Superstars Owyang and Wang joining Altimeter Group is not just about social media

Logo - Altimeter GroupOn August 27, 2009, the Altimeter Group announced (click here for press release) that it was expanding with Deborah Schultz and former Forrester analysts R “Ray” Wang and Jeremiah Owyang.  They join Charlene Li, former Forrester social media analyst and co-author of Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies . Here are some salient points about the announcement that we picked up from Altimeter’s briefing for SageCircle: 

  • This is a true firm, not a loose collection of individuals operating under a marketing umbrella
  • They are Silicon Valley-based partners which will permit creation of a coherent team and methodology
  • Their coverage emphasis will be on “emerging technologies” not social media
  • The focus will be on thought leadership and practical applications
  • Their business model will incorporate many traditional analyst firm elements (e.g., vendor selection, training, consulting, and speeches) with the addition of a hands-on lab and a community platform
  • Regularly published, client-only research is not part of the model

Because of the partners association with social media – as analysts, corporate practitioners, and personal usage – the coverage of this announcement will likely give too much play on that aspect. While an important part of Altimeter’s marketing and initial research coverage, SageCircle thinks that focusing on social media misses other more interesting implications of this announcement:

  1. Altimeter has the potential to be a contender (see Boutique Analyst Firms: Pretenders and Contenders) with serious visibility and influence
  2. Altimeter has the potential to grow a serious technology buyer client base, maybe over 50%, unlike most single practitioners and analyst boutiques that rely on vendors for revenues
  3. A technology buyer client base when combined with its vendor selection services should increase Altimeter’s relevance to vendor analyst relations (AR) and other influencer programs
  4. Altimeter has the potential to systematically cover 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

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