Why AR Matters – Analysts can get your company on short lists that you were excluded from

icon-dollar-euro.jpgMost analyst relations (AR) professionals are in an environment where they have to continually justify the relevance of the industry analysts and AR. One of the best arguments for justifying the investment in AR is the impact analysts have on the company’s sales opportunities. Usually the easiest to find examples are negative, such as when an analyst’s commentary has caused a vendor to be removed or excluded from a short list, because a sales rep will be howling in anger. However, with some investigation AR can turn up positive impacts of the analysts, e.g., when an analyst has been your advocate by getting your company onto a short list.

In Reality Check: Sales reps matter more than product on the Software Insider blog, former Forrester analyst and current VP of Research at SSPA John Ragsdale illustrates how an analyst with a simple question can help a vendor get placement on a vendor short list. 

“…Over the last year I have become increasingly aware of something and wanted to share it with a larger audience. When I have conversations with companies about a pending software purchase (usually CRM or eService), they tell me the core business problems they are trying to solve, then give me the list of vendors they are considering. And almost every time, I hear a little jingle from Sesame Street in my head:

     “One of these things is not like the other
     One of these things just doesn’t belong
     Can you guess which thing is not like the other
     By the time I finish this song?

“Why? Because the obvious vendor(s) who are specialists in their problem are not on the list, and they are selecting from a group of vendors who all do something else. So I ask, “Um, why isn’t Vendor X on the list?” And here is the universal reply. ‘Oh, we started with them, but […]

How to use analyst market share numbers after Gartner makes a “huge mistake” with server market share numbers

photo-rob-enderle.jpgRarely do analysts call out another firm on perceived failures in research, but Rob Enderle does just that in Liars, Damn Liars and Statistics: Gartner Goofs on Server Numbers. Money quote:

“…However, the accuracy of these numbers even inside corporations (given how deals are accounted for) would suggest that getting within 5 percent of actual sales would be very difficult, let alone having a high level of confidence that under 1 percent actually signified real market leadership. …”

Rob then goes into an interesting discussion of the shortcomings of market share numbers and the methodologies used to create them. The article is well worth reading. It would be interesting – fun even – if more analysts engaged each other in the marketplace of ideas rather than having a monologue with clients.

SageCircle has long said that market share numbers from the market research analysts can provide interesting insights into the direction a market is going. However, relying on the numbers alone without […]

Thinking about Gartner’s Hype Cycle

As AR professionals focus (obsess) on the Gartner Magic Quadrant and Forrester Wave as primary targets for influencing, an important signature research deliverable is often overlooked – Gartner’s Hype Cycle (click graphic to see a larger version). This point is driven home by the fact that is takes a fair amount of work to find a vendor reprint of any Hype Cycle, whereas you can easily find MQ and Wave reprints starting on the first Google search results page. This vendor attitude is unfortunate because Gartner says that the Hype Cycle is the most read/download type of research, even more than the Magic Quadrant. However, because the Hype Cycle does not directly compare products and rarely even mentions vendors in passing, it is easy for vendors not to give Hype Cycles a high priority.

The Hype Cycle might take on additional visibility in October 2008 if Gartner and the Harvard Business School Press (HBSP) promote the new book, Mastering the Hype Cycle: How to Choose the Right Innovation at the Right Time by Jackie Fenn and Mark Raskino, as effectively as […]

Right firms – Search out alternative services providers that better match your needs for a better price [Purchasing Analyst Services, Part 4]

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgOne method for avoiding the price increases that Forrester and Gartner are initiating on a regular basis is to diversify your sources of analyst research and advice. The one usual negotiating trick of playing one vendor off another probably won’t work with Gartner as CEO Gene Hall has been quite emphatic in his quarterly earnings conference calls that discounting by sales reps has been and will continue to be sharply curtailed.  This means you may be better off looking to “boutique” firms for some services. There are hundreds of analyst firms in the market, many with very smart analysts and interesting research. Besides a lower price, there are other potential benefits to going with other firms including: flexibility in service delivery, better customer service, and unique insights.

The difficulty of purchasing from a smaller firm is discovering them in the first place. Forrester and Gartner (as well as the vendor-centric IDC) have tremendous mindshare from tens of thousands press quotes and growing sales forces that drive their brand equity. Very few firms outside of the Big 3 invest in marketing and sales that would give them the market visibility to become a regular addition to buyer short lists.

The next issue is finding alternative firms that can deliver services that meet your needs. Many analyst firms specialize in advising […]

Why analyst relations matter – Analysts do not have time to do all-inclusive research

(After an interesting Twitter-based conversation with Illuminata’s Gordon Haff and former IDC analyst Ida-Rose Sylvester over the use of the word comprehensive, we have decided to use the word all-inclusive instead. )

One aspect of the analyst industry that is not widely known by technology buyers (aka end users, usually IT managers) and vendors is that industry analysts do not have the resources (e.g., time and travel budget) to conduct and publish comprehensive all-inclusive research about a market.  Advisory analysts gather most of their data from client inquiry and vendor briefings.  The major firms do not conduct product evaluations, lab tests against specifications, or quality of service investigations.

 This point was highlighted by Forrester analyst Jeremiah Owyang in Starting the Forrester Wave: White Label Social Networks and Community Platforms about some research he is working on:

 “…I made a call for the vendor product catalog in this market, (and via email and twitter) that document is a detailed index of over 40 vendors in the space, (aprox 50% of the market) and will be available to Forrester clients…”

 “…Due to the rigorous methodology … The Wave will only include several vendors.”

There are two key points here, one is that the vendor catalog is only a subset of the market and, two, the Wave will be a further subset of the vendor catalog the analyst assembled.

For vendors in this market these points should send a shiver down their spines. If they […]

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 […]

Top social media analysts leave Forrester and IDC

News is that IDC Research Director Rachel Happe (Twitter handle, blog) and Forrester VP & Principal Analyst Charlene Li (Twitter handle, blogless for now) are leaving their firms.

These departures are big blows for both firms, though in different ways. Rachel was really IDC’s sole expert on social media so her departure eliminates a big piece of IDC’s intellectual property on this market. Forrester has a team of social media experts, so expertise is not the problem. For Forrester, Charlene’s departure is a loss of prestige and credibility as Charlene is one of the most highly visible experts in this market. Obviously neither loss is a fatal blow to either firm,  but they need to work to fill the holes quickly.  

(Added 7/3/08 at 5 am PT. Links to Rachel’s and Charlene’s blog posts)

Leaving IDC…Joining Mzinga Rachel

Why I’m Leaving Forrester Charlene

Here is an update on Charlene via Twitter “Looking at options, likely will be on my own with a combo of blogging, speaking, consulting, and influence building”

Remember, most analyst firms have not invested in knowledge management systems so most information that analysts get in vendor briefings and other sources is stored […]

Analyst firms’ editorial calendars

Here are the links to the editorial calendars for Gartner and Forrester that we mentioned during the just completed Coffee Talk. Note: After I asked on Twitter, The451 ICE’s service director sent me a link to ICE’s upcoming research.

Gartner Editorial Calendar for Magic Quadrants and MarketScopes Don’t forget that at the end of July, the Gartnerians are going to expand their editorial calendar to include planned research other than MQs and Marketscopes.

Forrester Planned Research This page defaults to showing only the planned research for you role. Click on “Show all documents,” which is just […]