Archive | AR debates

[Guest Post] Why IT Vendors Should Take Industry Analysts (More) Seriously

By: Dr Neil Pollock, University of Edinburgh Business School

After several years’ research on industry analysts and IT Research firms there are some interesting conclusions to be reached on how industry analyst firms are exerting influence on IT vendors and their product markets. This is just a snapshot of some of Dr. Pollock’s findings.

1. Industry Analysts Stifle Novelty

The first point shows how industry analysts are one of the new ‘institutions of information technology’ with the cognitive authority to shape technological fields. One common way they do this is through proposing names and definitions for emerging technological trends, an activity with positive and negative consequences. We saw, for instance, how this could stifle innovation. IT vendors offering new kinds of products were penalised if their technologies did not conform to standard product definitions. We observed how one seemingly novel solution belonging to a newcomer received a critical review, which led to its rejection from a major procurement contest, effectively calling into question the robustness of its solution. The suggestion here is that industry analysts can help but also hinder innovation. Continue Reading →

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[GUEST POST] Will the real leader please stand up?

I know many of you are short of time so I will try to summarise my point here. In almost 20 years spent in the influencer relations world I can count the number of AR people achieving senior promotions to leadership roles on one hand. I’ve participated in many conversations over the years with AR professionals feeling left out of those promotion decisions, maybe it’s time to either accept that as the status quo or chose to do something about it. The rest of my post focuses on doing something about it.

If you’re like me you’ll have read or listened to discussions that, on reflection were just common sense or obvious, I’m increasingly concerned that common sense doesn’t prevail and there are times when you need a simple reminder that can act as a catalyst to help you take a decision or move forward in some way. I’m hoping that this post is one of those.. Continue Reading →

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[GUEST POST] Big Dogs don’t yap: the secret ingredient for MQ success

Blog courtesy of: Simon Levin (IIAR Board Member)

What is it that makes the difference when it comes to making the step up into the Leaders section of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant? Ever wondered what companies who gain recognition as Leaders have in common? Having seen four of our MQ Tune-Up clients gain Leaders status for the first time last quarter, I thought it might be interesting to go looking for some common themes or attributes.

And as it turned out, the exercise was well worth the effort, because it highlighted one key factor I’d never consciously identified before.

We’re calling it the Big Dog syndrome, and it’s all about looking the part, acting like a Leader right from the start, and, above all, believing that that top right quadrant is your rightful home.

There’s more about this idea on The Skills Connection’s blog but the essence of it is blindingly simple. For a company to be perceived as a Leader, it has to have a leaderly air about it. It has to radiate conviction, as well as competence. It needs to put its case across well, but without the yapping, snapping desperation that marks out those that try too hard. Continue Reading →

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[Guest Post] Does the consulting approach beat published research?

Simon Levin / Skills Connections (IIAR, 2013)By: Simon Levin, The Skills Connection / IIAR UK Co-Chapter Lead

We saw an interesting blogging spat last week between Stanton Jones of ISG and Lydia Leong at Gartner, with the flames fanned by tweeted comments from Phil Fersht of HfS. The row was centred on some research published recently by Lydia on managed hosting providers, but its ramifications are much wider.

For those who haven’t yet followed the Twitter feeds and blog links, let me try to summarise what’s going on.

Stanton’s charge is that Magic Quadrants serve a purpose by offering insight into vendors and products, but that the high-level nature of the analysis means they are poor primary tools for making choices. He emphasises the lack of nuance possible in a written article, compared with the detailed, customised insight that can be provided via a consulting engagement. And, of course, he is right. Continue Reading →

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The hype cycle of Vendor Briefing Requests

Have you ever submitted a vendor briefing request? For those of you who have, and for those who have yet to experience this joy, here’s a humorous and (perhaps only slightly) exaggerated description of the process and some insights into why AR people always seem to struggle with it.

What’s clear is that analysts and executives alike don’t know or care how complicated the process is and don’t appreciate AR folks sometimes …. especially when it goes wrong. I’m sure we all have stories of briefings going wrong before they have even started – because the dial-ins don’t work, or there’s a troublesome time-zone challenge, or because the IP-based telephone network decides to crash.
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[GUEST POST] An Insider’s Guide to Technology Analysts by Cormac Foster

Thanks a lot to ReadWriteWeb to allow reposting of this excellent entry by By Cormac Foster (LinkedIn, @cormacfoster).

The original post can be found here.

Gartner IDC Forrester logos - IIAR blog post

Gartner. Forrester. IDC. And lots of smaller fish, too. You can’t read a tech-industy news story, attend a conference or listen to a sales pitch without someone quoting an industry analyst. For tech companies, analysts are big news and big business, promising to help with transformation, monetization and a slew of other things ending in “-ation.”

But what do technology industry analysts really do? And how do you find the one that’s right for your company’s needs. Let me try to explain, from the inside. You see, from 1999 through 2001, I was an analyst at Jupiter Research, now part of Forrester Research.

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Gartner gets the IDEAs from Forrester

It seems Gene took Gartner‘s shopping trolley on a jumbo to Oz this week and a page from George‘s book: the research firm just announced it was buying Ideas International [ASX:IDE] was established in 1981 as a consultancy service and since 1986 has provided its special brand of research to IT users and vendors. This acquisition is still subject to regulatory and other approvals.

This move has a strong reminiscence from Forrester’s purchase of Springboard last year (read our post:Forrester joins the feeding frenzy, buys Springboard)

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Has time come for a disruptive analyst firm?

Wine connoisseurs take as much pleasure talking about drink than savouring it…. so let me indulge you into an analogy between research firms and some of my favourites.

As with fine wines and corporate buying trends, so goes analyst firms.  The shift of power from IT to Business signifies a move from Wine to Champagne….

Ray (@rwang0, LinkedIn, blog) writes here about the latest IIAR Forum London and he’s got a few interesting points.

  1. Client base and research approach
    • There’s a wine analogy there: Gartner is like a Bordeaux (predictable blends) and Forrester is more like a Burgundy (more variable but sometimes great).
    • Gartner tends to sell to a mature IT audience, which is where most of the IT budget is. Its research output thus tends to be more conservative, after all most people don’t really want to experiment the at bleeding edge. As a result, it’s unlikely you’ll be surprised by a genial piece of research.
    • Forrester does this as well, but because (or thanks to) its marketing research, also cater for that role and its research style tends to be more adventurous (the Giga legacy probably) even if its coverage quality and quality is less constant.
    • And IDC sells to IT vendors mostly, a little to industry leaders (has to be a Côtes du Rhône, with elements of both depending on the individual analyst for opinion whilst the trackers are more constant –Shiraz is a bit like Marmite, it’s “love it or hate it”).
    • The point there is that your client base is your legacy, and unless you’re Steve Jobs or Henry Ford, most fail to break away from ‘building a faster horse’. In IT research aspects, it translates into “IT must align with business” (yawn). Analysts have been preaching this for the last 15 years, and it seems the issue hasn’t gone away.  Some part of the IT will be run as a utility (a better word than cloud, and in the same bucket than facilities and real estate) whilst the innovative stuff will be done by the business. IT is the business, the rest is a commodity (this doesn’t mean that everyone knows how to provision a commodity efficiently).
    • Another interesting aspect is that because they sell to a mature audience, they will confronted to a bit of an issue when baby-boomers will (finally) retire in the coming 5 years and be replaced by Gen-X and Gen-Y who have no appetite for academic style research. [Note: there’s a discussion here with some fellow IIAR members on whether the Gartner client base is that, er, experienced. What do you think?]
      Indeed Gartner is trying (again) to grow its SMB user base, but unless they radically change the way research is written, they will probably fail again. Constellation has probably a good card to play there by targeting smaller, innovative companies –even though up to 2/3 won’t make it into adult age.
  2. On “design point”, Constellation is pitching itself right in the “future of work” trend.
    • For analysts, time will tell if it’s ensuring, but trying to retain them by force (check this letter from Forrester’s CEO George Colony on non-compete) isn’t going to build a star-stable. Indeed, whilst Gartner seems to be doing a good job at keeping its best analyst, but it’d be curious to see how the average experience of Forrester analysts has evolved over time. There seem to be more researchers who graduated as analysts than analysts who came from a previous career. That in itself isn’t a sole predictor for insight, though it helps, but one would think that there’s a cost aspect (it’s the Forrester vs. the Giga models).
    • For users, I’d venture out to say it’s again like Marmite.  For establish companies, dealing with established brands having real offices offices is probably deemed ‘safer’. For Constellation’s target customers, meeting in a Stabucks probably isn’t a problem. James Governor (@monkchips, blog) seems to have found out that being unconventional actually helps with his specific audience: developpers.
  3. On analyst access
    • In terms of business model, Ray is indeed accessible which is quite refreshing compared to other analysts who for instance reduce briefing slots to 30mn. Whether that can be scaled without administering Modafinil to the rest remains to be seen.
    • For end users, it would be a net-gain if the processes to ensure a constant user experience as Constellation grows in size work effectively.
  4. On research approach
    • Legacy firms underplay the community aspect indeed but let’s not forget that Gartner is quite a large community in itself.
    • From an end-user aspect, one could expect more innovative research.
  5. On sales
    • IMHO it’s where I’ll be watching Constellation as converting from a consulting model to a RAS one isn’t that straightforward. So far they seem to be on the right track though.

Bottom line:

  • Gaining enough scale to gain a sufficient end-user base is challenging for mid-sized firms but Constellation seem to be making all the right noises.
  • Establish firms need to break away from their traditional user base to reinvent themselves before baby-boomers retire.

Ludovic Leforestier (LinkedIn, @lludovic)

See also Duncan’s post on the IIAR Forum with Constellation:

And Ray Wang’s own post:

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[GUEST POST] Timing is everything

There’s no penalty for jumping the gun

On your marks. Get Set. Go. When the starting gun goes off, there is always going to be a rush of adrenalin, a surge of excitement, and a striving to get up to speed and do your best.

But when the starting gun goes off in relation to a Gartner Magic Quadrant (MQ) assessment of your company, in many ways it is already too late.

Magic Quadrants generally appear once a year. For the companies who are on the receiving end, they can be make or break factors, with a huge influence on business prospects for the year ahead.

For the analysts involved, they are important pieces of work, but they have to be fitted in alongside research reports, client inquiries and meetings, events and presentations, custom engagements, webinars, blogs, and a host of other commitments. Leaving all the rest of an analyst’s annual workload aside, producing a Magic Quadrant means identifying and investigating multiple companies that will appear in the final diagram. On top of this, the analyst has to give due consideration to all the peripheral candidates that need to be evaluated before decisions can be taken about whether or not they should be included.

The wonder is not that so many MQ assessments leave so many vendors feeling disappointed, but that so many MQs win general acceptance as being pretty fair, diligent, and useful assessments of the state of play in particular markets.

To read the full article click here.

Extract courtesy of Simon Levin, MD (Europe) – The Skills Connection

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[REBLOG] How to read an analyst report?

slfisherThis article was originally posted on hp.com: How to Read an Analyst Report. Good read.

Unfortunately we can’t reblog this, read the original report and some quotes below. The advice it gets can be summed up as follows.

  1. Picking a Firm
    • What kind of analyst firm is it? According to Ludovic Leforestier of IIAR, the Institute of Industry Analyst Relations, an industry group of analyst relations (AR) professionals, there are three major types of analyst firms:
    • The big three are Gartner (750 analysts and about $1 billion in revenue), IDC (1,200 analysts), and Forrester (300 analysts and about $300 million in revenue).
    • Midsize niches, typically with five to ten analysts, are often focused on a particular area, such as ESG for storage or Evans Data for software development trends.
    • Independents are a diverse category.
  2. Does the analyst take vendors for clients
    • “Is the report commissioned by a vendor or is it written prospectively?” asks Leforestier. “This is an important point: Although good AR people will avoid pay-to-play to get endorsements, some are known as analysts for hire. Check the research library on the analyst website and you’ll clearly see some are always writing positively about one vendor.”
  3. Is the report pay-to-play? 
  4. Where does the analyst firm get its information and analysts?
  5. What type of deliverable is it?
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Analyst firms: rock star bands or record label dinosaurs?

A recent contract renewal conversation with an IT analyst firm rep got me wondering how record companies ended up suing their best adopters and whether the end is nigh for them. Both music and research live on IP, and there are many similarities, though we’ll only explore the consumption and value aspects in this post.

Many have a better informed opinion than myself on the music industry but I tend to agree with Jon: there’s been a lack of innovation. The CD was a more practical format but quality wasn’t one hundred times better. I have yet to be immersed in a true quadriphonic experience, and so on. Sure thing, the mp3 format is much more practical but it would be far fetched to claim to say that the industry embraced it willingly. Actually, I would go as far as to say iTunes is Steve Job’s best ‘invention’, that was to get record labels to licence their music on it. In addition to the lack of technical innovation, there isn’t a great deal clarity in the offerings. Good new sounds maybe surfacing all the time however most are ephemeral. I can’t think of many that indeed built a following matching that of the 60ies  and 70ies (and even 80ies) household names. That last point is important, as building up a loyal consumer base is much more profitable than rotating new products. Continue Reading →

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