AR belongs in Marketing – a dead idea

Analyst Relations PlanningPublic policy wonk and Fortune Magazine columnist Matt Miller’s new book The Tyranny of Dead Ideas: Letting Go of the Old Ways of Thinking to Unleash a New Prosperity got us at SageCircle thinking “Hmm, are there dead ideas holding back analyst relations?” Of course there are! This is one in an occasional series of posts that will address the dead ideas that impact AR programs and their ability to delivery strategic value to their companies. These posts are meant to be provocative and not necessarily definitive in their new ideas and suggestions.

Dead Idea: AR belongs in Marketing

Back Story: In the time before there was a dedicated AR position, industry analysts calling vendors asking for a briefing were often bounced around from one department to another. More often than not, the analyst would end up on the public relations doorstep because what the analyst did sort of sounded like a reporter. Because PR usually reported to Marketing, AR became a de facto marketing function even if it became an independent department.

Problem: Putting AR in Marketing has multiple problems, but a big one is consistency. One of AR’s critical success factors is consistently interacting with analysts because influencing the analysts is a process that takes a long time. AR cannot turn on and turn off interactions and be successful. Unfortunately, Marketing programs in most vendors are the model of inconsistency with resources being changed frequently.  If resources and programs are cut during recessions and restored during good times the damage for AR has been done in terms of:

  • Institutional memory is lost as AR staff gets cut or moves to other companies 
  • Relationships with analysts go stale due to lack of interactions or the inability to work with the same people
  • Sales and revenues are impacted by analysts with outdated or incomplete information providing inappropriate advice to customers and prospects
  • Intelligence dries up about analyst opinions and intentions because analyst contracts get cut reducing inquiry access to analysts

New Idea: Move AR out of Marketing and into Strategy. While there are several different options for a new home for AR (e.g., sales, product management and investor relations) each have their own issues. Strategy on the other hand has a number of advantages […]

A warm compliment for Merv Adrian and an interesting comment about the Forrester layoffs

Background:  This text originally came in as a comment to Forrester experiences analyst layoffs. Because of the last line, I did not approve the comment leaving it as a private communication to SageCircle. But I did tweet that someone had sent along a very nice compliment for Merv Adrian. That triggered this comment to the original (and not published) comment:  “Saw your tweet. Oops. sorry. meant keep IP confidential. pls reveal details. =)”  So with that permission from the author, we are now publishing his or her comment. However, rather than a comment I decided to elevate it to a full post. BTW, you can follow Merv Adrian on Twitter at www.twitter.com/merv.

photo-merv-adrian-official-forresterIt is truly sad to say good-bye to co-workers especially during a lay off.. I will miss each person who has left. But it is quite a travesty when you lay off someone who is an icon, someone who makes a big difference in everyone’s lives, and someone who has had the company’s best interest at heart at all times. I have struggled to tell this story about my team and the more I wait, the more I regret it. I must tell. I shall share. I now reveal.So I say this with great conviction: “It is unconscionable for Forrester to lay off Mervyn T. Adrian without a proper explanation to our clients and our employees”

Why?

I was there when we first bought Giga. It was a scary time like now. The Internet bubble had burst. We had finished 2 rounds of layoffs. Our business was tanking. Our stock in the toilet.

When we bought Giga, we were nervous. Our first reaction was who are all these gray hairs? We were all much younger. Why’s everyone a VP? We only had principal analysts as the highest title and there were only 2 or 3 of those. Would we get along with these old farts? They seem crotchety and nerdy. How come they all work from home? We lived in a must show up to HQ culture.

But throughout the acquisition, this bubbly gentleman would reach out. He showed us how to work together. He showed us the value of an inquiry to clients. He showed us the how to collaborate across teams. He would reach out and mentor new analysts. He would tell it to us like […]

Bursts of analyst departures in a hot research area is not unusual

The clump of departures of social media analysts – Brian Haven, Peter Kim and Charlene Li (from Forrester), and Rachel Happe (from IDC) – is not at all unusual and follows typical patterns.

There are several reasons why analysts leave a firm: just want a change or new professional challenge, recruited by another company, desire to start own firm, the current employer has grown too large and its culture has changed and a few others. In this current sitaution, there are two primary reasons why the analysts are leaving: lured by startups and hanging out their own shingle.

From late 1997 to early 2000 a number of analysts covering ecommerce/ebusiness got lured away from the firms by Dot Com startups. For example, in one week Gartner lost four of five analysts covering ecommerce. Yes, they were lured away by various startups dangling stock options, but these analysts were also annoyed at the money Gartner was investing in Jupiter Communications (ancestor of JupiterResearch) rather than beefing up Gartner’s own ecommerce/ebusiness research team.

Another common reason for analysts in a hot research area to leave a firm is to […]

Analyst firms should notify vendors about staff changes

Especially vendors with scheduled briefings, consulting days, or key projects by analysts  who submit their resignations

Analyst relations (AR) professionals are sometimes blindsided in the final preparations for a long scheduled briefing, analyst summit, or analyst consulting day (aka SAS) to discover that the analyst had submitted his or her resignation several weeks before. Worse yet are situations where the vendor has just conducted a briefing only to learn days later that the analyst has just left the firm. Either way it is bad for AR who now has to scramble to change plans and could experience the wrath of executives who perceive that AR just wasted their time by being uninformed.

For a variety of reasons, analyst firms are reluctant to admit that an analyst is leaving the firm. However, these reasons are insufficient for withholding critical information from AR teams who work hard to facilitate the flow of information from the vendor to the analyst firms. It is not appropriate for the firm to arrange a last minute substitution without […]

Context, advice, reputation and time: How analysts can thrive in the social media age

icon-social-media-blue.jpgBecause vendor executives still wonder why enterprise IT managers still use the analysts (they need to read Why technology buyers use the IT industry analysts) and hope that they influence will diminish (they should check out Influence is not a zero-sum game so analyst influence is not necessarily diminished by the rise of bloggers), we continue to look for ways to clearly articulate why those vendor executives are indulgencing in wishful thinking. Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief of Wired Magazine and creator of the Long Tail theory, had an interesting post about human-powered search and the long tail that is a nifty approach to the issue of why pay for something when so much information is available for free on the Internet, blogosphere and other forms of social media.

Chris started with something from Economics 101: “Every abundance creates a new scarcity.” He then went on to illustrate with these examples:

  • An abundance of information can create a scarcity of context
  • An abundance of choice can create a scarcity of advice
  • An abundance of content can create a scarcity of time
  • An abundance of people competing for your attention can create a scarcity of reputational ways to choose among them

Each of these scarcities apply to the typical IT manger and executive in spades. Few IT managers that I have spoke with in the last 18 months are ignoring the relevant blogs, but want a source for context and “reality checks.” The vast majority of IT managers look at information in the blog, media and so on, but want someone to turn to for advice. Nobody in these days of lean staffing, has the time to read all the relevant blogs and talk to all the relevant vendors, so they need a resource that can help […]

Analysts who blog versus Bloggers who analyze

icon-social-media-blue.jpgBy Carter Lusher, Strategist

Last week’s Forrester Analyst Relations Council Panel on “Analyst Relations 2.0” was fun and interesting. There was quite a bit of diversity of opinion on the panel with KCG’s Bill Hopkins playing the self-described anti-blog/anti-Web 2.0 curmudgeon and Dana Gardner from Interarbor Solutions way on the other side playing the pro-social media fan. That left plenty of room in the middle for Jonathan Eunice from Illuminata, Forrester Senior Analyst James Kobielus and me to take a balanced approach. The moderator was Forrester VP Laura Ramos, who I count as a blog skeptic when it comes to blogging by analysts and vendors.

There was a fair amount of angst in the audience, with many AR professionals clearly wishing blogs would just go away, while others were open minded. Very few AR pros in attendence had embraced blogs personally or professionally. Many were clearly overwhelmed because of the sheer number and types of bloggers who could touch their companies.

While fun, there some something unsatisfying about the panel. One attendee e-mailed: “What struck me about the panel was it asked more questions than offering answers.” Hmm, good point. I tried to provide very specific advice (see Steps for AR teams for starting with analyst blogs), but I admit there was a lot of philosophical ramblings during the 100+ minutes of the panel. Upon reflection, I think the problem was that the panel was not asked to focus on a specific issue, rather we were given a topic that provoked entertaining discussion, but was too broad and fuzzy for hard recommendations.

Bowl of Spaghetti

Because “AR 2.0” was clearly too broad, the organizer and moderator decided to narrow the discussion to “analyst blogs.” However, ever this re-definition of the panel topic was too broad because it encompassed the entire blogosphere. This led to panel discussion, audience questions and comments that touched on traditional analysts and bloggers without distinguishing between the type of influencer. In addition, the discussion occasionally drifted into whether AR teams and their companies should blog and […]

Homework – Gather Background Information: the Magic Quadrant & Tech Vendors [part 3]

It is critical for AR to thoroughly research a particular Magic Quadrant and its history. Even AR staffs that have been working with Gartner on a MQ for a long time could benefit from doing a little digging into the background of the MQ in order to separate reality from faulty memory and myth.

 SageCircle Technique

Check on past Magic Quadrants The first task is to obtain past versions of the Magic Quadrants. You can search Gartner’s research database, but frankly you still have to ask. While Gartner analysts published dozens of distinct Magic Quadrants in the traditional Research Note format every year, there are so many publishing platforms at Gartner (e.g., presentations and toolkits) that a MQ can show up in either as an original piece of research or a reprint of something published earlier. Because not all […]

Common Mistakes: the Magic Quadrant & Tech Vendors [part 2]

For a variety of reasons, communications and IT vendor AR and executives make a number of mistakes concerning the Gartner Magic Quadrant (MQ) and how their companies should react to it. Decision makers at IT vendors need to take a step back and carefully consider the appropriate level of effort to put into “moving the dot.”

The first mistake is proceeding without understanding how your prospects and customers/clients value and use the MQ. You should be surveying your customer/clients and prospects about which research firms and reports they use.

The second mistake is assuming that you know what the underlying market-specific criteria and assumptions are for the MQ without talking to the appropriate analysts. Repositioning your “dot” on a Magic Quadrant doesn’t happen just because you have a great product or service. Often the most […]