What to do when analyst firms lays off analysts

SageCircle has learned that IDC has initiated a round of analyst layoffs. At this time the exact number of staff and coverage is not known. AR teams need to hope for the best for their favorite IDC analysts, but plan for the worst.

Of course, layoffs impact real people with families and obligations. Often AR people are genuinely friendly with the analysts they work with and this sort of news can be a shock. Unfortunately for AR professionals, analyst firm layoffs also raise important issues that need to be addressed ASAP no matter how much sympathy they feel for the analysts caught in the layoffs.

The stark reality is that an analyst firm will not admit that they have pushed critical intellectual property out the door. Because none of the major analyst firms have knowledge management systems or collaboration platforms in place, almost all IP is stored between the ears of analysts. When an analyst leaves, critical information and context leaves as well. For vendors that means that reporters or end users that call the firm with a question may be given access to analysts that might have had only peripheral contact with the market space, your company, your products and services, and your competition.  Until they are educated in this new area there is a chance they could give out incorrect information or recommendations.

As a consequence, AR teams need to be proactive.

SageCircle Technique:

  • Ascertain whether any of your primary analysts are being affected
  • Identify or guess which analyst(s) might take over inquiry responsibility
  • Insist that you be given the opportunity to brief the interim analyst(s) quickly
  • Generate an analyst education plan to get the interim analysts up-to-speed on your products and how they fit into the overall marketplace
  • Determine if any of the affected analysts were scheduled to do an analyst consulting day for your company (e.g., on-site strategy review session or marketing speech). If so, decide whether there is an acceptable substitute. If the answer is no, cancel the session or get a top analyst from another firm to do the engagement
  • If the layoffs occur as you are moving into annual contract renewal negotiations, determine if this impacts the services you buy from the firm
  • If the analyst is respected, check to see if there are job opportunities for the analyst in your company

Bottom Line: Analyst firm layoffs are not acts of nature that have to be passively accepted. Rather AR teams need to move into action to safeguard the interests of their companies.

Question: Have you ever been adversely affected by an analyst layoff?

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7 Responses

  1. You should add to this: determine how you want to maintain your relationship with the departed analyst. How does this change their influence level? How likely are they to remain an analyst, albeit elsewhere? What’s their media visibility and might it even go up now that they have more time? Abandon, sustain or nurture/maintain.

  2. One other thing – to Jonathan Yarmis’ point about how you want to maintain a relationship with the departed analyst, the same is true of those you fear might be moving on but haven’t yet. It’s imperative that you find out who’s getting the old heave ho . . . don’t want to be briefing on strategic, NDA-type stuff and then find that that analyst went to a competitor.

  3. Carter, thank you for posting this rather insightful piece. I am one of the impacted IDC analysts. Analysts carry their knowledge and brand with them, so greater or lesser degree. Some become analysts again, many become purchasers of research. To Jonathan’s point, visibility can go up, it all depends on what the analyst chooses to do.

    What I hate most about this process is being wrenched from my clients and contacts without being able to thank them for their support and carefully build a bridge to whatever our next relationship will be. To those of you reading this note, please contact me.

  4. Good points – all around, and I’d say that having “disaster recovery” in place for times like these is a good practice on both sides of the fence.

    As an analyst who made a voluntary transition from one firm to another (I was at Delphi Group for 13 years, now in Market Intelligence for AIIM.org), I had begun sending out my social networking tendrils about 4 years ago, including connecting with all of my clients (that were hip enough to do it) on LinkedIn, Plaxo, Xing, and more recently (last 12 months), on Facebook, as well as providing all IM contact info (multi-network).

    Helps to facilitate daily work to have many ways to get in touch, and certainly when one or the other side ends up leaving their position. There’s something to be said for “abstracting” your relationships up and out (or parallel) to the official channels at your disposal.

    Most of the working relationships in the analyst world are very much personal relationships – if you’re engaging an analyst at all, you’re “selling” them on your credibility and usefulness (as a solution), and they are turning it around “selling” their personal credibility and intelligence, as well as that of the firm, but in the end, it is human-powered analysis that you’re getting, so yes, without a plan to regroup, you could easily see your efforts at educating/conversing with an analyst evaporate during restructuring/layoffs.

    And indeed, most of the insight that analysts have are stored between their ears, and perhaps on their laptops. Just as with many knowledge management or enterprise content management deployments – the vast majority of information/content/knowledge tends to NOT be in the central repository. It’s uncaptured, or stuck in e-mail, word docs, etc., that are not being directly shared with other analysts. Exit interviews and clean-up are not widely done (well or at all) across industries, and the analyst world is not that much different.

    Part of my point about “disaster recovery” (or “business continuity” if you want to look at it as a less dire situation) from the AR perspective is to make sure that you are spreading your message to multiple analysts within a firm, but also not to bet on any single firm as being the only ones who know you in depth.

    I’d agree with the tips on re-evaluating whether you continue to retain the services of the firm, particularly if your key analyst has left, as, let’s face it, there are plenty of analysts who just aren’t quite as sharp or experienced/knowledgeable. That said, it could be that you may find a better internal contact than you had in the past – and that has a different take than you’d been getting before.

    Lastly, given the uncertainty (ahem, recession) in the market, it would be wise to consider mixing up your analyst/intelligence spend between year-long commitments and project-based work. If the star analyst leaves a month after you’ve signed a contract, that’s not good news. At the least, look for escape clauses up front, that let you re-evaluate – essentially a Service Level Agreement that’s dependent on experience, etc.. Bottom line, don’t be held hostage.

    I, Cringely has an interesting commentary on the analyst world this week – see http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2008/pulpit_20080516_004925.html

    Cheers,
    Dan

  5. [...] just a reminder for analyst relations professionals that they need to have a process in place for dealing with a departing analyst. Any departure of a Tier 1 analyst from your list should send you into dynamic [...]

  6. [...] just a reminder for analyst relations professionals that they need to have a process in place for dealing with a departing analyst. Any departure of a Tier 1 analyst from your list should send you into dynamic [...]

  7. [...] is just a reminder to analyst relations professionals that they need to have a process in place for dealing with a departing analyst. Any departure of a key analyst from your list should send you into dynamic action. These [...]

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