Barbara on February 7th, 2005

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.

QUESTION: Why did you start your blog?

Carl Howe, Blackfriars blog: We started our blog because we were commenting on interesting articles and data verbally with our clients, but had no venue to pass on those insights to our broader Internet audience other than a two-page opinion piece. Further, we wanted a way for visitors to our Web site to provide comments and suggestions to us without necessarily sending us email. A blog felt like the ideal solution.

Rob Enderle, Technology Pundits blog: It is targeted primarily at the media. Due to travel and other commitments, we often had difficulty getting back to them on a timely basis. In addition, they never really could be sure what we were prepared to cover. We felt a blog could address both concerns more effectively, and that, if we did it as a team, it would become a more compelling site.

David Schatsky, JupiterResearch Weblogs: We embraced this new medium to reach a wider audience with our research and analysis and to gain first-hand experience with blogging and its impact on business.

Michael Sampson, Shared Spaces Briefing blog: I wanted a free form method for publishing daily news items, perspective pieces, and links to research. I wanted to encourage engagement with the significant others in the community, such as partners, colleagues and clients.

Amy Wohl, Amy Wohl’s weblog, Wohl Associates: It seemed like a good way to more directly communicate with my world — my newsletter requires a web wizard to publish.


QUESTION: How would you characterize the feedback you’ve received from your blog?

Carl Howe, Blackfriars: We can track visitors to the site, and we know they read the blog, but so far, we haven’t seen many comments at all. Maybe we’re just not controversial enough.

Rob Enderle, for Technology Pundits: Very good, we are, however, asked to contribute to it more often.

Michael Sampson, Shared Spaces: The majority of my posts to date have been a report on daily happenings, and as such that presents minimal opportunities for engagement. The posts that present a position, an opinion or a perspective give much greater latitude for feedback, and I’ve been encouraged by the comments that I’ve received.

David Schatsky, JupiterResearch: We’ve been widely praised for launching the blogs. Many clients and non-clients have found the information we provide valuable, though not everything our analysts post is universally agreed with of course. Traffic to the JupiterResearch analyst Weblog has grown rapidly since we launched it.

Amy Wohl, Wohl Associates: Good — I hear from a lot of people who don’t read by newsletter and I’ve gotten new readers for both — we link each to the other.


QUESTION: What kind of impact, if any, has the blog had on your client, vendor or media relationships?

Carl Howe, Blackfriars: I wouldn’t say that the blog has had any significant impact on our relationships other than increasing our Web site traffic a bit.

Rob Enderle, for Technology Pundits: Clients are somewhat mixed, some would rather this be more exclusive while others see it as more convenient particularly since we started the RSS feed.

Michael Sampson, Shared Spaces: I have visibility and a voice that I didn’t previously have. It’s been great.

David Schatsky, JupiterResearch: We’ve long advocated that our clients adopt a multi-channel strategy to reaching their customers. The blogs have worked for us in this way. Our clients are loyal readers, as are non-client vendors as well. The press had made JupiterResearch’s blogs a regular stop, and frequently quotes our posts.

Amy Wohl, Wohl Associates: I don’t know that it’s had any relationship on my client relationships, except that I’ve had one specifically blog-related engagement. It’s had lots to do with which vendors come calling and what the press calls me about.


QUESTION: What role, if any, will blogs, wikis, RSS and podcasts play in your 2005/2006 model for research deliverables? Longer term?

Carl Howe, Blackfriars: I don’t see any changes in our business deliverables based upon these technologies. My belief is that professionally-edited written material will continue to carry the majority of business value. These alternative media provide more color and flavor to those traditional deliverables, but I don’t see them becoming the primary value that clients pay for.

I think Wikis have great potential for community development of content. Again, they’ll do best when they have strong communities watching over them and controlling their evolution. But I think they will democratize content creation by removing some of the technology barriers that stand in the way today.

Podcasts are a similar democratization of traditional one-to-many radio broadcasting. Again, the challenge will be having a story to tell that people will devote the time to listen to.

I believe the largest challenge associated with these new technologies is the one that the Internet at large presents: how do you find useful information in the midst of a tyranny of too much information? It’s an ongoing battle. Every time we provide easier ways for people to make their voices heard world-wide, we create more noise to sift through to find things we want to hear. And no matter what the technology, each of us has finite time to spend searching for information. Voices that are clear, insightful, and distinctive will always stand out, but we’ll need more and better ways to find those voices amid the ever-growing tsunami of information we face.

Rob Enderle, for Technology Pundits: It will become a bigger portion, a way to drive the dialog rather then just respond to it. Longer term, we will revisit this towards year end and likely make decisions based on how well this has worked for all of us.

Michael Sampson, Shared Spaces: The Shared Spaces blog will continue throughout 2005 and 2006, and will increase in depth, with a higher number of opinion and research viewpoints. I will link to all new Shared Spaces research on the blog, and encourage participation in forthcoming research programmes.

David Schatsky, JupiterResearch: No specific plans to change our paid deliverables.

Amy Wohl, Wohl Associates: I’m thinking of having both a public and perhaps a private (subscription) podcast this year. We’re working on the logistics now. We’ll continue to use blogs… we may try some private ones (for specific clients).

The Complete Special Report:

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Barbara on February 7th, 2005

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.

Closing the Credibility Gap
Analysts taking up blogs expose themselves to a vocal and often skeptical audience. Online audiences routinely discuss, debate and refute industry analyst research – and in a few cases, specific industry analysts.

Many bloggers are well-established respected opinion leaders within their virtual communities. A good example is Slashdot, the pioneer of blogging and reader-driven news and commentary. Slashdot delivers 86 million page views per month to 4.3 million unique visitors(1).

Rob Malda, founder and director of Slashdot, says that Slashdot posts often refute analyst research. “There are a lot of issues here, but I think my readers are naturally skeptical of analysts,” said Malda via email. He thinks the general perception among Slashdot readers is that analysts can be paid to produce research that supports any conclusion. It’s seen as a matter of money – which vendors have it to spend, which analyst firms go for it, which individual analysts tow the line and deliver the goods.

Slashdot readers are not unique in their skepticism. For example, Ed Brill, worldwide sales leader for the IBM Lotus Notes/Domino product line, made a post to his personal blog(2) last October seeking reactions to an IBM-funded report by Robert Frances Group. Reader comments ranged from a detailed critique of shortcomings, to general criticisms of vendor-sponsored research, to a Microsoft employee challenging the premise of the report.

Forrester came under mild criticism when Charlene Li, principal analyst, initiated coverage of blogs and started her own blog. The skepticism subsided quickly as it became clear that Li and Forrester were using the blog to elevate the voice of the audience within their research – an analyst version of participative journalism. Li uses it not only as a way to communicate, track and interact with audiences, but also to supplement her research.

Li poses questions to her blog audience. Responses often end up in Forrester’s syndicated research, as well as in the blog itself. “My audience also asks really, really good questions — sometimes through comments, sometimes in private email — which helps sharpen my thinking,” said Li.

Amy Wohl used a similar technique while developing a new quantitative model for measuring open source operating system deployment. She invited open source community ideas and critiques.

JupiterResearch tackled credibility by using a more traditional approach: content selection. They take disagreements in stride, whether among themselves or through reader emails and comments at other blogs.

“Many clients and non-clients have found the information we provide valuable, though not everything our analysts post is universally agreed with of course,” said David Schatsky, senior vice president of research at JupiterResearch.

Obeying the Law of Proximity
Blogs are realtime. The best blogs reflect a strong sense of what’s relevant today, based on what’s happening now. Popular industry analyst bloggers translate their thinking into nuggets that enrich the daily event horizon of news and online conversation.

Excerpts of well-researched reports — while popular with many product and IT managers — rarely succeed as compelling blog fodder. As Malda observes, from a Slashdot point of view, “A lot of analyst reports, when you boil it down, don’t say anything all that interesting. Or, they say it months or years after it’s conventional wisdom.”

Michael Sampson, director of research and consulting at independent Share Spaces in New Zealand, has found that reporting on daily happenings presents minimal opportunity for reader engagement. Instead, he finds that his posts offering a timely position, perspective or opinion offer much greater latitude for feedback. His readers have asked for more.

Several analysts identify the media as a primary component of their blog audience. Shore Communications’ John Blossom strives to keep his blog current with near-realtime insights and opinions. This works particularly well for deadline-driven press, who increasingly leverage his blog for edge-leading insights and interview questions.

Rob Enderle, Tim Bajarin and Richard Doherty all blog primarily for media audiences. Co-locating their blogs at their TechnologyPundits site serves two purposes: providing quotable commentary and positions on a near-realtime basis, and enabling the media to discern which specific topics they are prepared to comment on at any particular point in time. Enderle reports very positive feedback from the media. On the other hand, he said clients are somewhat mixed. Some would prefer more exclusive access to the analysts’ commentary.

Regardless of intended audience, analysts will undergo ever greater pressure to maintain blog currency and relevance. Blackfriars Communications, a research and consulting group that helps businesses market and communicate more effectively, describes the current environment of information overload as “the tyranny of too much”. Carl Howe, a principal at Blackfriars, believes that RSS-enabled readers like Safari will engage more people in RSS-enabled content and then will push blogs onto a “Darwinian path”. Well-edited, frequently updated blogs will thrive; most of the rest will die off. Why?

According to Howe, “As the novelty wears off, most viewers will find they just don’t have time to wade through poorly written and stale content. There used to be an old story that eCommerce was a dangerous way to sell because shoppers would click away to a competitor at the first problem or slow response. The same will be true for blogs: once they are mainstream vehicles, only the best will survive.”

Passion
Perhaps the greatest challenge of the three is finding ways to convey a passion for technology. Malda believes that Slashdot attracts readers because it’s bottom-up: people who read and comment there are into technology for the love of it. They feel the passion, the joy of technology. These are the people most likely to read and comment among themselves. These are the people who want their words to matter.

Time will tell which of the industry analyst blogs offer conversation that matters.

Blogs in Balance
The number of analyst blogs is likely to double over the next year, based on comments from the analysts Tekrati tracks. Analyst blogs will also diversify — David Scott Lewis added podcasting to his blogs last week.

Will blogs have a substantive impact on high tech industry analyst services? Carl Howe, in speaking for himself, summed up the sentiments of many analysts:

“I think we have to recognize that technology can only play a part in providing insight. The highest value exchanges of information will always be in person, whether they be speeches, conversations, or shared dinners.

“I believe Internet technology helps us fill in the gaps between in-person interactions, and continue the conversations they start when we are separated in time and space. But at the end of the day, nothing is going to displace the need to shake someone’s hand, sit across from them at a table, and talk to them in person.”

The Complete Special Report:

Follow the link below for Tekrati’s directory of analyst blogs*.

Editor’s notes:
1. Slashdot media kit, Feb 2005.
2. Disclaimer for www.edbrill.com: “In this blog, my opinions are my own and do not represent those of my employer.” For Ed Brill’s comments as an official IBM spokesperson, see the InsideLotus weblog.

* Effective 11 February 2011, the Tekrati Analyst Blogs Directory and OPML are no longer available.

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Barbara on January 27th, 2005

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. The report supplements the launch of our newest online resource, a directory of industry analyst blogs.

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?

It’s not a Blog, It’s an Adventure
Blogs present a fundamental cultural change for the analyst business. Analyst business processes assume analysts have control of interactions with clients and research subjects. These processes also ensure that findings and opinions are subjected to scrutiny and polish before public release. Blogs fly in the face of those processes.

“The nature of an edge-based communications medium is a big change of mindset,” said Stowe Boyd, president, COO, head of research, and a resident blogger at Corante. Earlier in his career, he worked at Giga Information Group (now Forrester Research) and Cutter Consortium.

Boyd noted that while some analysts are jumping into blogging, many more are struggling with the implications of blogs as a participatory and dialogue-based medium. “This is another wave of upset. It means they need to rethink parts of how they do what they do — how they deliver value, how they define their value chain.”

James Governor of RedMonk agrees that analyst business models are broken. He and partner Stephen O’Grady have begun using their blogs to develop a new business strategy for their firm. They started the effort, which they’ve dubbed an “open source analysis” strategy, thinking only of their own firm. They are encouraging candid, constructive dialogue. In return, some bloggers are encouraging them to create a precedent that could begin transforming the industry analyst community at large.

Blog challenges do not stop there. Amy Wohl, one of the first analysts to publish a blog, points to an aspect of blogging that requires special attention: balancing blog posts with client and industry expectations.

“I think you have to decide that public people are public people and everything you do is in the public eye. That means you can’t be one thing on a blog and something else when you’re in front of a client,” said Wohl in an email interview. “It’s easy to forget that and get carried away with what a free-lance press writer might do with his blog — an analyst can’t do that.”

No Pain, All Gain
Charlene Li at Forrester Research is one who is achieving the balance. “My blog is more informal, almost like a conversation, and hence, has what I call a very personal ‘voice’ as opposed to the Forrester voice in our syndicated research,” said Li. “I think it’s more reminiscent of a conversation I might have with a client or journalist.”

Many analysts see neither challenge nor conflict in incorporating blogs into their businesses. JupiterResearch dove into blogs in 2003 and never looked back. Their blogs developed a loyal and growing community, transcended analyst blogger departures and absorbed changes in research agendas.

Rob Enderle embraces the change that blogging brings to his analyst business: “It is forcing a process where generic research is provided more freely but where focused recommendations are provided more frequently. It is changing the very nature of what I do, and honestly, I’m getting a big kick out of it.”

Forrester’s Li sees blogs and syndicated research co-existing in harmony. “Our syndicated research is thoroughly researched, analyzed, and edited through several drafts. My blog, on the other hand, represents a very personal, individual endeavor and is usually not reviewed by any editor,” said Li. “This is not to say that my blog posts are not deliberate or carefully researched — it simply serves a different purpose from our syndicated research.”

Likewise, independent analyst David Isen said his newsletter and weblog have always attracted two separate but overlapping groups. “Blog readers are more likely to read the e-letter than vice versa,” said Isen via email. Going forward, he can’t see living without blogs, wikis, RSS and similar venues.

Pilgrim’s Progress
Today, approximately 10 percent of the 350 analyst firms Tekrati tracks have well-established blogs:

  • Public blogs rule — for now. Exceptions include a Shore Communications subscription blog and Gartner blogs restricted to their EXP members. Both firms offer public blogs as well.
  • Individual analyst blogs are the norm, although several firms are experimenting with group blogs, where multiple analysts post. Redmonk shifted from shared to separate blogs, as its principals wanted to express and debate differing perspectives and interests more fully.
  • JupiterResearch publishes the most blogs — almost 20, updated constantly — and has integrated them with its individual and collective analyst value. Of the firm’s 70+ staff, 16 blog.
  • Gartner takes the most eclectic approach. With its public blogs, it tightly controls topics and “archives” weblogs. Perhaps this is a moot point; none of Gartner’s 500 analysts have made a post to the “active” public blogs since mid-2004. (Did we miss something?)
  • Analysts are increasingly appearing as regular blog contributors at third party sites. Examples include David Scott Lewis at AlwaysOn, Joe McKendrick at WebServices.org and ZDNet, John Yunker at Corante, and Bill Zoellick at The Gilbane Report. Rob Enderle, Tim Bajarin and Richard Doherty opted for the best of both worlds: they co-locate their individual blogs at their own third party site, Technology Pundits. Meanwhile, Ralph Lombreglia contributes to M2M Blog, a thought leadership blog published by nPhase CEO and founder Steve Pazol.
  • On the down side, several analyst blogs have poorly formed code, bar reader posts, or lack trackback. Some do not attribute posts to specific analysts.
  • The up side is significant. Very few analyst blogs are blatant marketing vehicles. Initial adopters generally report that weblogs, wikis and forums are invigorating their practices by offering more IT user perspectives, greater industry visibility, and more opportunities to engage with users and vendors.

Editor’s Note
Next week, analysts talk about their blogs in Part 2. Meanwhile, sample the blogs firsthand via the Tekrati directory of analyst blogs* at the link below.

The Complete Special Report:

* Effective 11 February 2011, the Tekrati Directory of Analyst Blogs and OPML are no longer available.

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Advisory Councils are one of the most effective venues for building strategic relationships between leading industry analysts and vendor executives. According to Rob Enderle, one factor that determines the effectiveness of analyst advisory councils is the degree of goal orientation and planning. Councils that are effective tend to have clear, concise goals that are collaboratively set with both the host company and the analysts.

The more effective councils also meet regularly.

By contrast, less effective councils usually lack goals or overlook the analyst expectation to participate in goal-setting as well as ongoing, stable dialogues and processes.

“In other words, beating analysts to death with foils on a whim seldom works,” says Mr. Enderle, who participates in several advisory councils for vendors such as AMD, Clear Cube, Dell Computer, HP, IBM and Toshiba. In his experience, the high tech vendor executives who achieve the most value from their industry analyst advisory councils are those who involve analysts upfront in goal setting and planning.

Mr. Enderle offered numerous candid insights on building executive advisory councils and their impacts on industry analyst influence and objectivity during a live interview with Sam Whitmore Media Survey and Tekrati on November 4, 2004.

Enderle Group white paper: Download the related Enderle Group white paper (PDF): Enderle Group Advisory Council Report, 2004-11-04

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Tekrati(TM) Industry Analyst Reporter and Webcom Communications Corporation announced today that three leading industry analysts will address how Open Source software, outsourcing, licensing, alliances and other software industry mega trends will transform software business strategies and competition over the next year. The interactive keynote panel will be held at the Software Business 2004 Conference (www.softwarebusinessonline.com), which runs Sept. 22-23 at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport hotel. The panel discussion takes place on Thursday, Sept. 23 at 8:00 a.m.
Attendees at the “Coffee with the Analysts Roundtable: Industry Trends Re-defining the Software Business” will hear how the software industry has entered a time of profound transformation. Software executives who understand which trends to watch — and how to adapt to them — will make their companies stronger. The panel of industry analysts will present incisive industry insights and business implications from four different areas of expertise: Open Source software, outsourcing, alliances, business and licensing models.

“Big changes are coming in the software industry,” said Barbara French, president and founder of Tekrati Industry Analyst Reporter, and moderator of the panel. “We’re approaching the time when software industry trends in Open Source, outsourcing, alliances and licensing will converge and redefine successful software business strategies. This is the perfect time for software vendors to interact with these analysts. Attendees will come away with valuable insights that will be extremely important for them as they develop their strategic business plans for 2005.”

The panelists are:

Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst, Enderle Group. Enderle provides regional and global companies with guidance in how to better target customer needs, create new business opportunities, anticipate technology changes, select vendors and products, and practice zero dollar marketing. He has been ranked #1 since 1995 in press coverage world wide and been covered by all the major news organizations. Currently he writes for a wide variety of publications and also does a weekly radio spot for Wall Street Journal radio on consumer technology.

Marilyn Carr, vice president of the Global Software Partnering and Alliances Research Group at IDC. Carr has overall responsibility for strategic alliance, software channels and influence research. Her primary areas of research coverage are ISV relationships and partner economics. Current focuses include the allocation of resources within the partner program portfolio and the optimal levels of investment, and the impact of ISV programs and initiatives on partner performance and contribution. She recently participated in two major ROI studies for IDC on application service providers and business analytics applications.

Mark Smith, CEO & senior vice president of research, Ventana Research. Smith is responsible for the overall direction of Ventana Research and drives the global Performance Management research agenda covering both business and technology areas. Smith defined the blueprint for Performance Management, linking business and technology. He is an expert in Business Intelligence and Business Process Management and has redefined how to leverage human capital for Workforce Performance Management.

One-on-one meetings

Industry Analyst Reporter also will assist in scheduling private, one-on-one briefings on Thursday with the panelists as well as with Brian Turchin, president, Cape Horn Strategies and Miko Matsumura, industry analyst, The Middleware Company. Analysts will be available throughout the day. Registered attendees can request the briefings to drill down on the analysts’ presentations or explore related topics. Briefing requests will be accepted on a first-come basis. Registered attendees can request a 15-minute briefing onsite at the conference during the day, or request a meeting in advance.

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Barbara on August 16th, 2004

Rob Enderle assesses PR agency and vendor concerns over industry analyst integrity and ethics in an insightful column published by TechNewsWorld. In the column, Mr. Enderle offers a well-rounded perspective on the evolution of the industry analyst practices in question, and describes the typical industry analyst perspective on potential conflicts of interest. The column expands on his comments reported in August in Sam Whitmore’s Media Survey.

Source: Enderle Group and TechNewsWorld

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