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Right firms – Search out alternative services providers that better match your needs for a better price [Purchasing Analyst Services, Part 4]

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgOne method for avoiding the price increases that Forrester and Gartner are initiating on a regular basis is to diversify your sources of analyst research and advice. The one usual negotiating trick of playing one vendor off another probably won’t work with Gartner as CEO Gene Hall has been quite emphatic in his quarterly earnings conference calls that discounting by sales reps has been and will continue to be sharply curtailed.  This means you may be better off looking to “boutique” firms for some services. There are hundreds of analyst firms in the market, many with very smart analysts and interesting research. Besides a lower price, there are other potential benefits to going with other firms including: flexibility in service delivery, better customer service, and unique insights.

The difficulty of purchasing from a smaller firm is discovering them in the first place. Forrester and Gartner (as well as the vendor-centric IDC) have tremendous mindshare from tens of thousands press quotes and growing sales forces that drive their brand equity. Very few firms outside of the Big 3 invest in marketing and sales that would give them the market visibility to become a regular addition to buyer short lists.

The next issue is finding alternative firms that can deliver services that meet your needs. Many analyst firms specialize in advising the vendor community, so they are not appropriate for enterprise IT managers. Other firms have very specific topic or industry specialization (e.g., Redmonk on Open Source issues). So finding the right firms out of the hundreds of specialized firms can be a daunting task.

Some of the more interesting firms for both enterprise IT buyers and vendor market researchers are ones who have worked to broaden the topics covered so they would be more interesting to a larger pool of buyers, e.g., AMR Research, Burton Group, and Ovum. Unfortunately, these firms have not made parallel investments in marketing so many potential buyers think of these firms – if they think of them at all – based on what they were known for a couple of years ago (e.g., AMR=manufacturing software and supply chain; Burton=security and network directories, Ovum=EMEA telecommunications).

 SageCircle Technique:

  • Use Google to search for analysts by press quote as a means of building the initial list of potential analyst firms to check
  • Consider using to Tekrati‘s firms directory (free) and analyst profiles database (less than $400) to search for firms and analysts that cover relevant topics
  • Vendor market researchers should check with the analyst relations (AR) team to see if AR uses ARchitect (by ARInsights) or AR Intranet (by Lighthouse) because each has a database of analysts and coverages
  • Inquire with peers in other companies to see about which firms they use

Bottom Line: If your company is spending hundreds of thousands dollars on analyst services then it will be worth the effort to search out alternative suppliers of analyst advice and research. As is always the case, good basic purchasing procedures must be used to ensure that these analyst firms meet basic financial viability and quality requirements.

Question: Analyst Services Buyers – Do you focus most of your analyst spend with Forrester and Gartner? If so, why? What are the barriers to broadening your portfolio of analyst firms from whom you will purchase services?

This post is one in a series on the SageCircle blog about how buyers of analysts service, whether enterprise IT or tech vendors, can ensure they are might the right purchasing decisions. For those analyst clients needing much more depth than what is in this blog series, please check out the SageCircle AR Wiki where you can find a lengthy thread of articles that provide more depth and breadth on this critical topic including checklists and tools.

  1. Using five rights to avoid a wrong when it comes to purchasing Gartner or Forrester services
  2. Right reasons – Evaluate why you are purchasing analyst services
  3. Right services – Align the services you buy to better match the reason for info or advice
  4. Right firms – Search out alternative services providers that better match your reasons
  5. Right price – Acquire those services that meet your basics requirements
  6. Right usage – Drive usage of the services you buy to ensure maximize business value
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