Don’t ignore research associates

SageCircle came across Forrester research associate Timothy DeGennaro (Twitter handle) the other day while looking for analysts to add to the Analyst Twitter Directory

Research associates are typically recent college graduates who assist senior analysts with their projects. Occasionally research associates will get a contributor mention (“with”) for a piece of research, but they do not have a listing and biography on the analysts page. Because the perception is that research associates only do grunt work analyst relations (AR) professionals frequently overlook their potential future influence. This could be a missed opportunity because research associates do have ambitions, such as the one DeGennaro stated on his LinkedIn page:

“…I am currently a Research Associate at Forrester Research taking on such coverage areas as PMOs, Project Portfolio Management, and PPM software solutions.

I aspire to someday (soon) own this coverage area at Forrester as an analyst. …”

It is not just future influence that could be important.  The research associates could also be working on something today that impacts your company. For example, DeGennaro tweeted about working on the PPM TEI model, which could have a big impact on PPM vendors:

“is reorganizing his (Total Economic Impact model) PPM benefit categories to be on the same level of granularity”

It is not just Forrester that has this type of junior staff doing research support. Gartner, IDC, and others have this type of position as well.

SageCircle Technique:

  • Identify which research associates are worthy of special investment (e.g., some personal time)
  • Add them to your analyst lists with a special notation
  • Occasionally reach out to them with information that will help them not just with their current project, but also their careers
  • Monitor your outreach and response to requests to make sure that you are not investing too much effort

Bottom Line: Today’s junior research staff member are tomorrow’s high-visibility influential analysts. AR programs should consider creating an “angel investment fund” to put some effort in helping these research associates to develop relationships that return value over time.

AR managers need to incorporate into their AR Strategic & Tactical  Plan innovative activies like working with research associates. Check out SageCircle’s STRATEGIC ISSUES: Challenges for AR Team seminar which has sections on planning and innovative techniques. The next seminar will be held on March 24-25, 2009 in Cupertino in the Silicon Valley. Click here for more information including agenda, registration and future sessions.

Question: AR managers – Have you spent time with research associates? What was your impression of these junior research associates?