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

Gartner typically refreshes most Hype Cycles in June and July every year. From a timing point-of-view that means the analysts are starting to think about what they want to change in the Hype Cycle in April. Then in May and June they move into their serious work on their Hype Cycles in order to get them through Editorial by the end of June. Working backward that means that AR programs need to start now to think about how they want to influence the Hype Cycle. 

A valuable resource for AR programs that want to influence the Hype Cycle is the book Mastering the Hype Cycle: How to Choose the Right Innovation at the Right Time (Harvard Business Press, $19.77 + S&H on Amazon) by Hype Cycle creator Jackie Fenn and colleague Mark Raskino. While written for the enterprise client, there are many valuable insights in the book for vendor AR professionals.  Click here for SageCircle’s review of the book.

Related posts:

SageCircle Technique:

  • Add influencing the Hype Cycle to your annual AR Strategic & Tactical Plan
  • Carefully review the list of Hype Cycles to identify relevant targets (while there are 96 Hype Cycles as of July 6, 2008, this task will likely not require a lot of time and effort)
  • Identify which of your company’s leading-edge Continue reading

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

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

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

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

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

Gartner’s Hype Cycle – Anticipate and Influence

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

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

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

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

Thinking about Gartner’s Hype Cycle

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

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

Analyst firms’ editorial calendars

Here are the links to the editorial calendars for Gartner and Forrester that we mentioned during the just completed Coffee Talk. Note: After I asked on Twitter, The451 ICE’s service director sent me a link to ICE’s upcoming research.

Gartner Editorial Calendar for Magic Quadrants and MarketScopes Don’t forget that at the end of July, the Gartnerians are going to expand their editorial calendar to include planned research other than MQs and Marketscopes.

Forrester Planned Research This page defaults to showing only the planned research for you role. Click on “Show all documents,” which is just Continue reading

Notes from Gartner’s Quarterly AR Call – Themes are royalty, expanded editorial calendar, org changes

On Thursday, June 19th Gartner’s Vendor Relations team held its regular quarterly analyst relations (AR) call. Because the Gartnerians do not currently offer a transcript of the call, just a replay, SageCircle is providing detailed notes.

SageCircle Advisory clients are encouraged to schedule an inquiry to discuss the call and how to apply the insights to their specific situations.

Themes – Research themes are important organizing principles like topics, roles and industries. Gartner themes cut across all boundaries and most research organizations write themes for their perspective. Themes are coordinated by the Senior Research Board. Themes are usually new or emerging topics, though some are existing topics with new relevance or enhanced impact. You should expect to get questions about themes during briefings and anticipate analysts using themes as a point-of-reference. Listed are the existing themes with their “champions.”

Avoid like the plague – Using pseudo-Magic Quadrants in your analyst briefing presentations

After completing the in-depth Magic Quadrant series I was going to give this topic a rest for awhile. That is until I saw this tweet:

 

jowyang is the twitter handle of Forrester social media analyst extraordinaire Jeremiah Owyang. Jeremiah joined Forrester only last October and already he has seen so many vendors use a pseudo-Magic Quadrant that he is commenting on it. Can you imagine how bored and annoyed with this graphic other analysts that been around longer must be? I have seen pseudo-MQs that I swear were built on the idea of who is the leading vendor among left-handed IT managers who buy technology on Tuesdays in Guam.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the competitive landscape slide should be a component of almost every presentation made to IT industry analysts. There is no better opportunity to Continue reading

Sorry ‘Net searchers, you will not find a Forrester Magic Quadrant

We track the search terms people use that leads them to the SageCircle website and blog for SEO purposes. It is interesting the number of times that people search for some variation of Forrester Magic Quadrant. This reinforces our point that “Magic Quadrant” is a brand name that is become a generic description. However, this is very dangerous for vendors as we pointed out in Kleenex, Frisbee, and Magic Quadrant – what do they have in common? AR teams should always be on the lookout for colleagues that are using Magic Quadrant inappropriately and eliminate that usage before it causes you embarrasment in front of an analyst.

Gartner changes the date of the next Quarterly AR Call

Gartner has moved this week’s Quarterly Gartner Analyst Relations Call back by one day. It is now on Thursday, June 19th. They also changed the time, making it a single session at 11:30 am to 12:30 pm EDT.

I think this is great, because the AR Call no longer conflicts with SageCircle’s webinar on Spokesperson Best Practices for Analyst Interactions (click here to register). It is being held at 8:30 am and 4 pm US Pacific Time. There is still time to sign up.

Meanwhile, over on Twitter, Gartner PR maven Andrew Spender (click here to follow on Twitter) announced that Gartner has a new section on its Research Methodologies. While Continue reading

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

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

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

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

SageCircle Technique:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SageCircle Technique:

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

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

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

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

 SageCircle Technique

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We think it’s time that vendors take Continue reading

Training the sales reps: keep it simple, short, small words [Vendor Sales]

icon-dollar-euro.jpgOK, that title was not fair to the sales team, but it makes a good point about how to do training.  Often AR teams try to teach sales so much about analysts that they overwhelm them and miss the real point.

The sales team needs basic information about who the analysts really are, which ones you believe influence your revenues, and how to deal with both positive and negative commentary.  They should also understand how to feed information back to the AR team.  They don’t need extensive information, but material that is brief, understandable, and relevant.  Establishing a communications channel with sales is more important than Continue reading

Be Analyst Centric, not Company Centric

One of the greatest failings of inexperienced AR teams, and occasionally even seasoned AR professionals is not focusing on the analyst needs.  In a recent post about the Analyst Hierarchy of Needs we explained some issues of content.  However, schedule is also a major consideration.  Too often the AR plan is driven in the same manner as PR – with a focus on the company events, announcements, and products.  Analysts live on a different timetable and are focused on clients, markets, and trends.  Their needs, for scheduled research documents, potential speaking events, and in responding to client inquiries are the driving forces – not your announcement timetable.

analyst-centric-not-company-centric-75h.jpg

As you develop your interaction calendar and plans for analyst contacts you need to focus on Continue reading

You could end up buried deep in the “Niche” by insisting on being added to a MQ before you are ready

Niche = “Losers” on the Magic QuadrantGartner’s Magic Quadrant is probably the iconic piece of analyst research. With its visibility and status, it also has enormous influence on vendor sales opportunities, especially when it comes time for IT buyers to draw up the all-important vendor short lists.

Because of this influence on short lists, communications and IT vendor executives sometimes obsess over the “MQ” for their markets and put great pressure on their AR teams to get placement on MQs they are not on. This can actually be a counterproductive move because vendors who really should not be on a MQ will get stuck in the lower left hand corner (click on graphic to enlarge). Even thought this part of the MQ is labeled “Niche,” too many IT buyers translate that label into “Loser.” Getting perceived as a “Loser” can put a vendor’s sales at a disadvantage in trying to get into an opportunity because it is so much more difficult to explain away why you are not a “Loser.” than explaining why your company was not included on a version of a MQ.

Some Gartner analysts publicly admit that this mental relabeling occurs and try to mitigate Continue reading

Do your customers assume that Gartner or other analysts have done all the due diligence? [for Vendor Sales]

icon-dollar-euro.jpgAn analyst relations (AR) manager gave me a call this week with an interesting tid-bit that completely reinforces the recent postings about vendor sales reps asking about analyst usage, analyst myth #1  and how IT managers should use Waves and Magic Quadrants.
 
The AR manager was recently at their software company’s annual sales kick off meeting. There was a customer panel taking questions from a moderator and the sales reps in the audience. One question was “How or do you use the analyst firms to make decisions?” One customer said that Continue reading

Now that is not the way to exploit an expensive Magic Quadrant reprint

socialtext-open-link-to-a-gartner-mq.jpgI accidently came across an unsecured link to a PDF of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Team Collaboration and Social Software, 2007 courtesy of (vendor). This was a nice little treat because I was about ready to chat with one of (vendor)’s competitors and it good to see what Gartner had to say.

For (vendor), it is a classic mistake to not require someone who wants a copy to register so that the company can capture the potential prospect’s contact information for later use. Furthermore, Socialtext could be giving their competitors’ a free ride off their expensive reprint, because Continue reading

IT managers, it’s never, ever only about the upper right dot when it comes to Forrester Waves or Gartner Magic Quadrants

icon-phone-headset.jpgOne of the things that drives vendors – and even some Gartner and Forrester analysts – crazy is when an IT buyer zeros in on the vendors in the upper right hand corner of a Forrester Wave or Magic Quadrant to the exclusion of all other vendors. It is human nature to go for those who are perceived as tops in their market. Alas, that is not how these highly visible research graphics should be used. Rather IT managers should be looking to align their Continue reading

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

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

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