What are the pluses and minuses of former analysts taking on vendor AR roles? [Practitioner Question]

question-mark-graphic.jpgComment/Question: Re: your point below about jobs for senior analysts, here’s an idea for a blog entry – the pluses and minuses of former analysts taking on vendor analyst relations roles. That ought to stimulate some discussion on the comments section.

Rob Curran, wicked smart AR professional at Waggener Edstrom, sent along that comment after this week’s newsletter where we wrote in light of the recent spate of layoffs at analyst firms: 

Do you know of a job appropriate for a senior analyst? – Now is the time to grab talent. The job could be at a firm you know is hiring or maybe your company has a position open in product management, strategy or market research. If so, notify the analysts you know that are “in transit” between positions. Not just former Forrester analysts, but the others as well.”

It looked like Rob noticed we did not include analyst relations (AR) as a possible job for former analysts. Hopefully that was a simple oversight on my part (this is Carter, a former Gartner analyst, writing) and not a Freudian slip. Obviously there can be real value to having a former analyst in the AR role. On the other hand, I have seen some former analysts really botch the job of AR.

This is a topic that really does call for the contributions from all members of the analyst ecosystem. What do you think? It would be great to get the insights of those folks who have been on both sides of the table, both AR and analyst. To get the ball rolling, here some top-of-mind pluses and minuses:

Pluses

  • Writing and public speaking experience
  • Understanding of the analyst culture
  • Knowing how to frame an argument
  • Having a rolodex of industry and analyst contacts
  • Researching skills

Minuses

  • Ego conflicts with analysts
  • Know it all attitude
  • Over generalizes personal experience to all analysts
  • Ivory tower approach to issues

Please leave a comment with your opinions. This is not just a fun exercise, but hopefully will provide useful information for vendors looking to hire analysts and former analysts thinking about getting into AR.

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42 Responses

  1. @carterlusher generally I don’t think ex-analysts do make great analyst relations people. The skill-set is so very different. The tendency is to think they know best and can represent the company without recourse to the execs they should be putting forward. Also – sadly, in my experience, ex-Gartner AR people in particular can find it very hard to believe that analysts from other firms are worth talking to. You call out the minuses yourself above, the pluses i am less convinced by.

    on pluses for example note the “know the analyst culture” – not sure the statement makes sense. Compare for example the old Meta culture, slowly infusing Gartner. two VERY different cultures. there is no single culture to understand in this business.

    Another way of thinking about it. I can’t think of a single ex-analyst in my top ten or so AR people.

  2. As a former analyst now working in AR I believe the combination works fantastically well. You are so much better aware of the pressures analysts are under and how to know when and how to contact them.

    It also makes it much easier to argue the point when vendors come up with the ridiculous argument that you simply pay an analyst to get a good report write up. I’ve put some more pluses and minuses to add to the good ones you already have.

    Pluses
    Ability to maximise meeting results with proper vendor training
    Can put together a presentation that’s actually one the analyst wants to keep!
    Has the analysts’ best interests at heart
    Encourages trust amongst vendors with the analysts they’re speaking with

    Minuses
    Need to avoid still seeing yourself as an analyst and the temptation to write about the market!
    Degree of favouritsm for old networks

  3. Comments via Twitter tweets.

    Gartner’s Scott Nelson http://www.twitter.com/scottn7

    @carterlusher Good AR=Understanding what an analyst is trying to do

    @carterlusher I think it is like anything else, it depends on the analyst. Some make the transition well. Some not so much.

  4. I think it depends on the individual, and their personality, as to whether a former analyst can make a good AR person. Knowledge of the analyst ecosystem and how to navigate it, specific product/technology/market knowledge, a client service mentality, and relationships that a former analyst can bring to the table provide some very compelling capabilities and skills to an AR position.

    Particularly “on paper.”

    In reality, and somewhat generalizing, I think former analysts tend to lack the aggressiveness and “street smarts” that AR folks who have a PR- or marketing-derived skillset bring to the table. This savviness is borne of necessity and often infuses an ability to “get things done” that can be quite impressive.

    I know a number of current and former AR folks within HP whom I really hold in awe in terms of their overall knowledge, internal and external (analyst) relationships and general “GTD” abilities.

    WIth perhaps 1-2 exceptions, and without naming any names, none are former analysts — most all are former PR and/or marketing people who have specialized in AR. (They don’t know that I hold them in such extremely high regard…shhh, don’t tell them!).

    Bottom line though, it depends on the individual and the attitude and desire that they bring to the job.

    Cheers,
    Gerry

  5. Sometimes I felt that vendors “buy” analysts into AR roles to (a) have a direct wire into the old network and (b) take them off the critics market. However, the result has not always worked well. None of my top AR contacts are former analysts. If there was such an easy transition, why aren’t there more ex-AR analysts out there? OK, vendors (particularly the larger ones) pay better. Maybe it’s as simple as that.

    As for your “pluses”:

    * Writing and public speaking experience
    > What are AR folks writing about? Publicly speaking about what? I mean, these are good general skills, but hardly game-changing.

    * Understanding of the analyst culture
    > OK. So we’re all egomaniacs and arrogant bastards. Moving on.

    * Knowing how to frame an argument
    > I don’t recall having any arguments with AR folks. I must be missing something.

    * Having a rolodex of industry and analyst contacts
    > That ain’t worth much, as all contact details are on public websites. If you know how to Google, you’re all set.

    * Researching skills
    > So what are AR people researching these days?

    Sorry if I’m appearing cynical here. Hey, I’m an analyst! Just saying that I don’t buy the logical progression from analyst to analyst relations.

  6. “Can put together a presentation that’s actually one the analyst wants to keep!” – henrietta all i can say is good. luck. with. that.

  7. Andy, I think you are missing the point with regard to the INTERNAL skills required for an effective AR person. Analysts may never see this, but often the internal part of the job is considerably more difficult than the external-facing (relationship) aspects of the job.

    Specifically, presenting and speaking, creating good PPTs, framing arguments and providing counsel to sr. execs who are either too busy or don’t want to deal with analysts, are very important aspects of the job. For example, I am putting together a lot of “educational” materials about some facets of AR for internal audiences right now.

    Another valuable application of these skills for an AR person is dealing with execs who want to push a particular view that an AR person (through their knowledge of analysts’ viewpoints/research and market reality) KNOWS won’t fly.

    Or calming down an exec who is upset of their ranking in an MQ ;-) or Wave, and who wants to fly to Boston or San Francisco and have an intense “tete a tete” with said analyst … the list goes on.

    That said, my earlier post stands.

    Cheers,
    Gerry

  8. Taking an industry analyst to do AR would be a waste. Vendors typically have lots of strategy and presentation work that would be a much better fit with an analyst’s skill set.

  9. Silly question. Does an ex-PR person make a good AR person? Does an ex-product manager make a good AR person? Does an ex-software developer make a good AR person. Turn it around. Does an ex-journalist make a good analyst? How about an ex-AR person making a good analyst? How about an analyst who has zero industry background – never been in IT, never developed, marketed or sold an IT product? Or analysts who have not one iota of understanding of survey research, or researchers that ignore the IT industry itself? Questions abound, or not if you prefer to focus on real work.

    Answer is different people are good at different things, people grow, change, learn (or don’t), change roles during their careers, and different people are able to adapt to new situations very well sometimes, sometimes not. Sometimes fate conspires against all good intentions, work ethic and high IQ. What ya gonna do?

    Agree with GVZ though. Analysts who have never been on the other side do not see that half, or more, of an AR person’s job is the internal work which, depending on the situation, can be way more challenging than working with analysts. That is okay though, not an Analyst’s job to understand what AR does, but AR is sometimes about managing the demilitarized zone. I find the vast majority of analysts to be very professional and a pleasure to work with, but there are some high maint types. True on the inside too. And I have my moods too, and am not always charming to work with. Similarly, AR people don’t typically have direct insight into what Analysts have to go through like research deadlines and reviews, driving business (particularly the indies and places like IDC), or always trying to come up with some intelligent to say or write. I sit in some advisory sessions and think to myself as the minutes turn into hours, WOW, that analyst hasn’t repeated herself much yet and still sounds and acts intelligent, very impressive – hard to do. Hey AR person, there is nothing like being in the 4th hour of advisory with 6 really bright product managers watching you like a hawk. Always good to try to grasp what the other person is going through.

  10. To add to the pluses, I’d extend Carter’s point about knowing how to frame an argument. The ex-analyst is more likely to bring positive change in an escalation over a contentious draft research position where genuine weakness exists. And, they’re more likely to smother an escalation when the weakness really only exists in the eye of the vendor.

    To the minuses – analysts tend to be independent contributors. Teamwork, cajoling, and driving tentative-to-confirmed are big elements of being effective in-house. In line with Gerry’s ealier point, AR doesn’t get rewarded for being insightful in and of itself; it’s all about the deliverables.

  11. Mostly side with the no’s here. Advantages seem relatively generic and limited or suggest knowledge from one particular viewpoint/firm is generalizable.

    And mostly agree with the various potential negatives that people have listed.

    Only caveat is that a lot of analysts did originally come from vendor marketing or PR roles of various types so it’s not like all (or even most) analysts are career analysts. Personalities of individual analysts (and their firms) differ as well so while there’s certainly truth in Andy’s humorous content “OK. So we’re all egomaniacs and arrogant bastards. Moving on.” it’s also a stereotype that applies more to some analysts than others.

    So, overall, I don’t see it as a total no-go but I don’t see it as a particularly obvious fit either.

  12. That is in fact what we do – many analysts, ex-myself included, only previously thought that AR people set up meetings and acted as annoying time reminders during a really interesting briefing.

    But in fact we advise on strategy, contribute in sales meetings, liaise with the marketing and comms departments and ensure high quality delivery of presentations. AR can be very process driven if you’re just arranging meetings but a good AR professional should be seen as intrinsic to the business. Working with sales people and the top C-level execs is very much a part of the job. It’s amazing how important AR quickly becomes to the CEO when there’s a bad rating in the latest MQ!

  13. Gerry, point taken re the internal focus.

    However, the way you describe the job (“often the internal part of the job is considerably more difficult than the external-facing (relationship) aspects of the job.”) sounds more like this AR role should more appropriately be called ER, as in Executive Relations, if that’s where most of your difficulties are. And you know, the job may just feel like being in an Emergency Room, too.

  14. This is a great debate having made the move recently myself. I think what really matters is what is the end goal for the vendor when it comes to AR and they all approach this very differently for a number of reasons including marketing maturity, awarenss, CEO/CMO buy in and understanding etc. This dictates what flavor of AR person they want…PR, Ex analyst, marketing guru etc !

  15. I think Evan and Robert are spot on, I will add that ex-analysts understand really well the methodologies and this is a big advantage, though you just need to ask an analyst sometimes.

    Andy cracked me up with his comments but AR Managers are (or at least should be) more than a briefing dollies: if executed properly AR can help shaping messages and should also be outcome focused to support the field (sales).

  16. I agree with Gerry and Evan, it largely depends on the individual in question.

    Being a former analyst does help establish credibility with internal constituencies and it does help with some analysts. But AR managers who behave too much like analysts will soon find themselves struggling.

    A former analyst (or experienced AR manager) can bring best practices of how to leverage analyst research. One of the key functions of AR is to be the internal advocate for the analyst community, and former analysts typically can be a strong voice for this.

  17. It depends on the individual. I ran AR for about a year and was terrible at it. I could not stop second-guessing the analysts. Very bad. As a result, I achieved zero influence. Bottom line: If I’m typical, I’d rather do analyst work than try to influence others who do analyst work.

  18. It helps to understand that there are different types of analysts — some who could switch seats at the table and be great AR people, and some not. I found the following categories helped me understand the analyst community, and should help shed light on this insightful question. Let me know if you agree.

    Some analysts grew up as researchers. They know research methods, survey techniques, numeric analysis, how to ask the right questions and put the data together to create meaning. These are the hard-core, fact-focused, (usually introverted) researchers. They learn to write well and to present well.

    Some analysts are the rock-stars. Their talent and ego allow them to command a boardroom and a conference stage. They have a great recall of information, a network of very influential people, and are the people you want to listen to.

    Some analysts come to the job from the world of the practitioners. They either worked for vendors or for clients – but in either case, they understand the topic and the market from a hands-on perspective.

    The best analysts have at least 2, hopefully all 3 of the above skills, but each analyst seems to have a sweet-spot strength. I suggest that each strength plays differently when you are an AR professional. Of the three areas, I think the third is best suited to move to the other side of the table. The second is least suited to do so.

    Similarly, there are different types of AR professionals too.

  19. As from many, it depends on the person. Having run up against the “I was an analyst at a large company, your company is too small” mindset, the “As an analyst, I would not have agreed with your viewpoint”, the “I still haven’t quite made the transition – I still see you as competition” and other views, many should not be there in the AR role. However, for those who can go in with the view that any analyst worth their salt should be able to add something to a discussion, to act as a moderator/facilitator to good discussions, to fight a small corner for why an exec should make time to talk to an analyst they may never of heard of and to fully understand the frustrations that there may be from the analyst’s point of view and do something to smooth that – then they are the ones who are good AR stock. Just a pity that they do seem few and far between….

  20. Trying not to repeat the other posts — one factor helping the transition from analyst to AR is the ability to honestly assess the cultural differences between an analyst firm and a vendor firm prior to taking the job. AR managers work for many “bosses,” few of whom understand either AR or analysts. The bosses must “own” the content being delivered to the analysts, and the AR manager can only influence content and tone. AR works within a bureaucracy which includes legal and financial inhibitors.

    The list goes on — but if the analyst is not capable of self-assessment and clear on the changes the job demands, s/he will not be successful.

  21. OK, ex-analyst (Yankee and Informa) here, jumped across to AR on the agency side. Personally I’ve found my ex-analyst status to be a positive thing in both dealing with clients and analysts (so long as you don’t harp on about it). Generally though I think it’s the case that either you ‘get’ AR or you don’t. Being an analyst in a former life can give some insight but if you still don’t understand the fundamentals of AR then you’re only ever going to be that analyst who turned to AR. Agree with some of the other comments here that you need to take a fresh approach to EVERY firm (even those you may not have respected when you were an analyst) and leave your former opinions to one side.

  22. I wouldn’t be optimistic about moving from analyst to AR. I once tried the move from analyst to VP Marketing. It didn’t work for me in the end because I couldn’t put the blinders on. By that I mean that I couldn’t make the mental transition from objective judgement of many things to subjective presentation of only one thing – in this case the company’s products. That’s what I had to do to be an effective VP of Marketing, and that’s what an analyst would have to do I think in moving to AR.

  23. Gotta agree w/ Gil. I think the user-side analysts tend to fall into the middle category while the vendor-side ones (myself) fall in the first. I tend to agree that these 2 categories aren’t great candidates for AR. The middle category, in particular, sounds like a dangerous fit.

    Companies differ, too. I deal mainly w/ small tech companies vs large IT companies. The inward facing AR challenges are probably less in the former, making for a better transition for analysts.

    jb

  24. Looks like I’m in late on this one and won’t repeat the arguments above. Suffice to say that I agree with much that has been said both positive and negative. So, after staking out that brave position, here’s another point…

    On the positive side, a former analyst has a much better grasp of the industry, along with customer dynamics. For me, it’s easier to work with someone who understands the business rather than, say, a former PR person who could just as easily be flacking for potato chips or copiers. This same argument applies to former vendor marketing people or product marketing types moving into AR positions.

    However, the key is that whoever the AR person is, they have to understand, and want to perform, the ‘real’ AR role. They can’t let their own biases and opinions get in the way of the overarching goal.

  25. Dale Vile, Freeform Dynamics via Twitter
    (read bottom to top)

    @carterlusher It is hard being effective as analyst if all you have ever been is, well, an analyst – such a person might struggle as an AR

    @carterlusher Yep – agreed – but not sure analyst experience trumps any other kind of relevant experience

    carterlusher: @dale_vile But also being an analyst could be part of that varied experience

    dale_vile: @carterlusher It’s more about ARs understanding *their* organisation, which is why senior ARs in HP, MS, Cisco, Voda, etc are so effective

    dale_vile: @carterlusher Varied experience allows an AR to connect with people and qualify/broker effectively – the IBM EMEA AR team is a good example

    dale_vile: @carterlusher The best AR people are those that have had varied careers – eg a couple of: marketing, sales, BD, product management, IT mgmt

    carterlusher: @dale_vile Good points that duration of analyst experience and which firm would be interesting data points

    dale_vile: @carterlusher Re ex-analysts as AR managers – can work, but not if they have spent their careers working largely for one big firm

  26. What a great discussion. I scanned quickly, but a lot of thought and passion here – I did miss one thing, though, and that was what the job description being filled was. I’ve seen as many different kinds of AR people as I have analysts. Some are great administrators/managers, some schmoozers par excellence, some strategists and presenters in their own right. Larger AR organizatons often need some of each. And sometiems you can get more than one of these skill sets in the same person.

    My opinion is that many analysts are particularly well suited for the AR person as evangelist. I have held the job at times, and sometimes I wanted to keep the analysts as far as possible from the real content experts (we all know why). So I had to do the messaging and positioning myself. And that was my favorite part of the job – so much so that I went over to the analyst ranks myself, because it seemed to me that analysts had the world’s best job.

    merv

  27. Hello! What a great discussion so far! I would echo sentiments that it’s up to the individual, whether or not they come from the analyst world, product management, PR, or even from another discipline. There are a few traits that do seem to be important:

    1. Relationship building skills – its key to find people who are truly trying to foster relationships, earn credibility, and gain influence. AR managers need to be able to relate or communicate effectively to analysts.

    2. Technical background or ability to learn it quickly – AR managers who know the product or can quickly learn the products earn the trust of the product teams which means building internal credibility.

    3. Understanding of the different types of analysts and the analyst firm models. With different types of analysts out there (i.e. product strategists, customer advocates, and evangelists), it becomes important to match their styles and the analyst’s firm models. This way opportunities are appreciated and expectations are met.

    Probably a ton of other factors that help, but it also is important to be surrounded by seasoned AR professionals or have access to the wisdom of AR strategists who can help provide this perspective.

    Cheers!

    -R

  28. Well done (again) Carter, it looks like you’ve hit a rich seam of comment and insight. I work on the agency side, but I’ve worked with dozens of inhouse AR managers, some good, some less so, some ex-analyst, some not. One characteristic of the excellent ones that has only been touched on lightly in the comments above is the realisation that, generally speaking, working in AR means you’re in a ‘communications’ role as opposed to a ‘content’ role.

    This doesn’t mean that all ARs are ‘PR bunnies’ or that they are involved in spin but it does imply a shift in emphasis: a good analyst produces and disseminates brilliant insight, whereas AR represents the experts within the company and provides a link to the underlying brilliance [one hopes] of a firm’s technologies and strategies. AR can help cut and polish the gems, but it doesn’t actually dig them out of the rock face.

    Not everyone can make the transition – when they do, they make stellar ARs.

  29. I’m siding with the “it depends” crowd here. Most analysts don’t want to do AR, period, which means they won’t do it well it they accept such a role. But for those who would consider it, the best will be the analysts who really empathized with AR people, and enjoyed working with them. (Many analysts prefer interactions w product people, or let’s face it, the outside world, the press, speaking at conferences, blogging, reaching across the industry as broadly as possible).

    An area I’ve seen former analysts thrive in and contribute to is supporting AR as part of a larger role, like strategic marketing. Knowing how analysts work and what makes a good relationship makes a former analyst quite valuable in a contributing role.

    Another question: how do former analysts fare in PR?

  30. Fab debate Carter, think you can do a presentation off the back of all the comments made. Having worked in house and in agency the only point I wish to make is that it boils down the ability to establish, develop and maintain relationships irrespective of whether its with clients/internally or externally. While there is obviously kudos in the title ‘Analyst’ in my view relationship ability is the defining point. What is interesting to me at least is how ex-analysts that have moved into AR (you know who you are) have brought a great deal of analysis to AR which does leave me with the though once an analyst always an analyst!

  31. Wow! Very interesting comments. Just so you know where I’m coming from. I’m an AR Director at IBM. Prior to that, I held various roles (Biz Dev, Strategy, M&A, Marketing) at a few other vendors. Before that, I was a Gartner analyst for 6 years. Before that, I was an IT Manager for 9 years.

    My favorite comments here are those from analysts with whom I work who said that ex-analysts don’t make good AR people. Thanks for that vote of non-confidence. I remember that guys! :-( Luckily, I’m doing OK despite those opinions. I guess analysts don’t always get it correctly. Now there’s a lesson learned!

    OK, enough sarcasm. My experience: As others have said, it certainly depends on the person. The roles of analyst and AR Manager are very, very different; and while I’m sure there are some analysts who would not be happy in an AR role, there are great benefits to having been on the inside — and no real reasons why an ex-analyst *couldn’t* succeed as an AR Manager.

    After all, most analysts are smart people who fell into an analyst role, just as most AR people fell into their roles. (I don’t know anyone who went to college with the intention of being either an IT Analyst or an AR Manager when they graduated). Smart people tend to pick up new skills pretty quickly, and the more relevant experience they have, the quicker they learn and the sooner they add value to their organizations.

    I suppose I can ramble on about this for hours (shoot me an email if you want to speak with me on this subject), but I’ll stop here. Happy Presidents’ Day!

    Joe

  32. I’ve thought quite a bit more about this topic…. so here are additional (and much better) thoughts:

    Before we can decide who would be a good AR Manager, we have to define what makes a good AR Manager. And I believe that most analysts have very little idea what makes a good AR Manager. (I sure didn’t in my analyst days).

    Is a good AR Manager one who gets the analyst quick access to Execs? Or is it the AR Manager who makes it easy to renew an analyst contract? Or is it the one who gets the analyst’s bills paid quickly? Or the one who give the analyst the most white paper work? Or consulting dates? Is it the AR Manager who can have an interesting intellectual conversation with the analyst on key industry topics?

    The correct answer is “none of the above.” Good AR managers make things happen INSIDE their company that wouldn’t have happened if he or she wasn’t there. A good AR Manager helps his sales force leverage the work of analysts, or analyst opinions, to win sales. A good AR Manager sets up an analyst conversation with an Exec when the Exec *needs* to hear something that the analyst knows and the Exec doesn’t. A good AR Manager leverages analysts’ work as part of a larger communications or marketing plan. A good AR Manager influences the opinions of analysts — sometimes subtly, and other times turning it around completely.

    Now, who gets to rate AR Managers? Analysts? I’m not so sure.

    Now back to my vacation day.
    Joe

  33. I came to analyst work from marketing and business development on the vendor side. As such, I’ve sat on both sides of the table and think that I could wear the AR hat (not necessarily would I want to.) So I concur with all those that say it depends on the analyst. At the end of the day AR is marketing work and so I feel it needs a person who has those skills regardless of background. What would and could make an analyst a good AR person are those already mentioned such as knowing the ropes. To that I would add empathy. A former analyst understands deadlines and the pressures on the analyst and can hopefully communicate effectively serving both the client and the analyst community well.

  34. “At the end of the day AR is marketing work” – quite. If only people would just remember that!

  35. Concur with the others who say that it depends on the person as much as their background. If someone is adaptable, then an analyst can become an AR person, and likewise, an AR person could become an analyst and so forth assuming they have the skill sets.

    The key is as others have mentioned is the ability of the individual to adapt into the role. On the other hand, some analysts might see it beneath themselves to return to the earthly realm of being a vendor let alone a person in marketing let alone in AR having to “kiss the ring”, instead of extending the hand to have their ring “kissed”.

    However when push comes to shove and the mortgage needs to be paid, food put on the table and so forth, it’s amazing how some people can all of a sudden become adaptable while others cannot transition between roles, new areas of expertise or coverage.

    Cheers – gs

    Greg Schulz – StorageIO and Author “The Green and Virtual Data Center” (CRC)

  36. Carter – sorry to play the regional card once again – but the attractiveness of an analyst becoming an AR would vary greatly by geography. US/Europe both abound with AR resources which means that AR managers have ‘the luxury’ of indulging in strategic AR and direct involvement in the business – that might be attractive to an analyst coming over to the dark side. In regions lesser well resourced (AP, BRIC countries, China) the expectation in AR tends more towards communication of offerings/innovation, and to cover much larger territories and analysts groupings. In these geographies, the career change may appear a lot less attractive. This is not a regional whinge, honest – it’s a reflection on the state of the business.

    Merv seems to have picked up also on the propensity of the organisation towards strategic AR vs. communiction AR. If the organisation treats AR as ‘grown up PR’ – then again, that wouldn’t be such an attractive move for an analyst. But if the organisation is prepared to treat relationships at the strategic level that’s where an ex-analyst would fulfil the AR role well – being able to bring together like minds and extract useful insights for the business.

    In general, if an analyst can marshall his thoughts, facts and figures well – then, after a small amount of transition pain, they should be able to marshall analysts too!! <>

  37. Interesting discussion. Plenty of insight! I have not read every comment in depth, yet skimmed most. Fun to see so many analysts comment on this topic…

    Surprised the following is not mentioned – setting / influencing a research agenda. This, in my humble opinion, is the No.1 skill set / knowledge base an ex-analyst can bring into an AR role. I see this as a talent of particular value in emerging markets (i.e. cloud, Web, ALM, etc.)

    So often, we get lost in the daily hustle of chasing down research notes, the taxing MQ or Wave, the newest presentation, the unexpected report, references, you name it. I often fell like Jack Bauer…

    An ex-analyst will almost instantly be able to (a) advocate and (b) be trusted advocating a “position” from a customer-lead perspective because they’ve lived the pressures, commitments, and deadline of an analyst.

    As a marketer by training, this type of relationship is (a) rare and (b) takes years to build w/ an analyst, and – frankly – doesn’t scale well given the attention needed to achieve success for both sides.

    That said, we all have our favorite case study of an ex-analyst crashing-and-burning on entry into the vendor / marketing world. The main pitfall…patience. I’ve found patience is critical to successful AR. If you are going to hire an ex-analyst to do AR, ask yourself…”Does this candidate have the patience required to implement a strategy tomorrow and then persist for two-three years before starting to yield the desired result, if they see it at all.

  38. Great discussion and content on this topic. I agree with the majority of the findings in the previous posts. Years ago, I worked for a CEO who proposed hiring our most negative analyst, giving him a VP title, and shutting him up in an office somewhere. And he was serious. Of course, that would not be bad gig these days…
    Typically, I would agree with James Governor’s first post on the fact that “the skill sets are so very different”. However, if I had my dream budget and headcount reqs, I would consider hiring ex-analysts not as your traditional AR practitioner, but as a support strategist to the overall AR efforts. In this dream position, they would not necessarily be a face to the analyst community. They would, however, serve as behind the scenes advisors to both the AR team and AR internal clients on a variety of AR activities, from advising on the correct response to MQ/WAVEs, sales training on “what the analysts are telling clients”, general analyst interaction training, and high level strategy advice, etc. Right now, we use several ex-analysts to fill this need on a consulting basis (with some good results). So what if some analysts are “egomaniacs and arrogant bastards” (from a post above)? As long as the analyst was a smart expert in a particular technology or market area, had contacts in the industry and knew the inside workings of top tier analyst firms, that is probably the quality I would want in this job.

  39. Great discussion, and lots of “right answers”. Here’s another thought to kick around the table. Analyst relations is normally part of a broader external communications function in most companies, and good AR managers are often called upon (or should be called upon) to “translate” the raw messaging that usually comes out of product management/marketing into more external-ready format. We not only transform from tech sheet to analyst-ready content but also help our PR and other external comms brethren to translate into their own audience-ready format. I believe ex-analysts would be comfortable with “raw” state of the materials, and would be adept at refining to a more analyst-ready state. I don’t see why ex-analysts couldn’t help refine that state to the next level… but would they?

  40. I agree with Joe Barkan.

    I think that labeling analysts as “know it alls” speaks to negative experiences more so than it credits them on an individual basis.

    Would hiring an analyst for a marketing role just because of their influence on the market from the analyst side of the fence be a great idea? Well, not on that basis alone. However, a good majority of analysts that I have worked over the last decade demonstrate a lot of flexibility and open mindedness, if you combine that with a raised knowledge level regarding a complex market segment — and you know they can think and present at a strategic level, then certainly nothing wrong with considering them for a transition to marketing.

  41. I have been intrigued by the level conversation and many of you bring up great pros and cons. A couple of you hit the nail on the head – it really boils down to the individual personality of that analyst whether they would excel in an AR position. This posiiton (AR) is about creating relationships, prioritizing and being very strategic with great execution – in that order. If an analyst has these qualities they should excel in the role. Anyone thinking of hiring an analyst should really spend alot of time with them and determine are they just plain likeable, personable and professional first! That’s half the battle – smarts comes next.

  42. I think a bad analyst could make a fine AR person. A good one, however, probably would not.

    The single worst AR experience I’ve had this millennium was with somebody I respected as a former analyst. (It’s the one I allude to in http://www.dbms2.com/2007/10/12/oracle-and-bea-sometimes-i-am-waaaay-early/ .) That particular person should never work in AR again, and I believe he indeed rejoined the analyst ranks. In general, I believe there’s a personality disconnect between the two jobs. A good AR person needs to be a diplomat, for reasons amply described in this thread, subordinating his or her opinions as needed. But a good analyst needs to be a fiercly independent thinker.

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