The organizational challenges of managing AR, CI and MR [Practitioner Question]

question-mark-graphic.jpgWe often are asked about the differences in management techniques when AR is organizationally under corporate communications or marketing as compared to a when it is part of a strategy group.  How you deal with analysts, and the need for strategic interactions as compared to product-level briefings, will be altered based on the client base you are attempting to serve.

Analyst interactions also occur in the Competitive Intelligence (CI) and Market Research (MR) groups.  They are also often the keepers of the major analyst contracts and the “repository” of the purchased analyst data, reprints, and commissioned research.  In addition to providing research for the product and strategy teams they contribute to the sales organization with share numbers and competitive bullet points.

Sometimes these groups are in very separate parts of the company (e.g., AR in corporate communications, MR in product management and CI in field sales) while at others, especially in smaller vendors, one person does it all.  In larger companies these functions may be so organizationally separate from AR as to require processes for enhancing the communications and collaboration, despite the fact that you are all dealing with the same analysts.

From time-to-time, companies make organizational changes with AR being told – sometimes over AR’s reasonable objections – to take responsibility for the CI/MR teams. Incorporating the CI/MR teams with AR can prove to be an interesting challenge for the AR manager because while all three groups interact with the industry analysts there are many differences in job functions and objectives. Of course, there are best practices basic to any organizational change that AR managers have to use. However, there are some unique considerations for this particular challenge.

SageCircle was recently asked to assist in such a merger of functions and it started us down a path of research.  We created a SageCircle Outline to organize our early thoughts on this issue. The SageCircle Outline is a tool used by Strategists and clients to discuss the issues concerning an emerging research topic.  This tool is a conceptual model used to drive discussion and does not represent a final set of recommendations or best practices.

We started by listing the major issues and then filling in details and recommendations. We are also asking members of the analyst ecosystems – AR, MR, CI, analysts, and others – to weigh in via comments or e-mail (carter [at] sagecircle dot com) with your ideas and suggestions.

What do you think needs to be done?

Organization -

Do you combine job functions and organize by topic or by analyst firm, or do you maintain the job functions.  Sage Circle believes that the talents, experiences, and the work styles of these groups are too different to merge.  The synergies need to be merged, but the people need to maintain focus on their specific areas.  Setting joint staff meetings and establishing common practices will lead to collaboration, and perhaps more efficient analyst interactions.  How much should these functions merge?  Are there dangers in analyst perception, or will analysts encourage the company’s focus?

What about new metrics for success?  Can you create metrics for how the groups collaborate or seek ways to measure the improvement in either group based on cross-training and sharing?

Analyst Contracts

How much can you improve the use of analyst data, interactions, and perception while streamlining the process and cost of dealing with the contracts?  How much do your teams work together when renewing contracts?

Data Management

Typically AR uses a CRM-like system to track analyst interactions.  CI and MR often have a very different repository.  Can or should these be merged?  It can be very helpful for AR staff to know when analyst inquiries occur with their key analysts.  How would you manage that data?  Should there be a common platform?

Training

Informal or loosely organized “day in the life” presentations from each team will help the groups better understand alternate job functions.  These could be part of the joint staff meetings?  Is a more formal approach desired or even possible?  Can the teams mentor each other?  How about best practices training?  Perhaps that would be beneficial for everyone.  

When you do external training you can leverage the synergies of all the groups into combined training.  Sales teams could have a more rounded approach to the analysts and know how to use them in the sales process.  Product managers could understand how both incoming data and outbound relationship management can impact their product or service.  Is this a more efficient way to do business?

Please provide your comments or ask additional questions on any or all of these topics. 

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2 Responses

  1. too much to say here to type it all up, but feel free to call me or track me down via my site http://www.clewllc.com – i’m a long time CI consultant and have seen this precise issue before (merging ci into assorted areas)

  2. Hi Dave, Thanks for the comment. As I continue to work on this topic, I’ll give you a call.

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