This sampling of industry analyst research and commentary on blogs and RSS supplements Tekrati’s special report on analyst blogs, and the launch of our directory of analyst blogs.


“The Blog Litmus - Using Blog Software to Understand Real Content Management Needs”, by Matthew Berk, Janis Kim and David Schatsky. “At first blush, blog software, designed for personal Web publishing, provides a limited subset of Web content management functionality. A look under the hood suggests blog software can help site operators understand the true scope of their content publishing needs, a prerequisite for effective vendor selection.” Concept Report, May 22, 2003

“Weblog Best Practices - Seizing Business Benefits”, by Melissa Stock, Matthew Berk and Michael Gartenberg. “Weblog readers currently comprise only four percent of the online community, and Weblog creators, only two percent. Although the Weblog audience is small, several businesses including Groove Networks, Jupitermedia, and BizNetTravel have taken the opportunity to capture this audience’s attention through business Weblogs. As Weblog consumption grows, business Weblog creators must identify to which audience, and by which means, Weblogs will be most beneficial.” Concept Report, July 17, 2003

“Weblog Software Applications - Overcoming Enterprises’ Hesitations”, by Melissa Stock, Matthew Berk, Michael Gartenberg and Janis Kim. “With growing attention to Weblogs, Weblog creators unexpectedly make up only two percent of the online population. Weblog application developers must take note of the low adoption rate and encourage enterprises to embrace the technology.” Concept Report, July 28, 2003.

Shared Spaces

“Collaboration Software Clients: Email, IM, Presence, RSS & Collaborative Workspaces Should Be Integrated for Business Communication”, by Michael Sampson. “a free white paper from Shared Spaces Research & Consulting. The paper was written as an independent publication, without sponsorship from any vendor, so as to give a totally unbiased view of the needs of users from a collaboration software client.” Free, 2-page Shared Spaces Report in pdf, August 23, 2004

META Group

“Social Computing: Getting Ahead of the Blog”, by Mike Gotta. “Buoyed by media hype, popularity of Internet startups, and some interesting success stories, Weblogs (more commonly referred to as “blogs”) are burgeoning across the Internet as a means to improve social conversation and networking. Strategists should assess business, organizational, and technological implications of “blogging” (and social computing in general) before chasing another tool under the allure of improved information/expertise sharing, collaboration, and community building.” META Group Practice Summary, 2188, March 29, 2004. Also see META Trend at ZDNet

“Blogging Makes a Slogging”, by John Brand. Definition/introduction to weblogs. Free METAbit, August 6, 2004

Berlecon Research

“Weblogs in Marketing and PR - Concept, Potential and Challenge”, by Berlecon analysts. In German language; contact the firm for information on translations. This short study helps enterprises determine whether and how to use weblogs for marketing and PR. The study includes current spending on and use of weblogs in Germany. 27 slides, best practices advisory

Shore Communications

“Weblobs - here to s(t)ay”, by John Blossom for the SIIA magazine, Upgrade, June/July 2004 issue. Contact Shore for reprints. “There is something about weblogging that appeals out to a world that has had carefully crafted content from the media, employers and every other would-be authority figure shoved down its throat by the bucketful year after year. To these authorities and to anyone else who cares to listen, webloggers seem to say, ‘Hey, I can do this too, you know. Do you want to know what I really think?’ Content in this environment can be quite powerful –or quite dangerous, depending on your point of view.”

Wohl Associates

“The Effects of Blogs”, by Amy Wohl. An introduction to blogs, touching on money-making possibilities, a way to look at different categories of blogs, and links to a few blogs that Amy finds of interest. Amy Wohl’s Opinions newsletter, January 28 edition

Editors Note

This sampling is far from exhaustive. Future coverage at Tekrati will include focus pieces on firms deeply engaged in analyzing, if not predicting, blogging and other forms of social media.

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Barbara on February 7th, 2005

Five industry analysts speak candidly about their blogs — past, present and future — in this supplement to Tekrati’s Special Report: The State of Analyst Weblogs.

QUESTION: Why did you start your blog?

Carl Howe, Blackfriars blog: We started our blog because we were commenting on interesting articles and data verbally with our clients, but had no venue to pass on those insights to our broader Internet audience other than a two-page opinion piece. Further, we wanted a way for visitors to our Web site to provide comments and suggestions to us without necessarily sending us email. A blog felt like the ideal solution.

Rob Enderle, Technology Pundits blog: It is targeted primarily at the media. Due to travel and other commitments, we often had difficulty getting back to them on a timely basis. In addition, they never really could be sure what we were prepared to cover. We felt a blog could address both concerns more effectively, and that, if we did it as a team, it would become a more compelling site.

David Schatsky, JupiterResearch Weblogs: We embraced this new medium to reach a wider audience with our research and analysis and to gain first-hand experience with blogging and its impact on business.

Michael Sampson, Shared Spaces Briefing blog: I wanted a free form method for publishing daily news items, perspective pieces, and links to research. I wanted to encourage engagement with the significant others in the community, such as partners, colleagues and clients.

Amy Wohl, Amy Wohl’s weblog, Wohl Associates: It seemed like a good way to more directly communicate with my world — my newsletter requires a web wizard to publish.

QUESTION: How would you characterize the feedback you’ve received from your blog?

Carl Howe, Blackfriars: We can track visitors to the site, and we know they read the blog, but so far, we haven’t seen many comments at all. Maybe we’re just not controversial enough.

Rob Enderle, for Technology Pundits: Very good, we are, however, asked to contribute to it more often.

Michael Sampson, Shared Spaces: The majority of my posts to date have been a report on daily happenings, and as such that presents minimal opportunities for engagement. The posts that present a position, an opinion or a perspective give much greater latitude for feedback, and I’ve been encouraged by the comments that I’ve received.

David Schatsky, JupiterResearch: We’ve been widely praised for launching the blogs. Many clients and non-clients have found the information we provide valuable, though not everything our analysts post is universally agreed with of course. Traffic to the JupiterResearch analyst Weblog has grown rapidly since we launched it.

Amy Wohl, Wohl Associates: Good — I hear from a lot of people who don’t read by newsletter and I’ve gotten new readers for both — we link each to the other.

QUESTION: What kind of impact, if any, has the blog had on your client, vendor or media relationships?

Carl Howe, Blackfriars: I wouldn’t say that the blog has had any significant impact on our relationships other than increasing our Web site traffic a bit.

Rob Enderle, for Technology Pundits: Clients are somewhat mixed, some would rather this be more exclusive while others see it as more convenient particularly since we started the RSS feed.

Michael Sampson, Shared Spaces: I have visibility and a voice that I didn’t previously have. It’s been great.

David Schatsky, JupiterResearch: We’ve long advocated that our clients adopt a multi-channel strategy to reaching their customers. The blogs have worked for us in this way. Our clients are loyal readers, as are non-client vendors as well. The press had made JupiterResearch’s blogs a regular stop, and frequently quotes our posts.

Amy Wohl, Wohl Associates: I don’t know that it’s had any relationship on my client relationships, except that I’ve had one specifically blog-related engagement. It’s had lots to do with which vendors come calling and what the press calls me about.

QUESTION: What role, if any, will blogs, wikis, RSS and podcasts play in your 2005/2006 model for research deliverables? Longer term?

Carl Howe, Blackfriars: I don’t see any changes in our business deliverables based upon these technologies. My belief is that professionally-edited written material will continue to carry the majority of business value. These alternative media provide more color and flavor to those traditional deliverables, but I don’t see them becoming the primary value that clients pay for.

I think Wikis have great potential for community development of content. Again, they’ll do best when they have strong communities watching over them and controlling their evolution. But I think they will democratize content creation by removing some of the technology barriers that stand in the way today.

Podcasts are a similar democratization of traditional one-to-many radio broadcasting. Again, the challenge will be having a story to tell that people will devote the time to listen to.

I believe the largest challenge associated with these new technologies is the one that the Internet at large presents: how do you find useful information in the midst of a tyranny of too much information? It’s an ongoing battle. Every time we provide easier ways for people to make their voices heard world-wide, we create more noise to sift through to find things we want to hear. And no matter what the technology, each of us has finite time to spend searching for information. Voices that are clear, insightful, and distinctive will always stand out, but we’ll need more and better ways to find those voices amid the ever-growing tsunami of information we face.

Rob Enderle, for Technology Pundits: It will become a bigger portion, a way to drive the dialog rather then just respond to it. Longer term, we will revisit this towards year end and likely make decisions based on how well this has worked for all of us.

Michael Sampson, Shared Spaces: The Shared Spaces blog will continue throughout 2005 and 2006, and will increase in depth, with a higher number of opinion and research viewpoints. I will link to all new Shared Spaces research on the blog, and encourage participation in forthcoming research programmes.

David Schatsky, JupiterResearch: No specific plans to change our paid deliverables.

Amy Wohl, Wohl Associates: I’m thinking of having both a public and perhaps a private (subscription) podcast this year. We’re working on the logistics now. We’ll continue to use blogs… we may try some private ones (for specific clients).

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As professional opinion leaders and market experts, industry analysts face three key challenges as bloggers: credibility, relevance and passion. Tekrati explores these challenges and how different analyst groups address them, as we continue this special report on industry analyst blogs. Related stories offer in-depth comments from selected analysts, and a reading list that links directly to analyst commentary on blogs and RSS.

Closing the Credibility Gap
Analysts taking up blogs expose themselves to a vocal and often skeptical audience. Online audiences routinely discuss, debate and refute industry analyst research – and in a few cases, specific industry analysts.

Many bloggers are well-established respected opinion leaders within their virtual communities. A good example is Slashdot, the pioneer of blogging and reader-driven news and commentary. Slashdot delivers 86 million page views per month to 4.3 million unique visitors(1).

Rob Malda, founder and director of Slashdot, says that Slashdot posts often refute analyst research. “There are a lot of issues here, but I think my readers are naturally skeptical of analysts,” said Malda via email. He thinks the general perception among Slashdot readers is that analysts can be paid to produce research that supports any conclusion. It’s seen as a matter of money – which vendors have it to spend, which analyst firms go for it, which individual analysts tow the line and deliver the goods.

Slashdot readers are not unique in their skepticism. For example, Ed Brill, worldwide sales leader for the IBM Lotus Notes/Domino product line, made a post to his personal blog(2) last October seeking reactions to an IBM-funded report by Robert Frances Group. Reader comments ranged from a detailed critique of shortcomings, to general criticisms of vendor-sponsored research, to a Microsoft employee challenging the premise of the report.

Forrester came under mild criticism when Charlene Li, principal analyst, initiated coverage of blogs and started her own blog. The skepticism subsided quickly as it became clear that Li and Forrester were using the blog to elevate the voice of the audience within their research – an analyst version of participative journalism. Li uses it not only as a way to communicate, track and interact with audiences, but also to supplement her research.

Li poses questions to her blog audience. Responses often end up in Forrester’s syndicated research, as well as in the blog itself. “My audience also asks really, really good questions — sometimes through comments, sometimes in private email — which helps sharpen my thinking,” said Li.

Amy Wohl used a similar technique while developing a new quantitative model for measuring open source operating system deployment. She invited open source community ideas and critiques.

JupiterResearch tackled credibility by using a more traditional approach: content selection. They take disagreements in stride, whether among themselves or through reader emails and comments at other blogs.

“Many clients and non-clients have found the information we provide valuable, though not everything our analysts post is universally agreed with of course,” said David Schatsky, senior vice president of research at JupiterResearch.

Obeying the Law of Proximity
Blogs are realtime. The best blogs reflect a strong sense of what’s relevant today, based on what’s happening now. Popular industry analyst bloggers translate their thinking into nuggets that enrich the daily event horizon of news and online conversation.

Excerpts of well-researched reports — while popular with many product and IT managers — rarely succeed as compelling blog fodder. As Malda observes, from a Slashdot point of view, “A lot of analyst reports, when you boil it down, don’t say anything all that interesting. Or, they say it months or years after it’s conventional wisdom.”

Michael Sampson, director of research and consulting at independent Share Spaces in New Zealand, has found that reporting on daily happenings presents minimal opportunity for reader engagement. Instead, he finds that his posts offering a timely position, perspective or opinion offer much greater latitude for feedback. His readers have asked for more.

Several analysts identify the media as a primary component of their blog audience. Shore Communications’ John Blossom strives to keep his blog current with near-realtime insights and opinions. This works particularly well for deadline-driven press, who increasingly leverage his blog for edge-leading insights and interview questions.

Rob Enderle, Tim Bajarin and Richard Doherty all blog primarily for media audiences. Co-locating their blogs at their TechnologyPundits site serves two purposes: providing quotable commentary and positions on a near-realtime basis, and enabling the media to discern which specific topics they are prepared to comment on at any particular point in time. Enderle reports very positive feedback from the media. On the other hand, he said clients are somewhat mixed. Some would prefer more exclusive access to the analysts’ commentary.

Regardless of intended audience, analysts will undergo ever greater pressure to maintain blog currency and relevance. Blackfriars Communications, a research and consulting group that helps businesses market and communicate more effectively, describes the current environment of information overload as “the tyranny of too much”. Carl Howe, a principal at Blackfriars, believes that RSS-enabled readers like Safari will engage more people in RSS-enabled content and then will push blogs onto a “Darwinian path”. Well-edited, frequently updated blogs will thrive; most of the rest will die off. Why?

According to Howe, “As the novelty wears off, most viewers will find they just don’t have time to wade through poorly written and stale content. There used to be an old story that eCommerce was a dangerous way to sell because shoppers would click away to a competitor at the first problem or slow response. The same will be true for blogs: once they are mainstream vehicles, only the best will survive.”

Perhaps the greatest challenge of the three is finding ways to convey a passion for technology. Malda believes that Slashdot attracts readers because it’s bottom-up: people who read and comment there are into technology for the love of it. They feel the passion, the joy of technology. These are the people most likely to read and comment among themselves. These are the people who want their words to matter.

Time will tell which of the industry analyst blogs offer conversation that matters.

Blogs in Balance
The number of analyst blogs is likely to double over the next year, based on comments from the analysts Tekrati tracks. Analyst blogs will also diversify — David Scott Lewis added podcasting to his blogs last week.

Will blogs have a substantive impact on high tech industry analyst services? Carl Howe, in speaking for himself, summed up the sentiments of many analysts:

“I think we have to recognize that technology can only play a part in providing insight. The highest value exchanges of information will always be in person, whether they be speeches, conversations, or shared dinners.

“I believe Internet technology helps us fill in the gaps between in-person interactions, and continue the conversations they start when we are separated in time and space. But at the end of the day, nothing is going to displace the need to shake someone’s hand, sit across from them at a table, and talk to them in person.”

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Follow the link below for Tekrati’s directory of analyst blogs*.

Editor’s notes:
1. Slashdot media kit, Feb 2005.
2. Disclaimer for “In this blog, my opinions are my own and do not represent those of my employer.” For Ed Brill’s comments as an official IBM spokesperson, see the InsideLotus weblog.

* Effective 11 February 2011, the Tekrati Analyst Blogs Directory and OPML are no longer available.

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