For IT managers – It’s “Praise Your Vendor” Inquiry Day

icon-phone-headset.jpgNow for something completely different… offering the analysts a vendor compliment in lieu of a complaint. Advisory analysts at the largest firms (e.g., Forrester and Gartner) build their opinions based more on client feedback than on research evaluations. They generally do not do lab analysis or specific competitive research.  That means that the perceptions they have of the products may be more highly colored by negative customer comments heard during client phone-based inquiries than reality would suggest. 

SageCircle Technique:  Our suggestion to IT managers is that you Continue reading

Saving money on contracts with the Forrester / Gartner duopoly is not simple

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgA common client inquiry we receive is in the context of someone negotiating with Gartner. Our clients want to know why in the midst of a terrible economic downturn, when vendors are cutting budgets left and right, that Gartner does not exhibit greater flexibility (i.e., cut prices) when it comes to contract negotiations. The short answer is that due to its end-user advisory market dominance – we estimate that Gartner has ~70% of the end user contracts – it does not have to be flexible. 

However, this issue is a little more complex than slapping a “monopolist” tag on folks over on Top Gallant Road. The reality is that there is an effective duopoly with tacit partner Forrester which gives them both the flexibility to be inflexible with it comes to negotiations. The last time this market saw pricing and packaging that in anyway favored the buyer was the mid-90’s when Giga and later META used significantly lower prices and “all you can eat” research seats to take market share from Gartner and Forrester. Alas, today there are no such firms that can play that role to counter Gartner and Forrester. As a consequence, the Big Two’s CEOs habitually inform Wall Street that they are maintaining their pricing and discounting discipline.

However, it is possible to reduce spending – notice we did not say “save money” – with the Forrester / Gartner duopoly without damaging the ability to access analysts for influencing purposes. However, it is not as simple as trying to wrangle a better discount from the sales rep. Rather it takes:

  • Knowledge about the firms’ business models
  • Knowledge about the firms’ research methodology and analyst culture
  • Knowledge about the true business value of Continue reading

Access to those with access – One reason why end users buy analyst advisory subscriptions

Social CRM: When Registration Pages Go Extinct is an interesting post by Forrester analyst Jeremiah Owyang (bio, Twitter handle) on his Web Strategy by Jeremiah blog. However it is not the content of the blog overall, but a couple of throwaway lines that are relevant to analyst relations (AR) professionals:

“…I’m working on a report called the “Future of the Social Web” and I interviewed quite a few companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Lotus, RWW, Federated Media, Plaxo, Dell, Cisco EOS, Flock, Meebo, Gigya, Intel, Razorfish, Six Apart, and a bunch more to find out the trends in this industry. There’s probably less than 10 people in the world that have access to all these teams, executives and thought leaders, and I’m taking advantage of it. …”

I don’t think that Jeremiah is bragging about his access, but rather it is his typical – and rare – transparency about how he goes about his job as an analyst. What is interesting is the number of vendors that Jeremiah has access to for his research. Because of this litany of access, Jeremiah’s factoid can be leveraged by AR as part of its executive sponsorship building efforts and spokespeople training.

One of the selling points that end-user advisory analyst firms (e.g., Gartner and Forrester) make to their enterprise IT manager prospects is that their analysts have access to top vendor executives and thought leaders in the industry. Furthermore, not only do they have access, it is part of their job to take the time to leverage that access. Savvy analysts are adept at name dropping when chatting with existing clients (it helps renewals) and when on a prospect call with one of the firm’s sales representatives. IT executives and IT managers value the analysts’ broad access to vendors – and their IT peers.   Analysts can provide an integrated point-of-view that the IT manager client does not have the time to develop themselves through conversations or reading blogs (see the related story Context, advice, reputation and time: How analysts can thrive in the social media age).

Positioning themselves as having superior access, and the ability to verbally apply this access to a client’s situation, has always been a differentiator of the advisory analysts versus Continue reading

Gartner has a channel on YouTube

Gartner Channel on YouTubeA quick reminder that Gartner periodically posts videos to the Gartner Channel on YouTube. Most recent videos are quick interviews with analysts and guest speakers at Symposium.

While not a source of in-depth insight into analyst opinion, these videos can provide both IT managers and vendor analyst relations (AR) professionals with interesting data points. Well worth following.

Industry Analysts: Too conservative for their own good?

icon-phone-headset.jpgCatching up on my analyst blog reading this morning and came across this gem from Vinnie Mirchandani in his Deal Architect blog.

In Industry Analysts: Too conservative for their own good?, Vinnie makes the point that analysts are not as tough in their written research as they are in conversation. Why? Vinnie says:

If they say negative stuff, vendors typically lobby, coerce and worse. Here’s the reality – the biggest customers of every industry analyst firm are vendors. Even the so-called buyer centric firms like Gartner and Forrester.

Vinnie’s advise is to Continue reading

Analyst research can be obsolete or out-of-date the day after it’s published

question-mark-graphic.jpgIn conversation with an AR manager we received an interesting question: “What is the shelf life of published research?”

Answer: Somewhere between fresh fish (goes bad in days) to a Twinkie (a quasi-food snack that is rumored to last for infinity).

Formal analyst publications, e.g., a research note, can have a long gestation period due to going through peer review, management review and editorial (mostly good things) and get stuck in email waiting for minor changes while the analyst is out of the office (a bad thing). As a consequence, some formal analyst research can be out-of-date the day it is published.

That is why clients, whether end user or vendor, need to critically review the research for “freshness” and leverage inquiry Continue reading

How to use analyst market share numbers after Gartner makes a “huge mistake” with server market share numbers

photo-rob-enderle.jpgRarely do analysts call out another firm on perceived failures in research, but Rob Enderle does just that in Liars, Damn Liars and Statistics: Gartner Goofs on Server Numbers. Money quote:

“…However, the accuracy of these numbers even inside corporations (given how deals are accounted for) would suggest that getting within 5 percent of actual sales would be very difficult, let alone having a high level of confidence that under 1 percent actually signified real market leadership. …”

Rob then goes into an interesting discussion of the shortcomings of market share numbers and the methodologies used to create them. The article is well worth reading. It would be interesting – fun even – if more analysts engaged each other in the marketplace of ideas rather than having a monologue with clients.

SageCircle has long said that market share numbers from the market research analysts can provide interesting insights into the direction a market is going. However, relying on the numbers alone without Continue reading

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