I’m not a fan of the growing schism between Altimeter Group and the rest of the analysts. One of the most visible wedges driving this rift is the idea of “rock star analysts.”
“Rock star analyst” is an old notion with deep roots among financial analysts. Originally, rock star analysts were the ones who made the right call the most often, especially on complex decisions. They made their clients the most money. There was a strong body of proof and formal professional consensus behind the status.
Not so on the tech analyst side of the aisle. What does “rock star analyst” mean to analyst relations people and analysts today? It seems to mean an analyst scores high on RSS readership, Twitter following, social net savvy, citations in the media. In short, celebrity status. Customer satisfaction isn’t a meaningful factor, beyond the PR value of the analyst.
What does celebrity status have to do with accuracy, completeness, timeliness? With giving clients great advice?
Why would a decision maker want to hire a celebrity to help with tech decisions?
It’s time for a reality check. Of the many reasons one might hire an analyst, celebrity status is — at best — just one aspect of the package.
Update, for clarification: I’m criticizing the rising popularity of labeling an analyst a “rock star” due to celebrity status. I see Altimeter Group as an unwitting victim of this craze. Ray Wang and his associates have proven their chops as technology & business experts. Putting them on rockstar pedestals strictly because of their social media popularity is insane. And arguably, it’s a disservice to the entire analyst profession. - BF May 12, 2010.
Advanced registration is required.Â If you’re involved in analyst relations, at an agency or vendor, you can register for the meeting. Likewise, if you’re between AR-focused jobs, you can register.Â You’ll also get complimentary access to the full-day IDC conference.
Request your invitation via an email toÂ Peggy O’Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org. More at IIAR blog.
Big thanks to IDC, the analyst relations practice at H&K, and the IIAR for their generosity in arranging the private luncheon and the free access to the Directions 2010 conference.
Hyatt Regency - attached to Santa Clara Convention Center
March 10, 2010
12:15 PM - 1:15 PM
12:15PM - 12:30 PM
Crawford Del Prete, Executive Vice President of Worldwide Research, IDC, will provide an overview and highlight the details of IDC’s end user IT research strategy. His presentation will include an update on IDC’s Insights organization, IDC’s MarketScape assessment tool, and the ground breaking IDC Insights Community.
12:30 PM - 1:05 PM
Joshua Reynolds, Senior Vice President, Hill & Knowlton’s global tech practice lead, will present key findings from H&K’s 2009 tech decision maker’s study, the latest insights on the impact of AR on IR and corporate valuation, and the evolving role of AR professionals as they take on Influencer Relations roles in the new social media era.
1:05 PM - 1:15 PM
Peggy O’Neill, Board Member IIAR, will provide a brief update of IIAR initiatives and discuss the benefits of IIAR membership.
Interested in certification as an analyst relations professional? Looking for an analyst relations training course with benefits, such as a certificate of completion? If so, you have several choices for obtaining credentials. Hereâ€™s how four AR cert programs stack up, including who offers them, who can take them, what the programs cover, and how much they cost. Plus, some closing thoughts on ROI and funding.
Certification v. certificate of completion
Analyst relations professionals can obtain two types of credentials. Itâ€™s important to understand the difference between a certification and a certificate of completion.
Accreditation as a certified Analyst Relations professional: Certification is intended to provide proof of an individualâ€™s overall AR practitioner knowledge. Currently, it requires passing a written test. This designation is the AR equivalent of PRSAâ€™s Accredited in Public Relations (APR) and IABCâ€™s Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) credentials.
Certificate of completion: A certificate of completion provides documented proof that an individual successfully completed a professional development training course in AR. Currently, it does not require passing a written test. This is the AR equivalent of a certificate of completion for a class at a vocational school or college.
The providers: who offers AR certification, training certificates
One professional association and three AR consulting companies offer AR certs:
- Institute for Industry Analyst Relations (IIAR) offers a test to become a Certified Analyst Relations Professional
- Knowledge Capital Group (KCG) offers training with an optional a test to become a Certified Industry Analyst Relations Professional
- Lighthouse AR offers a Certificate of Completion for each of 4 training courses
- SageCircle offers a Certificate of Completion for each of 5 training courses
The IIAR is the only cert provider that does not require candidates to purchase a training course. Instead, the IIAR tests on knowledge they say is best gained on the job and by staying current with the worldwide industry analyst business.
Another difference with the IIAR is that its certification test reflects input from the other 3 cert providers as well as from experienced practitioner members. One consultancy â€“ KCG â€“ provided its entire certification test to the IIAR as raw input.
Training is mandatory for certs from each of the three AR consultancies â€“ KCG, Lighthouse AR and SageCircle. These programs emphasize professional development first; certs are an important yet secondary aspect of their programs. The certification test is an option with KCG. Participants can take the KCG course without completing the certification test.
Attendees will encounter differences in the proprietary courses taught by KCG, Lighthouse AR and SageCircle. Differences can include AR terminology and some of the advocated best practices, tactics and program measurements.
1. Comparing AR Cert Programs at a Glance
|Certification as AR Professional||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Certificate of Completion||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Certs Offered||1 lifetime professional certification||1 lifetime professional certification||Certificates of completion
in 4 courses
|Certificates of completion
in 5 courses
|Suggested experience level||2-3 years FT or
3-4 years PT
runs from intro to advanced level
intermediate & master courses
|None needed; starts at intro level|
|Languages Available||English||English||English, German||English|
|Cost Per Person||Free to IIAR members;
|$1,200; group discount||$1,250 per course; group discount||$495 - $995 per course; group discount|
|Study Materials Included||No||Presentations, workbook, copy
of KCG’s book “Influencing the Influencers”
|Presentations, workbook, copy of Efrem Mallach’s book “Win Them Over”||Presentations, workbook, online library|
|Add’l Items Bundled in Price||1 re-test, if needed||Private inhouse training||Private inhouse training; 1-year IIAR membership; Framed large-format certificate of completion||Private inhouse training; Framed certificate of completion|
2. Comparing the Topical Focus of AR Cert Programs
3. Comparing Options in Testing & Training
|Length of Written Test||120 questions||52 questions||-||-|
|Test Format||Online, timed||Pre-printed, take home, unlimited completion time||-||-|
|Test Pass Rate||70%||90%||-||-|
|Training Venue||-||In person, live webcast or online||In person or
|In person or
|Duration of Each Course||-||1 day (8 hours)||5 hours||5 - 8 hours|
4. Comparing AR Cert Program Activity
|Cert Program Started||Oct 2009||2004||2006||2008|
|Content Refreshed||As needed or Annually||Continuously||Annually||Quarterly|
|Total No. of Certs Issued||Very few||500+||40 - 50||Declined to comment|
Bottomline: Whatâ€™s the ROI?
None of the providers offers ROI analysis or compelling case studies justifying investments in AR certs. Aside from the IIAR, the providers said that the real value is in the experience of their training courses, rather than in obtaining the actual cert.
In addition, awareness of these certs is very low outside of AR circles. None of the four providers is promoting their certs directly to vendor management or to the high tech marketing industry at large. As a result, making the case to management for the time and money required falls squarely on the AR practitioner.
So what is the value of getting a certificate or being certified as an Analyst Relations professional? The four providers say the value lies in:
- Increasing individual confidence and respect within the AR community
- Raising the standards of the AR profession
- Creating competitive advantage for individual recruitment and promotion
- Establishing a companywide common denominator in AR knowledge, vernacular, practices and processes
- Meeting company or association requirements for ongoing professional development
- Tapping into company funds earmarked for professional development
Please add any other AR certificate or certification programs in the comments. Iâ€™ll update the post accordingly.
While tech providers have had formal analyst relations programs for 30-odd years, only Gartner and Forrester Research haveÂ reciprocatedÂ with influencer programs dedicated to vendor AR teams. Â GigaOM Pro, the industry research arm of GigaOM, is about to shake up the status quo with today’s formal debut of their Analyst Relations program.
The GigaOM Pro Analyst Relations program shares some expected similarities with the Gartner and Forrester programs. For example, all three programs require members to be involved in some capacity with analyst relations. All three programs also offer basic benefits to their AR participants, such as more in-depth knowledge about research agendas and decision rationale and special opportunities to get to know analysts and management.
So, what’s different about the GigaOM Pro AR program?
1. AR members receive a free, full access GigaOM Pro account.
2. AR members have full read/write community features. This means that AR members can use the community platform — within reason — to comment on GigaOM Pro research findings and engage with analysts and other subscribers.
3. AR members create a public-facing personal profile page, so that all other community members and analysts can get to know them as well. This is a great opportunity for personal branding and networking as an AR professional - not only with GigaOM Pro analysts but also with GigaOM Pro subscribers. Think about that.
4. AR members can leverage the program to build relations with the pool of GigaOM Pro analysts. It’s a constantly changing group of some of the most influential SOHO tech industry analysts and research-driven thought leaders in North America, handpicked and carefully vetted by the GigaOM Pro team.
You should also consider a few cautionary pointers:
- Sleuth the community before you start commenting, just as you would with any professional network.
- If you misbehave — i.e. post inappropriate comments or inappropriate volume of Â comments — you may suffer more than having your account closed down. GigaOM attracts a sophisticated and knowledgeable readership. Your company reputation is on the line as much as yours whenever you comment.
- Be clear with everyone in your organization that this is a program designed specifically for people who handle analyst relations. It is not a doorway into GigaOM for press relations or press releases or a ticket to hijack research.
I strongly recommend this program to AR professionals. Check out the FAQ and if you like what you see, apply online. Or contact Mike Wolf, vice president of research at GigaOM Pro, for more information.
GiagOM Pro Analyst Relations Program - Info & Online Application
GigaOM Pro Analyst Relations Program - FAQ
Ten years ago 91 analysts and journalists went on record with their top gripes about vendor briefings and vendor PR representatives - in other words, “AR”. Jeffrey Tarter, then the mastermind behind Softletter, did the research and compiled the results. That report is still useful perspective for analyst relations professionals today. It’s one of the links I’m posting here, part of Â what I call the AR historical archive.
For the last few years, I’ve housed this list at the IIAR’s free Yahoo! community for analyst relations professionals. The IIAR plans to shut down that group in December. So I’m posting my archives here. The links are ordered by date.
The link to Jeffrey’s landmark report is at the end of this first section, Analysts on AR.
The second section (next post) puts the analyst business under scrutiny. It contains links to historical journalist and academic content investigating the analyst business.
ANALYSTS ON ANALYST RELATIONS (2007 - 1999)
ES Research Group 02-2007: “Working with Analysts” Free.Â Dave Stein blogs on analyst/vendor relations from both sides of the aisle
JupiterResearch 12-2006: “Lessons in Analyst Relations” No longer online. Free. Michael Gartnerberg blog post. Softly supports dedicated inhouse AR over other models. Original link:
AMI-PartnersÂ 11-2006: “7 Ingredients for a Winning Analyst Relations Program” Free. Reprint of Laurie McCabe’s out-of-print Kensington Group article, at theÂ ARmadgeddon blog
RedMonk 11-2006: “Interview with James Governor, RedMonk” Free.Â Interview transcript on Helzerman’s Odd Bits Blog; scroll down to “Analyst Relations 101″ portion in particular.
Security Incite 11-2006: “Analyst Relations - Vendor Pet Peeves” and “Top 5 ways to piss Mike off” Free.Â Mike Rothman blogs onÂ ”a couple of other things that annoy me about dealing with vendors”. And,Â the top 5 things vendors do that they shouldn’t.
Forrester Research 11-2006: “Analyst Models Are Key To Briefing Impact” $.Â Research Brief. Accommodate market models used by analysts, to improve likelihood of a successful briefing. By Kevin Lucas.
Forrester Research 10-2006: “The Three Archetypes Of Industry Analysts” $.Â Research Brief. How To Identify And Work With Advocates, Strategists, Evangelists. By Ray Wang.
Forrester Research 8-2006: “Five Steps For AR To Improve Credibility With Product Teams” $. Research Brief. This report focuses on five best practices for earning credibility with product teams. By Ray Wang.
Forrester Research 7-2006: “How to get a briefing at Forrester” Free. Charlene Li’s candid blog post with personal and general perspectives.
Burton Group 3-2006: “Gartner: Speedtalk for 30 Minutes” Free.Â Guy Creese’s blog jabs Gartner, then explains 3 common mistakes dogging vendors attempting to brief analysts.
Gartner 9-2005: “This is Ground Control to PR Tom” Free.Â Andy Bitterer blogs on understanding analyst coverage to target the right analysts.
Enderle Group 11-2004: “Building a Vendor Advisory Council” Free.Â Rob Enderle’s whitepaper defining the goals, methods, and measurements for building a successful analyst advisory council for a supplyside company.
Saugatuck 7-2004: “Reviewing Vendor Analyst Relations Management” No longer online. Free. 3 common, expensive mistakes: not deeming AR strategic; spending too much money on research; using PR firms for AR. By B. Guptill. Original link: http://www.saugatech.com/151view.htm
Giga Information Group 4-2003: “Analyst Relations: In-House or Outsourced to a PR Firm?” $.Â Idea Byte. AR should be internally staffed, or at least centrally managed, by experienced personnel rather than outsourced to PR, and the factors driving this become more pronounced as the company grows in size and complexity. By Rob Enderle.
Softletter 10-1999: “The Decline and Fall of Public Relations” Free. 91 reporters, editors, and analysts share specific rants about vendor PR. Compiled by Jeffrey Tarter.
One of the challenges facing high tech marketing is how to update existing analyst relations programs, given the growing importance of more types of influencers. No one wants to lose valuable AR skills. Yet, companies want to realize better returns from these staffs and programs.
This puts AR at risk on 2 fronts. The first is a matter of perception: becoming marginalized as other types of influencers win more share of mind with vendor sales and management.
The second risk is that AR will fall out of step with marketing priorities as new
disciplines displace traditional marketing silos and spend.
I believe that, like the analyst business, the analyst relations profession is not going away anytime soon. However, there are good reasons to start aligning analyst relations with newer
ideas about who’s influencing whom, how to fund influencer programs and how to measure results.
To industry observers the situation seems clear: changes taking place in IT buyer decision processes require corresponding changes in how vendors deal with influencers, such as the industry analysts. However, the changes in tech decision-maker processes have been gradual and have varied greatly by market. Plus, critical aspects of buying decisions remain hidden from external view. As a result, few in tech marketing are aware of the extent of change taking place in their customer decision processes. Even fewer are thinking about how best to map the new realities to Analyst Relations programs.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with 3 of the people who are not only thinking about it, but translating their observations and ideas into practice: Evan Quinn, director of Corporate Analyst Relations at HP; Jennifer Bartolo, vice president of IT Influencer Relations for SAP; and Debashish Sinha, vice president of Marketing for HCL America.
They are pioneering analyst relations for the next decade. You can check out my initial notes in our newsletter, The Influencer.
Rely on simple, straightforward litmus tests to distinguish between the two. Try this one:
Traditional AR programs focus on trend watchers at the analyst firms.
AR programs moving towards influencer relations focus on trend watchers and trend makers.