Analyst Bashups: Time to Talk Back

Barbaraanalysts, influence

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.