Vendors, through reprints, help keep the analysts influential

There is an inherent contradiction in vendors saying the industry analysts are not relevant in the age of social media, while at the same time spending tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars on research reprints like the Gartner Magic Quadrant or Forrester Wave. If the analysts are no longer influential – some vendor executives actually make that declarative of a statement – then why are their companies wasting the money spent on reprints? Reprints are not chump change as Gartner in its Q1 earnings call revealed that it makes about $7 million per year in reprint rights. Plus, our Google Alerts set up for the Gartner Magic Quadrant and the Forrester Wave come in every day – without exception – with multiple new hits on vendors bragging about their positions on one or more of these iconic research graphics. 

A small irony is that the vendors promoting analyst research in press releases, blog posts, Twitter tweets, reprints on websites, and quotes in sales presentations only help to reinforce the perception among enterprise technology products and services buyers that these analysts matter. To a certain extent, vendors are spending their money in order to do brand marketing for the analysts. Pretty good deal for the analyst firms, eh? Of course, the two biggest beneficiaries of this largess are Gartner and Forrester.

SageCircle has previously Continue reading

As we head into Hype Cycle refresh time, pick up a copy of “Mastering the Hype Cycle”

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.

Related posts:

SageCircle Technique:

  • 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 Continue reading

Mastering the Hype Cycle – Highly recommended for different reasons for different audiences

Gartner’s Hype Cycle (official definition) is a research graphic that is far more useful than the Magic Quadrant, even if it is not as visible as the MQ. While it is not obsessed over like the MQ, Gartner has built a franchise around the Hype Cycle with the annual July spate of around 90 Hype Cycle research notes.   These cover an average of 1,300 technologies and the related graphics are used in many conference presentations.

While the Hype Cycle provides valuable insights into how technology is adopted, Gartner has not provided much insight into the Hype Cycle itself. This is not all that unusual for IT industry analysts firms that are focused on cranking out topical research papers rather than teaching their clients and the marketplace about how to use the research. There is the “Understanding Gartner’s Hype Cycles” research note that accompanies the annual Hype Cycle series of research notes. However, there is only so much understanding that can be crammed into 12 to 14 pages. That is why this new book on the Hype Cycle has the potential to very useful.

Mastering the Hype Cycle: How to Choose the Right Innovation at the Right Time (Harvard Business Press, $19.77 + S&H on Amazon) is by Hype Cycle creator Jackie Fenn and colleague Mark Raskino. The book has two goals. First is to ensure that the reader is completely conversant about what the Hype Cycle is and is not. The second is provide insights into how the Hype Cycle can be used by innovation champions inside corporations to make sure that innovations are brought in at the right time.

“Part 1: The Hype Cycle” does a thorough job of explaining the Hype Cycle with lots of stories to illustrate points. Even somebody as familiar with the Hype Cycle as Continue reading

Executive sponsorship is critical success factor for a “Defending the Magic Quadrant” program

While we recommend that vendors don’t obsess over Gartner’s Magic Quadrant (MQ), it is also important that they realize that investing effort consistently between MQ refreshes will ensure that no nasty surprises pop up.

After we wrote in the SageCircle newsletter that vendors need to watch out for MQ complacency, especially if they are in the Leaders quadrant, Carter Cromley sent us the following email:

“We at SAVVIS are by no means complacent about our position.  In fact we’re incredibly paranoid to the point of having an organized “Defending the Magic Quadrant” program (that included executive sponsorship) that seemed to be effective in us maintaining our leadership positioning the web hosting MQ (just published).”

One of the key points that Carter makes is having Continue reading

Gartner’s Hype Cycle – Anticipate and Influence

Tip o’ the hat to Hill & Knowlton Global Technology Practice Director Josh Reynolds (bio, blog) for getting the ball rolling on how to approach the Hype Cycle. I met Josh early summer 2007 at Buck’s of Woodside (famed and quirky Silicon Valley hangout for venture capitalists and digerati) to discuss his ideas for influencing the Hype Cycle. Josh’s ideas were quite provocative and no doubt he can see a bit of their DNA in this piece of SageContentTM. I have not seen how Josh evolved his ideas into best practices, but perhaps he will post them on the H&K ARcade AR blog sometime in the near future.

As we mentioned in Thinking about Gartner’s Hype Cycle, the Hype Cycle is the most read piece of Gartner signature research by its clients, but it is often ignored by the vendor community because it does not directly rate vendors’ products or impact today’s sales opportunities. However, this is shortsighted as the Hype Cycle is influential on future IT strategies and budgets. As a consequence, vendors should be investing time into the Hype Cycle today in order to have an impact two to three years down the road.

There are three broad categories that AR teams have to work on: flattening the curve, speeding progress, and ensuring that their company is considered an exemplar for a particular technology, service, or technique on a Hype Cycle. This post will focus on the first category.

Flattening the Curve - One problem that vendors face when a technology or service is mentioned on one of the Hype Cycles is that the Peak of Inflated Expectations can get so high that there is a backlash.  This can completely derail a promising market before Continue reading

Thinking about Gartner’s Hype Cycle

As AR professionals focus (obsess) on the Gartner Magic Quadrant and Forrester Wave as primary targets for influencing, an important signature research deliverable is often overlooked – Gartner’s Hype Cycle (click graphic to see a larger version). This point is driven home by the fact that is takes a fair amount of work to find a vendor reprint of any Hype Cycle, whereas you can easily find MQ and Wave reprints starting on the first Google search results page. This vendor attitude is unfortunate because Gartner says that the Hype Cycle is the most read/download type of research, even more than the Magic Quadrant. However, because the Hype Cycle does not directly compare products and rarely even mentions vendors in passing, it is easy for vendors not to give Hype Cycles a high priority.

The Hype Cycle might take on additional visibility in October 2008 if Gartner and the Harvard Business School Press (HBSP) promote the new book, Mastering the Hype Cycle: How to Choose the Right Innovation at the Right Time by Jackie Fenn and Mark Raskino, as effectively as Continue reading

Kleenex, Frisbee, and Magic Quadrant – what do they have in common?

Have you heard your spokespeople make the following statement when briefing the analysts or presenting to a group of analysts on a teleconference: “… also if I reflect on the way you put us, whether it’s your magic quadrants or …” Probably the executive was using “magic quadrant” as a generic label for analyst research graphics, much like people use Kleenex for facial tissue, Frisbee for a flying disc toy or Xerox for photocopying. 

Using Magic Quadrant as a generic label is dangerous for any vendor’s relationship with the analyst community. Analysts at firms other than Gartner bridle at Gartner’s dominate mindshare in the market. Referring to the Magic Quadrant is adding salt to their wounds. Gartner analysts, on the other hand, are extremely touchy about what they feel is the misuse of their signature research deliverable by the vendor community. So for vendors this is a lose-lose situation.

This situation also applies to other high visibility analyst deliverables like the Forrester Wave and Gartner Hype Cycle.

SageCircle Technique:

Equipping Sales for the MQ Effect: the Magic Quadrant & Tech Vendors [part 7]

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant can have a powerful impact on IT vendor sales cycles – anointing some vendors as a prime candidate for a sales opportunity while denying other vendors even a chance to bid. In order to exploit positive placement on a Magic Quadrant and mitigate negative placement, vendor sales executives need to work with AR to prepare and train their sales teams on certain basics about the Magic Quadrant.

To a large extent the Magic Quadrant is just another form of analyst research that can sales reps have to take into account when working with customers and prospects. However, the MQ does have some unique aspects that have to be addressed including: 

  • Multiple MQs – A vendor can be on any number of MQs, which increases the chances that a prospect will be using wrong research
  • Out-of-date MQs – Earlier versions of a MQ can be available for a long time, which can put a vendor with an improved position at a disadvantage
  • Four boxes, four responses – How a sales responds to or uses a MQ is different depending Continue reading

The Danger is Complacency: the Magic Quadrant & Tech Vendors [part 6]

There is a certain amount of self congratulations that occur when a vendor achieves a favorable “Leader” position on a Magic Quadrant. Because they are in the “Leaders” block, vendors feel like their job is complete. The problem is that such an attitude could lead to complacency and endanger a company’s coveted status in the future. Vendors in this situation could receive a nasty surprise as competitors leapfrog them or as they slip into the Challengers or Visionaries blocks.

This is not only a problem with “Leaders” since vendors in the “Challengers” and “Visionaries” blocks also feel that they can rest on their laurels. Most surprising are “Niche” vendors who are happy merely to be mentioned on a Magic Quadrant. The messages in this post are directed to Leaders, but also apply to all vendors, no matter what their position on the MQ.

What is the Danger? SageCircle had one client go from the best Leaders position in a Magic Quadrant only to slide to the Challengers block in the next version. Why? The vendor had become complacent about Continue reading

Moving the Dot: the Magic Quadrant & Tech Vendors [part 5]

Repositioning your “dot’ on a Gartner Magic Quadrant does not happen just because you have a great product or service. It takes information, a plan, AR execution and avoiding mistakes. 

Expanding Your Goals – Moving the dot should not be the only goal of every analyst interaction. AR teams and spokespeople should insure that you accomplish your goal of moving the dot while working on other aspects of your analyst relationship such as competitive intelligence gathering, relationship building, training a novice analyst, strategy review, etc. Rarely will a vendor be interested in accomplishing one goal when interacting with the Gartner analyst in charge of a MQ. Some goals specifically concerning the MQ include:

  • Moving your dot, either up or to the right or both
  • Moving your competitors’ dots either down or to the left or both
  • Increasing the distance between you and competitors
  • Preventing your competitors from Continue reading

Homework – Talk to the Analyst: the Magic Quadrant & Tech Vendors [part 4]

It is critical for AR to thoroughly research a particular Magic Quadrant and its history. Even AR staffs that have been working with Gartner on a MQ for a long time could benefit from doing a little digging into the background of the MQ in order to separate reality from faulty memory and myth.

SageCircle Technique:

Talk with the analyst - Obviously, AR should be interacting with their Tier 1 analysts on a regular basis on a number of issues. In many cases being in charge of a MQ means automatic Tier 1 status for a Gartner analyst. Many of those interactions will provide valuable insights into the MQ and the analyst’s criteria for it. However, there needs to be a dedicated call on the MQ* that occurs once a quarter. Topics to be covered include:

  • Changes in the analyst’s responsibility, new additions to the team, both creation and peer review
  • If you are on a Magic Quadrant with more than one author, what is the current Continue reading

Homework – Gather Background Information: the Magic Quadrant & Tech Vendors [part 3]

It is critical for AR to thoroughly research a particular Magic Quadrant and its history. Even AR staffs that have been working with Gartner on a MQ for a long time could benefit from doing a little digging into the background of the MQ in order to separate reality from faulty memory and myth.

 SageCircle Technique

Check on past Magic Quadrants - The first task is to obtain past versions of the Magic Quadrants. You can search Gartner’s research database, but frankly you still have to ask. While Gartner analysts published dozens of distinct Magic Quadrants in the traditional Research Note format every year, there are so many publishing platforms at Gartner (e.g., presentations and toolkits) that a MQ can show up in either as an original piece of research or a reprint of something published earlier. Because not all Continue reading

Common Mistakes: the Magic Quadrant & Tech Vendors [part 2]

For a variety of reasons, communications and IT vendor AR and executives make a number of mistakes concerning the Gartner Magic Quadrant (MQ) and how their companies should react to it. Decision makers at IT vendors need to take a step back and carefully consider the appropriate level of effort to put into “moving the dot.”

The first mistake is proceeding without understanding how your prospects and customers/clients value and use the MQ. You should be surveying your customer/clients and prospects about which research firms and reports they use.

The second mistake is assuming that you know what the underlying market-specific criteria and assumptions are for the MQ without talking to the appropriate analysts. Repositioning your “dot” on a Magic Quadrant doesn’t happen just because you have a great product or service. Often the most Continue reading

Don’t Obsess, Don’t Ignore: the Magic Quadrant & Tech Vendors [part 1]

Even with the blogosphere and other forms of social media, Gartner’s Magic Quadrant remains the IT market’s most highly visible piece of commentary. Because the Magic Quadrant impacts billions of dollars of corporate IT purchases, some IT vendor executives put too much emphasis on “moving the dot” which drains resources from the overall AR plan. Other vendors decide to ignore Magic Quadrants, missing an opportunity to leverage an effective marketing channel. Neither approach is 100% appropriate. In this post, we provide background on the Magic Quadrant and suggest that vendors take a middle approach between obsession and indifference.*

It is not uncommon for a SageCircle strategist to hear the following comment from an analyst relations (AR) manager: “Our execs – or even board of directors – have made improving our position on the Magic Quadrant THE (not ‘a’) goal for AR.” While ignoring the Magic Quadrant (MQ) can be perilous to a vendor’s top line, too much emphasis on a MQ can drain scarce AR resources from influencing all the analysts covering your particular market. The downside is that AR won’t be able to develop counterbalancing relationships with analysts in other firms, leaving the vendor dangerously reliant on Gartner and the MQ for positive analyst coverage.

We think it’s time that vendors take Continue reading

Gartner’s Cool Vendor annual research note set [Startup Saturday]

rocket-for-startups.jpgOften startups with interesting new technologies feel like there are no IT analysts that want to cover them. For example, they are usually excluded from signature deliverables like Forrester Waves and Gartner Magic Quadrants since they often don’t fit neatly into an existing market. Rather than give up, startups should consider targeting Gartner’s annual “Cool Vendors” research note series.
  Continue reading

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