There can never be an analyst influence database [Practitioner Question]

question-mark-graphic.jpgQuestion: Is there a database that ranks analysts in terms of influence?

While there are some fine analyst directories or databases available for purchase (e.g., ARinsight’s ARchitect3) none of have “influence” data. This is because influence is a relative term which is dependent on what the vendor is trying to accomplish and the market space they are addressing. Obviously two companies with different products would see the same analyst as having different influence.  However, two competitors in the same market could also end up with analyst lists that are different because they have different business objectives they are trying to accomplish. Even the same vendor could rank the influence of the same analysts differently over time, even in a span of only a few months, as the vendor’s business and analyst relations (AR) objectives change.

While there are no databases of influence to purchase, AR can still create a formal analyst list management process with documented ranking criteria. Although this framework cannot eliminate the work associated with determining influence, it will permit AR to rank their analyst lists efficiently.

If an AR team does not have the bandwidth to do the work associated with creating an analyst list, there are […]

Executives care about operational metrics – a dead idea

Public 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.

AR Metrics & MeasurementDead Idea: When reporting to executive sponsors, analyst relations (AR) must focus on operational metrics like activity counts (e.g., the number briefings conducted), budget status, and so on because that is what executives want.

Back Story: When a SageCircle strategist conducts an Analyst Relations Diagnostic™ with an AR team he invariably finds the AR program uses operations metrics for reports to executives. Why? It is not just because AR finds operational metrics easier to gather, though there is part of that, it is primarily because that is how AR has always reported to the sponsor because “that is what the executive wants.” Maybe this is true, but probably not.

Problem: The root of the problem is that many AR programs have simplistic goals, often modeled on PR, to “get the word out” and to “get the analysts to say good things about us right now.” This approach is often the right one for PR because PR is rightfully focused on building awareness.  However for AR, this approach leads to a focus on short-term activities that accomplish short-term goals. It is easy to see how this leads to AR reporting on those short-term activities.

AR should be focused on longer-term strategic goals (e.g., influencing revenues during the sales selection process or “moving the dot” over several years).  While some AR programs understand the need for a strategic direction they end up planning highly tactical items such as […]

It’s in the AR plan – social media should not be considered “special,” but just a regular activity

icon-social-media-blue.jpgWe have written on a number of occasions that social media is not some big special deal, but rather just another tool in the analyst and analyst relations (AR) tool box. For that reason, there should not be some special plan for social plan with all sorts of meetings and review sessions set up. Rather social media should just be incorporated into daily activities and your AR Strategic and Tactical Plan.

You do have an AR plan, don’t you?

Your strategic AR plan, the one with the charter and objectives, lists of all interactions types to be used for each purpose, service levels by analyst tier, calendar and priorities? Ok, unfair question. Many AR teams are so under the gun that a well-done AR plan is often considered a luxury. The main point is that social media (e.g., blogs, Twitter, communities, LinkedIn and so on) should not be considered something big and special – which means they won’t be embraced until the “plan is ready” – but merely just additional forms of interactions to add to the mix.

Obviously, the various types of social media are still new to many individuals and AR teams. As a consequence, there is a learning curve to climb and a process you will need to go through to adopt these new forms of interactions. However, social media are not “special,” just like e-mail is not special. Oh, those folks that have been around for awhile will no doubt remember when there was heated debate whether e-mail was an appropriate form of interaction with analysts.

SageCircle Technique:

  • Educate yourself about social media, including setting up accounts and playing with various types
  • Review which of your analysts are currently using […]

If AR does not respond, maybe they don’t know who you are

“Remarkably hard to get hold of anyone at Oracle and Microsoft analyst relations.” is a tweet that caught our attention. The twit had a link to his firm’s blog, which then led us to the firm’s main website. The firm was unfamiliar to us (for this post it does not matter the name of the firm), but after digging around for a few minutes it did seem like an analyst firm, but one with a very specific focus. However, at first glance the firm’s specialty did not seem relevant to Oracle and Microsoft so that is maybe why AR did not respond. An unknown analyst requesting AR assistance might only get a single quick glance at their website or blog because most AR teams are so busy responding to known analyst requests and preparing for the next proactive outreach that they do not have the time to do the type of digging that we do. 

Tweet - remarkably hard to get hold of anybody - v 1

One of SageCircle’s common inquiries is “Have you heard of firm x? They just contacted us and we don’t know who they are. Should we respond?” With many hundreds of analyst firms in the ecosystem it is not surprising that AR is not familiar with every one of them. Of the more than 160 analyst firms represented in the Analyst Twitter Directory, there were quite a few that we had to investigate to determine whether they were truly analyst firms. If we had to investigate and ponder then there is little chance that an overworked AR professional would devote the same resources.

AR gets requests from all sorts of people, especially if they post a generic contact link on the website (e.g. AR@companyname.com or a web form). When we ran corporate AR for a major vendor, we would field requests from reporters, Wall Street analysts, college students, competitive intelligence firms working for competitors, consultants, think tank researchers, other vendors’ […]

LinkedIn: Another Area for AR Attention

icon-social-media-blue.jpgPlease don’t shoot the messenger, but it is becoming increasingly clear that LinkedIn might be something some AR teams also have to start monitoring. Why? Industry analysts are using LinkedIn not just as a contact management system, but more and more as a research, community-building, and marketing tool. Examples:

  • Building forums using LinkedIn Groups
  • Gathering structured data using LinkedIn Polls
  • Collecting unstructured opinions using LinkedIn Answers
  • Issuing research project launch announcements using Network Updates
  • Letting reporters know they are available for quotes using Network Updates
  • Requesting information contributions using Network Updates

Logo - LinkedInWe think that this trend is sufficiently important that we have added which relevant LinkedIn Groups analysts moderate or belong to into SageCircle’s Analyst Social Media Traffic Analysis database (which already had URL for LinkedIn profiles). This will make it easier for clients to evaluate whether this is an issue they should be concerned about.

BTW, this service can eliminate the work of establishing whether your top analysts are tweeting, blogging and using LinkedIn for research. Starting at $195, it is a bargain. Click here for more information. Annual Advisory clients can request a traffic analysis at no charge.

The following technique suggestions assume that you have a profile on LinkedIn and know how to use at least its basic features. SageCircle Advisory clients can set up an inquiry to have a short walk-through of LinkedIn if they want to get up-to-speed quickly.

SageCircle Technique:

  • Search LinkedIn for your […]

Misunderstanding Magic Quadrants, MarketScopes, and More

Source: Gartner analyst blog by Lydia Leong

Source: Gartner analyst blog by Lydia Leong

For years IT and telecommunications vendors have complained about the misuse of Gartner Magic Quadrants by IT buyers.  It appears that three key issues are routinely surfaced: 

1)     The criteria for placing the dots onto the graphic are not transparent and often the dots appear to be randomly placed by the whim of the analyst

2)     Magic Quadrants are not always updated in a timely manner and out-of-date MQ’s seem to stay around forever

3)     Research consumers often look only at the graphic and miss the supporting research note or do not speak directly with the analysts via client inquiry.  This is especially true when free reprints are made available to non-clients by various vendors

Example Gartner disclaimer about the Magic Quadrant

Example Gartner disclaimer about the Magic Quadrant

Part of the problem is that while Gartner has background information about the MQ on its website (click here to read, free registration required) and a perfunctory paragraph to readers in the fine print in the footnote of MQ PDFs (click on graphic on left to enlarge), it does not have a systematically approach to training its clients about how the MQ is to be used. That is one of the reasons why SageCircle wrote IT managers, it’s never, ever only about the upper right dot when it comes to Forrester Waves or Gartner Magic Quadrants. (There is longer, more detailed version of this content in our  SageNote™ “A Consumer’s Guide to using Gartner’s Magic Quadrant”.)

It was therefore refreshing to see a blog post on the Gartner Blog network by Jim Holincheck entitled Misunderstanding Magic Quadrants, MarketScopes, and More where he talks a bit about criteria transparency and the way these reports should be used.  It makes a good read for both vendor clients and IT buyer clients.  This addresses the number one concern above. Perhaps with more discussion the use of these important tools can be improved.

However, there is still a disconnect with issue number three.  Jim states “More importantly though, […]

Cross-link your social media identify by adding your Twitter handle to LinkedIn profile

icon-social-media-blue.jpgIt’s important to raise the visibility of your Twitter handle to increase your followers, which could then give you insights about who you should follow. One of the simplest ways to raise your Twitter visibility is to place links to your handle in your LinkedIn profile. This is rarely done, but quite easy to do. 

SageCircle Technique:

  • On www.LinkedIn.com click on Profile then Edit My Profile then Additional Information to edit your websites
  • Select which of the three website slots to use
  • From the first drop down menu select “Other”
  • In the description box, type in […]