When it became known that Forrester enterprise applications analyst extraordinaire R “Ray” Wang (blog, Twitter handle) was leaving the firm, it left some folks atwitter on Twitter and blogs (no apologies for the atrocious pun) (e.g., see Ray Wang departing Forrester). What does Ray’s departure mean? Does it portend broader changes in the analyst ecosystem?
Well, no. This is just the normal change that happens at every firm and most every individual’s career. As we pointed out a year ago in Bursts of analyst departures in a hot research area is not unusual, there are always analysts leaving firms for a variety of reasons. The reasons that Ray gave in his blog post Thursday’s Thanks: It’s Been A Great 5 Years! are very typical: more time with family and a change in research focus that did not necessarily fit in with his job and Forrester’s business model. While Forrester does not like losing a valuable, high profile employee as Ray, it has lots of smart analysts covering the same market as Ray so there will be little short or long term impact on Forrester’s business.
Here are some quick replies to comments we have seen.
Vinnie Mirchandani, former Gartner analyst and single practitioner at Deal Architect says in Fellow rebel, Ray Wang that superstar analysts like Ray are under-compensated by the major firms. We reply – So? As Vinnie himself pointed out that has always been the case. As a consequence compensation is no big deal and the major firms have always been able to recruit smart folks, turn them into superstars, and replace them when necessary. However, a lot of very smart analysts stay at the major firms even if in theory they could make more money elsewhere.
James Governor of Redmonk (Twitter handle, blog) in a tweet says “wondering why Forrester analysts leave, while Gartner analysts do not.” Our response – Guess what? Analysts do leave Gartner, probably 30+ per year (assuming a 5% turnover). They are just not on James’ radar (e.g., they cover different markets or choose not to play in the social media sandbox). Again, normal course of business.
Wicked smart AR professional Bob Sakakeeny (Twitter handle) tweeted “@carterlusher do either vendors or analyst firms have the ability to change business models given the shift to independents & boutiques?” The response to that question is that there have always been hundreds of independents and boutiques so new boutique firms or single practitioners, even those effectively leveraging social media, are nothing unusual. For example, in the 1990’s Gartner, Forrester, and META acquired over 100 specialty boutique or regional analyst firms. At the end of the 90’s there were more analyst firms than before the M&A frenzy because there are no barriers to entry and no shortage of smart, ambitious potential analysts.
As to whether this is a case of plucky social media smiting a mighty analyst firm dinosaur, nope. Obviously Ray’s effective use of social media (e.g., 4k to 8k unique blog visitors per month and ~2,800 Twitter followers) are a great marketing resource for a new firm if he chooses to hang out his own shingle. However, savvy individuals have always used the media of the day to provide themselves with free marketing (e.g., Rob Enderle and the press quote). Again, nothing new.
On a side note, SageCircle wishes Ray the best of luck with his next gig and look forward to reading more insightful posts on his blog.
- AR needs to keep it finger on the pulse in the changes in the analyst community
- AR needs to have a formal analyst list management framework in place to handle changes in the analyst landscape
- AR teams needs to review their analyst lists at least quarterly and do a full refresh at least annually
Bottom Line: Rather than jump to conclusions that the departure of analysts, high profile or not, represents dire implications for a firm or analyst industry, members of the analyst ecosystem should step back and calmly analyze the situation. Are the departures just typical turnover that happens at every company? Or do the departures represent a systemic problem for a firm or macro change in the landscape?
Question: AR – Have you seen more or less voluntary analyst turnover since the beginning of the recession.