[This commentary comes from guest contributor Gerry Van Zandt (Twitter handle), AR manager with HP Services. This guest post started as a letter that Gerry sent to his HP colleagues. We are posting an edited version with his permission]
I think it’s important to read and internalize what’s happening in the analyst ecosystem at a macro level. Please note that this is my own take, and not the opinion nor the official position of HP. Thus, you may or may not agree with it.
For the past 6-7 years, since blogs began to take hold and proliferate, a sea change has been occurring in the influencer (press and analyst) ecosystem. The strict lines between press and analysts have been increasingly blurring, and a new class of influencers emerged circa 2002, and began really solidifying in late 2005. I coined the term “blogalysts” for these influencers around this time.
Dozens of reporters and editors have left the press ranks to become industry analysts over the years — that’s not news. However, we’re seeing more analysts who are contributing regular content to print and on-line press publications (i.e. Gordon Haff/Illuminata and Peter Glaskowsky/Envisioneering writing for C/Net). Furthermore, laid-off press people and now analysts are leaving their traditional organizations to join on-line blog networks (and going solo) as “expert commentators” around particular topics. Some have strong reputations, others are striving mightily to build or re-build them.
RedMonk was probably the pioneer “blogalyst,” deliberately eschewing traditional paid, data-based research services and publishing commentary free, and 100% on-line. They joined other newly formed “new-era” research firms like The 451 Group who aggressively embraced blogs and other emerging on-line tools. Since then, other Tier 2, 3 and specialist firms have adopted blogging as a means of differentiating themselves and publishing research, opinions and commentary. Over the past 12-18 months, we’ve now seen both Forrester and Gartner establish active, formal, sanctioned analyst blog networks centered around macro topics, or on the commentary of individual analysts.
In my opinion, three factors have accelerated this evolution over the past two years: the folding/consolidation of the IT trade press and IT analyst industries (and moving content online); the current recession that is putting people out of work; and the emergence and “hockey stick” adoption among influencers of social media tools and techniques for communication and building communities.
We’ve also seen significant changes in how analysts are publishing and interacting with their client bases. Fewer research reports are being published, and analysts are spending ever more time blogging, tweeting, and interacting with their clients and vendors online. Forrester two years ago successfully moved to a “role-based” research model, which Gartner has (not yet fully, in my opinion) aped. We’ve seen the emergence of “AR” practices at the major analyst firms, and with limited success, more effort being placed on process transparency and being easier to do business with.
On Wednesday, [May 27] another notable thing occurred in the analyst/blogalyst ecosystem. The GigaOM blog network, a confederation of ad-sponsored blogs run by former “Business 2.0” journalist Om Malik, announced a new “virtual” analyst research network. This network of analyst experts, which they are calling “GigaOM Pro,” is publishing in-depth research which is provided on-line via very inexpensive subscriptions. The analyst contributors to this network are specialist experts in a number of market areas that include IT infrastructure/cloud computing, mobile computing, consumer tech and clean/green tech. This roster will expand over time.
The GigaOM Pro network is claiming they are not trying to compete with the larger established firms, but rather are trying to establish a new way to publish and distribute value-added research and make it available to many more people, inexpensively. GigaOM will oversee topics and conduct editorial review and content oversight of GigaOM Pro network research, but the actual reports will be fully authored by the analysts in the network. GigaOM has hired a veteran analyst (Mike Wolf, a consumer/digital entertainment/networking analyst from ABI Research) to run this operation.
You can find more information about GigaOM Pro here. They describe the service as: “A new kind of offering that would allow us to leverage the on-the-ground expertise and insight of our current GigaOM Network sites and to enable deeper conversations within our community.”
I expect that this network will continue to expand with more analysts, and perhaps some Tier 2 and 3 firms & recognizable specialists who are looking to democratize and expand the audience and distribution for their research. You can check out SageCircle’s take on it here.
This is not a dramatic disruption in our focus and work with the firms and individual analysts who are most influential with HP customers. Like with social media, we shouldn’t drop or dramatically change what we’re doing in our AR work. However, it’s important that we are aware of these little shifts as they occur, and adjust or add to our AR activities to accommodate and embrace the changing landscape so that we can obtain the maximum influence and benefit for HP from it. With this GigaOM Pro analyst network, two of their stated focus areas are directly relevant to major HP initiatives, and thus we should be sure we’re aware of and investigating (and influencing, if warranted) research that’s being done there.
Thanks for listening. Cheers, Gerry Van Zandt, HP Analyst Relations