One of the assets that well-connected analysts have is their many anecdotal data points gleamed from day-to-day conversations. While not statistically valid, doing pattern analysis on these questions can reveal some interesting insights into emerging trends and issues falling off the radar screen. The problem from a research consumer point-of-view is that these data points are locked inside the head of the analysts* and are rarely the focus of a research note. To get to that information, clients need to use inquiry.
Use the regular client-service process of your analyst contract to schedule the inquiry. This type of inquiry does not need to be done more than twice a year. The timing could be tied to your planning cycles or immediately after an analyst conference (e.g., AMR’s Supply Chain Executive Conference) as the analyst will have just experienced a spike in client interactions. Example questions include:
General: What are new issues that are coming up in inquiries in the last three months? What are topics that use to come up frequently, but are now dropping off in popularity?
End User: CIO – Does the shift in questions represent a potential strategic change in IT plans or reflect day-to-day management issues?
End User: IT manager – Are new technical support issues starting to pop up from early adopters of a technology or product?
Vendor: AR – How might new inquiry topics impact your research agenda? Anything I can do to help you gather data points?
Vendor: Product Manager – Does any change in topic pattern impact my product? If so, how?
Vendor: Market Intelligence – What does the change in topic pattern say about the competitive landscape?
Reporters – Are there new topics of inquiry that might be the basis for a story?
Financial Analysts – Do the shifts in inquiry topics presage a change to the market sector? Will any particular vendor benefit or suffer because of this shift?
BTW, don’t just do inquires with the Big Three (i.e., Forrester, Gartner and IDC). You may get different insights by checking with many types of analysts from boutiques, vertically focused, or specialists. There are many smart analysts outside the Big 3 firms with valuable points-of-view and sources of information. Last but not least, check the analyst/bloggers for their most current entries.
* Forrester’s Inquiry Advantage, a quarterly database of inquiries, is very useful but cannot be purchased as a standalone item. It is a deliverable with the AR Council, the Market Research Council and the Technology Marketing Executive Council.
Bottom Line: Unlock those nuggets of gold inside the head of the analysts via inquiry.
Question: How did the analysts react to your inquiry? Please leave a comment or send an e-mail to info [at] sagecircle dot com.
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