Reflections on 2007

For the last day of 2007, here are a few random observations about the year that is wrapping up. photo-jeremiah-owyang.jpg 

Moving from the blogosphere to the analyst ranks Traditionally analyst firms get a lot of their analyst hires from vendors and end users with some hires from the press and elsewhere. This year we saw some bloggers jump over to the analyst side. The most prominent was Jeremiah Owyang (Web Strategy by Jeremiah) joining Forrester Research on October 1st. What has been interesting about Jeremiah is that he has maintained his personal brand by continuing his personal blog and speaking engagements. It will be fun to watch whether Jeremiah is an archetype of the new influencer, one with a foot in the traditional analyst industry while building a powerful personal brand through blogging and other Web 2.0 aspects.
 

Forrester and Gartner both had good 2007 through Q3, but does that mean more influence on vendor sales? – The two firms that are public companies both projected strong growth for all of 2007, with Forrester projecting 14% to 16% growth while Gartner indicated growth in the 10% to 12% range. Unfortunately, neither firm breaks out where that growth is coming from: vendors, end users or price hikes. There is one set of commentators that says all revenue growth is coming from price hikes, which is masking a shrinking client base. I think that the end-user client base is growing strongly to make up for a vendor client base that is shrinking due to market consolidation, heartburn over price increases and budget cuts. Another uncertainty is how much of Forrester’s growth is due to IT departments versus marketing departments. The more Forrester growth in marketing departments could mean a shrinking influence on IT vendor sales. Obviously more analysis has to be done to determine what the firms’ growth means to IT vendors.

Gartner Symposium gets more visibility in the blogosphere than the press – As an example of how the new media has grown, we note that Gartner’s US Fall Symposium/ITxpo received only 132 mentions in the traditional press versus 2,016 in the blogs in the week after the end of the conference. 
 

IDC seems to be focusing on Asia for growth – 2007 saw IDC’s APJ fall restructuring of its staff and programs with a greater emphasis on both vendor and end-user consulting, and the formation of an emerging technologies virtual team. The latter will identify and research new technology areas, recommend creation of services around the more successful ones, and indicate which of the outdated services should be retired. For example, Asia saw the launch of a Green IT practice area, while neither Europe nor North America has this service… yet. So Asia gets to be on the cutting edge of new research.  

You, yes you, can comment on Forrester’s research – In a brave – or foolhardy – move, Forrester now permits clients to leave comments on its website directly associated with research notes. The comments are automatically posted without approval. To test their tolerance to criticism, I left several comments dissecting some of their AR role research. Not only are the comments still there, but the analysts responded with respectful rebuttals. Kudos to Forrester. This could be a valuable AR tool if properly used.

Acquisitions lead to fewer firms then maybe more firms or expanded boutiques – 2007 did see some consolidation as firms were acquired by other players. Ovum was the extreme case with it acquiring smaller firms and then it was acquired… twice!  Acquisitions in the analyst industry tend to cause a domino effect as analysts jump from newly enlarged firms to smaller firms or launch their own boutiques.  
 

Blogosphere beats up Forrester’s AR research – While Forrester no doubt thinks it is doing the AR community a favor with this role-based research, many of AR blogs were less than kind. ARmageddon says “Beware of Forrester’s advice for AR professionals.” Duncan at Analyst Equity thinks that that Forrester’s small survey set of mainly Forrester analysts “…don’t reflect the objective best interests of analyst relations managers.” Josh at H&K’s ARcade opines “But beware: learning AR from an analyst is a little like taking lessons in fox-hunting from a fox.” I did not have the SageCircle blog when this was going down so I could only grin wondering how Forrester’s Merv Adrian and Kevin Lucas liked being on the receiving end of outside criticism similar to what vendors get from analysts.
 
IT analysts beat other sources when it comes to influence on corporate tech purchasing decisions – H&K’s Josh Reynolds reported that his agency’s annual tech buyers study once more showed that the IT analysts are the big dogs when it comes to influencing IT buying decisions. The analysts were cited 58% of the time versus 47% for the number two influencer.  On a less scientific basis, I’ve had the opportunity to chat with a number of IT executives. Every large enterprise customer reported that they subscribe to Gartner and use the analysts for decision support during product purchases. The expression on the IT executive faces when asked this question conveyed, “Well, duh, everybody subscribes to Gartner”. Equally interesting are the number of IT executives that are now reading tech blogs and listening to podcasts. Not as many as subscribing to analyst firms, but growing.

Question: What do you think were the interesting developments in the IT industry analyst market in 2007?

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5 Responses

  1. There’s an opportunity for both brands to benefit from each other. I’m exploring this, and four months into this, I have to say it’s working. It hasn’t been completely easy however, as some social media media purists have had problems with my new angle, but so it goes. They’ll live on, as will I.

  2. George Colony, Forrester’s CEO, has always been edgier and willing to try new things, especially when compared to Gartner and its offshoots, META and Giga. It will be interesting to see if you — and to a lesser extent Charlene Li — remain unique or represent a wave of new age analysts with dual brands.

  3. Carter-Dave,

    In that last comment,

    “… remain unique or represent a wave of new age analysts with dual brands”,

    you seem to imply that Jeremiah’s and Charlene’s rising recognition today is genuinely different than what we’ve seen in the past with Forrester analysts like Mary Modahl, Josh Bernoff, Bruce Temkin. What are you getting at?

  4. Jeremiah is unique in my opinion because he already had a high visibility brand before joining Forrester and has maintained his personal brand since, especially by continuing to post to Web Strategy by Jeremiah. I cannot think of another instance of someone joining an analyst firm that came with such an established reputation and readership. I would not be surprised if Jeremiah generated lots of sales leads for Forrester just because he joined.

    Analysts who establish their expertise and reputation while at a major firm find that their standing fades dramatically once they are no longer associated with the firm. The major exceptions are probably Rob Enderle and Roger Kay. Are there others? Sure, most former big firm analysts can hang out their shingle and do a good business advising vendors because they are smart, but they will never have the same access and influence as before. As one formerly prominent IDC analyst poignantly told me in a LinkedIn Answer about vendors attitude toward him: “Now that I’m on my own, they seldom communicate with me and in some cases don’t answer direct questions put to them.” That is why one sees so many “boomerangs,” analysts who left the major firms only later to return to the mothership.

    Charlene Li has the potential to become the next “Rob Enderle” in that she has built a personal brand independent of Forrester — which will only strengthen if Groundswell hits the business best sellers list — that should endure if she left. I can’t think of another analyst, not even Groundswell cohort Josh, who is in the same position.

  5. You’re adopting a fairly narrow point of view to come up with this argument. Most of the high profile influencer movements are from one research firm to another; or to/from a range of other sectors — media, vendors, consultancies, associations, academia.

    For the sake of your argument, let’s look only at n00bs entering the analyst ranks. I have enormous respect for Jeremiah, and said so when he joined Forrester. However, I don’t agree with you that he’s in a class almost by himself. I do not agree that his success as an A-lister makes his reputation more valuable than that of an incoming CIO — such as David McClure in Gartner’s government practice.

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