The Top 5 – Mistakes concerning SAS days

Here are the top mistakes by IT vendors when using SAS (aka analyst consulting days) as a tool for briefing the analysts, marketing support or as an advisor. 

   5)   Not using preliminary phone briefings and inquiries to set the groundwork before the analyst shows up for the on-site day.

   4)   Not getting a full day’s worth of time and effort when using an analyst as a speaker at a marketing event.

   3)   Not doing sufficient planning in advance including agenda setting.

   2)   Not being disciplined about sticking to the agenda (e.g., wanting the analyst to contribute to your strategy and plans in order to get psychological buy-in but spending the entire day briefing the analyst on less important issues).

…and the number one worst practice is

1)     Having the wrong reason for doing analyst consulting days in the first place. Too many IT vendors think of paying analyst consulting day fees as some sort of a bribe to get favorable coverage. The reality is that a consulting day is a way to get the analyst’s uninterrupted Continue reading

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

You don’t have to be a Gartner client to get a good “dot” on the Magic Quadrant

One of the continuing myths in the IT industry is that Gartner demands payment from vendors for placement on its research. This even came up in a comment – anonymously posted of course – on a blog post written by Gartner VP and Distinguished Analyst Tom Bittman (bio, blog, Twitter) called A Rant – My Integrity as an Analyst.

SageCircle knows this is not the case from personal experience, but also because we get collaborating evidence from our clients. Just last week we were on an inquiry with a client, a small software company, who was included on a Magic Quadrant in the Visionary square months before they even considered signing up for a Gartner contract. The reason for the inquiry with SageCircle? In the draft update of the Magic Quadrant their dot had moved to the left. Yikes. However, the reason for the less favorable position had nothing to do with their client status or the size of their contract. Rather it was because they had not noticed that the lead author on the Magic Quadrant had changed. Once we figured this out, they understood that their problem was that they had never briefed the new analyst.

We also know of large vendors who have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars with Gartner year in and year out only never to get onto a Magic Quadrant on which they wanted to be included.

However, in the past it has also been true that some unscrupulous Gartner sales representatives have played the research placement card when they desperately needed to Continue reading

SageCircle AR Podcast for October 6, 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 10: Table of contents. Numbers in parentheses refer to minutes:seconds when the article starts within the podcast.

[00:00]  Introduction

[01:18]  News – Gartner’s AR Call and why AR should go to Symposium

[04:06]  How client inquiry by end users is different from vendors

[08:32]  AR-Sales Case Study: How AR saved a $35m deal

[16:10]  AR and 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

Gartner’s updated Vendor Research Escalation Process (part 7 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 six-part series to highlight details and provide commentary. See below for links to all six posts.

Logo - GartnerOn the Gartner AR call, Nancy Erskine, Gartner Ombudsman (Twitter, blog) announced an updated process for escalating vendor-analyst disagreements (click Research Issue Escalation Process For Vendors to get a PDF of the process document). It is a straightforward process with good, common sense suggestions. 

In our webinar Dealing with Problem Analysts we counsel that escalation, whether with Gartner or another firm, should always be a last resort for AR. While some analysts will consider an escalation as nothing more than the normal course of business, there is always a chance that the analyst will react negatively. Damaging the relationship is even more likely if the vendor’s representatives are belligerent.

While there are some legitimate reasons why a vendor should escalate a problem, a simple difference of opinion (e.g., the placement of a dot on a Magic Quadrant) and typical analyst arrogance are not good candidates for escalation. Remember, the analyst firm management will give the benefit of the doubt to the analyst if that analyst has done her homework and has not violated the research process or code of conduct. Just because the vendor thinks it should further up and to the right on a Magic Quadrant does not mean that Gartner’s management will agree. In addition, if the vendor has been inept or tardy in its response to the analyst’s documented research requests or has not conducted regular AR outreach, then there will be little sympathy from analyst management.

If AR does decide to escalate an issue – following the process in the PDF – then the first step before contacting the analyst’s manager or the Ombudsman is to create a document with a solid argument and lots and lots of supporting information, data, and customer stories. The more proof points a vendor has on paper the greater the likelihood of success. If the vendor cannot muster the proof points or invest the time to document them, then SageCircle’s recommendation is not to go the escalation route.

SageCircle Technique:

  • Develop relationships with your top analysts’ managers before you need to escalate a situation. For example, try to have a 1-on-1 or a cup of coffee with analyst managers at Symposium
  • Develop relationships Continue reading

Evidence Sidebar – Gartner needs to cover the role of information from end-user inquiries (part 6 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.

One of the announcements at the Gartner Q3 AR Calls was the rollout of the “Evidence Side-bar” for written research. During the presentation the Evidence Side-bar was described as “a description of the evidence behind the written research” and it will be “positioned on the front page of each document.” This is a welcomed development as increased transparency can only enhance the credibility and usefulness of Gartner’s research. Additional detail about the Evidence Side-bar taken from the AR Call presentation includes: 

  • Methodology
    • A high level view of the methodology  …or…
    • A link to the Methodology Document  …or…
    • A pointer to the Methodology Statement
  • Source
    • Primary research, e.g., “Gartner Survey”
    • Secondary research
    • Reference to another Gartner note, etc – with appropriate details
  • Notes
    • Additional information or commentary
    • A description of models used
    • Criteria or inclusion of technologies or technology
    • Include forecast assumptions.

This is all well and good. However, there was a glaring omission in the discussion of sources so SageCircle submitted the following question:

Question from Gartner AR Call

Frankly, we did not think that the Gartnerians would respond to the question. Much to our surprise, they did. Here is VP Mike Anderson’s reply:

“Inquiry is a great source of the evidence that a lot of analysts use for those results. I do not believe that we have standardized on the content of how inquiry be presented or how inquiry was used.

Instances where there were substantial numbers and quantities or where particular demographics have become important in the analysis that is being presented, those will be the things that analysts will be putting into the Side-bar. We’ll see feedback to them to ensure the Continue reading

The CIO Panel is reason enough to attend the AR Forum at Symposium (part 5 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 2009Gartner will be holding AR Forums at Symposium again this year. They will be from 3 pm to 5 pm followed by a reception from 5 pm to 6 pm. The Orlando forum will be on October 20 and Cannes will be on November 3. Sydney has not been scheduled yet.

There will presentations by CEO Gene Hall and Head of Research Peter Sondergaard, which should be useful. However, the agenda item that really stands out as a compelling use of an AR professional’s time is the “CIO Panel Discussion: Understanding How the CIO-Gartner Dialogue is Changing.” The description says that CIO clients will share their perceptives and then field questions.

One of the reasons why many vendor executives question the relevance of the analysts in the age of free information on the Internet and bountiful opinions on social media is that they do not grok how the relationship between CIOs/IT managers and analysts is so radically different from the often contentious and dysfunctional relationships vendors have with the analysts. Attending this panel discussion can provide AR with valuable insights about the CIO-analyst relationship that they can then use with skeptical colleagues when discussing the relevance of the advisory analysts such as Gartner.

In addition, understanding the dialogue between CIOs and analysts can help AR focus the type of content they give to the analysts. AR professionals might find that they are leaving out important types of information when briefing analysts simply because they do not understand the types of conversations that go on between analysts and their end-user clients.

SageCircle Technique:

  • AR should prioritize attendance at the AR Forum
  • AR should consider bringing non-AR colleagues to the Continue reading

Cost optimization at Symposium will be a critical thread to follow for vendors (part 3 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 2009The Gartnerians made reminded everyone that the overall theme of Symposium in 2009 is “Balancing Cost, Risk, Growth.” One of the topics they made sure to highlight is cost optimization. While this has all been included in the voluminous marketing by Gartner, it is easy for AR teams to over look the importance of the cost optimization topic for their companies.

Gartner’s recommendations for cost optimization steps given to enterprise IT managers often come at the expense of the vendors. That is because the Gartner analysts will be suggesting that end users – the primary clients of Gartner – postpone new purchases, go with cheaper alternatives, reduce new licenses, cut support fees, demand deeper and maybe unrealistic discounts, and otherwise squeeze the vendors. For some vendors these recommendations might be a direct threat to active and potential sales deals. For other vendors these recommendations might be a great tool to leverage in sales deals because they closely match their position in the marketplace.

While at Symposium, AR teams can gather important intelligence about what cost-cutting advice analysts are recommending to enterprise IT managers. It is likely not possible to get such unfiltered insights from published Continue reading

Don’t bring your CEO to Symposium and expect to brief the analysts (part 2 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 questions at the first of the Gartner Q3 AR Calls was something along the lines of “I am bringing my CEO to Symposium and want to meet with six analysts. In addition, my CEO wants to give an overview presentation. When can I expect confirmation?”

The Gartnerians were incredibly patient and diplomatic in their response. We will be somewhat more frank in our response:

  • There is a snowball’s chance in Hell that you can set up a meeting of this nature with six analysts because schedules are already getting booked
  • It would be a waste of time to do an overview briefing (see part 1 of this series for why)
  • Your CEO would likely be insulted by an analyst’s lack of interest in his overview should you actually corner one to meet with him, for instance during a 1-on-1
  • Not correctly setting the CEO’s expectations about Symposium could be a career-limiting move for the AR manager

First and foremost, vendors need to realize that Gartner Symposium is end-user centric. While vendor ITxpo sponsorships contribute significantly to Symposium’s revenue stream, it is the end users that account for at least 70% of Gartner’s overall annual revenue. So everything that Gartner is doing is focused on maximizing the experience for enterprise CIOs and IT managers. This includes giving end users priority access to 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

Prepping for Gartner Symposium (part 1 of 7 about Gartner 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 2009In the presentation for the AR call (click here to get a copy of the slides, to be posted by COB 9/21/09), the Gartnerians made a number of very useful suggestions for AR and other vendor staff going to Symposium. Many of the suggestions were the same ones SageCircle have made in the past including during the August 2009 AR Coffee Talk on “Staying Top of Mind for Symposium.” A quick summary of Gartner’s top suggestions with our commentary:

  • Understand the realities of analysts’ life at Symposium – Every minute is scheduled and they are worked to exhaustion.
    • Implication: Do not try to brief or otherwise give analysts information that you want them to remember because they simply will not remember it
    • Best practice: Use Symposium for relationship building and gauging analyst interest in a topic. Then schedule briefings after Symposium on the new information
  • Do: Draw relevance to analysts’ (that you are talking to) published research and know what they’re presenting on
    • Best practice: Do your homework before heading to Symposium
  • Do: Make it a two-way conversation (when talking to analysts at 1-on-1s or side meetings)
    • Implication: Monologues where vendors are talking at analysts are a waste of time
    • Best practice: Ask questions about their research agenda and what they are hearing from Continue reading

Highly recommended – Participating in the Gartner Quarterly AR Call on September 17 and 18

The topic we hear analyst relations (AR) professionals and other vendor staff talk the most about is Gartner. There is always something brewing about the Gartnerians’ business model, research methodology, product management and policies that gets under the skin of AR pros around the globe. While there is widespread feeling in the AR community that Gartner does not listen to us, we think that a productive use of an hour is participating in the Gartner Quarterly AR Call and telling the Gartner executives exactly what is on your mind. With a variety of GVPs and VPs participating, we think that AR pros should give these executives the benefit of the doubt that they will listen to well reasoned observations with positive suggestions about how to correct the situation.

—- Text from Gartner’s email —-

Dear Colleague:Mark your calendar for Thursday, September 17, or Friday, September 18, to participate in the Q3 Gartner Analyst Relations Webinar and Teleconference.With Gartner Symposium ITxpo season almost upon us, and with many of the Gartner AR community members attending, we’re excited to bring you a personalized “heads-up” on what to expect. Mike Anderson and Sue Landry, both from the Gartner Research team responsible for Fall Symposium 2009 agenda planning, will preview 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

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

Gartner 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 the “Big Two” advisory analyst firms as well as communications and IT vendor analyst relations (AR) teams. 

Logo - GartnerGartner, Inc.  (NYSE:IT) announced its Q2 2009 earnings on August 4, 2009. See the end of the blog post for a summary and link to the press release.

In general, Gartner’s results were much as expected. All statistics are year-over-year and are FX neutral unless noted. Revenues were down 16%. Events took a huge hit (down 61% or $34.2m) due to cancelation of conferences, enterprise travel freezes that cut ticket sales, and vendors cutting sponsorships. Spring Symposium is normally scheduled in Q2 so its cancelation was a major factor in the Events revenue plunge from the prior year. Consulting was down in revenues (21%). However, the Contract Optimization Service continues to be bright spot in the Consulting portfolio. Research revenue was only down 1% and Research contract value decreased 3%.

Cash was down nearly $100m from prior year mainly because Gartner paid down some long term debt. However, it still has $97m in cash and a $250m in available credit, which should give it the necessary resources to maintain its business as well as conduct M&A activity. On the M&A front, CEO Hall maintained the position that M&A opportunities are being constantly evaluated, but unlike Forrester, who mentioned it was actively evaluating potential deals, he provided no color to that remark.

PricingThere was little discussion or few questions about pricing. As always, CEO Hall mentioned that Gartner is maintaining its pricing discipline. When asked by a financial analyst about price increases, Hall said that the 2009 price increase – yes Gartner did a price increase in a recession – was at the lower end of the range for price increases and that clients were fine with it. He indicated this lack of push back was due to Gartner doing a good job of communicating the value of the Gartner service so that cost is less of an issue. This is consistent with what we hear from our clients who tell us Gartner is not giving ground on pricing, even during a recession.

Client Retention and New ClientsIn Q2 client retention was 77%, continuing the typical decrease in clients during a recession. Gartner’s primary sources of non-renewals are technology vendors with the battered and consolidating financial industries also seeing fewer renewals. Forrester in its earnings call last week said non-renewals were mostly small vendors. Wallet retention was 86% reflecting spending decreases by vendors and end users who were keeping spending flat.

Gartner picked up 305 enterprise clients during the quarter. This is a very relevant number for 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

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

Analyst Relations budget – Use it, don’t lose it

It’s now July 22nd, about half way through the third calendar quarter. Many communications and IT vendors have budget policies in place where departments lose any budget that is not spent within a particular fiscal quarter or calendar year. AR managers frequently find it difficult to find a good use for remaining budget, especially when it might only be a few thousand dollars. Are you kicking yourself because you had had left over budget at the end of the last quarter that you did not use? In addition, you don’t want to blow any remaining budget on something that might not be used to its fullest extent, like a reprint of a so-so research note or a Gartner Advisory seat for someone who probably won’t do inquiries.

An excellent use of remaining budget is AR staff development because it increases efficiency and effectiveness, boosts staff morale and adds variety to the job. Staff development  is even more important during a recession when bonuses are meager and pay raises are not likely.

To make it easy for AR managers to spend odd amounts of end-of-the-quarter budget, SageCircle offers its services à la carte as well as by annual subscription. We have many services under $1,000 such as webinars ($95), Online SageContent Library ($395), AR briefings ($495), workshops ($495) and advisory blocks (2 hours $495, 5 hours $995) and seminars ($995).

Another advantage of SageCircle AR training offerings is that many are 90 minutes or less, making them easy to fit into a busy schedule or a regular staff call. Oh, did I mention that you can conveniently buy any SageCircle service via credit card to ensure you get it into this quarter’s purchases? We will also work around the clock to complete any paperwork you need for traditional purchase order/invoice.

Here are three examples of how you can mix-and-match SageCircle training services to meet various needs:

AR continuing education – This example assumes an experienced AR staff located in one office. The first two items are free, which of course is a great price. Using the AR DiagnosticTM as a continuing education tool is atypical, but the questions asked Continue reading

SAS day success – ruthlessly drive value

SAS(1) days (aka analyst consulting days, see definition) are a popular tool with many technology vendors. If done correctly SAS days can have a great ROI. If done poorly, a SAS day is a waste of time, money, and AR political capital.  It also has the added risk of hurting your company’s relationship and standing with the analyst.

The business problems for the IT vendor community lie in the fact that neither the analysts nor the vendors have a good process in place to ensure that the analyst consulting day will deliver value to the client. Too often analyst consulting days are executed in a haphazard manner with little prior planning or even a formal agenda. In order to solve this problem, vendors need to take a more a systematic approach to deciding whether or not an analyst consulting day is even required and then executing the days purchased with more rigor.

The critical success factor to ensuring SAS success is for AR managers to take full responsibility for driving business value from the engagement. Taking responsibility also means managing colleagues as well as analysts. You need a process, best practices, checklists, and participant training to ensure your colleagues are fully prepared and in agreement with the desired outcomes for the SAS day. 

In terms of the analysts, AR needs to work hard to ensure the analyst is fully engaged in preparing for the day and completing any follow up that you specify. AR also needs to work doubly hard to make sure the analyst does not try to stay for less than Continue reading

Gartner, Inc. 2Q 2009 earnings call is scheduled – will it continue to add enterprise clients?

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Gartner, Inc.  (NYSE:IT) announced that its earnings conference call will be on August 4th, Tuesday, at 10:00 a.m. ET. The earnings call is a webcast that you can find on Gartner’s investor relations webpage. This earnings call happens the week after Forrester’s Q2 call.

This earnings call should provide critical insight into whether enterprise technology buyers are changing their advisory analyst contract purchasing behaviors. In recent recessions, IT managers (the typical tech buyer client) have, as a group, been steady in their purchases of Gartner and Forrester services (and Giga and META before they were acquired). Most of the advisory analyst firm research syndicated contract revenue volatility is due to vendors who often cut their marketing budgets steeply during recessions.  Because Gartner is not very vendor centric the earnings call information correlates closely to end user activity. 

Enterprise technology buyer purchasing patterns are important because they are an important indicator of Continue reading

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

Time is running out for influencing Gartner’s Fall Symposia presentations

Logo - Symposium 2009Analysts creating presentations for the Fall Symposia series will need to submit their PowerPoint files to Editorial starting in late July or early August. So now is the time to make a last push to get your information and point-of-view across to your analysts.

It is important to remember that the push in July is focused on the physical presentation. There will be other activities required in late August to early October to influence the talking points used by the analysts during their speeches and 1-on-1s. See below to learn about staying top of mind at Symposium, which is the subject of August’s free AR Coffee Talk.

One of the trickier issues for AR to decide is how much information to provide in July under non-disclosure about major announcements planned for September or October. There is the obvious concern of leaks while presentations are a work in progress.  However, providing NDA information can subtly influence what is in the presentation or the approach the analyst takes to lay out market trends.  Just be clear about what is confidential and be up front about your concerns.  Analysts will appreciate the candor.

SageCircle Technique:

  • Immediately schedule inquiries with your top Gartner analysts to discuss
    • How their presentations are progressing
    • When the presentations are due to Editorial
    • What new opinions or changes from prior positions will likely be included
    • What type of customer stories, information, data or graphics does the analyst need that you might be able to help provide
  • Determine what you can realistically influence
  • Work with your extended AR team and domain experts to quickly develop written and graphical content to Continue reading
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