Tag Archives | AR debates

The Ray Constellation Experience

Constellation Research has announced today that it is taking a new step in its development and hired a CEO -see press release below- in the person of Bridget Chambers (@bridgchambers, LinkedIn), who comes from the SAP User Group.

I spoke yesterday to Constellation’s founder (and IIAR Analyst of the year 2009), Ray Wang (@rwang0, LinkedIn) and Bridget and as usual found the conversation fascinating. This post is not a position from the IIAR, its members or board, not my employer  -just a sum of personal thoughts. Comments are welcome of course. Continue Reading →

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[GUEST POST] When Your Company Takes Out Your Favorite Analyst

By Peggy O’Neill, AR Director / Informatica (LinkedIn).

It happens to the best of us. Your analyst relations program is humming along nicely – your analysts are behaving, your internal constituents under control – when one day, wham! You get a call from one of your SVPs sharing some exciting news! Joe Analyst, one of your company’s key advocates, has now joined your company.

AR managers will inevitably grapple with this scenario as analysts migrate to vendors often. Informatica took out two high profile analysts last year and I’ve experienced this at previous employers too. AR managers can expect certain behaviors when an analyst who used to cover your company comes inside, so your best bet is to prepare for when that day hits and take full advantage of the opportunity. Continue Reading →

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[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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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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Why do you need AR when you have PR?

Drinking from a fire hoseI’m often asked why bother with AR when there’s already a fully-fledged PR team? To many analysts and AR pros, this may sound like a strange question, after all do you ask an electrician to do the plumbing?

However, I’ve seen many times in large corporations PR folks coming to manage AR teams (not always successfully I must say) and in small companies marketing types having to do AR on top of the rest (sometimes very successfully if not consistently).

Many AR pros, when asked will tell you analysts hate being dealt with by PR people. Analysts in fact hate being treated like journalists: sent a lot of content, not deep enough and expected to produce coverage. Continue Reading →

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Four ways analysts must respond to the crisis

The IIAR’s developing discussion on the crisis in AR (reflected by analysts’ declining comfort in recommending solutions) took interesting turn recently. In the the institute’s second conference call on the topic, I was asked to spell out suggestions for how analysts can reverse the falling quality of information sharing by vendors, which is the root cause of analysts’ lowering confidence. These are my four suggestions. Continue Reading →

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[IIAR Teleconference] There’s a crisis in analyst relations

After more than a decade consulting to analyst relations teams, and some year before as an analyst, I’m seeing a deep, and deepening, crisis in analyst relations. It’s reflected in hard data from surveys of analysts and, in discussions over the last few weeks with AR colleagues in the hub of that crisis (the USA), I’m seeing it confirmed by the experiences and challenges facing AR professionals. Continue Reading →

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IIAR discussion group – So Where AR You Going?

Recently, the IIAR held a discussion group on AR careers following a series of blog posts by Marc Duke (@marcduke) on this topic.

AR still suffers from being in the shadow of PR and like Marc, most of those taking part in the call had fallen into AR careers by accident. What can we do, as an industry, to spread the word?

Fionnula Fitzsimons (@fionnula) from Bite Communications and Stephen England (@sfengland) from KCG emphasised that we need to do more PR to differentiate ourselves from PR. KCG estimates that there are about 1,500 full-time AR professionals globally – tiny in comparison to those engaged in PR. Even the investor relations community, perhaps the closest in terms of job function to AR, boasts around 100,000 members.
It’s difficult for such a small group to make much noise, and AR is a difficult story to tell. How many of our families really understand what it is that we do? The responsibility rests with us as AR managers to keep educating those around us on the value of analysts and AR to our organisations. As Stephen England put it, “if we each teach one PR person, one marketing person, and one sales person a quarter of what we do, our ecosystem would increase dramatically.” Marc Duke also felt that the IIAR could help raise the profile of AR by getting more content into the mainstream technology and marketing/PR trade press. Continue Reading →

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[GUEST POST] So Where AR You Going? – part 2

Marc Duke profile pictureIn the second of his series of guest posts on AR careers, Marc Duke (@marcduke, LinkedIn looks at the skills required to succeed in AR and how to keep them in good shape.

The IIAR will also be hosting a teleconference for members to discuss the issues raised on May 3rd at 4 pm BST/11 am EDT.

So what does AR do then…?

Without wishing to sound trite, the answer to this question is dependent on a number of factors such as:

  • Size of company
  • Size of team
  • Experience/expertise of staff
  • How “AR-friendly” the organisation is

AR can cover any of the following:

  • Proactive outbound communications to support PR, marketing and sales
  • Inbound communications to support product or business strategy development
  • Reactive communication to support research questions and consulting requests from the analysts 

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[GUEST POST] So Where AR You Going? – part 1

Marc Duke profile pictureWhat do you need to do to reach the top level in AR? Is it vital to work in the US? And what’s the future for the role of analyst relations? In a series of guest posts, Marc Duke (@marcduke, LinkedIn) will be looking at the issues surrounding AR careers and at how things may evolve in the coming years.

It’s a topic that’s important to all of us who work in AR and we welcome your thoughts and comments. The IIAR will also be hosting a teleconference for members to discuss the issues raised on May 3rd at 4 pm BST/11 am EDT. Continue Reading →

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[GUEST POST] It’s the quality of the quantity that counts…..

Marc Duke profile pictureToday’s post is from Mark Duke (blog, @marcduke, LinkedIn), who is an independent AR consultant. See also this post on AR measurements by @elliewarner.

I picked up on Forrester AR discussion about examples of the quantified business value generated by AR. (see here) for full details. Continue Reading →

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

Marc Duke profile picturePosted 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’

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AR and social media: it’s the interaction stupid!

I’m back from the Forrester IT Forum last week, where I was invited to the AR Council (thank you @liz_pellegrini).
There I stumbled on a nice graph (right) published on John Rymer’s blogs and thought it summarises pretty well why AR should care about SocMed.
My research lifecycle
Many of my peers see blogs as an output for free research and Twitter as drinking from a chit-chat firehose. My argument there is that they’re missing the point.

Here’s the reasoning:

  1. Social media is declarative (people say what they want, where they want and choose to participate or not). This means you need to interact with a given audience where they are -on Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn or in the good old fashion way, at the pub. And chose the appropriate topic for the appropriate channel.
  2. Social media is a conversation -it’s the place to discuss and interact. I take many briefing requests from analysts on Twitter, post some comments on their blogs (if I’ve got something relevant to say and that complies with my employer’s blogging guidelines), all that to say it’s not a one way street.
  3. DO: use SocMed as a research tool. John is illustrating well how an analyst can test an idea, exchange with other analysts (this point is far tool little documented actually), etc.  But it’s also a great research tool for AR pros to see what analysts are thinking about.
  4. Timing is everything. Research is nothing if not followed up by actions: being better connected with web 2.0 tools allows AR managers to insert the right proofpoint, topic, idea, in a conversation with much better chances of being picked up by analysts because it’s more relevant to their research agenda. The idea is to switch away from being reactive to being more proactive.

Nothing really revolutionary as good AR mangers already do all this by calling regularly their key analysts, but social media is a conversation accelerator, allowing AR pros to follow more analysts and interact with them in a more timely and proactive fashion.

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