Vendors need to respect analyst firm copyrights

On May 6, 2009 the Gartner Ombudsman blog had the following post Gartner External Use Policy: We Mean It where they called out a vendor by name for copyright violation. The violation was clear: distributing a research note without purchasing reprint rights. Frankly, this sort of blog post is only a slap on the wrist because what is the price that the vendor is going to pay? Lost sales? SageCircle doubts that an enterprise IT manager will not buy the vendor’s products simply because the sales representatives are handing out a research note. 

Of course, Gartner would not do something improper like downgrade the vendor in published research like moving the dot on a Magic Quadrant down and to the left. But there could be other steps taken. Because we were curious about whether Gartner is willing to take further steps we left this comment on the Gartner Ombudsman post: “Besides this post, what other steps is Gartner taking to punish this vendor? Legal? Not permitting the vendor to brief Gartner analysts? Canceling the Gartner contract so the company can no longer talk with analysts via inquiry?” It will be interesting to see if Gartner is willing to take other steps to enforce its copyrights.

Even if this particular vendor does not pay a further price for this violation, vendors must respect all analyst firms’ copyrighted material no matter if the firm is a boutique, a small firm, or large firm. This even includes Continue reading

Research is commoditized – 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.

Dead Idea: Analyst research is commoditized and thus analyst influence is dropping

Back Story: The other day Carter was chatting with a very smart VP at a major software firm about whether or not analyst influence was waning due to social media. The VP kept mentioning the commoditization of research and its impact on influence almost as if this was a new phenomenon. This was not a unique conversation as SageCircle strategists discuss this topic every week with people holding various positions in technology vendors.

The topic of “research is a commodity with so much free information on the blogs, so why do end users buy it?” is a common question, but the underlying idea is not new. In fact, chatter about the commoditization of research goes back to at least the early 1990s.

Before the World Wide Web, Ziff-Davis was considered Gartner’s biggest threat, not META, Forrester or Dataquest. Why? It owned so many IT and telecommunications magazines and had the potential for huge amounts of content that could be aggregated, integrated and multi-purposed. Because Ziff-Davis could pump this information out in so many channels (publications, consulting, events, and so on) it could quickly commoditize all that Gartner research in those official three-ring binders on so many IT managers’ desks and kill the analyst business.

It did not happen.

Later when the Netscape browser made the World Wide Web a practical tool for accessing magazine content, academic papers, and vendor material, the talk once more was how the industry analysts’ research is a commodity that could not support a business.

This did not happen.

Since blogs came on the scene the talk is now that all the content and commentary available in the blogosphere render the analyst research a commodity and analysts irrelevant.

This has not happened so far.

The “dead idea” in this case is that analysts’ written research is the sole source of their value to enterprise clients and influence. The reality is that written research has always been a commodity. There have always been magazines, newsletters, books, academic papers, management consultant quarterlies, vendor white papers, white-paper-for-hire analyst reports, and such that offered similar content to what were in analyst research notes. Because written research has always been commoditized, the advisory analyst firms have always emphasized on-demand, convenient access to analyst advice. It is those 30-minute phone-based inquiries that sell, not the written research.

Problem: Executives who perceive that analyst influence is dropping because their research is a commodity will be less likely to invest in AR or making themselves more effective spokespeople.

New Idea: Advice – personalized and delivered real time – cannot be commoditized, digitized, and distributed around the Internet. AR teams should educate their executive sponsors and other stakeholders that the analysts’ written research is only a fraction of how advisory analysts deliver business value to enterprise technology buyers.

SageCircle Technique:

  • AR should incorporate a formal training strategy into its AR Strategic and Tactical Plan
  • Topics for training should include analyst market realities, research methodologies, and business models in addition to spokespeople best practices

Interested in insights into how to incorporate effective training into AR Strategic and Tactical Plan? Check out SageCircle’s STRATEGIC ISSUES: Challenges for AR Team seminar. The next seminar will be held on March 24-25, 2009 in Cupertino in the Silicon Valley. Click here for more information including agenda, registration and future sessions.

Bottom Line: Vendors often follow dead ideas that have long passed their “sell by” date. AR teams needs to attack these dead ideas and work with their executive sponsors and colleagues to come up with better approaches that address today’s challenges.

Question: AR – How many of your executives express the opinion that analyst research has been commoditized? Are they referring only to written research?

 

How do analysts get compensated? [AR practitioner question]

question-mark-graphic.jpgNote: This post primarily concerns analysts who are employees of large firms like AMR, Forrester, Gartner and IDC. Analysts who are single practitioners or owners/partners in boutique firms have different compensation motivations.

Understanding how a person is compensated for their job can provide critical insights into his or her motivations and how to influence them. As a consequence, we receive frequent questions from clients regarding analyst compensation models. When considering this issue, it is important to realize that analysts have a complex web of compensations. The reality is that money is not the sole form of compensation for the analysts. For the good analyst, visibility in the industry and their perceived impact on companies and markets form important components of their total perceived compensation.

First, there are the traditional cash components of salary and bonus. For the most part, analyst salaries are not as high as many vendors believe them to be. Like most businesses, analyst firms do try to save money by offering salaries at the lower end of the scale for jobs requiring the level of experience that senior analyst positions require. Bonuses are typically Continue reading

Analyst firms should notify vendors about staff changes

Especially vendors with scheduled briefings, consulting days, or key projects by analysts  who submit their resignations

Analyst relations (AR) professionals are sometimes blindsided in the final preparations for a long scheduled briefing, analyst summit, or analyst consulting day (aka SAS) to discover that the analyst had submitted his or her resignation several weeks before. Worse yet are situations where the vendor has just conducted a briefing only to learn days later that the analyst has just left the firm. Either way it is bad for AR who now has to scramble to change plans and could experience the wrath of executives who perceive that AR just wasted their time by being uninformed.

For a variety of reasons, analyst firms are reluctant to admit that an analyst is leaving the firm. However, these reasons are insufficient for withholding critical information from AR teams who work hard to facilitate the flow of information from the vendor to the analyst firms. It is not appropriate for the firm to arrange a last minute substitution without Continue reading

Why analysts matter – “I get asked daily in one medium or another who to buy”

Some analyst relations (AR) managers are lucky in that their executives really get the analysts and their impact on the vendor’s leads and sales deals. Alas, not all AR professionals are so lucky. However, there is a resource to use to educate* executives about the impact of the analysts – the analysts’ own words. For example, here is a throwaway line by Forrester analyst Jeremiah Owyang in Starting the Forrester Wave: White Label Social Networks and Community Platforms:

          “I get asked daily in one medium or another who to buy”

Jeremiah is very good about keeping vendors and end-user clients alike up-to-date on what he is working on via his blog posts. This particular line was not bragging, but explaining one purpose of the Forrester Wave, which is to help technology buyers develop their short list of vendors to invite to a bid. Because it was not the main purpose of the post, I think that makes it even more powerful education tool as it Continue reading

IDC lays off eight analysts and 15 additional staff

logo-idc.gifTips started coming into SageCircle last night. Over the last twelve hours we have identified five six of the eight analysts. Out of respect to the analysts we will not publish the names.*

In an e-mail exchange with SageCircle, IDC Corporate Communications Director Michael Shirer released the following statement:

  • On May 20, IDC reduced its U.S. headcount by 23 — this represents 1% of IDC’s 1,680 employees worldwide.
  • Most of the staff reductions came from Continue reading

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 Continue reading

Threatening analysts with canceled business if they don’t change draft research is rarely effective, often backfires

I saw this tweet in response to Best practice for responding to analyst draft research:

Good grief, threatening to cancel business or syndicated research contracts if an analyst does not change their opinion is not a smart approach to “influencing the influencers.” In fact, it may even backfire.

First, it does not make business sense for an analyst at a major firm to change research that displeases a vendor, even one that is a client. If an analyst developed a reputation for Continue reading

How does one become an analyst? [AR Practitioner Question]

question-mark-graphic.jpgAt a recent client meeting we got an interesting question: How does a person become an analyst? Is there certification? A test?

At this time the requirements for becoming an analyst consist of ownership of a laptop, cell phone, business card and an opinion. A website and / or blog are nice, but not required. There are no educational requirements, no state certifications, no tests to pass, no professional licenses to acquire, no World of Warcraft guilds to join, or secret handshakes to learn. Direct experience as a vendor or end user is not a requirement either as firms hire people straight out of collage and even outside of the tech industry as well.

Obviously, an individual has to be smart and insightful to be successful as an analyst. But to become an analyst one only has to be hired by a firm or hang out one’s own shingle.

While this statement produces chuckles and rolling of eyes in AR training or meetings with clients, there is both a serious issue and a real opportunity for AR teams in this reality. The issue is Continue reading

Did you know that you can comment on Forrester’s research on its website?

icon-social-media-blue.jpgSomething that came up yesterday at the AR Effectiveness Seminar is that nobody knew that they could rate and comment on research notes on Forrester.com. This is another example of Forrester embracing social media and they deserve kudos for doing so. However, to make it really powerful, Forrester should actively promote the use of this feature to its clients.  This will begin to create a true community focused around the conversation on research.

A key issue for vendors is the ability to easily influence the impact of Forrester research.  This feature should be a powerful tool for all vendor analyst relations (AR) teams.

End users (aka IT buyers, your customers) are using Forrester.com to find and read Continue reading

Startups should look for “bite-sized” services that provide AR insights and tools at modest prices [Startup Saturday]

rocket-for-startups.jpgStartups rarely have huge sums to spend on analyst relations and AR services. This is often perceived as a barrier to getting the help they need to get their AR programs launched or taken to the next level. However, there are some modestly priced services that startups can turn to.

Analyst Directories – ARinsights’ ARchitect and Lighthouse AR’s AR Intranet are full featured analyst relationship management (ARM) applications that include analyst directories. Because these are full ARMs, the cost can run into the thousands of dollars per year. If a startup just needs access to a directory of analyst information, check out Tekrati’s Analyst Profiles. The cost is only $379 per seat for a full year and is easily purchased using credit card.

Advisory – Annual advisory services – retainer-based, on-demand ad hoc access to AR experts – can run over ten thousand dollars from SageCircle, Forrester, Lighthouse AR, KCG and other firms. Another choice is Continue reading

Research Consumers need account maintenance, part one

To get the maximum value from an automobile a certain amount of ongoing maintenance is required.  This includes the regular oil change as well as larger items done at specified intervals.  A trip to either the dealer or the quick-lube usually results in a multi-point “safety inspection” to highlight any special concerns. 

Research consumers from IT clients or IT vendors should also consider regular account maintenance and checkups in order to maximize the value of their contract and ensure great service.  Consumers should take control of driving value out of analyst contracts because most analyst firms’ internal processes are not optimized for clients or are simply inefficient.  They don’t generally provide the “safety check” and instituting a review process with your analyst firm Account Executive can serve to monitor the value you receive from the firm’s services.

The Account Executive

The Account Executive (AE) is the key to getting the most out of contracts, because they are the client’s representative within the firm and can best provide access to research and to the analysts. However, Continue reading

Forrester and Gartner Q4 and full year earnings — Higher prices and emphasis on role-based services

The two analyst firms that are publicly held conducted earnings calls last week, Forrester (February 5) and Gartner (February 6). This analysis does not look at areas of interest to investors, but seeks to pull out insights that are relevant to clients and prospects as well as CIT vendor analyst relations (AR) teams.

For clients of both firms, one important fact jumps out of the earnings calls – price increases will be Continue reading

Interview with AMR CEO Tony Friscia and VP Jonathan Yarmis on AMR’s new “emerging and disruptive technologies” service

logo-amr-research.gifAMR announced in November 2007 that it had hired Jonathan Yarmis as the new VP covering advanced, emerging, and disruptive technologies such as social networks, mobility, and location-based technologies. Jon brings a long industry background to AMR, including 10 years at Gartner and stints as a VP at Hill and Knowlton and Waggener Edstrom.

Because it is unusual in the analyst industry to have a dedicated service focused on emerging technologies, we decided it would be interesting to interview Tony and Jonatan about their plans. The interview was conducted by Carter Lusher.

Question:  AMR is known for its focus on supply chain and back office enterprise applications, why the move into “emerging and disruptive technologies”?

We have always believed that as many emerging technologies get past the toy phase, they become powerful business tools that are potentially transforming. As an example, AMR started tracking Internet developments in the mid ‘90s because we understood that it would ultimately be the vehicle for inter-enterprise (i.e. value chain) commerce.  In the current case, there are several factors at work that we believe Continue reading

Kudos to Forrester for having bloggers that post frequently and share the “good stuff”

icon-social-media-blue.jpgSeeing how I threw brickbats at Forrester in Will established analyst firms become dinosaurs to the new media-oriented analysts? it is only fair that I throw a bouquet as well.

logo-forrester.gifAll of the Forrester blogs (see the “Firm or Analyst Blogs I Read” list on the right) are consistently active with good content. These are not teases to get the reader to buy services. For instance, “From Information to Knowledge Management” (a team written blog) has a great post in Continue reading

Q4 2007 Forrester Research Earnings Conference Call on February 6th

logo-forrester.gifThis call starts at 11 am US Eastern Time (listen via webcast, link found on Forrester’s IR page).  This will be a similar situation as the Gartner earnings call as I’ll be Twittering live commentary and looking for the same types of insights that will be useful for AR and research consumers. 

In addition, Forrester also announced its participation in a Continue reading

Forrester AR Council members — make sure you vote on your topics

logo-forrester-ar-council.jpgSeveral people have let me know that the Forrester AR Council is looking for input on its content agenda. So council members, look for that e-mail and vote early and often! Here is a topic to add to the bucket: “How influential are the analyst firms like Gartner and Forrester and whether that influence is waning due to the bloggers?”  My take is that influence is not a sum-zero game and that the Continue reading

Analyst integrity issues – the urban legend that won’t die

On Monday the 31st, Zack Urlocker a blogger/columnist for InfoWorld had a nicely provocative headline Other Underreported Stories: Analyst Integrity?  Of course, the rumors – urban legends – about pay-for-position or pay-to-play have been around forever. In general, these rumors are just that. The easiest way to dismiss them? Common sense. Continue reading

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