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 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

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

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

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

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

Should vendors be investing in analyst conference sponsorships in 2009?

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgIt their Q4 and full year 2008 earnings calls, both Gartner (2/5/09) and Forrester (2/11/09) commented on how the recession is impacting enterprise end user attendance at their events. Example statements:

Gartner CEO Gene Hall “As discussed on our last earnings call that business has been impacted by corporate travel restrictions which have made it more difficult for our clients to attend our events.”

 Forrester COO Charles Rutstein “As you might expect, the events business has been softer than it has been historically. That’s largely tied to people’s travel budgets being down.”

 Both Forrester and Gartner projected Event revenue declines for 2009 due to both decreased attendee ticket sales and lack of vendor sponsorships.

So that brings up an important question for IT and telecommunications vendors:

            Should you be sponsoring analyst events in 2009?

If the analyst firms are expecting fewer attendees – i.e., potential prospects – why should vendors waste money sponsoring an event? Remember the fee to the analyst firm is only part of the overall event cost to you and often not even a large percentage. Significant resources (e.g., labor bandwidth and budget) are spent on preparing booth displays, staffing the event, special side events like receptions, and so on.

Some vendors may automatically sign up just because they have always sponsored a particular event.  Others may not take advantage of a potentially useful sponsorship because 2009 is a year of cut backs.  A better approach is for vendors to seriously evaluate the pros and cons of sponsorships in 2009. For example, having a higher profile at an event because your competitors declined to sponsor could more than offset the lower attendance by IT managers. In this case, the opportunity is more of a quality than quantity play. On the other hand, if the analyst firm is only keeping the event on the schedule because the cancellation fees would be so high then the vendor has to seriously consider whether there will be even a minimal number of attendees.

One important point to keep in mind is that vendors should not worry that lack of sponsorship will hurt the relationship with Continue reading

Gartner has a channel on YouTube

Gartner Channel on YouTubeA quick reminder that Gartner periodically posts videos to the Gartner Channel on YouTube. Most recent videos are quick interviews with analysts and guest speakers at Symposium.

While not a source of in-depth insight into analyst opinion, these videos can provide both IT managers and vendor analyst relations (AR) professionals with interesting data points. Well worth following.

If you are going to Gartner Symposium, go to the AR Forums

logo-gartner.gifSageCircle highly recommends that AR professionals attending Gartner’s Fall Symposia in either Orlando or Cannes go to the AR Forums. This is the opportunity to ask tough questions of Gartner’s CEO and CRO. While some AR professionals express frustrations that Gartner does not immediately do what they ask for in these meetings, the AR Forum is a venue to get the issues on the table and in public.

___ email from Gartner ___ Continue reading

Presentation déjà vu could be a sign you are dealing with a problem analyst

Something that always stands out in my experience as an AR manager at a major vendor is what I call “presentation déjà vu.” This happens when you are reviewing an analyst presentation and just feel like you’ve seen it before. This typically occurs when you are looking at the slides of an analyst you have not dealt with before. Perhaps you have seen the presentation before or maybe the deck is just so generic or archetypical that it is immediately recognizable. No big deal. However, presentation déjà vu might also be a warning signal that you are dealing with a type of problem analyst.

Some analysts fall into a trap of doing a light revision of a past presentation for an upcoming conference. This is especially true for Gartner analysts who have to do essentially the same presentation year-after-year at Symposium (e.g., the Powerhouse Vendor and its successor session Gartner Compares). This can be a real problem because if the analyst is not paying careful attention in the revision process, old information and recommendations could be repeated.  This may cause tech buyers to make wrong decisions resulting in missed sales opportunities for vendors who are mis-represented. This could be disastrous for both the IT manager and the vendor.

Rather than pouncing on the analyst for using Continue reading

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

I just came across some interesting tweets (click on image to enlarge) by Gartner’s Jeff Mann (bio, Twitter). It seems that he is deep into planning Gartner’s Fall 2008 EMEA Symposium in Cannes. Money quote from a tweet: “Pouring 10 kilos of Symposium presentations into a 3 kilo sack.” Do you think that topics and presentations that are critical to your company are guaranteed to make the list of presentations? Or, will your important topics get cut?

As we said in So, have you started planning and executing your Fall Symposium campaign yet?, vendors can contribute ideas on what to include at Symposia. However, the analysts are not mind readers so Continue reading

So, have you started planning and executing your Fall Symposium campaign yet?

Timeline for informing Fall Symposium contentHmm, let’s see, Gartner’s Fall Symposia series kicks off on October 12 with Europe, Japan and Australia following through mid-November. That is what, five months away? I’m sure that many folks are thinking that there is plenty of time to worry about educating the Gartnerians.

Alas, if that is your impression then you will not like to hear that you are already behind schedule.

In last week’s Coffee Talk, we discussed a timeline (click on image to enlarge) that AR teams should consider following in order to ensure that their information and points-of-view are reflected in Symposium presentations. This timeline sparked many interesting questions and raised some new issues. Here are a few of the questions and our responses:

Question: May seems awfully early to get started, what’s the rush?

Response: Even though the Symposia series does not start until Continue reading

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