Gartner and Forrester are not, repeat not, Tier 1

Analyst Relations PlanningYou read the headline correctly; Forrester and Gartner should never be considered Tier 1. Yes, yes, Gartner is the industry behemoth and Forrester is likely the number two firm for enterprise end users, but that does not make them automatically Tier 1 for the purpose of creating a ranked and tiered analyst list. 

In the analyst list methodology that SageCircle has developed, analyst firms should not be given an automatic “tier” because what should be ranked is analysts, not firms. Ranking should be done based on a set of criteria (e.g., industry visibility, research coverage, client base, and so on) related to the vendor’s and AR team’s objectives. After a ranked list is created, then AR draws lines on the list to split the list into groups (e.g., Tier 1, 2 and 3, or strategic, important, and secondary or whatever you want to call them) that will define the types the service level (e.g., 1-to-1, 1-to-many or none-to-many responses) the AR team will give each analyst on the list. Tiers and service levels are created based on AR resources (i.e., the bigger the AR team the more Tier 1 analysts can be supported). While the characteristics of the firm will contribute to the data for ranking, merely working at Forrester or Gartner should never guarantee an analyst that they will have Tier 1 status.

SageCircle strategists frequently see analyst relations (AR) teams give Tier 1 status to analysts of the Big Two, even if their true relevance should place them much farther down on the ranked list. This can lead to AR misallocating resources by putting too much emphasis on some analysts while not having sufficient resources to brief or respond to other analysts. Remember, depending on the market and the analysts, a single practitioner or boutique can have just as much influence as the Big Two.

SageCircle Technique:

Is it time to incorporate risk analysis into analyst list rankings?

Analyst Relations PlanningEvery AR team needs to manage their analyst list(s) to ensure they are focused on providing the right attention to the right analysts.  SageCircle stands on the “analyst list management” soapbox a lot because it such an important aspect of an effective and efficient AR program.  Creating a ranked list based on impact and then tiering based on available resources is the way to manage your service levels for analysts and ultimately manage your stress. There are many data points that go into an analyst ranking frameworks like visibility, research coverage, reputation, firm, geography and so on. This post is the opener for a discussion on whether risk should be added to the ranking criteria.

In this context, the risk being discussed is the potential damage to sales deals, market perception, internal politics, and such that can be caused by an analyst with a negative opinion. How much effort should you put into negative analysts?

So, should risk be incorporated into the analyst ranking framework as either a primary or secondary criterion? For instance, two analysts that are pretty much equal in all other criteria could see a negative analyst getting ranked higher than a positive analyst because there is more risk associated with the negative analyst and AR wants to invest more time to move that analyst’s opinion. If the two analysts are on the border between Tier 1 and Tier 2 Continue reading

There can never be an analyst influence database [Practitioner Question]

question-mark-graphic.jpgQuestion: Is there a database that ranks analysts in terms of influence?

While there are some fine analyst directories or databases available for purchase (e.g., ARinsight’s ARchitect3) none of have “influence” data. This is because influence is a relative term which is dependent on what the vendor is trying to accomplish and the market space they are addressing. Obviously two companies with different products would see the same analyst as having different influence.  However, two competitors in the same market could also end up with analyst lists that are different because they have different business objectives they are trying to accomplish. Even the same vendor could rank the influence of the same analysts differently over time, even in a span of only a few months, as the vendor’s business and analyst relations (AR) objectives change.

While there are no databases of influence to purchase, AR can still create a formal analyst list management process with documented ranking criteria. Although this framework cannot eliminate the work associated with determining influence, it will permit AR to rank their analyst lists efficiently.

If an AR team does not have the bandwidth to do the work associated with creating an analyst list, there are Continue reading

Don’t underestimate the visibility a blog can provide an analyst

An interesting exercise is to compare the relative web traffic between the largest advisory analyst firm (Gartner), the largest IT market research firm (IDC) and a very visible analyst who has his own blog. Using the site comparison feature of Compete here is the graphic showing Forrester analyst extraordinaire and social media poster boy Jeremiah Owyang’s (bio, Twitter handle, blog) personal blog Web Strategy by Jeremiah, Gartner.com and IDC.com:

Traffic comparison Gartner.com IDC.com and Jeremiah Owyang blog 

Click here or on the graphic to enlarge. The top blue line is Jeremiah’s blog, the green middle line is Gartner.com and the bottom orange line is IDC.com. There is not a single month in the past year where Web Strategy by Jeremiah did not receive more unique visitors (an average of 136,000 per month) than Gartner.com and IDC.com combined.

Not an apples-to-apples comparison… and that is the point 

Of course, comparing two very different types of websites, a blog vs. corporate sites, is not an apples-to-apples assessment. Rather this illustrates how a savvy analyst can leverage a personally branded blog to obtain unique access to a broader audience than he could even on the regular research website of a $1.2bn but very traditional analyst firm. This is because the analyst blog is easily Continue reading

Are you wasting time on the wrong analysts? Announcing “Ranking and Tiering,” a SageCircle webinar

seminar.jpgOne 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 as “Tier 1.” This state of affairs leads to inefficiency and ineffectiveness as AR teams are spread too thin to effectively influence the most relevant analysts. Another problem is a list that is missing relevant analysts, which can lead to uninformed analysts negatively impacting your sales cycles. 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. The quality of your analyst list brings up a number of key issues for AR:

  • Do you have a formal analyst list management process that can withstand executive scrutiny?
  • Are your list management processes efficient enough to permit quick changes to reflect the changing company priorities or upheavals in the analyst community like layoffs?
  • Do you have the content to educate your stakeholders about how analyst lists are managed and the importance of prioritizing the analysts?
  • Are you prepared for the analysts to “go around” you and interact directly with your executives to get their “tier” upgraded?
  • Do you have the tools to efficiently manage and share your lists?

To help out AR professionals and teams take a strategic approach to creating and maintaining analyst lists, SageCircle is announcing a new public webinar focused on the methodology for creating an airtight analyst list.

In this SageCircle AR Webinar, we will provide you with succinct and actionable information that will help you develop a solid and efficient analyst list management process. The agenda for the 90-minute session includes: Continue reading

Stealth analyst firm reorganizations trigger the need for analyst list maintenance

Analyst firms are no different from any other company in that they go through periodic reorganizations. There are many reasons why firms reorganization, such as: 

  • Changes in the tech marketplace which causes changes in analyst research coverage assignments as emerging technologies are added while declining/consolidating markets are dropped
  • Acquisitions (e.g., Forrester buying JupiterResearch) that bring in new analysts, market coverages and services
  • Modifications to the firm’s business model to go after new opportunities or exit poor markets

The problem for analyst relations (AR) professionals is that firms rarely tell clients or AR teams about these organization changes. This could dramatically decrease the efficiency and effectiveness of the analyst education effort as AR wastes time working with analysts that are no longer relevant while missing newly relevant analysts.

SageCircle Technique:

  • Ask analysts in a casual manner during interactions (e.g., briefing and inquiry) whether the firm has recently gone through or is planning a Continue reading

Your analyst list is likely wrong – half the analysts should not be on it, half that should are not

Having reviewed many analyst lists over the years, it never ceases to amazes us how such a very high percentage of them are wrong. The analyst relations (AR) team’s analyst list(s) are a critical success factor. Having a poorly constructed list means that AR professionals are missing important analysts and wasting time with non-relevant analysts. As a consequence, the AR team will find both its efficiency and effectiveness negatively impacted. In the most dire circumstances, having a poorly constructed list could also negatively impact an AR professional’s ability to keep their job.

 This post focuses on which analysts should be included or excluded from a list, not on ranking and tiering (see here for that discussion).

There are many reasons why any particular analyst list can be so wrong (in order of importance, most important first): 

  • Perception that there is no time to do the work
  • Lack of formal analyst list methodology
  • Inadequate consideration of corporate, business group and team objectives
  • Lack of carefully considered weighted criteria
  • Infrequent review of the analyst marketplace for changes in analysts and coverage
  • Lack of mechanism for capturing how analyst list decisions were made
  • Focusing on large firms while giving boutiques short shrift
  • No access to a database of analysts
  • Internal political pressure
  • External squeaky wheels

 Frankly, creating and maintaining an analyst list is not Continue reading

Don’t listen to the squeaks when managing your analyst list

“The squeaky wheel gets the grease” is one of the hoariest clichés in the culture. When applied to building and managing analyst lists, it is also incredibly dangerous. 

Just because an analyst demands a briefing, access to your executives, or whatever, it does not mean that they should get it. What becomes difficult for analyst relations (AR) is when an analyst that is not getting what they want starts squeaking in order to get attention. The squeaks could be in the form of intemperate quotes in the press, back channel complaining to your executives, or other such actions. Their goal is to be annoying enough to get the briefing or the contract they want.

If AR is committed to the first of The 5 I’s of Analyst Relations, “Identify”, and the team has developed a standardized process for ranking and tiering analysts, and has a set of tools for list management, then it should be relatively easy to ignore the squeaks. Even an executive who is pushing for including an analyst on a list because of a few press quotes will likely concede that the analyst does not belong when presented with AR’s list methodology and audit trail. When it comes to tools, you can have a simple Word list with a list of analysts, their ranking and why. Or you can have something as detailed as SageCircle’s “Analyst List Workbook” SageToolTM which gives you the ability to do “what-if” analysis by playing with the weights of criteria (click on graphic for a larger version of the workbook section for setting criteria weights).

AR teams that do not have a formal methodology and tools will often find themselves with an ever shifting analyst list based more on emotion and squeaks. An unstable analyst list makes Continue reading

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