioned above, we have had some that have killed in it the ratings, far beyond what we or they expected Certainly analysts who are lower tiered or firms who are not the main focus of these vendor AR programs are not going to provide favorable ratings.
    Congrats to the vendors above, we don’t want to take anything away from this effort

  11. Ludo

    You and I have discussed the Compass before. It is a delightful pictogram of the mix of inbound and outbound AR and of exposure and influence. But, KCG has built a business on leveraging pure influence. If you have the targeting, metrics and training in place to do that, you have all the other “points” automatically. Real analyst influencers help CIOs decide what to buy, who to buy it from and how much to pay. Our clients have literally spend tens of millions of dollars on our services over the last 16 years to better do exactly that.

    1. Steve, I have no issues with working on direct sales influence and appreciate it’s KCG’s business. You’re probably much better off specialising as an agency but in house folks might have different goals. Indeed, it’s only one element in the mix and no, not everything comes from pure influence. For instance, there are many industries where Gartner is way too IT not business enough, then you have to work on indirect influence strategies.

      Unfortunately, not one size fits all.

  12. Given all the geo and size limits, excellent job Ludo. The fact that this very large firm ratings landed all vendors in the tepid range is the real takeaway of this story. Investment in AR has diminished steadily through the years, and in many cases AR is now treated as a PR sub-group.

    While I don’t deal actively with all of the vendors listed, it feels about right to me. At least IBM still has a true AR function and would I call “AR pros,” even if it went through AR upheaval in 2013. Same could be said to some extent for EMC and Cisco in terms of having some AR pros. Dell and HP are in that middle ground of having some real AR types, but they report to PR types. Microsoft all but abandoned AR several years ago when they largely tossed it over on the Wagged pile, so no shock they were near the bottom. Surprised at Oracle’s rating though. My experience with their AR team has been positive. Maybe it is a local voting phenomena, or I just happen to have a good relationship with Oracle. But it is tough all over, isn’t it?!

    Anyway, thank you, well done. But one last question: Where the heck is SAP (inferred above already). Though they too have gone to an AR reporting to PR approach, they still have pro AR types, so my guess is they would land on the north side of the list.

    1. Thanks Evan.
      The credit should largely go to Laura who’s done much of the analysis and writing to be honest.
      I’ve got personal opinions about the teams you mention, but would sum them up by saying that IBM and Oracle have diametrically opposed strategies, best characterised by their reach -respectively inclusive and focused. There are advantages and inconvenient to both, which I won’t detail here. Personnel changes at Oracle also explain those results.
      As for SAP, although they’re un-deniably a megavendor, they did not fit our criteria. Culturally they’re closer to IBM when it comes to AR, which has positive and negative sides.

    2. Having worked with many AR team members of all these vendors recently, I can tell you that there is a massive disconnect between their key target analysts (Garter at al) and the stated respondents. That would very easily account for the “average” scores.

  13. I would like to disagree with the original point that ‘Megavendors’ focus mostly on the large analyst houses. I work for a smaller company and have very good relationships with 8 of your 9 vendors listed.

    PS – Influence is not merely a result if how many acquisition consultancy phone calls one makes. 🙂

    1. Hi Tony – sure you do! But that’s why we wrote ‘mostly’ and not ‘only’. Some small analyst firms also get attention from the megavendors but there does seem to be a trend among AR teams to focus on the large firms, often missing out the smaller boutiques. I guess the key problem AR has is assessing the influence of the boutiques – at least you have managed to prove yours 😉

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