Forrester or Gartner launch a client-only social network – Looking ahead to 2010

Ticon-crystal-ball.jpghis post is one in a series where SageCircle pulls out the crystal ball and looks ahead to what happens in the analyst ecosystem in 2010. See below for links to all posts in this series.

As 2009 comes to a close there are only a few examples of analyst-created communities built on social networks. One example is the IDC Insights Community, which was launched in March 2009 and is built on a white-label social network platform. This is an open community that anybody, including competitors to IDC, can register to join. This is an interesting experiment by IDC as it potentially enhances IDC’s ability to increase its visibility with enterprise clients.

While 2010 will see more analyst-operated open communities built on free tools like LinkedIn Groups or purchased social networking platforms, the most interesting and controversial communities will be the “gated communities” that Forrester and/or Gartner might launch. These closed communities would only be available to clients of the firms.

Social media purists will no doubt howl that a closed social network violates the spirit of communities and that the firms are dumb for not using the communities a marketing tool to build awareness to non-clients. Perhaps these objections are valid, but there are valid reasons why closed, managed communities will actually be welcomed by enterprise end users.  Not everybody is comfortable with the rough-and-tumble attitude of some open communities. In some cases a Continue reading

Acquisitions continue to remake the analyst landscape – Looking ahead to 2010

icon-crystal-ball.jpgThis post is one in a series where SageCircle pulls out the crystal ball and looks ahead to what happens in the analyst ecosystem in 2010. See below for links to all posts in this series.

It does not take a magical crystal ball to predict that there will be acquisitions in the analyst market. Acquisitions have always been a business tool of analyst firms. However, there are some potentially interesting developments on the acquisition front for 2010 and beyond.

Roll ups to take on Gartner and Forrester – One of the ways that Gartner was able to achieve its market dominance was 60+ acquisitions in the 1990s under the leadership of then CEO Manny Fernandez.  Since then there has been only one serious attempt to use a roll up strategy to develop a competitor to Gartner and Forrester. That was by Monitor Clipper Partners in 2004, who attempted to buy META Group to combine with the earlier acquisition of Yankee Group to form the core of a new broad-based major analyst firm. This plan was derailed by Gartner CEO Gene Hall’s smart and strategic grab of META. In stark contrast to the last ten years, 2010 could see three firms use a roll up strategy: Corporate Executive Board, IDC (for Insights units) and Ovum-Datamonitor.

Mid-sized firms get gobbled up – As Gartner’s acquisition of AMR Research demonstrates, being a mid-sized firm with a price tag in the tens of millions dollars does not deter determined acquirers. There are a number of potential acquiring firms with the financial resources to buy a mid-sized firm. One firm likely being wooed by potential acquirers is the Burton Group, which has a solid reputation, desirable research coverage, a sales force, and a client base that includes enterprises and government agencies.

Forrester continues adding resources for marketing professionals – Forrester continued its push deeper into research and services relevant to marketing professionals with its recent acquisition of Strategic Oxygen. In 2010, Forrester is likely to continue adding assets for its Marketing and Strategy Professionals Client Group. While this strategy is certainly reasonable because it helps Forrester stay out of the path of Gartner, it risks diluting its Continue reading

What Forrester Research’s acquisition of Strategic Oxygen says about Forrester

logo-forrester.gifOn December 1, 2009, Forrester Research announced the acquisition of Strategic Oxygen from Monitor. Strategic Oxygen provides marketing professionals with data to help target marketing campaigns more effectively. While of interest to Technology Product Management & Marketing Professionals, it will be a separately-priced offering and not included in that RoleView. 

This acquisition is of little interest to analyst relations (AR) teams as Strategic Oxygen does not track IT or telecommunications markets nor does it advise enterprise technology buyers on products from vendors like Accenture, Cisco, IBM, or SAP.

In a case of bad luck from a publicity point-of-view, Forrester announced the acquisition on the same day that Gartner acquired AMR Research. The Gartner acquisition overshadowed the Forrester announcement, but that does not mean that Forrester’s M&A move is less significant. Rather, it provides important insights into Forrester’s strategy.

The first insight is that M&A continues to be an ongoing tool for Forrester even though it has been quiet on that front since the JupiterResearch acquisition in July 2008. Forrester is sitting on approximately a quarter-billion in cash, cash equivalents, and short term investments. It also generates very good cash flow from operations so it definitely has the resources for an aggressive M&A strategy. Forrester simply takes a conservative approach to M&A to ensure a high level of success.

The second insight is that Forrester continues to look beyond the IT organization. Forrester did not have a significant presence in the IT organization prior to closing its acquisition of Giga in early 2003. The Giga acquisition gave it a substantial footprint in the IT organization, likely making it the number two end user advisory firm after Gartner. While Forrester’s end-user clients provide a steady revenue stream, it has done its recent primary investment in expanding its Continue reading

Analyst Ecosystem News – People on the Move

Icon - newsTip o’ the hat to many tipsters who provide us with the following tips. Alas, they are all shy so they requested that their names not be used. 

Arrivals:

  • Forrester – Nigel Fenwick (Twitter, personal blog) covering CIO issues
  • Forrester – Augie “August” Ray (Twitter, personal blog) covering social computing
  • SynergyACG – Eve Griliches (Twitter) covering telecommunications equipment. Prior to SynergyACG Eve was a Director at IDC.

Departures:

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:

Forrester 3Q 09 earnings part 2 – Client Group breakdown from 10-Q

logo-forrester.gifVendor AR teams find it useful to understand the size and nature of an analyst firm’s clients when they are trying to decide if that firm has direct influence on their sales. Analyst firms whose clients are primarily vendors have little direct impact on sales deals because they are not advising IT managers and other technology buyers. Those firms with a significant contract value with enterprises can have a dramatic impact on sales especially through ad hoc, phone-based inquiry (see Don’t discount the business value of analysts’ 350,000+ phone-based inquiries with end-user clients) and signature product or market research (e.g., Magic Quadrant and Wave).

In its SEC Form 10-Q, Forrester Research provided some details into its client base. While not perfectly transparent, it does provide interesting insights. The filing reports the revenue breakdown by the three Client Groups, which have their own dedicated sales and analyst teams. There is also an “Other” category which consists “primarily of sponsorships and event tickets.” The “Other” category makes the percentages fluxuate quarter-to-quarter depending on the number of events that occur in the quarter.

Table - Forr Client Breakdown Q3 2009

As the table illustrates, roughly 40% of its revenues in the first three quarters came from its IT Client Group, which SageCircle interprets as “end users” at enterprises. This is a critical community for many technology and telecommunications vendors as these are often the primary buyers of Continue reading

SageCircle AR Podcast for November 3, 2009

SageCircle AR Podcast ArtworkThe AR podcast is a review of the latest news and trends in the analyst ecosystem along with tips and tricks for analyst relations professionals and analyst research consumers. SageCircle strategists Dave Eckert and Carter Lusher co-host this bi-weekly program. You can find all the SageCircle podcasts on our podcast page.

Visit the podcast page to download the MP3 file or listen to the episodes on your computer.  Click here to subscribe to the podcast within iTunes

SCP 12: Table of contents. Numbers in parentheses refer to minutes:seconds when the article starts within the podcast.

[00:00] Opening

[00:57] News – Forrester’s and Gartner’s 3Q 2009 Earnings Announcements

[07:41] Growing enterprise client base enhances influence and relevance

[10:40] AR-Sales Case Study – Countering a negative research Continue reading

Forrester Research Q3 2009 earnings call

This analysis does not look at areas of interest to investors, but seeks to pull out insights that are relevant to clients and prospects of Forrester Research, the number two advisory analyst firm, as well as communications and IT vendor analyst relations (AR) teams. 

logo-forrester.gif

This post is part one of two parts when it comes to an analysis of the Forrester Q3 earnings. This is because the 10-Q, which will come out within two weeks of the earnings call, has more detail than the currently available 8-K and the earnings call.  We will review that document when it is available. 

The key take away from Forrester’s Q3 2009 earnings announcement is that Forrester is weathering this economic downturn much better than the last recession. In that recession, Forrester saw revenues plunge ~34% and experienced a broad and deep reduction in staff. After three quarters in 2009, overall revenue is only down 3% with research revenues actually up 2%. Headcount is 960, down 8% from 2008 year end, but still 23% higher than YE2007. In addition, Forrester currently has 16 sales and 4 research openings so it is not simply reducing headcount, but selectively filling positions as well. Furthermore, CEO George Colony told the Wall Street analysts on today’s call that he plans on adding 10 to 20 sales headcount in the 4th quarter (it is not clear if this expansion includes or is incremental to the current sales job openings on the website). This contrasts with the 51% reduction in staff from YE2000 to YE2002. Finally, at the end of Q3 2009 Forrester is sitting on $280m in cash and short term investments.

Why should this matter to enterprise clients and vendor analyst relations (AR) staff? Because Forrester is not in survival mode it has not had to slash sales or research headcount. Rather it has continued to keep the client–facing staff at a level that makes retaining existing and adding new enterprise clients relatively straightforward. This means that Forrester’s ability to maintain its research agenda and marketplace influence are not being seriously imperiled as 2009 comes to a close.

For AR teams this means that there is unlikely to be disruptive analyst turnover that would negatively impact analyst lists and interactions plans. Unfortunately, there is still the likelihood that sales representatives and analysts will be hitting the vendor community hard for incremental consulting/service units engagements and Roleview seats. Vendors should realize that not buying Continue reading

Forrester Research Q3 2009 earnings call scheduled

logo-forrester.gifForrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR)  earnings call is 11:00 a.m. Eastern time on Thursday, October 29, 2009 . The earnings call is a webcast that you can find on Forrester’s investor relations webpage. This call is coming the day before Gartner’s earnings call.

SageCircle doesn’t listen to the Gartner and Forrester earnings calls with the same mindset as a financial analyst. What we listen for are clues to how the two publicly traded analyst firms are evolving their business models and research methodologies that might impact their clients, end user or vendor, especially when it comes to contract negotiations. I also listen to gather intelligence about their end-user client bases, which provides input into determining how their influence might be changing, which can be very useful for analyst relations teams. We will publishing summaries and analysis after each call is completed.

Bill of Rights for industry analyst vendor prospects

SageCircle has addressed the never ending myth that large advisory firms like Gartner and Forrester require vendors to pay in order to be included on research in posts such as You don’t have to be a Gartner client to get a good “dot” on the Magic Quadrant and Analyst integrity issues – the urban legend that won’t die. In addition, Gartner VP and Distinguished Analyst Tom Bittman (bio, blog, Twitter) has addressed the issue in A Rant – My Integrity as an Analyst along with Gartner Client Ombudsman Nancy Erskine who posted It’s Still True: Gartner Opinion is Not for Sale. A final point is that large firms explicitly make it part of their policy to state vendor briefings are not contingent upon being a client. For instance, on Gartner Vendor Briefings page there is the statement in the first paragraph “Gartner analysts schedule briefings at their discretion based purely on an interest in the vendor, its technologies and its marketplace, not because of any fee or contractual relationship.”

So why does this myth still persist? One reason is that there are still “white paper for hire” firms that will generate papers favorable to the client. So these “white paper for hire” firms taint the perception about all analyst firms. In addition, there some unscrupulous sales representatives at major firms like Forrester, Gartner, and so on that have played the research placement card when they desperately needed to close a contract or risked being fired. So part of the problem is that a few rotten apples at the major firms spoil the reputation of the entire firm. Finally, while analysts have policies against pay-to-play on their websites, has anybody ever read them? 

Killing the myth

So what can analyst firms do to drive a stake through the heart of this pernicious perception? They can create a “Bill of Rights for Vendor Prospects” that clearly states the policy and that every firm sales representative is required to give to a new prospect or existing clients working on a contract renewal. By explicitly stating the policy, which would include a provision that the firm would deal harshly with any sales representative that crossed the line, the firms would stand a better chance of stamping out this myth.

 While the focus of this proposal is on vendors who are (or are not) clients of the advisory firms the concept plays well to the end-user clients who are purchasing services.  They expect the advice they are receiving is objective and not tainted by undue influence.  A more public statement of the policy might be of value in selling to those clients as well.

To get the process started, here is an outline of what a “Bill of Continue reading

Insights from Forrester’s CEO presentation at an investor conference

This analysis does not look at areas of interest to investors, but seeks to pull out insights that are relevant to clients and prospects of Forrester Research, the number two advisory analyst firm, as well as communications and IT vendor analyst relations (AR) teams.

logo-forrester.gifForrester Research (NASDAQ: FORR) Chairman & CEO George Colony (Twitter, blog) and CFO Michael Doyle presented (replay available for approximately 90 days) at the William Blair & Co. Emerging Growth Stock Conference on Tuesday, October 6, 2009. Because the presentation was oriented toward investors that might not know much about Forrester, instead of the usual Wall Street analysts on quarterly earnings calls, there were some tid-bits of intelligence useful for clients and AR. 

A large number of diverse data points but spread thin: One of the advantages that a large analyst firm has is that its analysts can – not always – have access to a large number of formal and informal data points to include in research and use with end user clients during inquiries. Forrester revealed that its analysts conduct 3,500 vendor briefings, 16,800 inquiries, 250,000 consumer survey responses, and 10,000 large company survey responses.

Sounds like huge numbers, right? Actually these numbers might not seem so impressive when the average per analyst is calculated. Forrester currently lists 193 analysts, not including research associates and researchers. That means that the average number of inquiries per analyst is only 87 per year or seven (7) per month. Of course that is the average, which means that some analysts will be doing much less than the average, maybe as little as three (3) per month or less than one a week.

Calculating the number of briefings per analyst is a little trickier because a single briefing can have multiple analysts in attendance. For this discussion let’s say three analysts per briefing, which then calculates to each analyst getting about six (6) briefings per month. Again, this is not an impressive number when taking into consideration how important vendor information is for advisory analysts.

Of course, inquiry and vendor briefings are not the only sources Continue reading

Is there an acquisition coming in the analyst ecosystem?

SageCircle has been picking up signals that there is a potential announcement about the acqusition of an analyst firm by another analyst firm. This announcment could occur as early as today, Thursday, October 8th.

  • 10/8/09 9:07 am PT — Initial post
  • 10/8/09 9:53 am PT — Added section about Forrester CEO’s comments at investor conference
  • 10/8/10:37 am PT – Added section about Gartner
  • 10/8/09 11:43 am PT – Added section about IDC
  • 10/8/09 12:13 pm PT — Added section Ovum

Ovum could use more heft to take on “The Big Two”

Ovum is seriously taking a run at the big two advisory firms, Gartner and Forrester (see  Ovum-Datamonitor Restructuring: Sufficient Critical Mass to Take on the “Big Two”?). However, it still needs more analysts and sales reps to accelerate its growth in the enterprise advisory research space. Acquisitions would be a logical complement to organic hiring to quickly grow.

Don’t discount IDC as a potenial buyer in an M&A event

While IDC has had three layoffs in the last 18 months (see this post), that does not mean it could not pull off a large acquisition. There is a difference between managing costs during a recession and having the financial strength to invest in the future. Remember, IDC acquired Meridien Research in November 2002 during the last recession. IDC could certainly be looking at bulk up one of its Insights companies to compete more effectively in the end user market.

Gartner is sitting on approximately $100 million in cash

Gartner has the financial strength (approximately $100 m cash plus $250 m line of credit), dedicated M&A team and success with acquisitons to make it a logical player in any analyst ecosystem acquisition event. During each quarterly earnings call, CEO Gene Hall makes it a point to discuss M&A strategy and opportunities, though obviously not specific targets.

Could Forrester be ready to pull the trigger on a purchase?

At the William Blair & Co. Emerging Growth Stock Conference on Tuesday, October 6th, Forrester Research Chairman and CEO George F. Colony mentioned several times about Continue reading

The questions that Forrester and Gartner clients ask the analysts

While it is illegal for analyst relations (AR) teams to wiretap the analysts, it is possible to eavesdrop on their conversations with enterprise IT managers and other technology and telecommunications buyers. Well, sort of.

 The “Big Two” advisory firms have services, Forrester Client Advantage and Gartner Customer Insights, which are databases of the questions clients ask when scheduling a client inquiry. The insights available in these simple databases can be incredibly useful for vendors who invest the time and budget in data mining.

The information that can be extracted is of use to multiple constituencies within a vendor including AR (of course), market research, messaging, product management, sales and others. There are many more uses of the insights than there are audiences. For instance, for AR the questions illustrate the type of information that the analysts need… which Continue reading

Make sure to attend relevant Magic Quadrant presentations at Symposium ITxpo Marketplace Theater (part 4 of 7 about Gartner’s Q3 AR Call)

Gartner’s Analyst Relations team holds a quarterly conference call for the analyst relations (AR) community. SageCircle occasionally will post about the call, but for this particular call there was so much information that we have a seven-part series to highlight details and provide commentary. See below for links to all seven posts.

Logo - Symposium 2009One of the recommendations that the Gartnerians gave on the AR Call was to attend some Magic Quadrant (MQ) presentations at the ITxpo Theater. This is a suggestion that we heartily endorse.

AR professionals are probably so tired of thinking about the MQ and arguing with the analysts – especially if the update project was relatively recent – that it would be easy to blow off this opportunity. However, attending a presentation like this can provide some excellent opportunities to gather some insights such as:

  • How analysts tend to position the research to end-user clients
  • How analysts engage their end-user clients when answering questions about the MQ
  • Intelligence when the MQ might be updated
  • Intelligence about how the market criteria are evolving
  • Intelligence about how the analyst might rearrange the dots if it has been many months since the last update

SageCircle Technique:

  • AR teams should identify and prioritize which MQ presentations to attend
  • AR should chat with the end users after a presentation to learn more about how they use the Continue reading

Managing Your Gartner and Forrester Expenditures – A SageCircle Webinar

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgThe largest analyst contract commitments by enterprises, vendors and PR agencies often go to the Big Two advisory analyst firms: Forrester Research and Gartner. Unfortunately even during this recession, the two firms are not displaying any flexibility in contract negotiations – even though vendor clients are experiencing budget cuts.

To help analyst contract managers (e.g., AR, market research and procurement managers) take a strategic approach to dealing with the need to manage spending with Forrester and Gartner, SageCircle has a public webinar focused on providing the tools and intelligence needed to make the best decisions and deal with the firms’ sales representatives. 

In this SageCircle Webinar we provide insights and actionable advice on how to manage what you spend with Forrester and Gartner to ensure that you have the access you need without spending more than necessary. Key Issues to be addressed in this webinar include:

  • Is it possible to negotiate discounts with Forrester and Gartner?
  • What are the best practices for identifying expenditures that can be safely cut?
  • What are the repercussions with analysts at the Big Two if contracts are cut or even eliminated?
  • What are the best practices for handling angry and even threatening analyst firm sales representatives?

In this SageCircle Webinar, our strategists will provide a succinct analysis of why the Big Two are not being flexible and how vendors need to respond. Participants will come out of the webinar with best practices and tools that will help them manage their expenditures without adversely impacting their ability to Continue reading

Forrester adds 20 analysts to Analyst Twitter directory and dozens of contributors to the role-based team blogs

icon-social-media-blue.jpgForrester gives us yet more data that social media is being adopted by the major firms. Twenty additional Forrester analysts were added to Analyst Twitter Directory since the August 14th update. The 58 additions to the Forrester Blog Directory are equally interesting but not as time compressed as we had not updated the directory in some time. Here are some observations.

Research associates are using social media to raise their profiles. Research associates are those folks that do a lot of the grunt work when it comes to analyst research projects. They might get an occasional byline mention, but do not have an entry on the official analyst bio page. We have noticed that some savvy research associates are using blogs and Twitter to start building their personal brands. For instance, the Sourcing & Vendor Management role blog had been dormant all year with zero posts until early July when three new contributors revived the blog. When we started adding the contributors to the Forrester Blog Directory we noticed that none were analysts, rather they were all research associates. In addition, there are some research associates who are also tweeting. We include research associates in the directories because some will be promoted into full analyst status some day.

Not all analysts named as contributing to Forrester blogs are really blogging. We noticed several cases where two or more analysts are on the byline of a particular blog post, but that is the only time that they appear in all the blogs. The blog posts in question were obvious official responses to a Continue reading

Why large advisory analyst firms don’t seem to mind losing superstar analysts

By SageCircle with special guest contributor Gerry van Zandt

Update 9/24/09 2:05 pm PT: We are receiving links to interesting related posts that we are now adding to bottom of this post.

The recent departure of Forrester analysts R “Ray” Wang (personal-branded blog, Twitter handle) and Jeremiah Owyang (personal-branded blog, Twitter handle) has prompted the usual commentary and hand-wringing around what these departures mean. Questions we’ve heard center around: a) do the departures signal the demise of traditional analyst firms; and b)  and why analyst firms cannot keep their superstars.

Answers: no; and maybe they don’t want to.

Remember that superstars have always been leaving analyst firms. In the 1980s, George Colony and Tony Friscia left Yankee to form Forrester and AMR, and Dale Kutnick left GartnerGroup to launch META Group. In the 1990s, Gideon Gartner left Gartner to create Giga, and a group of Gartner analysts left and launched Jupiter Communications (while a number of Gartner analysts did join Jupiter, they did not co-found it).  These are just examples where the superstars founded what became good-sized firms with many analysts. There are many more examples where superstars have become successful single practitioners or have intentionally kept their firms at a “boutique” size.

There was a similar burst of twittering (in the old fashioned sense of the word) when social media superstar and Groundswell co-author Charlene Li (blogTwitter handle) and two other social media analysts left Forrester Research in the summer of 2008 (see Bursts of analyst departures in a hot research area are not unusual). So was Forrester doomed? Not at all. It still retained Groundswell co-author Josh Bernoff (blog, Twitter handle). It also had a cadre of social media analysts built organically and expanded via the JupiterResearch acquisition, and it had a very promising young analyst who already had high visibility but had not yet achieved superstar status yet – Jeremiah Owyang. Fast forward a year, and Forrester has lost another social media superstar. Oh, woe is them! Not really. The fortunes of large, successful industry analyst firms do not rise or fall based on a single superstar. Forrester still has a large and strong team of analysts covering social media from many different angles. In fact, among the traditional IT and telecommunications analyst firms, Forrester clearly has the best and most prominent social media research coverage. This is partly because it caters to enterprise marketing professionals in both its end-user and vendor client bases, not just the IT department.

So why don’t firms like Forrester or Gartner keep their superstars? In some cases they can’t because the superstar is itching to start their own Continue reading

SageCircle AR Podcast for August 18, 2009

SageCircle AR Podcast ArtworkThe AR podcast is a review of the latest news and trends in the analyst ecosystem along with tips and tricks for analyst relations professionals and analyst research consumers. SageCircle strategists Dave Eckert and Carter Lusher co-host this bi-weekly program. You can find all the SageCircle podcasts on our podcast page.

Click here to listen to the podcast on your computer or visit the podcast page to download the MP3 file.  Click here to subscribe to the podcast within iTunes

SCP 7: Table of contents. Numbers in parentheses refer to minutes:seconds when the article starts within the podcast.

(00:00)  Introduction

(01:01)  News – Gartner’s 2Q 2009 Earnings

(08:57)  News – Client based percentages from Forrester’s 10Q filing

(13:46)  News – Datamonitor, Ovum and Orbys Restructuring Announcement

(17:47)  One indicator of why the industry analysts are still as relevant in the age of Continue reading

So you were left off a Wave or Magic Quadrant – what next?

We don't exist according to ForresterIn January 2009, The Forrester Wave™: Community Platforms, Q1 2009 was published. This happened to be the inaugural publication of a Wave for this particular market. The primary author of this Wave was Jeremiah Owyang (bio, Twitter handle, blog) who conducted an incredibly transparent – for a Forrester or Gartner analyst – process for the creation of this Wave (see list of relevant blog posts at the end of this post). Jeremiah’s use of social media gave vendors in this nascent market plenty of opportunity to know what was going on with this research.

As is with the case with any piece of analyst research covering a new, dynamic, and extremely fragmented market only a fraction of the possible vendors can be fit into the time and space available. In this case, it was nine of more than 100 vendors. Neighborhood America, a social networking platform vendor, was left off the Community Platform Wave and did not take kindly to the exclusion. Neighborhood America created a web page, “Why weren’t we included in the Forrester Wave Report?”, to tell its side of the story. They also put a link on their home page (graphic above) to make sure visitors knew to go to the page. The explanation was reasonably well done (SageCircle would have counseled some additional text to provide context) and did not overtly attack either Forrester or the analyst. The latter part is important because an attack would have looked like sour grapes by a sore loser.

This was a very smart step to do. You can see the Community Platforms Wave graphic on Flickr and the PDF of the research note is easily available for free on the web. As a consequence, Neighborhood America prospects might see the graphic or Wave research and decide to drop them from a pending sales opportunity without further information. While Neighborhood America’s response will not get the breadth of readership that a Forrester research note will, it is a useful exercise.

SageCircle does not know the exact details about why Continue reading

Ray Wang leaves Forrester – normal course of business

Photo - Ray WangWhen it became known that Forrester enterprise applications analyst extraordinaire R “Ray” Wang (blog, Twitter handle) was leaving the firm, it left some folks atwitter on Twitter and blogs (no apologies for the atrocious pun) (e.g., see Ray Wang departing Forrester). What does Ray’s departure mean? Does it portend broader changes in the analyst ecosystem? 

Well, no. This is just the normal change that happens at every firm and most every individual’s career. As we pointed out a year ago in Bursts of analyst departures in a hot research area is not unusual, there are always analysts leaving firms for a variety of reasons. The reasons that Ray gave in his blog post Thursday’s Thanks: It’s Been A Great 5 Years! are very typical: more time with family and a change in research focus that did not necessarily fit in with his job and Forrester’s business model. While Forrester does not like losing a valuable, high profile employee as Ray, it has lots of smart analysts covering the same market as Ray so there will be little short or long term impact on Forrester’s business.

Here are some quick replies to comments we have seen.

Vinnie Mirchandani, former Gartner analyst and single practitioner at Deal Architect says in Fellow rebel, Ray Wang that superstar analysts like Ray are under-compensated by the major firms. We reply – So? As Vinnie himself pointed out that has always been the case. As a consequence compensation is no big deal and the major firms have always been able to recruit smart folks, turn them into superstars, and replace them when necessary. However, a lot of very smart analysts stay at the major firms even if in theory they could make more money elsewhere.

James Governor of Redmonk (Twitter handle, blog) in a tweet says “wondering why Forrester analysts leave, while Gartner analysts do not.” Our response – Guess what? Analysts do leave Gartner, probably Continue reading

Forrester 2Q 09 earnings part 2 – Client Group breakdown from 10-Q

logo-forrester.gifVendor AR teams find it useful to understand the size and nature of an analyst firm’s clients when they are trying to decide if that firm has direct influence on their sales. Analyst firms whose clients are primarily vendors have little direct impact on sales deals because they are not advising IT managers and other technology buyers. Those firms with a significant contract value with enterprises can have a dramatic impact on sales especially through ad hoc, phone-based inquiry (see Don’t discount the business value of analysts’ 350,000+ phone-based inquiries with end-user clients) and signature product or market research (e.g., Magic Quadrant and Wave).

In its SEC Form 10-Q, Forrester Research provided some details into its client base. While not perfectly transparent, it does provide interesting insights. The filing reports the revenue breakdown by the three Client Groups, which have their own dedicated sales and analyst teams. There is also an “Other” category which consists “primarily of sponsorships and event tickets.”

Forrester 2Q09 client group breakdown

As the table illustrates, 40% of its revenues in the first half of 2009 came from its IT Client Group, which SageCircle interprets as “end users” at enterprises. This is a critical community for many technology and telecommunications vendors as these are often the primary buyers of technology, especially IT infrastructure (e.g., servers, storage, systems integration consulting, enterprise applications, et cetera).

The 29% for the TI Client Group, focused on vendors, represent analysts who primarily advise vendors –although they can advise end users through so-called courtesy views and inquiries – and thus do not have a direct impact on active sales deals. The “Other” segment, the events business, does not have an analyst team so it does not have a direct impact on active sales deals.

So does this mean less than half of Forrester’s clients are those prime IT buyers that vendors prize? Not necessarily.

The M&S Client Group, which is focused on Continue reading

A potpourri of observations on social media and the analyst ecosystem

icon-social-media-blue.jpgTime to take a minute to check in with what’s up with the analyst ecosystem and social media.

Atwitter about Twitter – Twitter continues to be a hot topic in general with some negative backlash developing (e.g., Morgan Stanley’s report that teens do not care for Twitter and Nielsen’s research that millions are “Twitter quitters”). So what? It does not matter how many millions of users don’t use Twitter after signing up or how many millions follow some actor or talk show host. What matters for AR teams is whether their most relevant analysts are using Twitter and how it is being used.

Forrester and Gartner Blog Traffic: Nothing to sneeze about – We caused a bit of a buzz when we compared the traffic hits on Jeremiah Owyang’s personal blog to Gartner’s and Forrester’s corporate websites in Don’t underestimate the visibility a blog can provide an analyst because Jeremiah’s blog had twice the traffic of the two corporate websites combined. Looking at the firms’ own blog networks shows good traffic to them as the graphic illustrates (click here or graphic to enlarge). Forrester’s team blogs have averaged 65,000 unique visitors per month over the last year. The Gartner Blog Network has grown steadily since its September 2008 launch to 29,000 unique visitors in July.

Forrester Gartner blog networks traffic - small 

Social media metrics, useful but not “special” – As we were working on 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

Forrester Research Q2 2009 earnings

This analysis does not look at areas of interest to investors, but seeks to pull out insights that are relevant to clients and prospects of Forrester Research, the number two advisory analyst firm, as well as communications and IT vendor analyst relations (AR) teams. 

logo-forrester.gifForrester Research (NASDAQ: FORR) reported its Q2 2009 earnings on July 30, 2009. See the end of the blog entry for a summary and link to the press release. 

This post is part one of two parts when it comes to an analysis of the Forrester Q2 earnings. This is because the 10-Q, which comes out within two weeks of the earnings call, has more detail than the currently available 8-K and the earnings call.

Forrester’s acquisition of JupiterResearch was made in Q3 2008 which makes Q2 year-over-year comparisons not entirely relevant for our purposes. As a consequence, we will be checking sequential quarter comparisons because they will show the trends in this downturn and be more informative for AR and research clients.

Q2 revenues were down 3% year-over-year to $61.6m, about what guidance predicted. Cash and short term investments were $239.4m, up approximately $26m year-over-year and $13.6m over Q1.

As expected, consulting (called Advisory by Forrester for financial reports) and events revenues were down which is typical during a recession. Consulting was down 8%. Forrester did not give numbers, but said Events did meet the reduced expectations in terms of revenue, overall was profitable and even saw one event, Customer Experience Forum 2009, sell out.

There was a decrease of 92 total clients from Q1 to 2,493 (150 total decline since year end 2008). Forrester stated these were mostly Continue reading

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

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