Forrester loses third social media analyst – When do departures start to impact analysis and client service?

So, this is almost not news anymore – Forrester loses another social media analyst. In this case, Brian Haven (blog, Twitter handle) is leaving to join Peter Kim (see here for his departure news) at a startup. The other recent departure from Forrester’s social media research was Groundswell co-author Charlene Li (see here). The math so far is three analysts from one research team leave in less than six weeks. 

Think about the bigger picture. Changes in Forrester’s social media research team have been quite “interesting” lately with new hires, significant departures, the Groundswell book publication and the acquisition and integration of JupiterResearch.

Forrester can rightly claim that it has sufficient social media research head count on staff because of the JupiterResearch acquisition and new hires. However, the constant churn in the ranks of analysts on a single team poses real threats to continuity, productivity and quality in the short to medium run.  Also new hires do not equal experienced staff.

Remember, most analyst firms – including Forrester – have not invested in knowledge management systems. Without the infrastructure and the culture to capture data electronically, information that analysts harvest in vendor briefings and from other sources is stored between their ears, which means that it walks out the door if they leave the firm. For vendors, the result is that they are back at square one when it comes to a firm’s knowledge and context about the vendor. For research consumers, whether end user or vendor, significant churn in analyst ranks can result in working with analysts who might be smart, but do not have the breadth and depth of information and context as their former colleagues.

Some other analyst industry observers will no doubt be hyperventilating about the dire implications for Forrester these departures entail. Calm down. Take a deep breath. While a temporary setback for a particular Forrester analyst team, these bursts of departures from a hot research area are not unique (see here).

SageCircle clients can call to schedule an inquiry to obtain best practices on what to do when an analyst leaves a firm and brainstorm on the implications for their company. These best practices are also available in the Online SageContentTM Library.

SageCircle Technique:

  • AR professionals – Create a standard process for when top analysts depart
  • AR professionals – Aggressively seek to brief interim or permanent replacements for departing analysts
  • End users – For analysts who are not familiar, determine the tenure of the analysts for inquiries (e.g., a quick search on the firm’s website will show how long an analyst has been publishing)
  • End users – Use inquiry best practices to determine the breadth and depth of data points any analyst is using for the advice they are giving you

Bottom Line: This news is just a reminder to analyst relations professionals that they need to have a process in place for dealing with a departing analyst. Any departure of a key analyst from your list should send you into dynamic action. These departures represent an opportunity for competitive advantage for those vendors who act quickly and educate the new analysts.

Question: Vendors – Have you briefed Brian Haven since July 18th? Did he mention he was leaving Forrester?



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