There are many challenges that AR has had for years like identifying the right analysts to focus on, obtaining resources and getting great content. There are new challenges now like how to interact with analyst/bloggers and leveraging social media. We recently did a survey on LinkedIn asking what people felt were the biggest challenges that AR will have in 2008? The responses were great and the posts for today and in Part Two represent an edited summary of the key ideas we received.
The changing analyst landscape
A fair number of people took exception to the current quality of the traditional analysts as the landscape changes. They perceive that the larger firms are overly focused on business metrics and don’t understand what an analyst really does. The push for “shareholder value” leaves the experienced analyst discouraged and looking to leave as upside potential drops while the analyst firms no longer hire star analysts.
For AR teams one of the bigger challenges is identifying the appropriate analysts to contact. This coupled with retention, means AR teams will have to work harder to find the gems within each analyst firm. Contracts should be written with an analyst in mind and their departure should trigger a refund.
As well-known analysts leave the big companies, they’re doing a number of things including, forming their own smaller firms, becoming analytical bloggers for well-known industry journals, starting their own analytical blogs or deploying some other non-traditional mechanism for making their analysis and opinions available. Vendors need to be extremely careful in looking at insights that may emerge from these novel players in the market and go beyond the brand names of analyst firms, and actually invest in their relationships based on content, quality, output, insight and relevance – even if it means that such visibility comes from newer, unknown firms.
Ignoring analysts using these non-traditional mechanisms can be a mistake because they often have hidden, but large audiences. If they feel slighted, they are likely to make their displeasure known through negative comments that will most certainly have an impact on the thinking of their audiences.
A significant challenge will be measuring the value or non-value of interactions with independents as compared to the traditional analysts.
With the world market looking at a possible recession, many AR teams are looking at potential budget cuts. Couple this with the announced price increases and funding will be a challenge. You can expect all analyst firms to follow Gartner’s lead in raising prices. The surprise of 2008 may be Forrester’s price hike as it tries to eliminate “whole view” and go with “role view”. We will be watching to see if tech vendors will pay for the “vendor analysts” when most of the value lies in the “ex-Giga analysts” who were end-user client focused.
Budgets also impact head count, so teams are likely to be further stretched in their resources. Because of the traditional way AR is positioned organizationally teams do not often have a seat at the table when top-level corporate marketing and market research spending is determined.
Perhaps the biggest challenge continues to be educating senior leaders on what a strong analyst relationship can and cannot do. It cannot guarantee immediate new sales. It cannot mean that you’ll be show up in a top ranking (e.g., a Magic Quadrant) if you do not have a solution track record and clients willing to discuss your solution. And it is not determined by how much money you spend with the analyst.
However, it can give you a window into what your customers (who are the analyst firm’s clients) are thinking and the issues they’re tackling. It can get you on the analysts’ radar when their clients are considering the purchase short list. It can also be a great source of feedback when considering a new offerings or expanding into new markets.
Having a strong AR function that leadership trusts and listens to is a key asset that most companies, unfortunately, ignore.
- Spend time and effort to rank and tier analysts on a regular basis an consider alternatives
- Review your budget and available resources to ensure the most effective program
- Educate your executives to set expectations and gain participation
Bottom Line: These issues are similar to those that AR teams have always faced. In Part Two we look at some newer challenges.
Tip o’ the hat to the analysts, AR professionals and other interested members of the community who provide the tips and insights that became this post. One of the ways that SageCircle is different is that we are aggressively leveraging social media as a research tool. Become part of the community that discusses the analyst ecosystem. Connect with us via LinkedIn (Dave, Carter) and Twitter (Dave, Carter).
Question: AR teams – Do you frequently review your analyst lists? How do you factor in new analysts and firms? What are you upcoming budget expectations?
Is your AR program ready for the challenges that 2008 will throw at it? SageCircle Can Help. Our strategists can:
- Conduct a free SageCircle AR Diagnostic and provide you with a concise analysis of your program
- Participate in an AR staff conference call to discuss the trends in the analyst ecosystem and how they might impact your program
- Act as a sounding board for your AR plans to ensure that you are anticipating all the changes
Contact us at info [at] sagecircle dot com or 650-274-8309 for more information about how SageCircle can help take your AR program to the next level.