• Recent Posts: Influencer Relations

    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 […]

    Unmaking fruit salad: 6 ways to help analysts segment markets

    Unmaking fruit salad: 6 ways to help analysts segment markets

     It’s a common challenge for providers: some new or fast-changing market contains very different solutions. Clients want either apples or oranges, but the analyst research reads more like fruit salad. As new solutions come into old markets, or as analysts try to squeeze hot new solutions into their less-exciting coverage areas, it’s increasingly hard for users of analyst research to make […]

    Control in Analyst Attitude Surveys

    Control in Analyst Attitude Surveys

    Because a lot of analysts take part in our Analyst Attitude Surveys, we are able to offer clients what we call a control group. In the language of research, a control group is a group of people who don’t get the treatment that we want to measure the effectiveness of. For example, most firms might be focussed on a top tier […]

    Time for a new direction in AR measurement?

    Time for a new direction in AR measurement?

    Worldwide, Analyst Relations teams are committed to fostering the best information exchange, experiences and trusted relationships with tightly-targetted global industry analysts and influencers. Sometimes the targeting is too narrow and analysts are treated inhumanly. However, the technology buying process is transforming and so must the benchmarking of analyst relationships. There’s already a long-term transformation of analyst relations. Over one-third of technology […]

Analyst integrity issues – the urban legend that won’t die

On Monday the 31st, Zack Urlocker a blogger/columnist for InfoWorld had a nicely provocative headline Other Underreported Stories: Analyst Integrity?  Of course, the rumors – urban legends – about pay-for-position or pay-to-play have been around forever. In general, these rumors are just that. The easiest way to dismiss them? Common sense.
 
To his credit Zack discounts these rumors using his long personal experience. However, I look at it as a matter of common sense. Firms like AMR, Forrester and Gartner (as well as deceased firms like Giga and META) get the majority of their revenues from the end user (aka IT buyer or corporate IT manager) community. For Gartner, it is at least 75% of its total. So why would an analyst firm put at risk this much revenue to get a few incremental dollars out of some poor vendor by selling their integrity? Well, common sense tells me that while there might be a desperate firm employee or so over the years that might try this gambit to make their sales quotas, the firms’ executives and analysts would never be so stupid.
 
The whole pay-to-play rumor is so persistent that it became one of the myths that I wrote about in Analyst myths revisited – “Analysts know everything” still #1 for IT managers and vendors. I have talked to many, many vendor executives in the last nine years that believe this but never have had any proof. It is also not a matter of not wanting to share the details for fear of analyst retaliation, because the circumstances were such that the executives were giving me lots of other more damning information. No, it was because none of them had experienced it directly. It was always “well, everybody knows” or “I know someone who…” These are classic urban legends characteristics. When I explained the common sense reason why analyst firms would not do this, they almost always calmed down and looked at the situation in a new light.
 
The real issue is one of perception caused by analysts that are not sensitive to vendors’ feelings. Our SageNote™ “What You Heard versus What They Said” addresses how analysts accidently give the impression that a timely subscription contract or analyst consulting day could solve the vendor’s position problem in research. I experienced this at a vendor I worked at (and nearly two years after writing that SageNote). I had arranged a telephone briefing between a marketing director and a senior Gartner analyst. Several times during the briefing the analyst said “if you would only work with me earlier I could help” or something similar. After the briefing, I literally ran to the marketing director’s cubicle because I suspected she misinterpreted what the analyst said. As I skidded into her cube I could clearly see she was fuming. Yes, she thought that the analyst was trying to extort money out of her budget. When I explained that the analyst – someone who had an office close to mine at Gartner so I knew he has high ethics and integrity – knew that our employer was a client. He was merely trying to get her to use the services, i.e., inquiry, that the company already bought. There were two mistakes by the analyst. The first was not positioning his statements with “…as someone who is already a client…” so as to make it crystal clear that he was not expecting new purchases. The second was being insensitive to the fact that unless a vendor staffer was an Advisor seat holder, they could not do client inquiries with the analyst regardless of the size of the overall contract. This particular marketing director was not a seat holder, so she was faced with spending a sizable sum to buy an Advisor seat in order to access this analyst’s help – something that the analyst did not know nor made any effort to find out.
 
If you would like a copy of our SageNote “What You Heard versus What They Said”, please drop us a line at info [at] sagecircle dot com and we’ll be happy to send it to you.
 
BTW, I am not including the so called “whitepaper for hire” firms in this discussion. They clearly have a business model of writing favorable whitepapers on contract that is very much in the open.
 
Bottom Line: The whole pay-to-play is a dangerous urban legend that vendors should not buy into. That is not to say that spending money with analysts is not useful. Having a subscription gives you inquiry access to analysts, which is a valuable AR tool, but one that you have to use. Merely writing a check to an analyst firm will not get you any movement in research. It is what you do after writing the check that counts.
 
Question: Have you ever personally received a direct and explicit pay-to-play pitch by an analyst firm representative, analyst or sales? If so, please contact SageCircle to chat. We will keep all information strictly confidential.

3 Responses

  1. […] it is our opinion that analysts do not pull their punches because vendors are clients (see Analyst integrity issues – the urban legend that won’t die), that does not mean that analysts are 100% objective all the time. Every person has life […]

  2. Hi Carter

    An interesting post. I love the Gartner story – just goes to show how even the best intentions can be so easily misunderstood!

    FYI, I linked to this at a post I finally got around to writing on analyst ethics. It’s over at the IIAR blog – http://iiar.wordpress.com/2008/03/07/ethics-and-independence-among-industry-analysts/

    Cheers
    David

  3. […] caused quite a stir amongst several AR commentators which eventually moved the discussion towards that on […]

Comments are closed.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: