Altimeter Group is not a traditional IT industry analyst firm. The group not only provides expertise on innovating business through disruption, but also embodies a good deal of innovation through disruption. Two years in, it’s becoming clear that even analysts inclined to push the envelop — such as Michael Gartenberg and R “Ray” Wang — find the new business model is not quite a comfortable fit. Clients, on the other hand, are finding Altimeter Group a perfect fit.

The Altimeter’s approach to innovation through disruptive technologies is hitting the right chord with clients in several markets. “This year, we’ve already touched over 125 clients,” said founding partner Charlene Li. This number will rise before the end of the year. “We’re discussing multiple new proposals every week.”

Several attributes set Altimeter Group apart from its industry analyst and consultancy roots. At the most basic level, the partnership of high profile analysts and consultants produces open research rather than syndicated research. This means no recurring revenues through syndicated research, the baseline for companies such as Gartner, Forrester Research and IDC.

On a more sophisticated level, Altimeter varies from the pack in that the focus of its work is not technology per se, but on selecting and applying technology in order to innovate a business operation, division, culture or even an entire market. In order to achieve that kind of outcome, the Altimeter partners work together to bring different perspectives to bear on any particular client issue.

“Analyst firms are organized around coverage areas. Altimeter is modeled around customer pains,” explained Li. “Our recent event, ‘The Rise of Social Commerce’, is a great example. Every partner was involved as an equal. Every partner looked at social commerce from a different point of view. No one person can cover all of this.”

In other words, clients who want to harness the potential of disruptive technologies like social commerce require input from experts in several different disciplines. With a traditional analyst firm, clients get access to a single silo of topical experts. For analysts at a traditional firm, cross-discipline collaborations on a single client issue are the exception. At Altimeter, they are the norm. This is true of all of the customer points of pain that Altimeter Group addresses.

A third attribute that sets Altimeter Group apart is partner responsibility for the success of the business. Research, ideation and consultation are key. However, so is business development and ensuring the success of the partnership at large. Business infrastructure services — including sales — are lean; overhead investments are selective. There is significant pressure for participating in marketplace conversations, events and communities.

Li understood from the outset that the Altimeter Group model would not suit many of today’s analysts and consultants. She said she wishes Wang the greatest success, acknowledging his desire to work in a more traditional analyst capacity and, as importantly, to lead his own venture.

As for Li, she too has adjusted her own role as the firm has grown. She recently named Alan Webber as managing partner to oversee day to day business. She continues leading the partnership, setting the direction as well as undertaking her own research, consulting, speaking and writing.

We all must cope with the impacts of innovation in our industries. As Altimeter Group proves, analysts have as much trouble coping with innovation as anyone else.

Reprinted from Tekrati

Barbara on March 30th, 2010

DestinationCRM cites me along with Carter Lusher, William Hopkins and other IT analyst watchers in a March 2010 article focusing on recession-driven consolidation in the industry analyst business.

It’s in the hardcopy version – so purchase / registration required.

Barbara on October 27th, 2009

The high tech analyst business seemed to be on the brink of imploding due to the tech recession in 2002, and in 2004 at least one Boston journalist was calling for Wall Street style disclosure. These are are among the links you’ll find on this page. This is what I call the AR historical archives, part 2.

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.

This section puts the analyst business under scrutiny. It contains links to historical journalist coverage and 1 academic piece investigating the ICT industry analyst business. The links are ordered by date.

The first section is a collection of links where analysts opine on AR. It’s located here.


CRMBuyer 3-2007: “Technology Buyers: So Many Needs, So Little Time”
Free. Louis Columbus on tech buyers as process owners and how that impacts analyst influence.

InformationWeek 12-2006: “Ban The Analysts! Or Not?”
Follow up on The Reg and NY Times. Includes reader comments.

The Register 12-2006: “NY Times rattles IT industry with analyst ban”
Ashlee Vance smacksdown the NY Times for slipshod and unfair editorial treatment of Rob Enderle.

The Register 12-2006: “Forrester can’t stand up for falling down over iTunes”
The Reg tries to get the last word in the media and Forrester blame game over inaccurate editorial resulting in a signficant drop in Apple stock prices the week of 11 December 2006. Also see Forrester blog posts this week.

TheAustralianIT 11-2006: “Giant Gartner strands alone”
Interview with Peter Sondergaard

InformationWeek 5-2006: “Blog-Based Analysts Shake Up IT Research”
Free. A new breed of IT analysts is sharing insights over the Internet, leaving traditional research firms trying to catch up using the same methods.

InformationWeek 2-2006: “Credibility of Analysts”
Free. Do tech vendors wield influence over IT research? You bet–but how much of it is a matter of perspective?

InformationWeek 2-2006: “How Cisco Networks with Analysts”
Free. Short sidebar to “Credibility of Analysts”

The Register 4-2006: “Pundit responds to ‘troubling’ Reg attack”
Enderle responds to Vance’s negative comments about his integrity.

The Register 4-2006: “Sun zinged by rent-a-quote analyst”
Ashlee Vance smacksdown The Economist for citing Rob Enderle on Sun.

Boston Globe 11-2004: “Adapting to shift in tech landscape”
Free. Research gurus scrambling to expand offerings and merge 10-2004. “Full disclosure overdue from tech analysts”
$. Is a Wall Street-style clean up overdue in the world of technology analysts?

CIO 3-2004: “Bad News for Analysts, Good News for CIOs”
Free. Today, when it comes to research and analysis, CIOs are taking advantage of what looks to be a permanent buyer’s market. It’s not that research is suddenly worthless. It’s just suddenly worth less.

Network World 3-2003: “Making Informed Decisions”
Free. Rising commodity information, drop in IT spending impact how analysts deliver research to best meet customer needs.

Baseline 12-2002 “Why Tech Analysts Feel Your Pain”
Free. The only thing worse than working for a technology company over the past year, so the joke goes, is being an adviser to users of technology.

Anderson School at UCLA 5-2002: “IT Research and Analysis Services: Surveying their Usefulness” (link opens a pdf)
Free. Academic report on how subscribers make use of IT R&A services, in what context the services are most useful, and why some firms do not subscribe. By David R. Firth and E. Burton Swanson.

InformationWeek 10-2001: “Analyzing the Analysts”
Free. InformationWeek Research’s Analyzing the Analysts series began in 1997 as a biennial study focused on customer evaluations of IT market-research analyst firms. See the half dozen related links in sidebars and TOC for the complete report.

InformationWeek 11-1999: “Analyzing the Analysts”
Free. InformationWeek Research’s Analyzing the Analysts series began in 1997 as a biennial study focused on customer evaluations of IT market-research analyst firms. See the half dozen related links in sidebars and TOC for the complete report.

Lots of very smart people like to point out what’s wrong with the industry analyst business. Yet, few engage in a constructive conversation about what it’s going to take to revitalize the industry analyst business — so that it plays a more valuable link in the IT procurement chain going forward. Chanting lies-damn-lies won’t do the trick. To foster a more useful and informed public debate, I’m supporting a new speaker series at the Computer History Museum. Here’s some insight into my thinking, and my personal thank you to some inspiring individuals and organizations also helping to promote this event, albeit each for their own reasons.

To recap the CHM event: The Computer History Museum is presenting Gideon Gartner, in conversation with Neill Brownstein, on May 15th. It’s free; a $10 donation at the door is suggested (if not a CHM member). Find more information and register at the CHM website.

Recently, I surprised James Governor at RedMonk by pointing out that I see many parallels between RedMonk today and Gartner’s early days. If you know him, you can guess just how pleased he was. But here’s my point: as a company, Gartner was a innovator and a disruptor in the industry analyst marketplace in the early 1980s. It changed the rules about information and advisory delivery, sales models, business culture, and more. Gartner was not the only innovative company at the time, nor was it the last. However, many its innovations became standard practices. Most of the analyst companies we see today are interpretations of this earlier period of innovation — despite the fact that as early as 1995, Gideon Gartner himself characterized the 1980s business model as outdated and out of sync with the market.

That, in a nutshell, is why this Computer History Museum speaker series is worthwhile. It provides an opportunity to hear personal insights and stories about a successful cycle of innovation — including the challenges, wins, frustrations. It’s an opportunity to understand the human story behind what it took to disrupt and innovate. What could have been done differently? What will it take to reinvent the analyst business again, today or in the future?

Starting up a new cycle of innovation is never easy in any industry. The analyst business is no exception. Independent analyst businesses — and analyst-like business divisions — are springing up all over the world. Most present very little change in the old business mission, model, culture or mechanisms. It seems apparent that any significant impetus for change must created intentionally.

Several individuals and organizations are engaging in meaningful discussion about new dynamics in high tech market influence. I want to thank those who have stepped up to help promote the CHM event — most notably, the Society for New Communications Research and Hewlett-Packard’s Carter Lusher — and also:

I hope to see you at the Museum on May 15th.

Reprinted from Tekrati

Here’s an interesting survey for PR and marketing pro’s at analyst firms and other management/IT professional services providers. Marketing consultancy Bloom Group produced a survey and report on marketing effectiveness among U.S. professional services firms. Turns out strong intellectual capital (IC) is the most important ingredient of effective marketing. The participating services firms rated IC as more important than having a compelling brand, big marketing budget, a sound marketing strategy or capable sales force. Take the 20-minute online survey for a free copy of the full report. (Hat tip to Kennedy Information’s ConsultingWire.)

Bloom Group believes this is common sense. Professional services firms are in the business of providing expertise, so it shouldn’t be surprising that they feel the key to generating marketplace interest in their services is capturing and marketing strong intellectual capital.

Bloom Group report authors Robert S. Buday, Bernie Thiel, and Susan Buddenbaum note that the survey results do not suggest abandoning other forms and components of marketing. The survey simply indicates that marketing the ideas of a professional services firm through educational, rather than promotional, marketing channels is much more important.

Other major study findings include the following:

Content counts: Professional services firms with far superior IC as the content for their marketing programs were much more likely to generate substantial market awareness and business leads than were firms with inferior IC. Some 81 percent of the firms with far superior IC — compared with only 10 percent of firms with inferior or far inferior IC — said their marketing programs were very effective or had more than average effectiveness in creating substantial market awareness and leads.

The smaller the firm, the better the ideas: A much higher percentage of the smallest firms rated their IC to be far superior than did the largest firms. Some 47 percent of the firms with less than $25 million in revenue said their IC was far superior, while only 25 percent of organizations with more than $1 billion in revenue said the same thing. These findings suggest that attaining thought leadership isn’t dependent on resources, and that superior content is the great equalizer between small and large firms in the competition for clients.

Attaining thought leadership requires focusing more resources on developing professionals’ ideas than on marketing them. The firms that said they had the best intellectual capital estimated investing about 57 percent of their IC development and marketing resources in developing IC and about 43 percent in marketing it. The firms with the worst IC did the opposite: they spent only about 41% of their resources on developing ideas and about 59 percent on marketing them. The firms with the best IC were much more likely to use a research consortium and internal research groups as a primary IC development technique.

Superior intellectual capital is increasingly critical. More than three-quarters (77 percent) of the firms polled said having strong intellectual capital to market had grown in importance over the past five years, for three factors more than any others: increasing competition and the need for differentiation; past success with marketing the firm’s IC; and client demands for demonstrating greater expertise before they choose a professional services firm.

The survey featured a wide range of types and sizes of professional services firms: consulting, IT services, law, accounting, training and development, research and others. Some 25 percent had annual revenue of more than $1 billion, 35 percent had less than $25 million, 18 percent had $25 million to $100 million, and 22 percent had between $101 million and $1 billion.

Even if you don’t take the survey to get the full results, check out the three tiers of IC effectiveness listed on page 2 of the survey release.

Reprinted from Tekrati

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

Barbara on August 15th, 2005

Gartner, Inc.’s acquisition of META Group has sparked industry discussion about top industry analyst alternatives to Gartner. Tekrati asked seven of the top choices in North America to state their case for technology users and vendors.  In addition, this report highlights two stand-out firms from among the hundreds offering specialized expertise and services.

Top picks include well-known firms — Forrester Research, IDC and AMR Research — and four lesser known firms: Burton Group, Info-Tech Research Group, The 451 Group, and The Advisory Council.

We also highlight two stand-outs among hundreds of firms offering specialized expertise: Nucleus Research and AMI-Partners.

This Tekrati Special Report is divided into several sections. We invite you to comment and trackback at the Tekrati Weblog, using the links at the bottom of each page. To date, two comments have been posted to the Introduction.

  • Special Report: Alternatives to Gartner, Introduction: Overview of the special report and listing of the analyst firm spokespeople who responded to our questions.
  • Special Report: Alternatives to Gartner, Technology User Viewpoint: Tekrati asked seven of the top choices in North America, “What is the primary reason that former META clients, from the end user community, should short-list your company for their industry research and advisory needs?” Here’s how they responded.
  • Special Report: Alternatives to Gartner, Vendor/Provider Viewpoint: Tekrati asked seven of the top choices in North America, “What is the primary reason that former META clients, from the vendor community, should short-list your company for their industry research and advisory needs?” Here’s how they responded.
  • Special Report: Alternatives to Gartner, Differentiators against Gartner: Tekrati asked seven of the top choices in North America, “What are the primary characteristics that differentiate your company from Gartner, Inc.?” Here’s how they responded.
  • Special Report: Alternatives to Gartner, Free-form Comments: Tekrati asked seven of the top choices in North America, “Any related quotes or comments you would like to provide?” Here’s how they responded.
  • Special Report: Alternatives to Gartner, Specialized Expertise Firms: Hundreds of industry analyst firms offer specialized expertise on topics from browsers to globalization to storage to telecommunications. Some serve only technology providers within an industry, some focus on geographical regions, others serve only technology users. Two of the stand-outs in this arena are Nucleus Research and AMI-Partners.
Barbara on August 4th, 2005

If you’ve adopted the position that industry research models are completely broken and no one wants to access a library of research reports anymore, you might want to read the July 13 post about acquiring MindBranch at Outsell Now, the Outsell, Inc. corporate blog.  According to the post — and this is written by analysts focused on the information industry —

“The deal also reflects the prevailing surge in interest in syndicated research in the research industry. During economic downturns, buyers tend to turn to custom research as they make tactical changes to improve performance. In the current upturn, however, more companies are looking to expand with new products and into new markets — and syndicated offerings are a good starting point to frame new markets and potential areas for expansion.”

Reprinted from Tekrati

Barbara on April 6th, 2005

The Gartner acquisition of META Group marks the first major change in the line-up of the largest IT industry analysts since Forrester Research acquired Giga Information Group in 2003. The consolidation presents Gartner management and META Group employees, clients and competitors with immediate challenges and opportunities. It also re-opens the debate over the long-term role of the industry research houses.

Understanding the Acquisition Context

The Gartner acquisition put an end to several years of rumor-mongering that META Group was on the block. Despite the industry chatter, META Group ended 2004 with a strong international and market-specific presence, brand equity, loyal clientele and healthy revenue growth. For any other dedicated IT research house, acquiring or merging with META Group would have been a strategic move. For Gartner, the acquisition is strictly tactical. A quick look at the market numbers shows why.

According to Outsell, Inc., Gartner commanded 41% of IT research market revenues in 2003, while META Group claimed 6%.

While Outsell won’t release its 2004 analysis until the end of May, Outsell vice president Louise Garnett said that preliminary estimates put Gartner market share up a few points in 2004 and META Group down slightly, while the overall market grew approximately 5%. A best-case scenario for Gartner would be an increase of a few points in 2005 market share as a result of the acquisition.

To achieve even this, Gartner must move quickly to cut redundancies and shore up revenues and assets it wants to keep.

“It is a consolidation. It is not a situation like the Forrester-Giga merger, where the synergies of the two parties boded well for all parties — creating a win-win-win for employees, clients and shareholders,” said Garnett. “In this case, there’s a high overlap in the products.”

Chatter and Confusion

Yet, critics and some competitors have tried to set META client expectations along the Forrester-Giga model.

While SEC regs handicapped Gartner’s and META’s ability to communicate freely with their respective employees and clients, other pundits speculated that as little as 20 percent of META analysts would be offered jobs at Gartner and that META clients would suffer the most.

Confusion in the field organizations — and disenchanted analysts floating their resumes — increased the negative chatter.

Then, a mid-March lay-off executed by META Group fueled the flames. Gartner, rather than META President/COO C.D. Hobbs or Chairman Dale Kutnick, took the additional heat.

Finally free to speak, Gartner CEO Gene Hall announced on April 1st that 100 META Group sales professionals agreed to join Gartner. In addition, he revealed that Gartner retired the META Group brand and cut all but three META events planned for 2005. Sources at Gartner added that Gartner analysts and content will be incorporated into the remaining META events, and that discussions with offshore META representatives are underway.

Hall also alluded to ongoing Gartner management priorities — discussed during Gartner’s recent analyst day — that set the tone for the META consolidation. These priorities include streamlining Gartner’s bloated product lines, re-aligning staffing and skills, ramping up for strategic growth markets, and re-energizing sales of core subscription services offering higher margins.

Sources close to Gartner say that slightly more than half of META Group analysts received offer letters to make the transition. Tekrati estimates that META employed approximately 115 analysts prior to the March lay-off, which apparently targeted analysts as well as consultants. Some, such as META Group senior vice president and principal analyst Nick Gall, have accepted the offer. Most must decide within the next few weeks.

The disposition of the META consultants is less clear.

Against this backdrop, the task of mapping META clients and contracts to Gartner products, services and combined account teams is underway.

In early 2005, Tekrati published a special report on the state of industry analyst blogs and launched the Tekrati online directory of analyst weblogs. Here, we provide links and summaries for the special report, as well as the two sidebars. At the time of launch, we listed 60 blogs in the directory. As of the end of March 2005, we list close to 90.

Special Report: The State of Analyst Weblogs, Part 1
The high tech industry analysts have been slow to adopt blogs. That’s about to change. In this two-part special report, Tekrati takes the pulse of the industry analyst bloggers… At first glance, the slow spread of analyst blogs seems illogical. We expect the analysts to embrace new technologies. We expect the analysts to embrace tools that can increase their visibility and effectiveness as thought leaders. Where the two intersect — new technologies and new communications channels — we expect to find analyst nirvana. So, why the slow uptake?

Special Report: The State of Analyst Weblogs, Part 2
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.

Inside-out: Industry Analysts on their Blogs
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.

Industry Analysts on Blogs and RSS: Research Links
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.

Tekrati’s Directory of Analyst Blogs*
The directory includes company and personal blogs published by industry analysts. Each listing includes analyst author, blog title, blog URL, blog description, and the name of the associated analyst firm linked to its listing in our free directory of industry analyst firms. The OPML includes blog titles, URLs and RSS feed URLs as applicable.

* Effective 11 F ebruary 2011, the Tekrati Analyst Blogs Directory & OPML are no longer available.

Reprinted from Tekrati