Posted on June 8, 2009 by sagecircle
[Note: this guest post is from Rick Shuri the CTO of ARInsights, the provider of the ARchitect™ ARM (Analyst Relations Management) system. ]
Over time our clients ask for a variety of new features to be added to ARchitect. One of the requests was to advise them on which analysts were getting the most attention from AR staff. ARchitect users can easily get these types of reports based on the data they have entered, and analyze the data to ensure they are focusing their efforts on the most influential analysts in their market space.
However, knowing the relative importance of an analyst among all vendors was not something a client could obtain. We elected to compute a set of statistics based not on a single client, but as an aggregate of all our clients. Using this method we produced an overall ranking of those analysts that our vendor clients seem to feel are most important. Without revealing other client information it also gives an AR team a sense as to which analysts may be busy working with other vendors.
ARchitect™ Power 100 analysts are the top one hundred analysts ranked according to their activity level among all ARchitect users. These are the analysts with the most sustained “buzz” in the industry right now.
In order to create the ranking we considered a wide range of criteria which included the frequency of interactions, emails, and captured research & media as well as how recently each of the postings was entered. Obviously those analysts with a lot of current activity are high on the radar of the client teams. A ranking algorithm assigns different weighted averages to each factor and employs certain data smoothing techniques. Analysts are re-ranked daily to reflect all current aggregate activity.
The most current analyst list information is available in a number of ways:
- We place a small icon next to their name on the profile page for each Power 100 analyst. This alerts (more…)
Filed under: AR best practices, Tools | Tagged: analyst relations, Analyst Relations Management, AR, ARchitect, arinsights, ARM, Rick Shuri | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 21, 2009 by sagecircle
Check out The Back Channel, My Most Important A/R Tool for useful tips on an important subject. One of John’s key points is to not abuse the back channel, but to use it judiciously.
Filed under: AR best practices | Tagged: analyst relations, AR, John Simonds | 3 Comments »
Posted on April 6, 2009 by sagecircle
Recently Gartner Research VP French Caldwell (bio, blog, Twitter) grumbled a little bit in Twitter about poor AR practices by vendors he covers in the Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Governance, Risk and Compliance Platforms.
This little tid-bit illustrates that analysts expect vendors to proactively reach out to them (for more background see SageCircle’s Hierarchy of Analyst Needs). If a vendor does not actively brief the analyst, then in the analyst’s mind the vendor gets what they deserve, whether a poor rating in research or even dropped all together from a research report. This research downgrade could have a direct impact on lead generation and sales as technology buyers (aka end users, typically IT managers for Gartner) often ignore vendors not ranked well in Magic Quadrants or other research. This is especially true when a competitor’s sales representative brings the vendor’s downgrade to the attention of a prospect.
Another point this incident illustrates is that analysts are using social media to discuss their research agenda and make their displeasure about vendor performance known. Vendors that are not monitoring analyst commentary in tweets or blog posts could be missing important data points.
- AR programs need to use a mix of interactions throughout the year to maintain top-of-mind presence with the analysts and ensure they are up-to-date on the vendor’s capabilities and differentiation
- AR programs should have an active plan for influencing all recurring signature research such as Gartner Magic Quadrants or Forrester Waves
- AR programs need to monitor analyst commentary in social media. This will not necessarily require significant work as the volume of analyst blogs and tweets is still relatively small for any particular market
Bottom Line: While vendor executives like to complain that the analysts need to “do their jobs” by proactively reaching out to request updates, the reality is that vendors need to be the ones doing the outreach.
Question: AR programs – If you are on a Magic Quadrant or Forrester Wave, why do you not periodically brief the analyst?
Filed under: AR best practices | Tagged: analyst relations, AR, French Caldwell, Gartner, Magic Quadrant, Twitter | 17 Comments »
Posted on April 1, 2009 by sagecircle
SageCircle’s strategists have seen hundreds and hundreds of vendor presentations over the 17 years. Frankly, more than 70% of the presentations fail to be effective for many reasons. This is a quick Top 5 list to help vendors and PR account executives avoid the worst mistakes.
5) Doesn’t provide information in the format that supports the three research delivery methods used by the analysts (e.g., phone-based inquiry, formal presentations and written research)
4) Doesn’t support the purpose, objectives and key messages of the briefing
3) Too generic, the presentation is targeted for press or customers instead of analysts
2) Too technology focused
And the #1 presentation worst practice is… (more…)
Filed under: AR best practices | Tagged: analyst relations, AR, presentations | 6 Comments »
Posted on March 13, 2009 by sagecircle
Gartner typically refreshes most Hype Cycles in June and July every year. From a timing point-of-view that means the analysts are starting to think about what they want to change in the Hype Cycle in April. Then in May and June they move into their serious work on their Hype Cycles in order to get them through Editorial by the end of June. Working backward that means that AR programs need to start now to think about how they want to influence the Hype Cycle.
A valuable resource for AR programs that want to influence the Hype Cycle is the book Mastering the Hype Cycle: How to Choose the Right Innovation at the Right Time (Harvard Business Press, $19.77 + S&H on Amazon) by Hype Cycle creator Jackie Fenn and colleague Mark Raskino. While written for the enterprise client, there are many valuable insights in the book for vendor AR professionals. Click here for SageCircle’s review of the book.
- Add influencing the Hype Cycle to your annual AR Strategic & Tactical Plan
- Carefully review the list of Hype Cycles to identify relevant targets (while there are 96 Hype Cycles as of July 6, 2008, this task will likely not require a lot of time and effort)
- Identify which of your company’s leading-edge (more…)
Filed under: AR best practices, Reading List, Signature analyst research | Tagged: analyst relations, Gartner, Hype Cycle, Jackie Fenn, Mark Raskino | 1 Comment »
Posted on March 11, 2009 by sagecircle
SageCircle came across Forrester research associate Timothy DeGennaro (Twitter handle) the other day while looking for analysts to add to the Analyst Twitter Directory.
Research associates are typically recent college graduates who assist senior analysts with their projects. Occasionally research associates will get a contributor mention (“with”) for a piece of research, but they do not have a listing and biography on the analysts page. Because the perception is that research associates only do grunt work analyst relations (AR) professionals frequently overlook their potential future influence. This could be a missed opportunity because research associates do have ambitions, such as the one DeGennaro stated on his LinkedIn page:
“…I am currently a Research Associate at Forrester Research taking on such coverage areas as PMOs, Project Portfolio Management, and PPM software solutions.
I aspire to someday (soon) own this coverage area at Forrester as an analyst. …”
It is not just future influence that could be important. The research associates could also be working on something today that impacts your company. For example, (more…)
Filed under: AR best practices | Tagged: analyst relations, AR, Forrester, Gartner, IDC, research associate | Comments Off
Posted on February 23, 2009 by sagecircle
Forrester analyst and best-selling business book Groundswell co-author Josh Bernoff (blog, Twitter handle, bio) has an interesting little critique of the emails he receives in Three quarters of the PR email I receive is irrelevant. Why? Josh tweeted me that this post applied just as much to analyst relations (AR) professionals as PR.
You should take a moment to read his post and do a quck review to see if you are you guilty of any of Josh’s offenses.
As we pointed out in the “Analyst Hierarchy of Needs”, the analysts do appreciate outreach by AR teams. However, they want more than simple, generic outreach. They want “Personalized Outreach.” In our interviews with analysts the common refrain is “Just send me information about stuff I care about.” Once your AR program is proficient at providing analysts the basic information they need, your program should work to begin personalizing content based on the specific coverage, speaking calendar, and editorial calendar of individual analysts. Targeted information supporting issues they are concerned about is highly prized by the analysts and can raise your AR program’s visibility significantly. However, analysts who receive too much generic content will stop looking and miss your personalized information.
Another point to be aware of when applying the Hierarchy of Needs to your analyst email distribution is emphasis changes depending on the analyst’s status. A Sage analyst will be significantly less tolerant of generic emails than a Novice analyst, who might appreciate the basic information (see Know your analyst – Novice, Luminary or Sage).
The situation differs when you are (more…)
Filed under: AR best practices | Tagged: Analyst Hierarchy of Needs, analyst relations, AR, email, Forrester, Groundswell, Josh Bernoff, mix of interactions | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 4, 2009 by sagecircle
Forrester analyst extraordinaire and social media poster boy Jeremiah Owyang (Twitter handle, blog) recently posted a very useful article How to Translate Vendor Talk into Plain English. Besides Jeremiah’s thoughts in the post, there is also a vigorous debate going on in the comments so read them as well.
While written for enterprise IT managers getting pitched by vendor sales reps, this is a useful post for AR professionals as well. Not because it necessarily covers new ground (see our posts listed below), but because it is always important to reinforce best practices. Even the best can fall into bad habits, especially with PowerPoint.
There is one new example that Jeremiah raises that I want to encourage everybody to check carefully and that is “The Fallacy of Vendor Math.” This concerns vendor claims like “30 of the Fortune 50 are our clients.” Yeah, so? Probably all the vendor’s competitors could make the same claim.
One last point. If a vendor has to tell an analyst they are the market or industry leader then the vendor probably isn’t the leader. You can save your spokespeople grief by helping them eliminate (more…)
Filed under: AR best practices | Tagged: analyst relations, AR, Forrester, Jeremiah Owyang, Web Strategy by Jeremiah | 2 Comments »
Posted on January 30, 2009 by sagecircle
During a recession AR managers are confronted with the need to cut back work either due to headcount constraints or the need to refocus their priorities (e.g., providing more support to their company’s sales force and increasing lead generation via analysts placing the company on purchasing short lists). Two areas of low hanging fruit for saving time that can then be reallocated to other activities are the normally important analyst lists and the level of service provided to each tier of analyst.
One of the biggest ongoing mistakes that AR professionals make is not using a rigorous methodology for managing their analyst lists. This often leads to too many analysts on their lists and too many analysts designated “Tier 1.” This state of affairs leads to inefficiency and ineffectiveness as AR teams are spread too thin over too many analysts to effectively influence the most relevant analysts. While bad enough in good economic times this mistake can be fatal in recessions when all corporate functions are being scrutinized for efficiency as well as contribution to revenues and corporate/business unit objectives.
Another major problem is that many AR programs have not revised their service level frameworks – or do not have formal service levels in the first place. These plans to allocate effort must be adjusted to reflect recession driven resource constraints. This results in AR teams being too generous in the amount effort they give to lower ranked analysts’ information/briefing requests which in turn siphons away precious AR bandwidth for higher priority activities. A related problem is not having the discipline to follow established service levels.
To correct this situation, AR managers need to ruthlessly revisit their analyst lists, aligning them more tightly with today’s business objectives and cutting back on the number of Tier 1 and Tier 2 analysts in order to focus more intensely on the most relevant analysts. Second, AR programs have to reduce, perhaps significantly, the amount of service they provide to (more…)
Filed under: AR best practices, recession | Tagged: analyst relations, AR | Comments Off
Posted on January 28, 2009 by sagecircle
During the January 27, 2009 Gartner Quarterly AR Call, GVP Jenni Lehman, research operations, made a useful point that we think that vendors do not focus on enough:
”There are only so many briefing hours in a year.”
This point is important because many vendors rely too much on briefings, and have ill-planned and poorly executed briefings. Calling on analysts too often and conducting low value briefings can lead to the situation where analysts cut back on the number of briefing slots allocated to the vendor. This outcome has nothing to do with the size of the vendor’s contract and everything to do with the typical value the analyst is getting from his or her investment of time with the vendor. Why should an analyst invest an hour with a vendor if they know they will get little useful information or strategic insights from the vendor?
AR programs need to carefully review all their planned briefings – you do plan your briefing schedule months in advance, right? – to ensure (more…)
Filed under: AR best practices, Planning | Tagged: analyst relations, AR, Gartner, Laura McLellan, Strategic Technology Map | 4 Comments »
Posted on January 7, 2009 by sagecircle
This advice is just as useful for large vendors as startups
In Gartner for startups Michael Waclawiczek, VP of Marketing at expressor software, has joined the conversation started by Talend’s Yves de Montcheuil and Gartner’s Andy Bitterer (see Vendor complains in a very public blog post about Gartner’s Data Integration Magic Quadrant) about startups ability to be included on Magic Quadrants.
Dr. Waclawiczek’s observations and advice are dead on and well worth reading. While directed at startups, his main points are applicable to large vendors as well. A quick summary:
- For any vendor selling to high-end/large customers, dealing with Gartner is a given. Even if you decide to ignore them, your customers won’t.
- At some point, you have to realize that the MQ is designed to meet the needs of Gartner customers – big companies looking for information, insights and backside-cover for big-ticket IT purchases.
- My advice to fellow startups? Give up hope of making a real impact in “your” MQ, for now at least. But don’t give up entirely.
- Work the Gartner system the best you can. Pull every lever you can reach.
- Set your sights on (more…)
Filed under: AR best practices, Magic Quadrant, Startups | Tagged: analyst relations, AR | Comments Off
Posted on December 30, 2008 by sagecircle
Besides the core AR team, there should also be an extended AR team in every vendor. The extended AR team is an important resource because they can play a critical role in rebutting analyst commentary.
First, the extended AR team can play a role as an “early warning system” in notifying AR when something needs to be rebutted. Many employees at a company might hear about analyst commentary, whether written or spoken, before AR does. For instance, marketing or competitive intelligence staff that monitor media and published research might come across something that deserves attention. Well-informed sales representatives can acquire analyst comments if they make a habit of asking prospects about what they are hearing from the analysts.
Second, it is critical for the core AR team not only to develop awareness in these communities, but also to offer avenues that make it easy for the extended team to communicate back to AR on an ongoing basis. While email and phone calls are quick and easy they do not provide a good tracking method for teams. A formal communications process should (more…)
Filed under: AR best practices | Tagged: analyst relations, AR | Comments Off
Posted on December 29, 2008 by sagecircle
There is an interesting online conversation via blogs going on between Talend VP of Marketing Yves de Montcheuil (A comment on Gartner’s latest Magic Quadrant for Data Integration, photo left) and Gartner’s Andy Bitterer (Setting the Record Straight, photo right). This is interesting because it is unusual for a vendor to engage Gartner in a public forum about its research or methodology, and for a Gartner analyst to respond to criticism. Kudos to both Yves and Andy for engaging in this conversation. The other example that SageCircle knows of a vendor addressing perceived analyst shortcomings was by Jive Software Chief Marketing Officer Sam Lawrence. You can find a link to Sam’s post at Doing unto analysts what they do unto vendors. Sam received a positive response from the analysts to his post.
Yves basic complaint is that analysts like Gartner do not pay enough attention to open source vendors. He claims Gartner focuses too much on stodgy vendors that do not represent the future when researching the Magic Quadrant (MQ). Andy’s response is a point-by-point rebuttal of each of Yves’ comments including being very firm on their policy that vendors that do not meet the revenue criterion will not be included.
The Magic Quadrant methodology is not perfect when it comes to small vendors
While Gartner has steadily improved the MQ methodology over the last few years, it is far from perfect. One problem is that there is not complete transparency when it comes to all criteria, especially the ones based on the analyst’s subjective opinions. This is especially troublesome to small vendors without experienced AR professionals who do not realize they have to probe the analysts to get all criteria, their weights, and how they are scored. Another problem is that (more…)
Filed under: AR best practices, Magic Quadrant, Startups | 4 Comments »
Posted on December 19, 2008 by sagecircle
Question: Is it possible to respond to something an analyst says?
Advice: It is not only possible to respond to the analysts’ spoken word, it is highly recommended. Obviously, it is more difficult to respond to the spoken word than to respond to written research, but in many cases, the stakes are much higher because actual sales hang in the balance.
First, you need to find out what the analyst has actually said. It many cases, this task requires investigation on AR’s part because you are hearing about the analyst’s conversation second- or third-hand. In most cases, AR is hearing about an analyst’s verbal comments from one of their company’s sales representatives – after a sales deal has been impacted negatively. Rather than acting immediately on what the sales rep thinks was said (e.g. sometimes the sales rep gets the analyst’s name or firm wrong, or does not recall all the details of the conversation), AR should coordinate with the vendor sales rep to go back to the prospect and find out exactly what transpired. Investigation need not take a long time or generate too much stress on AR’s part. The investigation phase includes talking with the vendor sales rep, the prospect and the analyst (Online SageContentTM Library (OSL) clients can look up “Responding to Analyst Impacts- Investigation Phase” for more information, Advisory clients can set up an inquiry to get the best practices and advice on applying them).
Once AR staffers have determined as best they can what the analyst actually said, AR can advise the sales rep on how to repair the damage to the deal. Then, AR can proceed – carefully – to (more…)
Filed under: AR best practices, Measurement, Practitioner Question | Tagged: analyst relations, AR, Spoken Word Audit | 2 Comments »
Posted on December 18, 2008 by sagecircle
As pointed out in past posts (see The Volume of Analyst Publishing and Quotes), analyst opinions show up in published format thousands of times each month. Unfortunately, too many AR teams are behind their colleagues in knowing when the analysts are being quoted or published. This lag can result in a CEO being embarrassed by a reporter or by a financial analyst who asks the CEO’s position on an IT industry analyst’s opinion. Another example is a sales deal gone awry because the company’s sales representative did not know that a relevant industry analyst had published a negative research note, or that his company was not on the Leaders Square of a Magic Quadrant.
The way to avoid these types of situations is for AR to know first when any Tier 1 analyst ends up in print. That way AR can prepare colleagues instead of responding to their pain. Too often, AR either ignores this requirement or does something ineffectual. Some AR departments subscribe to alerts that the analyst firms’ research engines have, but never look at the daily e-mails that are generated. Other AR departments buy a clipping service to get analyst press quotes. However, because these services typically have a delay of one to two months between the original publication and their report delivery, clipping services simply are not timely enough for effective response.
SageCircle recommends that AR put into place a program for daily monitoring of analysts’ opinions. What need to be monitored are specific analyst opinions, not just (more…)
Filed under: AR best practices, Measurement | Tagged: analyst relations, AR | 2 Comments »
Posted on December 16, 2008 by sagecircle
Besides refocusing their priorities and activities during a recession, analyst relations (AR) professionals also need to think about what they are telling the analysts. Ordinarily briefings can cover any of a number of topics with even more numerous proof points to support their key messages. However, during a recession AR teams should be rethinking what they communicate to the analysts.
SageCircle research of how IT managers use industry analysts, reveals that helping them make the business case for a technology product or service purchase is high on their list of activities. This insight provides AR with the direction they should taking their briefings during a recession. Because enterprise executives become cautious during a recession, they demand a more detailed justification for technology purchases. By giving industry analysts customer success stories and hard return on investment (ROI) numbers, AR can provide the analysts with fodder that they can in turn give to IT managers that will help shorten the sales cycles.
While customer success stories have always been considered a high priority topic for vendors to provide analysts, because they are difficult to obtain they frequently get pushed to the back burner. During a recession AR needs to make finding and communicating customer success stories a much higher, if not the highest, priority. This becomes part of AR’s strategy of refocusing its priorities during a recession.
A critical success factor is to focus attention on examples of (more…)
Filed under: AR best practices, recession | Tagged: analyst relations, AR, briefings | 2 Comments »
Posted on December 16, 2008 by sagecircle
n: A calendar listing anticipated analyst research report publication dates. Because few analyst firms do publish formal editorial calendars, comprehensive Analyst Editorial Calendars have to be built by the core AR team. A variety of intelligence sources are used to gather information for the calendar. These include holding formal and information conversations with analysts by the extended AR team, asking questions during scheduled interactions, analyzing past research publications, and anticipating work for upcoming conferences. The Analyst Editorial Calendar feeds into (more…)
Filed under: AR best practices, Glossary | Tagged: analyst relations, AR | Comments Off
Posted on December 12, 2008 by sagecircle
Analyst relations (AR) teams that are building their AR Strategic & Tactical Plan need to have insights into what critical analysts are planning to publish over the next few months. Knowing what an analyst is going to publish is an important planning trigger that helps AR teams be analyst centric, not company centric.
In other posts (see Responding to Analysts’ Published Comments – Speed is Essential), we have discussed responding to analyst research or rebutting their positions. An unfortunate fact is that once analysts have publicly taken a stand on a subject, getting them to change is much more difficult. On the other hand, if you start working with the analysts early in their research process, before anything has been published, it is much easier to influence the outcome and perhaps eliminate the need to rebut something that already has been printed.
An important tool for knowing what the analysts are working on is the Analyst Editorial Calendar.
An Analyst Editorial Calendar is a listing of anticipated analyst research report publication dates. Because analyst firms typically do not publish formal and complete editorial calendars, comprehensive Analyst Editorial Calendars have to be built by the core AR team. To create an Analyst Editorial Calendar, AR teams attempt to map out all (more…)
Filed under: AR best practices, Planning | Tagged: analyst editorial calendar, analyst relations, AR | Comments Off
Posted on December 4, 2008 by sagecircle
Almost every week, SageCircle strategists do inquiries about how to respond to an analyst quote in the press or a piece of published research. Most often, the AR staffer is more than annoyed because the analyst’s words have caused a brouhaha with his or her management. Sometimes the AR staffer is so angry that he or she wants to call the analyst’s manager – or CEO – and complain, or put out a press release about the analyst’s shortcomings. While this could be satisfying emotionally, frankly it would be counterproductive.
Rather than attacking the analyst by putting out a press release or talking to his or her manager, AR is better served by taking a deep breath, analyzing the situation, and developing a campaign to change the analyst’s opinion. Unfortunately, implementing a campaign to change an analyst’s opinion takes time and your executives probably want something done today. Consequently, one of AR’s challenges in this situation is how to manage the expectations of executives (more…)
Filed under: AR best practices, Training | Tagged: analyst relations, AR | 1 Comment »
Posted on December 2, 2008 by sagecircle
As was mentioned in Out-tasking AR Activities, measurement work is a prime candidate for out-tasking. There are various firms that can assist AR programs with measurement program design, gathering, and analyzing data. Some examples include:
Measurement program design – SageCircle has proven intellectual property and templates to help AR teams set up practical and effective measurement programs.
ARchitectTM - ARinsights‘ collaborative application and integrated database makes data collection, querying, and reporting easy. AR practitioners can accomplish in seconds what used to take hours of manual effort. SageCircle strategists are experts in how to leverage ARchitect as part of a measurement program.
Spoken Word Audits - A variety of firms provide services which are similar to SageCircle’s suggested technique for Spoken Word Audits. The Spoken Word Audit uncovers what analysts are saying about your products/services to end-users during (more…)
Filed under: AR best practices, AR management, Measurement | Tagged: analyst relations, AR, ARchitect, ARinsight, out-task, Spoken Word Audit | Comments Off