Barbara on November 15th, 2006

It’s that time of year again. Time to decide which industry analysts called the shots, gave the answers, and made the time often enough to earn an IT research and advisory contract for 2007. My advice to analysts this year: publish proof points showing your accuracy, timeliness, objectivity, engagement. Put forward some well researched — not just well rehearsed — reasons for us to believe.

Analyst bashups, in general, are nothing new. Historically, the most damage was done by competitive sales teams and word of mouth — the kind of thing you find in any industry. A few journalists would take the time to sleuth planned budgets or controversial practices, and that was pretty much the extent of it.

Blogs have changed the old analyst bashups. More people than ever are publishing anecdotes about smart and not-so-smart analyst opinions, research, forecasts.

Some examples of what’s out there, how easy it is to find:

  • CEO Marc Benioff apparently told the London City Show audience that he listens to Ovum’s Bradshaw, because Bradshaw knows his stuff and called it right more consistently than Gartner or Forrester. His endorsement went far beyond the back of the room. It was reported by ISV Gareth Davies in his blog, Where’s the Upside?, and relayed in James Governor’s blog, MonkChips. I found it there via my FeedDemon RSS channel of favorite analyst blogs.
  • Todd Defren, a principal at PR agency SHIFT Communications, spins a typical sour-grapes anecdote about Gartner Magic Quadrants into an open call for bashups about Gartner and any/all analysts at his pr-squared blog. I found it via a simple Technorati search for blog posts on Gartner and Magic Quadrants.
  • Telephia suffered collateral damage in the Cingular/Sprint Nextel/Verizon cell phone network war. Blog spin of a NY Times article describing Telephia’s involvement in Cingular advertising claims (”fewest dropped calls”) included, and engadget mobile. As with most posts at engadget, this one was picked up by a half dozen other blogs in addition to the numerous RSS feed aggregators. Boston Globe’s story resulted in its own cascade of blog coverage, such as Joho the Blog and I found these using a Google blog search for background on the Telephia lawsuit against M:Metrics.

These are just a few examples of the reverb going on out here. This doesn’t even take into account dedicated analyst-watching bloggers, such as GartnerWatch and ARmadgeddon, or enterprise IT bloggers such as James McGovern blogging at Enterprise Architecture: Thought Leadership.

Plus, you’ve got all the blogs relaying that usual sprinkling of investigative reporting I mentioned earlier. A recent example: Computerworld New Zealand’s forum piece questioning research transparency and objectivity. This came to my attention via a reader who chose to remain anonymous. Talk about irony. Still, I followed the link and bookmarked it.

My point is that the critics are not just a few Fortune 100 directors on the back nine, or a band of trolls piping through anonymous proxy servers. Whether you need to see this as a tipping point or an inflection point, just get the point:

Analyst, research thyself and share thy findings.

As always, I hope you’ll voice your opinion on my opinion at the Tekrati blog.


Reprinted from Tekrati.

Editor’s note: Description of Marc Benioff comments were revised, per comments posted at Tekrati blog.

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Bloggers scowl at IT industry analysts for many reasons. My top grievance with the analysts is boredom. I find the presentation of research more and more dull. How about mixing in a little YouTube magic with those statistics? Instead of webcasts and videos letting us watch analysts, how about videos letting us watch analysts do some research? Guy Kawasaki’s recent “Next Generation Insights” panel for the Churchill Club is a great example of what digital video could do for industry research.

He put together a small panel of “millenials” and asked them about media, advertising, mobile technology and communication preferences. He used digital video, veotags, and blogging to capture, document and discuss. The result is irresistible – and you can’t do this with a report, text blog or even photos. He lets you be a part of the experience. He lets you draw your own conclusions.

I see this as an example of how a simple combination of digital technologies could transform our collective experience with tech industry research.

For example, how about using this to supplement research reports and summaries. Trade in some talking head footage of analysts for footage of actual target decision makers and customers answering questions or debating among themselves over a sticky point.

Online video could also take industry research much deeper into much smaller market segments. Consider the possibilities for re-inventing focus groups, based on digital production and distribution economics.

At the risk of going overboard, digital video might inject some differentiation into analyst-hosted IT peer groups.

My point is that digital and social communications tools give us new options for exploring the human side of selecting and using technology. I think it’s a shame to use these tools just to talk about research — why not make them part of the research? Incorporating digital video and audio into the very fabric of research may be one way to make it more interesting and more credible.

By the way, here are the disclaimers: Guy Kawasaki is not an industry analyst. His panel was not meant to be a “scientific” research study — it was a panel. He did not suggest in any way that what he was doing could relieve my growing boredom with research reports and whatnot.

Read his blog, watch the Churchill Club video: Is Advertising Dead?.

Reprinted from Tekrati

Popularity: 2%