Public policy wonk and Fortune Magazine columnist Matt Miller’s new book The Tyranny of Dead Ideas: Letting Go of the Old Ways of Thinking to Unleash a New Prosperity got us at SageCircle thinking “Hmm, are there dead ideas holding back analyst relations?” Of course there are! This is one in an occasional series of posts that will address the dead ideas that impact AR programs and their ability to delivery strategic value to their companies. These posts are meant to be provocative and not necessarily definitive in their new ideas and suggestions.
Dead Idea: Analyst research is commoditized and thus analyst influence is dropping
Back Story: The other day Carter was chatting with a very smart VP at a major software firm about whether or not analyst influence was waning due to social media. The VP kept mentioning the commoditization of research and its impact on influence almost as if this was a new phenomenon. This was not a unique conversation as SageCircle strategists discuss this topic every week with people holding various positions in technology vendors.
The topic of “research is a commodity with so much free information on the blogs, so why do end users buy it?” is a common question, but the underlying idea is not new. In fact, chatter about the commoditization of research goes back to at least the early 1990s.
Before the World Wide Web, Ziff-Davis was considered Gartner’s biggest threat, not META, Forrester or Dataquest. Why? It owned so many IT and telecommunications magazines and had the potential for huge amounts of content that could be aggregated, integrated and multi-purposed. Because Ziff-Davis could pump this information out in so many channels (publications, consulting, events, and so on) it could quickly commoditize all that Gartner research in those official three-ring binders on so many IT managers’ desks and kill the analyst business.
It did not happen.
Later when the Netscape browser made the World Wide Web a practical tool for accessing magazine content, academic papers, and vendor material, the talk once more was how the industry analysts’ research is a commodity that could not support a business.
This did not happen.
Since blogs came on the scene the talk is now that all the content and commentary available in the blogosphere render the analyst research a commodity and analysts irrelevant.
This has not happened so far.
The “dead idea” in this case is that analysts’ written research is the sole source of their value to enterprise clients and influence. The reality is that written research has always been a commodity. There have always been magazines, newsletters, books, academic papers, management consultant quarterlies, vendor white papers, white-paper-for-hire analyst reports, and such that offered similar content to what were in analyst research notes. Because written research has always been commoditized, the advisory analyst firms have always emphasized on-demand, convenient access to analyst advice. It is those 30-minute phone-based inquiries that sell, not the written research.
Problem: Executives who perceive that analyst influence is dropping because their research is a commodity will be less likely to invest in AR or making themselves more effective spokespeople.
New Idea: Advice – personalized and delivered real time – cannot be commoditized, digitized, and distributed around the Internet. AR teams should educate their executive sponsors and other stakeholders that the analysts’ written research is only a fraction of how advisory analysts deliver business value to enterprise technology buyers.
- AR should incorporate a formal training strategy into its AR Strategic and Tactical Plan
- Topics for training should include analyst market realities, research methodologies, and business models in addition to spokespeople best practices
Interested in insights into how to incorporate effective training into AR Strategic and Tactical Plan? Check out SageCircle’s STRATEGIC ISSUES: Challenges for AR Team seminar. 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.
Bottom Line: Vendors often follow dead ideas that have long passed their “sell by” date. AR teams needs to attack these dead ideas and work with their executive sponsors and colleagues to come up with better approaches that address today’s challenges.
Question: AR – How many of your executives express the opinion that analyst research has been commoditized? Are they referring only to written research?