Today’s guest post is a long(wish) read by Jon Collins from GigaOm (LinkedIn, @jonno) following our IIAR Webinar on “How not to be an industry analyst?“
If you enjoy this, why not check his “How not to write an autobiography?“
Introduction – a glass of wine…
For a start, a bit of background. I never meant to be an industry analyst, not as such: indeed, having done my time as a programmer, then IT manager and various forms of consultant, I hadn’t a clue what one was. Back in 1998, I was responsible for training and other informational services at a mid-sized consulting firm when a report from a company called “Butler Group” came across my desk. That was my first connection with the world of analysts.
A year or so later, I was looking for something new (a cyclic habit in my career); I was also drinking a rather fine glass or two of red, when I stumbled across an advert from Bloor Research. With my inhibitive defences down, I banged off an email straight away. I barely had time to regret it, as the following Monday I went for an interview… and the rest is an 18-year career.
These were exciting times. At the turn of the millennium the dot-com was still bubbling up: we launched a couple of web sites and face to face forums at the time (IT-Director and IT-Analysis) and set to making the most of the complexity and uncertainty, charging for clarity and simplicity. I remain proud of my 2001 report about the inevitable move towards universal service provision. We call it the cloud these days.
I paraphrase history, but by and large, analyst firms emerged in the mid-1990’s, as attention moved from bespoke ‘turnkey’ solutions and towards custom-built software. From there, they made sure to cover the space like any good ecosystem. So, has anything changed, over the past two decades?
I have worked for a variety of smaller firms and I have done a short stint at a bigger one —IDC. I’ve spent an awful lot of time hanging out with analysts, AR professionals and the firms they represent. I’ve also spent some time not being analyst, working behind the scenes to help some of the largest vendors tell their stories. And this, to an extent, is mine.
I don’t know if you are familiar with the C.S.Lewis classic, The Screwtape Letters — written from an old devil to a little demon? In a similar vein, I thought I’d capture some of the things I might tell my younger self. As they say, getting it wrong is the best form of experience, and it is good to share.
Today we ask our probing questions of Jon Collins from GigaOm (@gigaom, see related posts). Jon ( LinkedIn, @jonno) is an analyst at GigaOm, a columnist for IDG, a member of the @Institute_BE editorial team and @pluckdifferent ukele. Jon was elected as IIAR’s European Analyst of the Year award in 2009.
I’m looking at emerging technologies and their impact on the business landscape. I know this remit is broad, but it distils down to integration and orchestration, data management/governance and above all user experience — and reflects the challenges faced by CEOs, CTOs and CIOs the world over:
(a) Machine learning, in particular how it can integrate with other systems to turn insight into action
(b) Communication and collaboration, with a focus on enabling innovation, productivity and engagement
(c) Internet of Things, keeping an ongoing view on developments and vertical applications e.g. asset tracking
(d) Platforms and the API economy, enabling companies to grow and changing the business landscape
(e) User experience, emphasising augmentation and integration, e.g. VR, connected car dashboards
(f) Vertical applications of technology, particularly in retail, healthcare, agriculture and creative industries