Archive | Guest Posts

Guest posts for the IIAR website

[GUEST POST] Outsourcing Analyst Relations: A viable option? by Fred McClimans

By Fred McClimans / Current Ventures (LinkedIn, @fredmcclimans)

Last week I participated in an interesting discussion regarding influence and the role of analyst relations (AR) – specifically around the issue of how AR staff could increase their influence through a variety of different mechanisms or channels. But one key point that kept creeping into the conversation was one of limited resources: “we simply don’t have the staff to aggressively pursue everything that we would like to accomplish” (a point echoed by many in smaller or fast-growing firms).

After a bit of digging, two basic issues kept making their way into the discussion: a lack of full-time resources and a lack of “R”-level funding (which is often split between Analyst Relations, Investor Relations, Public Relations and Marketing).

That said, there seemed to be a general consensus that yes, there are “parts” of the AR function, regardless of the size of the firm, that could be outsourced based on the size/type of organization, the goals that need to be accomplished and the availability of “outside” resources (or more importantly, funding) – all with the understanding that there must be an accountable person in-house to properly manage and drive the effort. Continue Reading →

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[GUEST POST] Help – I have just hit the glass ceiling

Posted originally on Marcduke’s Blog, thanks to Mark for his permission to repost.

I have been having a number of great conversations with members of the AR fraternity about all things AR. Smart people whose work I respect and opinions I value too.

One of the comments that really got me thinking (and now finally blogging) was as follows (paraphrased as this was a conversation I had a while back):

‘The problem I have is that I feel I have hit a glass ceiling with AR, there is only so far I can go with it. Plus in the organisation I work in, its part of the PR framework and I feel there is a limit to what I can do’

Is that really the case??? At an analyst event I put this view to an analyst and got a very interesting response:

‘Yes I deal with some really smart AR people, they really understand how we work and how to make things happen for us, and we likewise help them as well, but some take too short-sighted a view about working with analysts and need to look further than the briefing/messaging process’

In effect it comes down to what you make of AR, I have written in the past about marketing oriented AR and feel that this is the key to breaking the glass ceiling. I for one will always look at ways to push the boundaries!

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[GUEST POST] Analyzing the Analysts: Comparison of Gartner and Forrester by James McGovern

James McGovern (@mcgoverntheory) has posted this on his blog (Enterprise Architecture: From Incite comes Insight) recently: Analyzing the Analysts: Comparison of Gartner and Forrester and I thought it was too good not to cross-post. So here you go, what do you think?

Analyzing the Analysts: Comparison of Gartner and Forrester

I have frequent interactions with industry analysts in my day job as an Enterprise Architect for a Fortune 100 enterprise. Likewise, during evening hours I can be found on Twitter under the handle of McGovernTheory engaging in virtualized short-form conversations where many analysts also hang out.

I currently follow the likes of Ray Wang of Altimeter, Nick Selby of Trident Risk Management, Brenda Michelson of Elemental Links, James Governor of Redmonk and others who periodically throw daggers. Their comparisons are usually cordial and tend to leave out certain relevant detail for us end-customer types to fully understand the real conversation. The challenge of the outsider looking in.

Industry Analyst Relations professionals such as Barbara French and Carter Lusher provide great insight for vendors on which analyst firms to work with, but otherwise leave a void in that they don’t address end customer considerations. Today’s blog entry starts with me attempting to emulate their style. Imitation is the best form of flattery…

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[Guest post] V3: It’s All About the Analysts

There is a kind of Google out there in the realm of IT industry analyst firms, a purveyor that turns the successful models of the “Big Three,” Gartner, Forrester and IDC, on their proverbial ears.  This little firm does not market itself very much; it rather eschews the “branded analyst firm” approach where analysts largely become subsumed in the one-to-many brand-first approach, hoping for margins that impress boards and investors.  Rather it aims for some simple values:  It purely focuses on serving its affiliated analysts and helping its affiliated analysts service their clients.  Maybe you have heard of “V3.”

I challenge you to find V3 on the Web:  The URL is actually not www.v3.com but www.valleyviewventures.com – like International Data Corporation goes quite strictly by “IDC” these days, but the URL just hasn’t been changed yet.  You will not be awed by the V3 web site, but that doesn’t matter one iota to Fred Abbott, V3′s founder, who says with utter sincerity, “It’s all about the analysts.” Continue Reading →

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[GUEST POST] Doing a Joint Announcement with Your Competitors

Today’s guest post is from John Simmonds (@johnsimonds) from IBM AR, read more on his blog here.

Recently, I’ve done joint announcements with Oracle, SAP, HP, Tibco, Software AG and HP. As you can imagine, I’ve had varying relationships with each and I’m happy to report that the state of the A/R industry is good and that we can work together.

When I was in PR, it was cat fight supreme with territorialism and turf wars. Most of the announcements I did with these companies didn’t have that element. For the most part, the announcements were about standards, not products. So that went a long way towards working together. Still, if you include IBM, the companies I’ve named here aren’t known for being best buddies.

As and aside, I can say that the executives (who can be the source of most problems) all worked towards the cause of the best briefing possible.

Some things are given, like in a certain area (we just did SOA) the analysts know the exec’s by company and the exec’s know each other so I’m happy to report they acted like grown ups.

TURF WARS

With the typical name calling (from the CEO’s)and belief in your own products, the first issue to overcome is that the announcement is usually about a jointly create product or standard, not us vs. them.  That rule has to be set down first and if you don’t overcome that, you have no chance at building trust, the basis for working together.

DIVIDE THE DUTIES

One company can’t dominate the duties or it is not a joint announcement.   This also forces the companies to work together to approve what the others have created as their part of the announcement.   There are analyst lists, invitations, charts, follow up issues and any number of duties that need to be attended to and dived up.  Once that is done, you must rely on each other and the level of trust inherently rises.

THE ANNOUNCEMENT

It’s important that the analyst see this as equal amongst the companies.  One company presenting more than another is a dead give away.  You can’t help Q and A as the analysts will direct the question directly to a company.

LESSONS LEARNED

You either put your differences aside and work together, or you’ll never get anything done.  It’s tough to do when your day job is to hammer the company that you are working with on the announcement.  These are the days of co-opetition though.  You learn to get along or you’ll never make it to announcement day.

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[GUEST POST] Josh “Groundswell” Bernoff on What do analysts actually do?

Josh50_2Josh Bernoff, yes as in Josh Groundswell Bernoff, from Forrester posted recently a great post on what analysts actually do. Now, it’s not a new subject but it’s still pretty difficult to explain to your mother. Joes does it elegantly and kindly accepted my request to reblog it here. Thank you @jbernoff!

PS: another thing about Josh, is that he’s got a really great job title: Senior VP, Idea Development
Forrester Research. That’s quite cool I thought….

What do analysts actually do?

As you think about the debate about Forrester’s blogging policy, I’d like to share a little more about how the opinions you read from Forrester analysts come about. With 15 years experience in this business, I know it’s a collaboration. The analyst needs data and support from the company, and the company needs the analyst’s brain and benefits from the reputation that analysts build up. A lot of time, resources, and quality standards go into what we do. I’d like to take you inside the relationship between analysts and Forrester. This is a long post, because there’s a lot that goes into what we do. Continue Reading →

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[GUEST POST] Analyst Relations Basics – part three

NB This is a cross-post from the Buzz Method blog, where it was originally posted in February 2010 as the third in a series of articles on Analyst Relations basics. Please note that the views expressed within the article do not necessarily reflect those of the IIAR – they are the opinion of Dominic Pannell, founder of Buzz Method Ltd.

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[GUEST POST] Analyst Relations Basics – part two

NB This is a cross-post from the Buzz Method blog, where it was originally posted in November 2009 as the second in a series of articles on Analyst Relations basics. Please note that the views expressed within the article do not necessarily reflect those of the IIAR – they are the opinion of Dominic Pannell, founder of Buzz Method Ltd.

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[GUEST POST] Analyst Relations Basics – part one

NB This is a cross-post from the Buzz Method blog, where it was originally posted in November 2009 as the first in a series of articles on Analyst Relations basics. Please note that the views expressed within the article do not necessarily reflect those of the IIAR – they are the opinion of Dominic Pannell, founder of Buzz Method Ltd.

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[GUEST POST] Measuring online influence

By Duncan Brown / Influencer50 (LinkedIn, @duncanwbrown).

This second post on online influence looks at how one might measure influence using online metrics. It follows on from last week’s post which posed a lot of questions, but few answers. Fair cop.

But first, I think there are a couple of principles of influence to consider:

1. People buy people. Therefore influence measures need to identify individuals. It’s not sufficient to conclude that Gartner (for example) is influential – duh. Vendors need to know (a) who within Gartner is influential, (b) what’s their influence relative to other analyst influencers, and (c) what’s their influence relative to other non-analyst influencers. Influence isn’t distributed equally, either within organisations or throughout the market.

2. Influence is multi-dimensional. Some influencers are subject gurus, some command statutory authority, some are thought leaders and idea planters, some structure the financial elements of procurement, and so on. It’s important to understand why someone is influential, as much as the fact that they are influential.

So. Let’s look at some of the ways influence claims to be measured online:

– Citations – this measures the number of times a source refers back to an originating source. Google PageRank works this way: it rates pages highly if other people link back to it. It’s also how academic research works: a recent paper will refer to previous papers, and the more references a paper gets the more influential it is considered to be. Its strength is its weakness – it will persist in referring back to previously cited sources, even if they become superceded. It also build in something called the Matthew effect, where longevity is favoured over originality.

– Connections – how many outbound links a source has. LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter (following) and other social networks work this way. Count the connections to determine how well connected the person is. It’s also easy to fake, by link swaps, indiscriminate “friending” and so on.

– Subscriptions and readership – Technorati works this way, measuring the number of readers a blog has, and Twitter also publishes this information as followers.

– Noise – references to subjects and/or individual firms. Radian 6, Techrigy, and a bunch of other providers do this, measuring the number of times your firm is mentioned. Some also claim to measure the sentiment of the mention, usually using natural language processing tech.

All of these measures are indicators of online activity, and you can see the usefulness of them, as far as they go. They are, in my view, the equivalent of PR clippings services.

However, none of them measure whether the critical community, decision makers, are remotely influenced by online channels. It’s always necessary to ask: Influence on whom? Do any of these measures accurately assess the impact on real decision makers? In other words, do they measure the likely impact on behaviour of a buyer? Because if they don’t, if they measure a vague notion of industry activity or sentiment, then do they really reflect the ecosystem of influencers that impacts decisions?

More critically, can vendors construct marketing programmes around these measures to improve knowledge, lead generation and useful sales collateral? Because if they can’t, what are these measures useful for?

Tssk – more questions.That last one was rhetorical.

Next week’s post will probably pose more questions about how AR can use online channels to increase influence on their firms’ prospective customers.

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[GUEST POST] What are My Secret AR Weapons?

I, like others am driven to compete, produce the best results….or in other words, Win!

I know that I am not alone in this, and am competing for analysts time and attention, not to mention doing everything I can for the highest rating possible.  So I instinctively know that others are sucking up the remaining analyst time with a message that favors them once my time is up.  So I have to get the time, and make it as meaningful as possible.

I rely on a few tactics that have morphed over the years, but are still true today.

NUMBER 1, IT’S ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP

This takes time, but it is important to know the other person.  I take the time to talk about their children, pets, or at least read their social media which tells me about them as a person.  This can set the tone for a relationship, and you also can find the common ground to have more than just a perfunctory relationship.

What do you get out of it?  Many things like trust (which matters in good or bad times), an answered email, tweet, or any other form of communication.  I talk to analysts and they frankly have email overload and/or avoidance.  That means if they see it from you, there is a decision on whether to look at it (or take the call) or brush it off to the dustpile.

My advice is to take the time to build a relationship by knowing them, then helping them by going out of your way to make the transaction more meaningful.  You will see results from it, like the answer you were looking for.  It’s almost like real estate but instead of location, it’s relationship, relationship, relationship.

NUMBER 2, WHAT IS THEIR BACK CHANNEL

Further on the issue of communicating with the analyst is how to avoid their overload.  There is some method they choose that they rank as the one to answer.  It could be twitter, email (a personal account could be an option here), a text….whatever.  Once you build the relationship, ask them in a crunch, how can I reach you.  Murphy’ law will come into play at some point.   The analyst will be unavailable when you need them (right now) and the back channel is the way.

A word of advice.  If you abuse this, it negates the purpose of having a back channel.

NUMBER 3, IS MY EXECUTIVE THE BEST HE/SHE CAN BE?

At some point, it’s the executive and the analyst and it’s out of your hands.  The can make or break it for you.  Pick the right one for the right briefing.  Tell them how to answer to the analyst base on the relationship you have built and their nuances.

Another issue is how and what you tell.  Sometimes you can state the obvious.  Other times you need to absolutely not answer  a question that will sink your ship.  Having the executive ready to know where the landmines are.   One in A/R must realize that not all are called out to be an effective spokesperson.  Here is a discourse on executives.

If they fall down and you know it, you have to get back to the analyst and sweep up the damage.  Get another executive or knowlegable person to fix the mess.

The best of all worlds is when you get the relationship (here’s that word again) with and executive, and they know how to tell the right story and they build a relationship with analyst also.

Point of interest:  You must also make sure that they know the difference between a press briefing and an analyst briefing.   What is off limits and how far can you push the information limits (NDA may be needed).   I want my execs to tell almost everything including some warts.   This makes the story believable, especially when you are early in the announcement cycle.  This gets you buy in, or if you know a certain analyst is anti-your-message, you’ll know not to go there at announcement time.

Is this a comprehensive list, by no means, mostly because you are dealing with people  so outcomes are not predictable.  Will it work?  Most times as long as you stick to the rules.  Will you have issues or times when everything falls apart?  Yes, and you have to pick yourself up and begin again, it could even lead you to a better relationship.

I graduated from the school of hard knocks, with a PH.D.  If I’d have known this earlier on in my career, it would have avoided many troubling times.  Perhaps that’s how I learned to use these tactics?

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[Guest Post] Have online channels changed the nature of influence?

By Duncan Brown / Influencer50 (LinkedIn, @duncanwbrown).

Determining the impact of the growth in online channels such as social media is one of the things that taxes most of us. I’m forever seeing new ‘influencer tracker’ services pop up, and in the world of analyst relations there’s continual discussion on whether and how to engage in online options like blogs, podcasts and social networking.

In response to the explosion of online influencer tracker services – there are over 100 nowadays, and counting – Nick Hayes and I wrote a paper* on how we think they are misleading marketers. The paper led to an invitation to post on the IIAR blog, to hopefully spark some discussion – thanks for the invite, Ludovic.

This first post focuses on whether influence as a concept has changed with the use of online channels. The second will look at how influence can be measured using online metrics. And the third will discuss the implications of online channels for AR and Influencer Relations professionals.

There’s an important context to any debate on influence, online or otherwise. It is that ecosystems of influencers are highly fragmented these days. Most decision makers are influenced by the traditional journalists and analysts, but also by consultants, academics, regulators, financiers, sourcing advisors, procurement professionals and other specialists, as well as peer end users.

Much of the influence exerted by this group has been enabled, in large part, by online channels. This has been an ongoing process for a decade. The web and search engines make it easier for anyone to reach the market, and easier for buyers to find what they’re looking for. Blogs and podcasts increase the reach of anyone inclined to use them. Social media is just the next step in this evolution – there’s no social media revolution going on.

But social media has provided a new channel for those people with the potential to influence, making communication between those people frictionless.  To reach a group of like-minded adopters of a technology you used to have to organise a meeting in a mutually inconvenient location. Nowadays, you organise an unconference or participate in an online forum. It used to take months to organise an event, now it can take hours.

But has the nature of influence changed? Are decision makers influenced in different ways through online channels? You’d think so, given the hype, but as Nate Elliott at Forrester observed, “the huge majority of users influence each other face to face rather than through social online channels.”

It makes sense to understand the attributes of influence – the ability to discuss and persuade, knowledge and experience, willingness to express an opinion, the authority and gravitas with which to communicate that opinion, the opportunity to convey that opinion to the right audience at the right time. And so on.

Some of these attributes are facilitated by online channels, for sure. Others are removed from online impact completely. There’s no doubt that some of the smaller analyst firms, for example, are benefitting from their online presence, in terms of reaching their potential audience through blogging and other social media technologies. But these channels are not creating expertise or authority – simply the means to communicate them.

Can social media create a new kind of influence, by collative the collective wisdom of a connected crowd? After all, there is safety in numbers in doing what the crowd does. We used to have a version of that in the IT industry – no-one ever got fired for buying IBM. Imagine the power of that kind of statement, communicated instantly over the blogosphere. Or would it be immediately challenged and rejected by real users’ experience?

So, are analysts influencing via online channels? How is influence really conveyed by analysts to decision makers? Has it moved mainly to online or is it still by telephone enquiries and face-to-face advice?

*Free registration required, or email me at duncan.brown(at)influencer50.com. Barbara French also contributed to the paper.

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[GUEST POST] Vendors: suggestions to maximize briefing value, by Carol Rozwell / Gartner

Carol Rozwell from Gartner (blog, @CRozwell, bio) kindly allowed us to reproduce here her post on Vendors: suggestions to maximize briefing value. It neatly complement her peer Linda Rowan from IDC’s Briefing tips and best practices.

 

Last week, I was treated to a number of interesting vendor briefings, the most engaging of which was conducted in Second Life. But despite having the opportunity to view some innovative product offerings, I also had to contend with some frustrating vendor practices. In the spirit of helping vendors maximize the short time they have for a briefing with an analyst, I offer my list of five worst practices I wish vendors would curtail:
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