Barbara on February 11th, 2011

I’m pleased to introduce my new directory of analysts, here at analystdirectory.barbarafrench.net.
This is both a new home and a new version of the Tekrati Directory of Analyst Firms. Let me tell you about it.

From 2000 to noon today, the analyst firms directory was part of Tekrati and I was its managing editor. Tekrati was the online guide to the IT and telecommunications industry analysts. It included 3 directories & OPML, 2 news services & a dozen RSS feeds, a strategic consulting business, and my tips, insights and commentary on the analyst business. By 2011, Tekrati had profiled some 650 analyst firms, published over 12,000 news posts, and hosted 150K to 250K unique visitors each year.

As of today, the analyst directory is a personal curation project and part of my personal blog.

It remains a freely available information resource for anyone — technology buyers, analyst relations professionals, marketers, journalists, analysts, recruiters — looking for experts on the tech and telecoms markets.

Gradually, this new directory will include organizations that employ analysts and produce industry research, regardless of whether they are “analyst firms”. Many industry organizations and corporations produce research on a par with the analyst houses. I’ll be adding them to this directory going forward, so that it becomes a better resource for influencer relations and influencer marketing programs.

Another change: As the directory is now part of my WordPress blog, comments are turned on! Feel free to post comments to any firm listing. That includes factual corrections and informed opinions. I will delete comments that are unprofessional or otherwise downright snarky.

As always: There’s no need to register to browse. There’s no charge for listings. There’s no option to upgrade listings. And, all listings are at my discretion.

Popularity: 89%

By Gideon Gartner (@gideongartner, www.gideongartner.com) and Barbara French (@bfr3nch, www.barbarafrench.net)

There’s a good deal of speculation on whether the research and advisory business is entering a new phase — one in which small Advisory firms may be thriving at the expense of the large firms. David Hatch summed up this point of view in a comment to “Advisory Industry, a future redesign: the ‘Payment’ Model”:

“Independents are growing in number while research firm-employed analysts are shrinking… This shift is likely going to be the genesis of the new business model…”.

Is there in fact a groundswell favoring the smaller firms? Cutting to the chase, we beg to disagree, but we should be able to find hard evidence as well as qualitative assumptions and begin to see possible implications for the analyst business at large.

As David implies, counting heads is one way to measure sea change. But even when cutting its claimed analyst force down, Gartner generally has had a greater than 50:1 edge in research personnel vs. the any of the small Advisories. What is not clear is whether manpower size alone is more important than some combination of factors such as:

  • Depth of coverage in specific areas
  • Average analyst quality
  • Breadth of deliverables (content types, events, etc.)
  • Frequency, depth and and quality of personal interactions
  • Length of contract “lock-in” ( Gartner has been pushing 2- and 3-year contracts)
  • Reputation
  • Broad spread of client seats (difficult to displace)
  • Clients being change-averse to replacing Advisories of long standing
  • Selling to multiple constituencies rather than to vendors only (which improves an Advisory’s understanding of the overall territory)
  • Cornering the CIOs and other senior positions when selling to large non-vendor enterprises

Quantity does not equal quality. Yet, there is no realistic method to measure the average quality of different Advisory firms in their sphere of activity, and it must be acknowledged that G&F both score relatively high on most of the 10 points above.

What about the David vs. Goliath buzz? Private conversations with appropriate contacts follow the usual recessionary story-lines and seem to favor the small firms:

  • Vendors and their analyst relations (AR) departments are doing new advisory deals with small firms and even with individual analysts laid off by IDC, Forrester and Gartner. Those are generally recognized for unique skills and the stand-alone analysts are expected to continue in this role. Even as vendors allocate budget to smaller firms, they are invariably renewing Forrester and Gartner contracts, as usual.
  • Other analysts who have stayed put during the recession may be heard murmuring that they’re ready to jump to something new, indicating they see opportunity in the wings.
  • Several small firms and solo advisors are compensating for the poor economy by doing an excellent job of public relations, thus garnering disproportionate attention and hopefully monetizing their efforts through social media.

There may be some truth above, but insufficient to prove material penetration of the small firms’ client bases. Other initiatives exist, but none seem to offer evidence on the extent to which relative market shares might evolve during the next few years. Only the two large leaders provide solid financials and shareholder discussions, therefore we know that Gartner and Forrester enjoyed good quarters recently which were however influenced by both their publicly divulged future 5%-7% annual price increases (regardless of the economy) and with no more price negotiating going forward. If such reported pricing inflexibility by G&F can be maintained, that might help the strongest of the small competitors to slowly penetrate the fortresses. Then again, G&F’s CEOs are committed to win and if necessary may reverse field on their pricing strategies and hold their own.

Mathematically, even with accelerating business volumes, we’d bet that it would take small Advisories ages to make significant inroads on G&F. Outsell’s Louise Garnett estimates average growth in the overall information industry at around 10% per year. That means small firms need to grow faster than the industry average for 15 to 30 years to reach the size of an AMR Research or Burton Group! Do today’s young analyst companies have to face that long a runway before reaching what might be called “critical mass”? Or are these firms satisfied — even desirous — in remaining small and independent, without needing to worry about large staffs and investors? Either way, G&F likely do not have much to worry about.

That’s not to say that there will be zero competitive inroads against G&F. Opportunities exist to mount significant competitive inroads. We think the most important could emerge from meaningful innovations, preferably true game-changers requiring specific assets which the established competitors have been unable to muster thus far.

We’ll discuss some noteworthy innovators and our ideas on seizing the competitive opportunity in the Advisory Industry in Part 2.

Editor’s Note: This has been cross-posted at Gideon’s blog, www.gideongartner.com. Comments are welcome at both.

Popularity: 24%

Editor’s Note: Republishing this post I wrote today for Tekrati. It ties into several of my themes here, and to my July webinar with Jeremiah Owyang.

GigaOM today celebrates the first anniversary of its GigaOM Pro research division. GigaOM Pro is one of the more interesting of the recent entrants to high tech industry analyst business. Mike Wolf (@michaelwolf), vice president of research, sat down with Tekrati and spoke about the first year: the formative decisions early on, recent progress and a few immediate changes as the venture begins Year 2. Plus, a Cisco subscriber weighed in on her experience with this innovative industry research service.

First, let’s catch up with what’s new as announced yesterday by GigaOM founder Om Malik. GigaOM Pro officially emerges from beta today. The online retail price rises from $79 to $249 per year, with discounting down to $199. That’s a fraction of the cost of comparative services. Since its launch, the service has published more than 500 research items, including in-depth reports on the app economy, e-books and cloud computing and more than 100 company profiles. Plus, subscribers can contact analysts privately or discuss findings openly through the community features of the site.

Further sweetening the deal, the 6,000 beta subscribers can renew at the $99 beta price. According to Wolf, the 2010 renewal rate looks good. The subscriber base is large enough now to create its own momentum in new sales.

The company will now provide research buyers a corporate purchase option in addition to online sales. The new Corporate Edition makes it simple to buy a quantity of seats at a volume discount. Wolf said that the Corporate Edition builds on the innate appeal to GigaOM readership and is garnering interest from a broad base of small to large companies, market research buyers and intel centers. The first corporate clients to sign include Microsoft, Adobe, Rovi, Juniper Networks, Peer1, RRE Ventures, Norwest Ventures, Hill & Knowlton, LewisPR and Accenture.

The 1-year anniversary coincides with GigaOm’s third annual Structure conference, taking place today and tomorrow in San Francisco. Celebratory perks at the sold-out cloud computing event include:

  • Conference attendees receive a comp copy of the in-depth report, ”Defining Internal Cloud Options: From Appistry to VMware” by Derrick Harris
  • Attending GigaOM Pro subscribers (and those who buy a subscription onsite) can enter a drawing to win an iPad (Wi-Fi)
  • Wolf will lead a rapid-fire panel on where cloud computing is headed over the next 3 to 5 years. The questions were submitted by GigaOM Pro subscribers and Twitter fans. The panelists, selected from the virtual GigaOM Pro Analyst Network, are Derrick Harris with GigaOm PRO, Phil Hendrix with immr, and John du Pre Gauntt with Media Dojo.
  • Members of the GigaOM Pro Analyst Network are in attendance throughout the event.

In its first year, GigaOM Pro has proven that it can stand apart from the majority of industry research firms on price, coverage, quality, speed and customer experience. The affordable price is certainly an important part of the equation. However, that would mean nothing without the rest.

Early on, Malik, Wolf and CEO Paul Walborsky made several decisions that set GigaOM Pro on this unique path. “We knew we had to do something different,” said Wolf. “We didn’t want to do a Gartner or a Heavy Reading. We didn’t want to be consultants. We focused on innovating the research business model with price, community and a virtual network of domain expertise.”

Thus, they sidestepped the trappings of traditional research firms: high overhead, exclusionary pricing, long lead times and a finite pool of analyst experts on any given topic.

The GigaOM media network is able to subsidize its research start-up and provide immediate brand recognition. Further, GigaOM editorial standards and cradle-to-grave project support ensure that research coverage leads or closely tracks hot trending topics while adhering to quality standards. The strength of the brand — combined with the management team and editorial support — has enabled the research start-up to recruit close to 40 high caliber experts to its virtual Analyst Network and produce an impressive body of written and rich media research deliverables on 5 emerging tech domains, from green tech to Google and Apple to cloud:

  • Mobile
  • Infrastructure
  • Connected Consumer
  • NewNet
  • Green IT

GigaOM’s grounding in Web 2.0 also translates into differentiation in the customer experience: subscribers can network with each other and the experts, and discuss every piece of research published, no holds barred.

“Our subscribers like the style of service,” said Wolf. “They like the model — access to any research at any time.” He said the rapid turn-around on hot topics and ability to bring in deep-dive contributing experts from the industry at large make GigaOM Pro a great add-on to advisory services from the established analyst houses. “We’re not displacing other services. We’re complementary to traditional firms.”

Lisa Soto, an analyst relations manager with Cisco based in Irvine, Calif., who’s been using the service for about a year, concurs. She works in one of Cisco’s consumer divisions and said, “The PRO service is how we keep our ear to the ground about what is happening in the industry. We can always count on GigaOM PRO to give us an in-depth evaluation and realistic perspective of the impact many new technologies, key announcements have on the industry. As soon as we hear about a trend or a new movement, we know GigaOM PRO will provide a deep and rich perspective of what is happening and the value to the industry and most importantly the consumer.”

Two things she likes most about the service are its responsiveness to the market, and the social aspects of the research delivery. She finds GigaOM Pro is one of the first research resources to provide information on a new trend. “The timing is unbelievably fast.” She also likes the ability to interact with the experts and content — it’s designed from the ground up with community features of a full-fledged social network — and likes the option of being alerted to new research via “the most current social media tools.”

The GigaOM Pro social experience goes beyond written word. A series of “Bunker” events brings together select subscribers by invitation only at a physical location. The rest of the community shares the event via streaming. Looking ahead, these types of events will likely play a larger part in the corporate edition.

Finally, there is one more aspect to the GigaOM Pro social design: an Analyst Relations network within the Pro community. This professional network is open to any analyst relations practitioner actively working with clients — not just those affiliated with Pro subscribers. Members can network with each other and with the virtual GigaOM Pro Analyst Network. Soto said she has taken advantage of the network to expand her division’s relationships with influencers in adjacent markets.

In a busy year of beta — during one of the worst recessions in tech market history — GigaOM Pro succeeded in putting a fresh face on the high tech research business. Prospects for Year 2 look good. Research buyers, analysts and analyst relations teams should take note.

Popularity: 10%

Barbara on March 22nd, 2010

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. 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 of 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.  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 the 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.  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, Deloitte and  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.

Popularity: 6%

Barbara on January 18th, 2010

How can industry analysts start relationships with analyst relations professionals? It’s a question posed every day by every analyst wanting to open doors at tech provider firms. Usually, the goal is sales, research or broadening a professional network. Often, analysts want to build rapport with AR pro’s for all 3 reasons. Two posts offer useful pointers on how to succeed:

SageCircle takes an industry insider view on the sales and research front with today’s post, How can small analyst firms get the attention of analyst relations? [Analyst Question] (disclosure: Tekrati is listed as a key resource)

Mashable offers sound advice on the professional networking front with today’s post, 7 Lessons for Better Networking with Social Media

Having influence in some circles does not automatically open doors in others. That applies equally whether you work at Gartner or as a sole proprietor.

Popularity: 6%

Barbara on September 8th, 2009

Forrester ResearchWhere is analyst relations going? How is it changing? What are the implications for people and programs? What can you do about it?

I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be leading a discussion on these points early next month with the Forrester Research Analyst Relations Council. It will be a lively exchange with practical and worthy ideas.

Special thanks to Trisha Mirel for inviting me!

And please take note:  Drop me a line if you’re not a member of the Council and you’re interested in attending. To be considered for guest entry, you must work in AR in an inhouse position.

Forrester Leadership Boards - Analyst Relations Council Fall Member Meeting
Marriott Magnificent Mile
Chicago, IL

“Looking Ahead: The Future of AR”
Wednesday, Wednesday, October 7 starting at 2:35PM
Where is AR going? How is AR changing to align with the growing phenomenon of so many smaller firms, independent analysts, and emerging influencers joining large firms in the influence mix? Hear one market expert’s opinion about future risks and opportunities for AR and lend your own to the mix.

See you there!

Popularity: 5%

Barbara on January 26th, 2009

R Ray WangR “Ray” Wang has posted a synopsis of his role as an industry analyst. Ray is with Forrester Research. His clients include tech buyers and tech providers. As a result, his straightforward summary describes the main roles that many analysts play in the tech industry.

I noticed that Ray doesn’t focus on describing his influence. He doesn’t call out his role as an influencer in the enterprise software market. Instead, he describes how he helps clients and how he creates intellectual property for Forrester through his research, analysis, consulting, and reports.

Many important influencers avoid the “influencer” label. It’s not the way they talk about themselves.

They leave such determinations to people like us here at Influencer50, who identify and score influencers on a market by market, client by client basis.

There’s no magic formula for being a great analyst or a great influencer. Ray’s a great role model for both.

Popularity: 3%

Barbara on December 2nd, 2008

Dale Vile, co-founder and managing director of Freeform Dynamics, announced a change in leadership at his company. Jon Collins is stepping up to take over as Managing Director of Freeform Dynamics, while Dale assumes a role as Research Director. Co-founder Helen Vile continues as operations director. I expect this transition will be seamless, and look forward to seeing what Jon does with the reigns of Freeform.

In Silicon Valley, it’s almost expected that founders take a step back as their companies mature. Not so in the industry analyst business. Analyst companies are top-down in terms of management. Changes at the top tend to ripple down and out fairly quickly. Culture, research practices, client relations, trust and influence — all can change very quickly. Examples are all around us. Look at the changes Emily Green has brought to Yankee Group, and Gene Hall brought to Gartner.

Dale and Helen seem to have taken all the right steps in transitioning the top job. Best wishes to Jon, Dale and the rest of the Freeform Dynamics crew.

Popularity: 2%

Barbara on August 29th, 2008

One of the US-based industry analyst firms, Enterprise Strategy Group, just announced it’s expanding into China. Announcements like this raise at least 2 interesting questions:

  • Can ESG — a small specialty tech market research firm — gain enough traction in China to make the investment pay off?
  • What does it mean to analyst relations and influencer marketing programs?

The answers depend on what’s going on under the covers.

If ESG’s intent is to export its influence to China, then I’d be skeptical. Competition on the ground for influence opportunities — and research spending — is already fierce.

On the other hand, there’s an undeniable halo effect of operating in China. Local presence in China could be highly beneficial to ESG here in the US and in Europe. ESG could boost its stature and qualify for new business opportunities among its tech vendor clientele.

What does it mean for analyst relations and influencer marketing? It means looking for shifts in decision-maker ecosystems, as established analyst firms move into China. Monitoring decision-makers in China is crucial work. Sales efforts can go off-track by the unexpected involvement of an analyst through local partners and resellers.

Watch for impacts outside of China as well. Monitor decision-makers elsewhere in the world, to understand whether analysts are leveraging their China operations to open new doors.

Popularity: 2%

Barbara on August 23rd, 2008

I’m one of the tech industry’s most well-known experts on the industry analysts — who they are, what they cover, how they deliver, how they compete. So it makes sense for me to start this blog with a little insight on why I’m joining the broader conversation about influencer marketing, and where I’d like to add to it.

I see that industry analysts play an important part in many technology purchase decisions. Yet, I also see signs of significant change in the way that product and service decisions are being made. These changes affect many influencers, not just industry analysts. So, it makes sense to explore the topic from the viewpoint of all influencers.

Here in the “Sway” blog, I’ll be discussing how vendors can achieve greater impact on customer decisions by transitioning to influencer marketing. That can be as simple as remixing traditional elements of marketing programs. Expect to find a particular emphasis on the implications for analyst relations, press relations, blogger relations, partner relations, and industry relations.

Popularity: 1%