Archive | IT Analysis Firms

IIAR Best Practices Paper: managing the Forrester Wave

The Forrester Wave™: Global Delivery Infrastructure Management, Q4 2005 By Robert McNeill with Robert Whiteley III, , Olivia Ester

The Forrester Wave™: Global Delivery Infrastructure Management, Q4 2005 By Robert McNeill with Robert Whiteley III, , Olivia Ester

Last week IIAR hosted a call with AR professionals about sharing best practices for managing the Forrester Wave. The IIAR last month published a paper about the Wave, which outlined common best practices in dealing with this high profile research report. Forrester is also in the middle of reviewing changes to the methodology, although it has signaled it doesn’t expect major changes this go around.

Curious to get other AR managers’ thoughts on the Wave.  What has been your experience, and do you have any best practices you want to share?

For IIAR members, the IIAR Best Practice Paper is available on our extranet > Managing the Forrester Wave

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Next IIAR discussion group on Managing the Forrester Wave

Tomorrow, we’ll be holding our regular discussion group call, and this month the topic is ‘Managing the Forrester Wave’. The session will be led by Peggy O’Neill, who recently authored a white paper for the IIAR on this subject. IIAR members who would like to join the discussion, please contact IIAR Secretary, Hannah Kirkman. Details of upcoming events can be found on the events calendar.

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An update from Ovum

Since the last post I wrote on Datamonitor/Ovum/Butler after Mark Meek and David Mitchell came to present at the IIAR London Forum, they have been busy streamlining the organisation and bring together their research products.

I’ve had many conversations with them, and as far as I can tell, they seem to be executing well:

– As promised, the IT brands have all been consolidated under Ovum. Datamonitor provides the line-of business/non-IT research and Orbys provides sourcing research. Butler events are to be co-branded, as Ovum Butler.

– Clients should now have a single sales rep, apart from large international clients where it makes sense to have sales representatives in each market e.g. US and EMEA

– The research portfolio is being consolidated, and new research will all be in a consistent format. This process will take place over the next 3 months or so

– There will be a single team of analysts, with topic coverage areas grouped by horizontal technologies and services under Tim Jennings and the verticals under Ian Charlesworth

– The telco is pretty much unchanged, apart from the addition of a new set of contact centre research

Ovum’s running a webinar tomorrow; I’ve pasted the invite below with their permission.

What do you think?

Ovum Ovum
Imagine a technology analyst firm that understands the specific business issues of your industryWelcome to the new world of Collaborative Intelligence

As of today Ovum has integrated it’s IT offering with Datamonitor Technology and Butler Group creating a single, more powerful research partner under the Ovum brand. In addition Ovum’s 150+ ICT analysts will be working side-by-side with the Datamonitor Group’s 350+ business analysts – an approach which we call Collaborative Intelligence.

This Collaborative Intelligence approach will produce research and analysis that tackles the problem of the business value of IT.

Collaborative Intelligence

Attend our online launch webinar
Dial in and find out why SageCircle – Analysts of Analysts – say “The reorganization shows real promise to shake up the analyst market”.

Join David Mitchell, Ian Charlesworth and Tim Jennings, Directors of technology research who will introduce the new research agenda, Collaborative Intelligence philosophy and how it will benefit your company.

Wednesday 23rd September – 2.30pm GMT, Daylight Time (GMT +1, London)/8.30am EST – Book now >>

http://www.uptilt.com/images/mlopen_post.html?rtr=on&siteid=13120&mid=2098119&mlid=61772&uid=6123813127

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Jeff Mann on Symposium

imageJeff Mann from Gartner has posted an interesting account on How Gartner Symposium Happens.

While it won’t be new news to seasonned AR professionals, it should still be worked in your AR plan to time key tactics and ensure your key analysts understand your company positioning and roadmap before they’re on stage.

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Brief summary of the last IIAR Forum presentation by Datamonitor

Duncan Chapple from Lighthouse AR has posted on his blog the following entry: Datamonitor, Ovum & Butler cohabitation makes AR easier (Analyst Equity).

It’s a good summary of the last IIAR London Forum, kindly hosted by David Rossiter from Sunesis and at which Mark Meek / Datamonitor CEO and David Mitchell / SVP IT Research.

Overall, I would say the reactions were very postive, juste tempered by a “wait and see” attitude towards whether they will execute efficiently. This is my personal take on some of the reactions and by no means an IIAR position or the aggregation of all the present members opinions. We can’t say too much as we’re bound by an NDA, but here are my thoughts -for what they’re worth.

Still personally, I think this goes in the right direction and if they they execute it correctly, we will end up with:

  • one single point of contact for the commercial aspects
  • unified deliverables formats and research agendas
  • no more duplication in coverage areas

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Softcopy formats

I first need to start this post with an apology to Merv, as I’ve kept calling him Adrian -it’s probably that it sounded more like a first name than Merv to my little French brain. So, apologies Adrian Merv!

Anyway, Merv started a poll on should AR Provide Soft Copies of Briefing Content? and asked me to relay this. I thought the question is interesting.

I always send the decks in PDF, because it’s a more open format than .ppt or .pptx -an old habit I got at IBM since no one could read Freelance decks. It’s also much smaller, which avoids getting flame mails from analysts on the move -I know this shows my age by I remember a conversation with an analyst stuck in Italy and trying to download 1 meg email (it was a lot of bytes a the time) over a 32 bauds connection. Even if the ubiquity of WiFi changed quite a lot of things (including removing the need to travel with screwdrivers to connect to telephone socket in Italian hotels…), sending an 8 MB deck isn’t well received by analysts who travel a lot. Oh, and I always send them in advance to let the analyst prepare, ask him/her if she/he has specific questions and suggest my spokespersons to frame the briefing and plan for 20-40 mn of content per 60 mn slot to avoid death-by-Powerpoint. Obviously, some spokespersons don’t comply and that’s the life of an AR manager 🙁

Merv also mentions that AR like the fact PDF can’t be changed, that’s also a point: it’s easier to send the PDF and then if the analyst needs a graphic, let him/her request it and then make sure that it’s employed correctly. Briefing decks aren’t always checked by Legal, etc, and AR needs to make sure anything can be reused. PDF’ing a deck also removes the speaker notes, which are often not in synch or updated with new decks and my contain unwanted information.

This leaves the problem of making notes on a deck, in electronic format that is. Annotating a PDF using the full-Acrobat is a good solution but some comments on Merv’s post point that analysts like to past a deck structure into a word processor and start draft a research note this way.

But what about webcasts?

Turning the problem the other way around, why don’t the analyst provide their research as a Wiki that can be updated, where you could see different contributions including vendor reviews? There would be many issues associated with this idea but I thought it’s worth a debate?

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IIAR publishes Best Practice Paper on Managing the Gartner MQ

Today the IIAR published my Best Practice Paper titled: “Managing the Gartner Magic Quadrant: a tool for analyst relations managers.”  The paper is free for all IIAR members and can be found in the Library section of the IIAR extranet.  In it, I discuss and give recommendations on the key stages of the Magic Quadrant and how to ensure you and your team are as prepared as you can be when the process begins; how to build internal support and manage expectations with your stakeholders; building the relationship with the relevant Gartner analyst; and providing customer references.

After I agreed to write an IIAR whitepaper about managing the Gartner MQ process I soon discovered that everyone has an opinion, in many cases an emotional one. In addition, I realised that the paper needed a focus or otherwise it could have easily been turned into a book. I will admit that I was selfish, that what guided me through the research and writing process was the question: what would have helped me in past situations working with the senior management at vendors? In the end, I aimed to create a pragmatic and useable document with sections that can be cut and pasted.

There’s so many people to thank for providing their insights and time. Moving forward I would like to keep writing about topics related to the MQs. I would welcome your comments, suggestions and stories (even under NDA).

IIAR members can read the full paper here > http://my.hdle.it/7601816

Related post: Gartner engages in debates on their blog

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MQs, accreditation and a debate on IT services – all in the same evening

Those of us fortunate enough to be able to attend* yesterday’s IIAR Forum enjoyed a treat.

Ed Gyurko presented the latest IIAR whitepaper on Magic Quadrant submissions (available from Monday, free of charge to members).  It will prove immensely useful to those who have to work on the seminal Gartner reports.

Following Ed was David Taylor who spoke about the IIAR’s plans for AR accreditation. These are really starting to take shape. David and the group he’s been working with deserve a lot of thanks for their hard work to date.   There’s more that still needs to be done – but it’s definitely getting there and that’s very exciting.

And then we had the third highlight of the meeting – a spirited and informative debate with analysts from three firms that are focused on the IT services market:  Kate Hanaghan of Bathwick, John Willmott from NelsonHall and Puni Rajah of TechMarketView (who was joined by her colleague Anthony Miller).

There are some clear differences between the three firms but all three are in agreement: relationships with clients are the key for success in the next 12 months.  There was also consensus that good analyst firms would survive but there would be casualties among those unable to demonstrate the value they deliver.

While all three acknowledged the difficulties of doing business in the current market, TechMarketView was very upbeat about the future.  Puni and Anthony are predicting that the overall analyst market will grow in size over the next year (and as a result, there will be more demand for AR people).  It will be nice if those predictions come true.

There was plenty more discussion and our hour was quickly over. If you couldn’t make it, then I’m sorry. You did miss a really good meeting.

Finally, thanks to our analyst speakers for coming along and taking part in an absolutely fascinating debate.

Also a big thank you to Robert De Souza who chaired the analyst discussion, Laura Woodward who hosted the meeting and Hannah Kirkman, the IIAR secretary for bring it all together.

* Attendees came from a wide range of companies including Accenture, BT, Capgemini, Cisco, CSC, CustomerClix, Edelman, HCL, Hill & Knowlton, Logicalis, Nortel, Oracle, Prasada, Richmond Green, Sunesis, Weber Shandwick and Zeus.

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Team Work Needed for 2009!

DARA Event on 20.1.2009 / Podcast about the IIAR

As the year has started with some of the most negative predictions we have heard for the past years, it becomes obvious that close collaboration between AR professionals of different companies and among AR and IT research professionals will become even more important than before.

One little step towards this objective are the local events organized by the IIAR and its associated organizations and chapters. In Germany, a few volunteers and I have also worked to bring AR and IT research together.

Next week, we want to strike a balance and look ahead:

Tower Bar Frankfurt/Main (IIAR website)For the 20th of January this year, the German Analyst Relations Working Group, which is closely working together with the IIAR, is organizing a fireside chat and networking dinner in the city center of Frankfurt / Main. The official title is: “IT industry and the IT research industry in times of economic slowdown”

We are enabling networking and discussions between important analyst relations professionals on the one side and important analyst houses on the other side. We have seen extremely positive reactions to our plans from both, the IT industry and the analyst houses.

The event is almost booked out by now and has been organized with the help of three sponsors: Fujitsu Siemens Computers, IBM Germany and Wilken, a German software company. Continue Reading →

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Gartner engages in debates on their blog

Following some critical comments from a vendor on a Magic Quadrant, Gartner analyst Andreas Bitterer posted an answer on his own blog: Setting the Record Straight

While personally I would not say that publically challenging a research piece is likely to produce a positive outcome for a vendor, it’s refreshing to see a Gartner analyst engaging in a public debate on his blog: it does a lot for transparency and credibility of the research.

So, kudos to Andy for taking the time to debate openly.
Related post: IIAR publishes Best Practice Paper on Managing the Gartner MQ

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Around “JC” Jung, SVP Consulting Services from PAC in 10 question

Today we have the pleasure to welcome our guest analyst for the world famous IIAR ten questions interview: Jean-Christian Jung is a Senior Vice President Consulting Services at PAC (Pierre Audoin Consultants). JC is based in New York and you can read his thoughts on their collective blog.

  1. What are your coverage areas?
    IT Services and sourcing in general, however, I have spent most of my time this year on application-related services particularly around SAP (and to some extent Oracle Apps). SAP is a very hot topic for us right now as we recently launched a dedicated SAP Services Research Practice covering all regions of the world. Concerning my personal role, I concentrate more on the custom/consulting activity than on our off-the-shelf reports. Continue Reading →
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Around Michael von Uechtritz / Gartner in 10 Questions

Today, we’re delighted to welcome Michael von Uechtritz, Research Director clip_image001with the Outsourcing and IT Services research team at Gartner, into the interview hotseat.

  1. What are your coverage areas?
    Business and IT Consulting
  2. What are your opinions of the IT Analysis Marketplace and where do you see it going?
    With some businesses being challenged by the economic downturn in a number of regions, practical advise such as from the IT Analyst community is of growing importance to the buying and selling side of the IT market. Therefore, in my view, the IT analysis marketplace will remain “large in size”, dominated by a few research firms but become more challenging for IT market analysts given the aforementioned situation.
  3. What’s your typical day like?
    I like my work – seriously, with roughly 400+ client calls per year, 30+ research document’s, conferences and sales support, six days make it a busy week I would say, but gaining so many new insights each day – I like my work.
  4. Now, c’mon, tell me an AR horror story?
    Well, leaving comments about an individual analyst for the presenting executive in the footnotes of a presentation, but sent to the analyst instead.
  5. How do you position your firm? What is your business model? (where are your revenues coming from, mix between users and vendors?)
    See www.gartner.com and its financial reports please, the business certainly is a mixture of both, end users and provider revenue streams from research, events and consulting.
  6. What is your research methodology, in 255 characters or less?  (primary research, F2F or phone, secondary only, etc…)
    The research methods are Gartner IP and include Scenarios, Magic Quadrants, Market Scopes, Vendor Ratings, Hype Cycles, Market Statistics and others. On my part I have conducted primary research, worked with our secondary research folks, did phone interviews, in person research leveraged web based tools etc.
  7. Tell us about one good AR practice you’ve experienced or one good AR event you’ve atttended.
    I found some IT services providers approach with small scale events (<10 analysts), short in duration (0.5 days), focused (consulting services), and targeted (European region), clearly prepared (facts send before! the event) and held in an open manner (NDA) very useful – the mix of financial analysts and market folks I found to be less productive.
  8. What are your offerings and key deliverables?
    Read my reports published in Gartner Dataquest or Gartner Core Research. It’s what you need to know, what you need to do, where you need to look, and who you should be paying attention to. It’s independent, insightful, and instantly applicable to your business challenges.
  9. Any hobbies or favourite restaurant / food that you’d like to share?
    My five kids Vincent, Oscar, Clemens, Cosima and Victoria are my livelong “hobby” and Friederike’s, my wife, cooking deserves a 5 Star Michelin certificate, other than this running – but not enough.
  10. What is your biggest challenges for the upcoming 6 months? And for the next 30 mn?
    Keeping the “right” balance of work versus life in a demanding job and my career progression.
  11. Is there another analyst (a peer in your firm or with another firm) whose work  you rate highly?
    In my area of business and IT Consulting, „Chris Adams“.
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Kudos to the Gartner Ombudsman for asking tough questions

I read this post on the new Gartner Ombudsman blog today: How confidential is “confidential” information?

It’s about what happens when an analysts defects to join your competitors. Granted, there is no simple answer and in reality we’re in a very incestuous industry, but kudos to Nancy Erskine for asking tough questions.

Personally, my sense is that you should divulge roadmaps to analysts and limit the horizon to 6 months. What do you think?

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Around David Mitchell / Ovum in 10 questions

We have the pleasure today of  welcoming David Mitchell, Senior Vice President, IT Research, Ovum and Research Fellow, Datamonitor Group. David has his own blog on IT issues in Asian and other emerging economies: Geosophical Technologies.

  1. What are your coverage areas?

    Very wide. I’ve published about a range of things. In terms of industry verticals I’ve written about telecoms, government, financial services, professional services, retail and construction. In terms of technologies and services I’ve written about BPO, databases, application development, high performance computing, grid computing, software-as-a-service, cloud computing, HCM applications, ERP applications, collaboration technology, Web 2.0, operating systems, IT-Telecoms convergence, eLearining, incentive compensation, the productization of services, and globalization…. to name but a few. There are two areas where I work on consulting projects for customers most often: enterprise applications and commercial deal negotiation.

  2. What are your opinions of the IT Analysis Marketplace and where do you see it going?

    Just like the IT vendor market the analyst market is also experiencing consolidation. My view is that were looking at a consolidation into around 4-5 global powerhouses, with a number of small regional niche providers still making a decent business – even though it won’t generate massive revenues for them. The consolidation of the global players is only likely to continue, with more of the niche firms being acquired but this will not stop a stream of new firms starting up and growing quite well.  Scale
    or specialization are the most important criteria going forwards. Specialization can be by geography, technology or business theme but it needs to be resonate with a focused buying audience. Small and generalist is not a good place to be.


  3. What’s your typical day like?

    Typical day… no such thing, as I travel so much and spend as much time away from the office as I spend in it. When I’m in the office the day day normally starts about 6.30 a.m. with catch-up calls with Asia Pacific staff and clients. Middle part of the day is focused on meetings with UK clients and staff, and research briefings -both formal and informal. The day tails off about 7 p.m. with US calls with clients and staff, before getting home about 8.30 p.m. I rarely do less than a 60 hour week.

  4. Now, c’mon, tell me an AR horror story?
    Not a horror story but a dislike. I will do everything possible to avoid events held in Las Vegas. It’s a city that I dislike a great deal and that I can see no redeeming qualities in.

  5. How do you position your firm? What is your business model? (where are your revenues coming from, mix between users and vendors?)

    Ovum’s revenue is primarily focused on our syndicated client base, with the majority of our revenue coming from this source. Consulting and ad hoc revenue comes from the analyst teams and our consulting teams, including the Orbys sourcing advisory business that Ovum acquired post-IPO. Revenue is well balanced between vendors and enterprise buyers, something that we believe is important for the integrity of the advice that we provide but also gives greater revenue predictability than a reliance on either community would. We also have a good geographic revenue balance across EMEA, US and APAC markets.

  6. What is your research methodology, in 255 characters or less?  (primary research, F2F or phone, secondary only, etc…)

    Most of my research is done face-to-face or in phone interviews with vendors and enterprises. I’m a firm believer that a detailed dialogue, probably only loosely structured, gives a much greater insight that questionnaire driven methods alone. Across the firm we use the entire range of research methods from large-scale quantitative surveys, small group sessions, secondary research and every other technique that you’d expect. We’ve got one or two interesting research methods that we think offer us competitive advantage but you wouldn’t expect me to share those in a way that competitors could
    copy.


  7. Any favourite AR professional you’d like to mention? Any why?

    Too many to single out any individual. Among the talented people that I’ve worked with are Peggy O’Neil, Carter Lusher, Evan Quinn, Naomi Higgins, Paula Schmidt… They’ve all got one thing in common… they invest time in building relationships between the vendor and the analyst.

  8. What are your offerings and key deliverables?

    From the Ovum software team the most important deliverables are the product evaluations that customers to help them make selection decisions. The equivalent from the IT Services team are the Ovum Navigators. Our country profiles that look at opportunities in emerging markets, not just BRIC, are becoming more important for our vendor clients – looking to expand into new markets. Our
    detailed UK market coverage continues to be popular, as does our government research.


  9. Any hobbies or favourite restaurant / food that you’d like to share?

    I’ve recently invested in an aquarium and have started to keep marine fish. It takes a lot of time and patience but it’s also quite relaxing. Genealogy is another one of my hobbies; delving back into the history of our family.

    Favourite restaurants… Le Manoir  aux Quat’Saisons in Great Milton, The Peat Inn near St. Andrews, Bobo’s in San Francisco, Doyles at the Quay in Sydney, Hutong in Hong Kong, Monte’s Trattoria on MacDougal in New York, Vivat Bacchus near our London office, and Locanda Locatelli in the West End of London.

  10. What is your biggest challenges for the upcoming 6 months? And for the next 30 mn?

    Fatigue. The next six months already looks incredibly busy. Bookings for client projects are looking extremely strong and there engagements that will take me on at least a dozen long haul trips in
    the next 6 months. On top of client engagements are a range of research projects that involve clients from around the world. The second biggest challenge is to continue to expand the Ovum IT research team, something that we’ve spent a lot of the past 6 months investing in.
  11. Is there another analyst (a peer in your firm or with another firm) whose work  you rate highly?

    Steve Hodgkinson in our Melbourne office. As well as being an extremely creative and visionary analyst he also has a great practical touch, useful when advising the CIO client base that he works
    with across Asia-Pacific.

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Using a briefing request form to capture information for the sales force

I recently came across another blatant example of an analyst firm misusing the process by which analysts are invited to attend a vendor briefing.

I was looking to set up a briefing with IDC’s Energy Insights. Although the analyst had accepted the briefing, the company still wants me to complete this form. According to the group operations manager: “This is a standard company policy when requesting a briefing with our analysts.”

Now although it’s a pain, I don’t usually have a problem filling in vendor briefing request forms.

For those who aren’t familiar with them, these are normally used to capture information that will help:

  1. the firm ensure that all relevant analysts are aware of the request, and
  2. the analysts decide whether or not to accept a meeting.

But it’s a bit annoying when the analyst firm is using the process to capture information that is obviously more relevant for its sales force than the analysts.

For example, alongside the regular stuff (eg what’s the briefing about, who would it be with, tell us about your company), Energy Insights wants to know:

  • Who is the head of marketing for your company? (Name, title, email, and phone)
  • Who is the head of product marketing for your company? (Name, title, email, and phone)
  • Who is responsible for your company’s strategic planning? (Name, title, email, and phone)
  • Does your company use market research to assist in strategic planning?
  • Does your company currently have any relationships with other market research firms?
  • Would you be interested in learning more about our services in your market area and the benefits of having a relationship with Energy Insights?

Easy enough information to provide – but does an analyst at Energy Insights really need to know this information in order to qualify a meeting? I’d love to know.

Now if it’s for use by the sales force… well, that makes more sense. I can see why an analyst firm thinks it’s a smart idea to capture all this information. Lovely juicy contact data for the new business machine.

But IDC, why not be honest (and obviously honest) about why you want it. Otherwise, this feels a bit slimy and underhand.

Note
I checked the other IDC companies as well:

IDC itself requires a considerable amount of information but you can see that it would all be useful to the analyst team. It’s roughly in line with the information requested by Gartner. Forrester Research (registration required, but it’s free) and Yankee Group.

However, Manufacturing Insights, Financial Insights, Government Insights, Health Industry Insights and Global Retail Insights – well, they all demand the same information as Energy Insights.

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Around Mitul Mehta of TekPlus in 10 questions

clip_image002Continuing our occasional series of analyst interviews, we’re delighted to welcome Dr. Mitul Mehta, Managing Director with TekPlus, into the hotseat to share his views on the industry.

  1. What are your coverage areas?
    My coverage area is fairly broad involving most of ICT. This came about due to my background from the very early days in this industry when I was the head of overall ICT research at a major US analyst house – I ended up having to advice a number of the leading end-user clients and most of the major vendors on overall IT and Telecoms direction and impact on their business processes, strategies and M&As. Focusing on too narrow a segment was not on and I had to learn fast to cover most technologies and segments else I could not have enough breath and depth to advice on overall strategy. Also given that a number of departments ranging from Technology areas like Servers, Storage, Software, Security, Networking, Telecoms to Services and Verticals like Banking and Healthcare were all reporting to me, I ended up being a strategist specialising in providing strategic and high level advice to the very senior executives and leaving the number crunching to my analyst colleagues . Over the years at TekPlus I have focused in a similar manner covering a number of areas strategically especially around infrastructure, software and services whilst leaving the number crunching and detailed product analysis and evaluations to my colleagues who specialise in Data Center Infrastructure, Security, Networking, Telecom Infrastructure, IT Services and Verticals.
  2. What are your opinions of the IT Analysis Marketplace and where do you see it going?
    In a way I see it going back to its roots of pre-Gartner times when both Specialist magazines and Analyst houses were both highly influential but could come from the same company, advice and training came from many quarters and an analyst house needed to use various associates and in-house mix to provide the right coverage and depth. I think given the new dynamics in the market place around blogs, free advice and the positioning of the ‘influencer’ the market will once again go through many providers and available avenues for general advice whilst paying big bucks for in-depth knowledge and highly strategic advice involving what actions to take. I believe globalisation will have a major impact and having observed the recent trends from the office we opened in India two years back we can already see that so long as you are experienced and have the knowledge, global brands don’t mean a thing – typically we as a small company still get highly strategic projects both with end-users and vendors in direct competition with some large brands due to the nature and depth of the advice we can provide. I believe this will become more and more true as the emerging markets grow and highly tuned advice comes from smaller analyst groups.
  3. What’s your typical day like?
    Currently most of my mornings go into managing both the Mumbai and London offices and making sure the senior management team and our analysts are all ok and on track. I spend a lot of time on Skype with my Indian office since it has started to grow. Around mid-day I generally have a number of vendor briefings lined up and I spend most of the early part of my afternoons on being productive with client meetings. The evenings are spent on writing or editing our publications.
  4. Now, c’mon, tell me an AR horror story?
    This was some time ago during the time of Compaq having the Alpha platform. I was advising some large financial institutions on the infrastructure landscape and had asked Compaq a number of times on what their intentions were with Alpha. Having spoken to a number of their executives across the board, I was coming to the conclusion that no new money was going into development and soon it would not be strategic for the company. By chance Compaq decided to have a briefing with a few key analysts and when we attended most of us found that no answers were forthcoming and the executive was very ill-advised. Two days later an analyst from IDC and me who were regularly interviewed by the IT magazines were quoted in one magazine under a big front page headline saying ‘Alpha is Dead’. You can imagine the calls that followed. I believe the writer had read between the lines from what both of us were saying and had come to that conclusion. My discussions with the Compaq AR team was to the effect that if you were more straight forward and we were better informed –we could have provided a more informed opinion! The Compaq AR team learned fast and were much better at keeping us informed from there on!
  5. How do you position your firm? What is your business model? (where are your revenues coming from, mix between users and vendors?)
    TekPlus has generally being positioned at the high end of the value stack for an analyst house in terms of us providing mostly in-depth strategy advice to both vendors and end-users around IT in business processes, architectural directions, eco-systems, global delivery models, SMB strategies, management and sales training, sales tools, executive workshops, etc. However recently we have changed direction as our Indian office has started growing and we have introduced a number of services in the lower end of the value stack especially around market forecasts for verticals and emerging markets, product analysis and comparisons, SWOTS and a number of new subscriptions around Security and Verticals. We have around 60% of our revenues coming from vendors – predominantly made up of senior level strategic advice. We see this slowly changing as the subscriptions and publications take hold. Currently around 40% of our revenue comes from end-user consulting from around three major verticals where we have had a presence now for a number of years. We are also bringing out more and more end-user publications so we see the mix here changing over time.
  6. What is your research methodology, in 255 characters or less?  (primary research, F2F or phone, secondary only, etc…)
    We do ‘in-depth bottom up primary research’ mostly via the phone but also F2F for all our publications (forecasts, products and end-user studies). We then analyse the data and findings with a ‘top-down approach’ of senior analysts and consultants sitting and discussing the data and then build up a view of our findings. We always have a detailed methodology published with all our products and clearly state up front how we undertake each project or publication.
  7. Any favourite AR professional you’d like to mention? Any why?
    Many over the years but a few that stand out – Bill Reed (IBM), Ludovic Leforestier (Oracle), Signe Loenberg (Loenberg-AR), Kim Horner (CustomerClix) and Malee Dharmasena (Cisco). Why? –in one answer they do not bullshit and tell you as it is, appreciate your value and make an effort to put the right calibre of executive in front of you!
  8. Tell us about one good AR practice you’ve experienced or one good AR event you’ve attended.
    The good meetings have always been when the executive knows his stuff and is not just marketing a message or telling porkies (some still do!). As an analyst who has been around – sometimes longer than the executive, you know what is in the company, where they are heading and what generally they need to focus on. So please put people who know what they are talking about in front of analysts. The early Cisco WW meetings with around 20-30 analysts and senior executives were very good. Your time was well spent and you got the answers and interaction you wanted. The same could be said of the early HP WW events.
  9. What are your offerings and key deliverables?
    TekPlus offerings are split into three boxes:
    1) High end Consulting
    2) Publications and Subscription Services
    3) Pathways

    High-end consulting is a key part of our business both at the end-users and vendors and we tend to do a number of senior/board level assignments.

  10. Our subscription services on the vendor side are split into two – customised strategic intelligence programmes (SIPS) ( currently on SME, Services, IT Enterprise, Next Generation Networks and The Channel) where we give regular monthly guidance, messaging as well as sit in quarterly meetings and Market Intelligence services (MIS) which consist of both market data and strategic guidance. We have just launched in the last two weeks new MIS subscriptions in security and health verticals. We also have a service directed to the end-user whereby our corporate advisories, SWOTS, Product evaluations, etc are given out free to them. We also produce a number of general publication reports around forecasts, end-user studies and guidance reports.
    In pathways we generally train executives and IT managers to new technology implications, vertical guidance, technology directions, sales training etc. They are generally delivered via workshops.
  11. What is your biggest challenges for the upcoming 6 months? And for the next 30 mn?
    Making sure our new subscription specializations get established. Grow our services in Asia and make sure the Indian office continues to grow at a high rate. Make sure the projects are still coming in despite the slow-down. In the next 30mins – making sure I am ready for my client meeting.
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The IIAR Analyst of the Year survey — and the winner is….

Over the past few months, the IIAR have been running a survey to identify who AR practitioners believe should win the award of ‘analyst of the year’. With over 116 respondents from around the world, the number of firms and individuals that people wanted to recognise was extraordinary (191 different analyst names and 103 separate houses).

For an analyst or their company to have made the top 10 is a truly remarkable achievement and my congratulations go to them. Specifically though a few individuals and companies should be highlighted:

Ray Wang, Principal Analyst with Forrester Research, Inc., is the analyst of the year. Respondents praised his insight, depth of industry knowledge, and independent voice. Runners up for the title

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Dealing with AR

Alan Pelz-Sharpe In this article, Alan Pelz-Sharpe, Principal with CMS Watch and former VP North America for Ovum, shares some very interesting insights on AR from the analyst’s perspective.

Some tips on how not to deal with a critical ‘independent’ analyst

I have been an analyst and commentator for 10 years now – for most of that time I have written or contributed to detailed and critical evaluations of software technologies. My topic areas are the Content Technologies ranging from ECM and Document Management to e-mail Archiving – my audience is almost exclusively buyers and implementers of these technologies – and a typical deal size is in the high hundreds of thousands to the multiple millions. People read my research to create shortlist’s, and typically to ensure they have a better chance of selecting the right product. It’s a simple model really – much like a ‘Consumer Reports’ or ‘Which Guide’.

I play with the technologies, I see them in action, I talk to many users, I talk to channel partners, resellers and also consultants and integrators. I also talk to the vendors – but my use of vendors is more for fact checking, product demo’s and gaining insights on nit picky elements than anything else. I appreciate the help of vendors, but ultimately my research focuses on how products work and are sold in the real world, and the world of vendor marketing and sales is of peripheral interest. Granted that is an unusual research model, having been in the ‘industry’ for 10 years and having run research practices and undertaken extensive competitive intelligence, I am well aware that typically ‘research’ by analysts is heavily dependent, and in many cases almost entirely dependent on, ‘vendor briefings’. I am also aware that the vast majority of analyst firms are dependent on vendor funding of one form or another to pay the bills. Hence I go to great length with all those I write about to try and inform them of my requirements – and my methodology.

So to be clear, I am a realist – I know that most analysts make their money by selling ‘independent’ analysis to the very people they claim to be ‘independent’ of. It’s the way it is – whether I like it or not. I also understand that AR professionals have a very tough job to do. Frankly I do not envy your role – you have to try to keep everyone happy all the time, and that is an impossibility. I have deep admiration for many AR professionals, some of whom I am proud to call friends rather than contacts. I also have deep admiration for any vendor who stays in business more than six months, life is tough out there. Running a business or simply having responsibility for a P&L is always a challenge. At the same time, my job is to provide my customers with honest and critical evaluations of products. That means highlighting all the warts, along with spotlighting all the shiny positives. If anything my job is to focus on finding the warts. Because lets be honest, it is not hard for a buyer to find the positives. As they will be deluged by ‘White Papers’, Marketing Collateral and Sales Spin. Finding where the products sweet spot is or it’s drawbacks, is much harder. It’s my job to help them in that process, and by definition that is not going to make me popular at times.

It seems clear to me that some AR professionals simply don’t know how to deal with analysts like CMS Watch – and rather than continually lock horns, I thought I would jot down some thoughts to help the process – I am doing this as I am just about to publish a major report (major in the sense that it runs to over 300 pages) technical evaluation of 14 vendors. The frustrations and wounds of dealing with AR are very fresh! So here goes:-

1: Don’t assume the analyst is out to get you

You are not as important as you may think. The analyst is writing about many vendors, you are just one in a long list. You almost certainly have no context to judge their review of your product, in light of what they have said about your competitors – you may wish to consider slowing down before jumping to bias conclusions. In my most recent report, the AR group that had the biggest and nastiest hissy fit, ironically is the vendor that has received the best review of all in the report. They are also the vendor that had the biggest hissy fit last time they were reviewed (different product, different report, different analyst – again a great review). They are also the vendor that analysts from rival firms share AR horror stories about…. The firm has good technology, but a terrible reputation for bullying or attempting to ‘coerce’ analysts.

2: Do make an effort to understand the analysts research methodology

If the methodology is focused on talking to customers and partners and you have been asked to supply customer references. Respond in one of two ways – politely but immediately decline, or do your best to provide references. Ignoring the request for weeks or months is not a good policy. By that time customers and partners have been found by the analyst and interviewed. When critical views are captured from such interviews you cannot at the last minute claim “our customers love x or y or z” – we know they don’t and frankly you haven’t been able to supply any that do. Harsh as it sounds, we are not just going to take your word for it.

3: Don’t threaten analysts

If you don’t like what an analyst has written – try at least to be respectful and polite. You are far more likely to enter a dialogue that way. Provide facts to counter their critical assertions, if you cannot provide facts and instead rely on bluster you will only dig a deeper hole for yourself. Also remember that analysts are human, threats via nasty e-mails (the cowards way) or phone calls, hurt (no matter how long you have been in the industry) and they don’t get forgotten quickly. Using such a confrontational approach does not make the AR person look important or even imperious, it makes you look unprofessional.

4: Don’t quote your own press releases or other analysts reports as evidence

There is frankly nothing more silly than to tell an analyst that they must be wrong about your firm/product because “Forrester/Gartner/IDC…ranks us as a ‘leader’ etc”. The only thing that rivals this is to quote from your own press releases – trust me this has been done. Most of the time, this kind of response will simply result in an internal e-mail chain that shares the joke with other analysts. Bottom line, that kind of supporting evidence, looks desperate, patronizes the analyst, and suggests you have simply drunk too much of your own kool aid.

5: Never say “we provided an x% ROI…….to our client over six months etc etc.”

Its a silly thing to say, period – and its a daft thing to say to most buyers. It’s a little like Home Depot claiming that they dug my vegetable garden for me, when all they did was sell me a spade. You provide tools – people use the tools, the use of those tools provides business benefits (or doesn’t). And just like the spade I bought from Home Depot, most software likewise goes unused.

7: Understand the difference between a fact and an opinion

For every 10 vendors I evaluate there will be one or two that freak out – most work well with me and we agree to disagree, and where there are errors (I make many, and do my best to fix them) we work together to get them corrected. I never want my reports to contain factual errors, presumably nor do you. But my opinions are my opinions, I am paid to have opinions. To change my opinion requires a very different approach from AR. To change my opinion you need to understand why I have formed that opinion (see below) before attempting to ‘re-educate’ me. In addition, when you claim a report is full of factual inaccuracies, and then send an annotated Word document listing differences of opinions – and can quote no factual errors at all – expect your response to be ignored, and my respect for you to slip.

9: Understand that those that use and/or implement your systems have a very different perspective to share

Just as I will see your product or service differently to you – recognize that a sales person, a channel partner, a user, an implementer or a consultant will all have differing perspectives. When a report does not reflect your personal or corporately mandated vision, that does not mean it is wrong. Some vendors use my reviews of their products to change perceptions, in some ways they see my reports as free consulting – a fresh pair of eyes if you like. They recognize that the information and insights that I get are not usually available to them – they see criticism as potentially constructive. Some find out there are strengths to their product, that I have noted, that they had previously underestimated. Remember, if the only research you have read is from people you directly or indirectly pay – then it won’t be surprising if you find some kind of uniformity with your own viewpoint. True outside opinions will by definition differ from your own.

10: Don’t believe your own hype

We know it’s your job to be passionate about your company, about its product and its services. We understand it is your job to help sell this vision and to educate us all. But make the effort to really understand your competitors and your competitive landscape too. Work out who really influences your deals and those of your competitors – understand your competitors strengths in terms of product, sales focus, corporate culture etc – don’t live in a vacuum, analysts don’t. I applaud your enthusiasm, and I wish you and your colleagues the best of luck, I really do. But I wish all your competitors the same too. I am not passionate about your company, I am passionate about ensuring that buyers and users avoid costly and sometimes disastrous mistakes. That they pick the right product each time, and that they use it to its best advantage. We have different agendas, but they don’t need to be agendas in conflict.

Disclaimer: Alan is not a member of the IIAR and this post reproduce his own opinions, not those of the IIAR or its members.

 

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