If you’ve been following my blogs or are a client, you’re familiar with my position on alternatives to the tech industry analysts for research and advisory.Â With this post, I’m bringing these conversations about alternatives to the industry analysts online. This post introduces some basic ideas and examples.
My position is simple: well-respected alternatives are out there; more sources are popping up all the time; only a fool ignores the good ones. Likewise, only a fool rushes in. The supply ofÂ ersatz research is bountiful as ever. Caveat emptor.
Today, I see very few cases where the alternatives completely displace the industry analysts. Typically, they coexist as vital resources. Often, they’re served up side-by-side in an integrated information portal available to employees. The alternatives tend to be most useful in 3 scenarios:
- Supporting specific decisions in real time
- Delving into topics that don’t attract dedicated industry analyst coverage
- Helping professionals develop broader, deeper or more inclusive perspectives
So where’s the good stuff? That depends on whether you want data-driven intelligence to help you buy and implement tech, or build and sell it. To start, here’s a short list of examples.
Associations: Long a sales and marketing channel for the tech industry analysts, many associations now offer their own research services to members and the public. Â Some groups permit members to conduct custom research and encourage well documented case studies and best practices. Others leverage member-supported research for advocacy and thought leadership. Classic examples include theÂ Consumer Electronics Association, IEEE, NASCIO and Socitm.
Academics: The ongoing disconnect between business and academia, at least here in the U.S., baffles many including me. The mutual disrespect might have been appropriate in years past. It is not today. Here’s the bite: some of the most successful companies in the world know this and fund research. Â Classic examples in this category include MIT Sloan School of Management, Stanford University and Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Consultants: Management consultants have produced insightful research for decades. This group has the greatest overlap with the industry analysts who advise tech buyers. Classic examples include Booz Allen Hamilton,Â Deloitte and Â PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Smaller associations, universities, and consultancies can produce equally valuable data-driven insight. Plus, there are several other categories. Media and government agencies jump to mind.
Data-driven insight is available from many reputable sources. IT professionals look to them for information, validation and advice. As a result, tech providers need to see them for what they are: influencers.