Vendors need to respect analyst firm copyrights

On May 6, 2009 the Gartner Ombudsman blog had the following post Gartner External Use Policy: We Mean It where they called out a vendor by name for copyright violation. The violation was clear: distributing a research note without purchasing reprint rights. Frankly, this sort of blog post is only a slap on the wrist because what is the price that the vendor is going to pay? Lost sales? SageCircle doubts that an enterprise IT manager will not buy the vendor’s products simply because the sales representatives are handing out a research note. 

Of course, Gartner would not do something improper like downgrade the vendor in published research like moving the dot on a Magic Quadrant down and to the left. But there could be other steps taken. Because we were curious about whether Gartner is willing to take further steps we left this comment on the Gartner Ombudsman post: “Besides this post, what other steps is Gartner taking to punish this vendor? Legal? Not permitting the vendor to brief Gartner analysts? Canceling the Gartner contract so the company can no longer talk with analysts via inquiry?” It will be interesting to see if Gartner is willing to take other steps to enforce its copyrights.

Even if this particular vendor does not pay a further price for this violation, vendors must respect all analyst firms’ copyrighted material no matter if the firm is a boutique, a small firm, or large firm. This even includes Continue reading


Research is commoditized – a dead idea

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.

SageCircle Technique:

  • 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?


How do analysts get compensated? [AR practitioner question]

question-mark-graphic.jpgNote: This post primarily concerns analysts who are employees of large firms like AMR, Forrester, Gartner and IDC. Analysts who are single practitioners or owners/partners in boutique firms have different compensation motivations.

Understanding how a person is compensated for their job can provide critical insights into his or her motivations and how to influence them. As a consequence, we receive frequent questions from clients regarding analyst compensation models. When considering this issue, it is important to realize that analysts have a complex web of compensations. The reality is that money is not the sole form of compensation for the analysts. For the good analyst, visibility in the industry and their perceived impact on companies and markets form important components of their total perceived compensation.

First, there are the traditional cash components of salary and bonus. For the most part, analyst salaries are not as high as many vendors believe them to be. Like most businesses, analyst firms do try to save money by offering salaries at the lower end of the scale for jobs requiring the level of experience that senior analyst positions require. Bonuses are typically Continue reading

Analyst firms should notify vendors about staff changes

Especially vendors with scheduled briefings, consulting days, or key projects by analysts  who submit their resignations

Analyst relations (AR) professionals are sometimes blindsided in the final preparations for a long scheduled briefing, analyst summit, or analyst consulting day (aka SAS) to discover that the analyst had submitted his or her resignation several weeks before. Worse yet are situations where the vendor has just conducted a briefing only to learn days later that the analyst has just left the firm. Either way it is bad for AR who now has to scramble to change plans and could experience the wrath of executives who perceive that AR just wasted their time by being uninformed.

For a variety of reasons, analyst firms are reluctant to admit that an analyst is leaving the firm. However, these reasons are insufficient for withholding critical information from AR teams who work hard to facilitate the flow of information from the vendor to the analyst firms. It is not appropriate for the firm to arrange a last minute substitution without Continue reading

Why analysts matter – “I get asked daily in one medium or another who to buy”

Some analyst relations (AR) managers are lucky in that their executives really get the analysts and their impact on the vendor’s leads and sales deals. Alas, not all AR professionals are so lucky. However, there is a resource to use to educate* executives about the impact of the analysts – the analysts’ own words. For example, here is a throwaway line by Forrester analyst Jeremiah Owyang in Starting the Forrester Wave: White Label Social Networks and Community Platforms:

          “I get asked daily in one medium or another who to buy”

Jeremiah is very good about keeping vendors and end-user clients alike up-to-date on what he is working on via his blog posts. This particular line was not bragging, but explaining one purpose of the Forrester Wave, which is to help technology buyers develop their short list of vendors to invite to a bid. Because it was not the main purpose of the post, I think that makes it even more powerful education tool as it Continue reading

IDC lays off eight analysts and 15 additional staff

logo-idc.gifTips started coming into SageCircle last night. Over the last twelve hours we have identified five six of the eight analysts. Out of respect to the analysts we will not publish the names.*

In an e-mail exchange with SageCircle, IDC Corporate Communications Director Michael Shirer released the following statement:

  • On May 20, IDC reduced its U.S. headcount by 23 — this represents 1% of IDC’s 1,680 employees worldwide.
  • Most of the staff reductions came from Continue reading

What to do when analyst firms lays off analysts

SageCircle has learned that IDC has initiated a round of analyst layoffs. At this time the exact number of staff and coverage is not known. AR teams need to hope for the best for their favorite IDC analysts, but plan for the worst.

Of course, layoffs impact real people with families and obligations. Often AR people are genuinely friendly with the analysts they work with and this sort of news can be a shock. Unfortunately for AR professionals, analyst firm layoffs also raise important issues that need to be addressed ASAP no matter how much sympathy they feel for the analysts caught in the layoffs.

The stark reality is that an analyst firm will not admit that Continue reading