Tag Archives | Jon Collins
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
Honesty, integrity, knowledge, curiosity, insight, passion, respect and influence
These characteristics were repeatedly highlighted when AR Pro’s were asked to identify the analyst house and individual who they wanted to recognise as being the best in the industry. This second post in the “analyst of the year” series aims to highlight individuals and firms who are seen as the best in the industry regardless of their speciality sector. See here for the first post.
At a time when vendors are having to evaluate carefully where they should invest their limited funds, it is refreshing to see best-of-class analysts receiving recognition for the value they deliver. Now, more than ever before, analysts have to prove their tangible worth and those that provide independence, integrity, flexibility and deep industry knowledge of their specific areas are being recognised as true partners for vendors and IT buyers.
Without further ado, here are the results:
Global Analyst of the Year
|1st||Ray Wang, Forrester|
|2nd||Jon Collins, Freeform Dynamics|
|3rd||David Mitchell, Ovum|
|4th||James Governor, RedMonk|
|5th||Steve Blood, Gartner|
This is an incredible coup for Ray having been named the analyst of the year in 2008. Some people have argued whether his influence will diminish now that he has left Forrester but in my opinion, when we get to the cream of the analysts, companies seeking to work with analyst houses tend to invest in the individual rather than the firm they work for. Ray has of course now left Forrester and joined Charlene Li as a Partner at Altimeter Group looking at bridging today’s world of enterprise apps with the E2.0 world of connected business platforms. Commenting on this award, he explained:
It’s a great honor to be recognized by the IIAR, especially in a year where clients challenge analysts to provide more actionable and personalized advice. As we rely more on social media tools to improve client delivery and outreach, I’m often reminded not to forget the other part of the equation – building strong relationships. In fact the best AR pro’s I work with master the art of fostering strong relationships and understand that art often trumps science when dealing with people.
I mentioned this last point in the previous post but believe it is worth reiterating as to why so many European analysts tend to feature so well. At first analysis, I was immediately concerned over the relatively high number of awards that have gone to EMEA-based analysts and firms thinking that this was due to the physical location of the voters.
However, 72% of all respondents were based in the US or Canada.
My personal view is that whereas a great deal of syndicated research tends to get created and published from the US, the European analysts have to rely on their revenue stream coming from their local market knowledge, deep messaging insights and customer focus. To put it bluntly, they need to prove value otherwise they will be out of a job. This point may well be the most contentious and I am happy to discuss this point further.
Global Analyst House of the Year
This year has seen the larger, global firms dominate the awards when it comes to sector importance. It is of little surprise therefore that when it came to picking an individual firm who represented the highest value, Gartner came top. Their success should not be underestimated. In a time when many firms are cutting back on their analyst expenditure, the fact that the Gartner remains so highly recommended (even though they are far from cheap) is tantamount to the calibre of people they have working for them as well as their relevance and influence they bring to the table. Peter Sondergaard, SVP & Global Head of Research, Gartner was delighted at Gartner’s recognition and explained:
We really value this feedback from the analyst relations community as we are fully committed to constantly improving the quality of our products and the service we provide to all our clients worldwide.
I am especially pleased to see that Ovum and AMR can be recognised after they both missed winning ‘importance’ awards by sector by coming in fourth place. As an aside, and similar the UK premier league, it is always refreshing and healthy for there to be a highly competitive market where the larger firms cannot rest on their laurels and must continue to innovate or be overtaken by the competition.
EMEA Analyst of the Year
|1st||Jon Collins, Freeform Dynamics|
|2nd||David Mitchell, Ovum|
|3rd||James Governor, RedMonk|
|4th||Steve Blood, Gartner|
|5th||Neil Rickard, Gartner|
It has been a great year in Europe for boutiques. These firms, more than any, have had to challenge traditional analyst business models and the boundaries in which they operate such that the art of defining what an analyst is and does has had to change. Nevertheless, a few firms with considerably fewer analysts have seen their share of voice rise disproportionately – within the market they are recognised by AR Pros as being able to contribute a level of service that is exemplary. Jon Collins, who has recently taken over the role as MD at Freeform Dynamics explained upon receiving his award:
I’m delighted to be called out, I see this as a vote of confidence not just for me but the whole Freeform Dynamics team, not to mention its collaborative philosophy and approach, which keeps us all grounded in the real world of mainstream IT usage and makes this job such a pleasure to do.
EMEA Analyst House of the Year
Gartner once again steal the show. With a solid presence of industry experts, they are recognised as being the best in the region. However, a significant number of ‘boutiques’ also make the top 5 – edging out likely candidates such as IDC and Ovum. In the previous post I explained that it is of little surprise that firms are cutting back and focusing on the analyst houses that have the greatest global reach. However, it is somewhat refreshing that other houses have managed to carve out their own niches – notably: Verdantix and Quocirca in the green IT space and RedMonk and MWD in the developer/ IT Pro sector. It is in these smaller, areas where ‘boutique’ firms have managed to push their own USP and become sector leaders.
Comparing important analysts and ‘analyst of the year’
it’s quite an interesting dichotomy between the analysts who were voted as most important by their coverage areas (as it highlights perceived expertise) compared to the analyst of the year overall ranking. The characteristics that stand-out amongst this crowd are difficult to combine but necessary to be a good analyst:
- Social/Relationship (ease to deal with)
- Domain Expertise
- Influence/Presentation skills
My congratulations go to all the firms and individuals who have been recognised with awards. The third and final post to be published in a couple of weeks will look at which firms provide the greatest offering for bespoke research, consulting/inquiry and reports. It will also identify which firms have increased in relevance the most over the past year and the key reasons why people tend to work with analysts in the first place.
As I complete this second post, a statement that Vinnie Mirchandani made to me when I was discussing the definition of an industry analyst sticks to my mind:
“analysts” are just a small subset of a 1000 points of influence
Regardless of the debate regarding ‘who is an analyst?’ – a clear point remains. We work in a time where those that can influence buying decisions are in high demand. If analysts wish to remain a significant player within this, they must continue to offer the level of service and value that the firms and individuals who have been recognised by the IIAR in these awards provide.
This survey was open to anyone who works in analyst relations in any country, either in-house or at an agency/consultancy. In order for someone’s entry to be validated, they had to submit their email address and company name to verify they not an impostor trying to distort the results. This personal information will not be distributed or used beyond sending copies of the results to all participant. The survey was open for specific period of time and IP addresses were taken to ensure that someone could not vote twice. A total of 137 AR Pros completed this survey.
The survey specifically focused on an individual’s perception of the analyst world. A full list of every analyst house was made available for respondents to select their preference.
Respondents were asked to specify their submissions based upon geography and segment. Based upon these criteria further analysis could be made of the results to identify specific regional or segment champions.
If you have any questions or comments about this survey please contact me (@jonnybentwood)
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