• Recent Posts: Influencer Relations

    Saying farewell to David Bradshaw

    Saying farewell to David Bradshaw

    A funeral and celebration for David Bradshaw (shown left in this 2000 Ovum awayday photo, arm raised, with me and other colleagues) is to take place at West Norwood Crematorium, London SE27 at 2.45pm on Tuesday 23rd August and after at the Amba Hotel above London’s Charing Cross Station, on the Strand. David considered that that Ovum in that incarnation was […]

    David Bradshaw 1953-2016

    David Bradshaw 1953-2016

    David Bradshaw, one of the colleagues I worked with during my time as an analyst at Ovum, died on August 11. He led Cloud research in Europe for IDC, whose statement is below. David played a unique role at Ovum, bridging its telecoms and IT groups in the late 1990s by looking at computer-telecoms integration areas like CRM, which I […]

    AR managers are failing with consulting firms

    AR managers are failing with consulting firms

    Reflecting the paradoxical position of many clients, Kea’s Analyst Attitude Survey also goes to a wide range of consultants who play similar roles to analysts and are often employed by analyst firms. The responses to the current survey show that consultants are generally much less happy with their relationships with AR teams than analysts are. The paradox is that as […]

    Fersht: some IIAR award-winners “just tick the boxes”

    Fersht: some IIAR award-winners “just tick the boxes”

    Some of the firms mentioned by the IIAR’s analyst team awards fall short of excellence. That’s the verdict of several hundred analysts who took our Analyst Attitude Survey, and of the CEO of one of the top analyst firms. Phil Fersht left the comment below on our criticism of the IIAR awards. We thought we’d reprint it together with the […]

    Do the IIAR awards simply reward large firms?

    Do the IIAR awards simply reward large firms?

    The 2016 Institute for Industry Analyst Relations’ awards seem to be rewarding firms for the scale of their analyst relations, rather than their quality. In a blog post on July 6th, the IIAR awarded IBM the status of best analyst relations teams, with Cisco, Dell and HP as runners-up. Together with Microsoft, which outsources much of its analyst relations to […]

SageCircle joins Kea Company

On March 3rd 2014, Kea Company announced its purchase of SageCircle. It’s great news for the analyst relations profession, writes Duncan ChappleKea Company logo:

I am excited that Dave Eckert will be joining our advisory board. I’m looking forward to Kea’s role in developing SageCircle’s contribution. The press release explains that SageCircle has developed an immense reputation: “The integration of SageCircle’s vast expertise underlines Kea Company’s global Analyst Relations leadership. It strengthens Kea Company’s existing presence in the US market.”

Ten years ago, when SageCircle’s investors pulled out, it temporarily closed. In a note I wrote at that time for clients, I explained Sage’s strengths.

“Eventually, a quarter of the technology and telecoms firms in the US Fortune 500 were clients. SageCircle had built a successful analyst relations consultancy on five foundation stones;
  1. Analyst-led: SageCircle was analyst-led. Former Gartner analysts like Carter Lusher, Chris Germann, Dave Cappuccio, andChris Le Tocq gave the firm deep understanding of the pain analysts feel when meeting badly-prepared vendors. SageCircle, like its competitors Kensington Group and Knowledge Capital Group, opted to not run analyst relations activities for its customers.Without the continually-refreshed, front-line learning one can get from building analyst relationships for a vendor, SageCircle’s former analysts were a huge asset in overcoming the insight lost by refusing to conduct analyst outreach.
  2. • Top to bottom: The firm addressed itself to AR programs at every stage of development: not only the largest firms but also the smallest. The needs of the programs differ greatly. Large firms have in-house AR teams that need help in optimizing processes, training, winning executives’ time, defending and extending gains made in their internal political process and selling internally. Small firms need the basics: why analyst relations matters; how to target; what to say; who to use; when to contact analysts; where to allocate the bulk of their effort. Both sets of skills are essential.
  3. • Sales-led: SageCircle positioned analyst relations as a way to grow sales, not as a way to optimize media profile or coverage volume. This is a key conceptual break in moving analyst relations away from the subordination to media relations which constrains many analyst relations programs.
  4. • Objective measurements: SageCircle also developed measurement approaches that were focused on monitoring analyst opinions in research and the media. At the time the firm was founded, many AR measurement tools were based either on dangerously subjective, and often self-serving, “audits”of conversations or on surveying analysts opinions of the communications tools and channels that firms used. By focusing on written content rather than technique alone, SageTrack, the firm’s tool for measuring analyst tonality in published research and media interview, helped elevate AR to a strategic, sales-building, activity.
  5. • Capacity building: SageCircle played an important role in sharing knowledge, best practice and awareness of analyst relations both within and without its client base. Using seminars, conference calls, briefing notes and white papers the company aimed to give analyst relations advocates the tools they needed to educate the broad marketing community with the understanding and basic mind-set needed to conduct effective analyst relations.”

When Dave Eckert reopened the business a few months later, he maintained these strengths. Now that he is transitioning into an active retirement, and remaining a sage to guide Kea, our task is to build on the work already done, and to bring those strengths and more to a wider audience.

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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

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays from SageCircle

Here is wishing all our clients and readers a happy holiday season.

Our next official post will be on Monday, December 28th.

AR teams will get in trouble with executives for being surprised by analysts’ social media commentary – 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.

The vast majority of analyst relations (AR) teams are not regularly monitoring their most relevant analysts’ social media usage. However, this lack of attention could prove to be politically dangerous in 2010.

Many AR professionals have been confronted by executives at their companies with negative press quotes by the analysts. Often the executives demand to know why the analyst made the negative comment and what AR is going to do about it. Up through the early Internet age, while troublesome because it caused a fire drill, it was reasonable for AR not to be aware of a particular quote because a comprehensive press clipping service would have been too expensive. However, as the Internet and search tools matured, it has because harder for AR to justify ignorance about press quotes. This provides the added danger of damaging AR’s credibility for not being on top of the situation.

As more analysts adopt social media, sometimes chaotically, AR now has to anticipate being confronted by an executive wanting to know about some analyst’s negative blog post, tweet, or comment made in a social network. Just as with press quotes today, AR cannot feign ignorance about the negative comments made in social media. This is because it is perceived to be free and “easy” to monitor social media. Thus, an AR team that is not aware of an analyst social media comment brought to its attention by an executive will be in grave danger of having its credibility questioned. This could give rise to a new group tasked with social media influencer relations that would take over working with key 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

Gartner surprised by new competitors that steal enterprise clients – 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.

 Gartner is the dominant player in the analyst market with more than a 40% market share according to information market research firm Outsell, Inc. When it comes to the enterprise technology product and services buyer market (typically IT managers), Gartner extends this dominance to approximately 70% to 75% according to SageCircle estimates. If Gartner continues to execute as it has the last four years it will see its market share grow, even as the total market grows as well.

Gartner has achieved this dominance through both hard work and dumb luck. Hard work as represented by making more than 70 acquisitions since 1994, doubling the sales force since 2004 to nearly 1,000 representatives, and creating mindshare with recurring research deliverables like the Magic Quadrant, Hype Cycle, and Gartner Symposium. The dumb luck comes in the form of competitors that focus on vendors rather than end users, fail to build sales and marketing functions, and/or are complacent to the point of being Gartner’s implicit junior partner even though they have the resources to invest in more effective competition.

While there are no signs that Gartner is going to get lazy or stupid next year, 2010 might see its luck run out when it comes to ineffectual or complacent competition. SageCircle sees firms that bring attitude, business attributes, and wiliness to invest to the game unlike others in the past decade. Some examples include:

  • Altimeter Group – While still tiny, with only four analyst/consultants, Altimeter Group has tremendous enterprise visibility and mindshare due to its principals’ exquisite exploitation of social media, conventional speaking opportunities, press quotes, and client contacts from their Forrester tenures. This market awareness should prove to be a significant lead generator that other more established analyst boutiques can only envy. It has made an important investment by starting to build a sales organization. Its current Achilles’ heel is that it is perceived as mostly a Continue reading
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