Friday, December 23, 2005

Serendipp on Forrester's ARM

After the recent skirmish about what an analyst does, Serendipp has ventured back with a post called Forrester’s ARM Council - a good idea, or is it? from Dominic.

A bit late (as he admits) but interesting nonetheless.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

What can you tell from an analyst's prediction?

Louis Columbus shares some interesting thinking on analysts' predictions for 2006 and the insights that can be gained about them based on what they say.

Thanks to Duncan for posting Louis' comments.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

New blog is scathing about role of analysts and AR - or is it?

So, there's a new analyst relations blog out there. And Ahmed Siddiqui is already causing a stir.

I was all ready to jump in and disagree with Ahmed but he's now posted up some comments which clarify what his original post really meant.

When he said most analysts only do market sizing and case studies, apparently what he meant was analysts collect quantitative and qualitative data - he wasn't refering to what analysts then use this data for...

Sunday, December 11, 2005

deal architect : The Changing Influence Game

Vinne Mirchandani has an interesting post on his blog, deal architect about the changing nature of influence in the IT market. It's worth reading.

Forrester: Biggest moans about vendors

At Forrester's recent European AR and Marketing Council workshop, Martha Bennett ran through the analyst team's' top peeves about vendors (and the PR agencies they use). It makes for fascinating reading.

1. Showing complimentry quotes, market projections or assessments from competing analyst firms

2. Hounding analysts with invitations - and then not being available when the analyst trys to make contact

3. Claiming to be the first vendor to do something, based on obscure statistics

4. Trying to rewrite analyst opinions or recommendations (correcting factual errors is fine, and completely encouraged)

5. Sending a 60 slide deck for a 30 minute briefing and / or spending the first 20 minutes of the briefing on "positioning" - in particular when asked to skip this or speed it up

6. Sending a constant stream of press releases about insignificant developments

7. Assuming all analysts live in Cambridge, Mass.

An eighth peeves came up in conversation - not using Forrester's web-based vendor briefing process.

Every week, on average, 10 - 60 briefing requests are made direct to each Forrester analyst. For most, this is too many to respond to. Using the vendor briefing process ensures a response (even if it's negative). It also helps ensure that all appropriate analysts know about the briefing.

Some vendor briefing processes deservedly have a bad reputation. Forrester's isn't one of those. It's very simple to use and really does work.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Forrester's European ARM Council

I was at Forrester's European ARM Council meeting last Friday. It was on Effective European Analyst Relations. It was a packed morning.

Duncan
spoke on "the four rules for global AR" while Martha Bennett, vice-president and research director for Forrester's European financial services group, presented on "analyst peeves about vendors" and "vendor peeves about analysts" as well as providing Forrester's "top tips for briefings."

We also had Peter O'Neill, a principal consulting analyst, who spoke about "Challenges in the IT industry in Europe" before concluding with a pitch on why membership of the ARM Council is a good idea.

There were plenty of European AR folk there from companies such as Adobe, BT, Capgemini, Cisco, CSC, Dell, Deloitte, EDS. HP, IBM, RIM, Unisys and Vodafone. Among them was a smattering of PR agencies.

I'm still mulling over my views and will be posting again on this subject. My first impression? The networking opportunities are great but the subscription cost is steep.

I'm looking forward to seeing what the folks over at Armadgeddon, Analyst Equity and Serendipp have to say.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Clive Longbottom starts blog

Clive Longbottom of Quocirca has started a blog. It can be found on IT Analysis at the moment.

(I flagged this in my previous post - but it was a long one and given Clive's profile in the UK, I think this is worth highlighting).

New research portal opens up with IT Analysis re-launch

IT Analysis was re-launched last week by its owners (who also own Bloor Research).

Its been completely re-vamped and re-positioned as an independent portal intended to provide a single source of IT research and analysis for technology purchasers.

Visit the IT Analysis site and - the plan goes - you will find a wide range of research reports which hopefully will meet your needs. There will be no need to go anywhere else - and it will be far easier to find relevant information than using Google.

From what Justin Speake says, it’s clear that this launch is about putting a stake in the ground. Now the site's live, the focus is on development. The intention during the next six to 12 months is to add additional material and broaden the number of content providers. There's also a lot more that IT Analysis is planning in order to develop a community around the site which, if it works, will help drive usage and ensure user-loyalty.

Analyst firms signed up so far are Bloor Research, Evalubase, Hewson Group, Hurwitz, IE4C, Luenendonk, Macehiter Ward Dutton, Metra Martech, Quocirca, Sageza and TechConsult. In addition, there's also content there from market research firms and other partners (eg a law firm).

It's a great idea and I hope it can be made to work. Making it easier for technology buyers to find high-quality, independent analysis and research has to help them. Especially when much of it's free.

Vendors also win because it's another channel through which they can get their sponsored research out to buyers.

And AR people like me win because it helps us demonstrate more easily that the smaller analysts have an influence on the end-user.

But does it work? Well, yes and no. I am working on something at the moment and was struggling to find relevant information using Google (I'm sure it was there but buried away beneath a thousand other results). On IT Analysis, I immediately found one article that was completely relevant and very helpful. I did other searches and the quality of the results varied considerably. Some were good, some okay, others poor.

I think the biggest problem today is that there's still not enough content there (although it's getting better every day - and getting more research on the site is a core focus of the company over the coming months). What's more, too much of the content is dated. Rather than including research going back to 1999, why not draw a line and say anything more than two years old is dropped (or only available if you chose to do an 'archived search', similar to Gartner's approach)?

It would also be nice to see more analyst firms present, something else which IT Analysis will be working on over the next year. Getting one of the big companies (Ovum perhaps?) to sign-up would give the site the international brand name it's lacking at the moment.

And though the IT Analysis management team seem to genuinely realise how important it is to be analyst-firm agnostic (they go to great lengths to stress the site's independence), it does still appear dominated by Bloor content. Again, this is something that should be resolved as more content is posted and more analyst firms sign-up. (Pulling in Clive Longbottom of Quocirca to write a blog is a real coup though – all credit to the team).

Will it succeed? As I said earlier, I hope so. I'd say the key is critical mass. If there's not enough up-to-date content present, then people won't use the site.

That content also has to be relevant. One of the elements that I initially found more concerning was IT Analysis' intention to let press releases be posted. However I’ve been re-assured that there will be a separate search option for press releases so they don’t affect the core research material.

(The reason for my concern? Unfortunately there are still too many “low quality” PR agencies out there that are unlikely to respect the site's intentions and will simply perceive it as another way of claiming coverage for their clients – regardless of the relevance of their press release. Having a huge number of press releases on the site could drown out the real content - and then the value would disappear).

Duncan has also posted on this and makes some interesting observations.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Forrester expands European mobile team

Forrester Research is extending its European mobile team with the hire of Jenny Lau.

Jenny will be based in London, advising mobile operators on strategic issues
like mobile commerce, 3G mobile networks and services, and enterprise
mobility. She will also be providing strategic advice to mobile telecom vendors and firms looking to launch mobile services.

Friday, December 02, 2005

IT publisher and analyst firm link up to create research business

Situation Publishing, the firm behind IT news site The Register, is joining forces with Freeform Dynamics, the company recently launched by Dale Vile (previously with Quocirca).

The two organisations are readying a joint primary research business that will launch early next year.

This move allows Situation Publishing to offer a new range of research-related services to IT vendors looking to exploit its customer base (The Register has more than 3.3 million unique readers per month).

According to Dale, the joint venture will provide Freeform Dynamics with the capability to conduct global telephone based research as well as giving it access to "a highly interactive online pool of IT pros for electronic research" - something which will be crucial given the company's stated approach to industry analysis is to "rely heavily on input from IT and business professionals."

It’s an interesting move but is Dale now effectively becoming a pseudo-analyst whose job is to provide stories for The Register? Does it mean the research is going to be slanted to provide obvious media hooks?

He says no. In fact, these were some of the reasons for establishing a JV rather than having Situation Publishing invest direct in Freeform Dynamics.

“News publishing and industry analysis are two totally different types of business. They have very different types of relationships with clients and the vendor community as a whole. Freeform Dynamics itself must therefore remain independent as an industry analyst firm to be effective. The JV approach gives both parties the ability to jointly invest in the common element, primary research execution, without confusing their respective core business activities.”

Dale also sees the JV approach providing other benefits. “Keeping it separate from Freeform Dynamics means we can potentially provide a service to other industry analyst firms who might benefit from primary research input into their activities but do not have the operational infrastructure to execute themselves."

So, does it make sense? Well, another analyst firm with the ability to conduct primary research can only be good for the industry. It means more choice for vendors, providing them with another alternative to the global analyst firms.

Given Freeform Dynamic's belief in open source research, we also hope that this move means even more trustworthy and independent research is going to be available free of charge to techonology buyers and users.

More on new analyst firm Freeform Dynamics

I had lunch with Dale Vile earlier in the week to discuss the launch of his new analyst company, Freeform Dynamics.

Described as "a UK-based industry analyst and research organisation that investigates and reports on the business impact of developments in the IT and communications (ITC) markets across Europe and the USA", Dale and his wife Helen "want to provide objective input for those involved in ITC procurement and implementation based on the most credible source possible - the opinions and experiences of their peers."

They have identified three key trends which they believe "are conducive to more informed and objective technology related decision-making." These are:

a) The increasing amount of quality information available free of charge (especially as more analyst firms adopt an open source approach). It's now easier than ever to find "solid, objective and authoritative material at no cost."

b) The growing number of interactive forums on the web (eg blogs, news sites surveying their readership, special interest groups creating discussion forums) so "the web is therefore now as much about learning from your peers as it is about accessing material from suppliers, experts and commentators."

c) Customers wising up to the imposed industy view, recognising "that new categories and their associated vocabulary often map onto the main selling agendas of a few large players rather than the genuine needs and priorities of mainstream businesses."

These trends have been taken into account when designing the business, even through to the name. "Freeform Dynamics reflects our unconstrained freeform approach to analysing industry dynamics. We refer to widely accepted categorisation and vocabulary where it enhances communication, but put the emphasis on delivering jargon free output using the business of practical need as the point of reference rather than the industry agenda."

And Freeform will be making its own research available free of charge via its website. "We are fully embracing this trend and would encourage vendors to fund or sponsor independent research that may then be put into the public domain for the benefit of all."

And it's mostly through primary research (rather than consulting) that Dale sees the company making its money. As part of this, Freeform Dynamics has created a joint venture with Situation Publishing, the publishing house behind The Register. I'll post on that separately.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Updated: Quocirca loses another analyst

This time it's Jon Collins. He's leaving the analyst world completely
(at least for a few months) to go and work on a project in the music
world. It's all "hush hush" at the moment but I'm sure if you keep an
eye on his blog, Jon will be writing about it as soon as he can go public.

Importantly for Quocirca directors Clive Longbottom and Bob Tarzey,
Jon's exit is completely unrelated to the recent departure of co-founder Dale Vile. Of course it now means Quocirca has another slot to fill and as we hear business is good, I'm sure that's something they'll be looking to do sooner rather than later.

Update (January 26 2006):
Jon's been helping Mike Oldfield write his autobiography.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Ovum to appoint head of "industry intelligence"

Phil Codling has been explaining to me some changes over at Ovum.

The firm has been moving towards a 'practice structure' in which services and expertise are organised into more logical groupings. One of these is "Industry Intelligence", which combines Phil's Holway service with Ovum Euroview, run by Douglas Hayward.

Ovum is now hiring for a Practice Leader-IT Services. This person will fulfil the (currently vacant) role of head of the Industry Intelligence practice "as well as potentially taking a more 'holistic' view of what Ovum does across Software and IT Services."

When asked if Ovum was planning to launch a new pan-European IT Services practice, Phil was clear that there's no plan for the new hire to run a specific new service.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Cathren Whelton leaves Ovum

Cathren Whelton has left Ovum in the past couple of weeks.

Officially, the PR department is now going to be responsible for working with vendors and agencies to set-up analyst briefings.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Yankee Group gets sold again

Yankee Group has been sold yet again.

Private equity firm Alta Communications has acquired it from Decision Matrix Group, another private equity company.

Outsell has a fairly upbeat assessment of the purchase.

Will it have an impact over here? I'm sure Duncan and Armadgeddon will have some interesting views on that. I'm looking forward to reading them.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Ovum update - recent developments

Duncan Chapple's got a nice overview post on recent developments at Ovum.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Quocirca analyst starts new firm

Dale Vile, who left Quocirca earlier this year, is to launch his new company before the end of the year.

Freeform Dynamics is being positioned as "a new and different research and analysis organisation."

More to follow in a few weeks...

Arrival at Forrester

Forrester has bolstered its EMEA IT services team with the arrival of Euan Davis.

Previously with Yankee Group, Euan is joining Andrew Parker's team and will be looking after BPO.

Thanks to Kim Horner for the tip.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Analyst: I'll grant you three wishes...

Picture the scene.

A world-class analyst from a highly renowned international firm decides they love your company so much that they are going to grant you one free wish (the analyst being slightly less generous than the proverbial genie).

What do you pick?

1) Should they get on the phone and give a glowing recommendation to the hot prospect that sales are desperately trying to close?

2) Perhaps it would be a day with your sales and marketing team, where the analyst shares their knowledge on current market developments and provides an insight into the hot technology and business buttons?

3) Or maybe it will be to have the analyst talk to a journalist at the FT and give them a favourable quote for the big IT feature which is coming up.

As I was thinking about this, I was instinctively thinking that the choice was between 1) and 2). Analysts deliver real commercial benefit not PR fluff. And then I thought some more.

It'll completely depend on where your business is. Might sales be able to close that prospect anyway? Are the sales and marketing team already industry gurus? If so, are you wasting the opportunity? How much use could you get out of that FT story?

We should never forget that there is so much more to AR than getting good quotes for the press (something many PR companies seem never to have learnt or have simply forgotten).

But we should also remember that perhaps occasionally providing the quote could be the best thing we ask the analyst to do.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

New PR blog

I keep finding that there's a lot of things I want to say and explore more generally about PR, marketing and communication in the IT market.

I do want this blog to stay focused on industry analysts and analyst relations so I have set-up another blog called PR Insights. Please feel free to check it out if you have a broader interest in IT PR.

IDC eXchange

IDC has launched a new blog, IDC eXchange, written by SVP - Research Frank Gens.

It is described as providing "research and insights about the present and future of IT in the world."

Thanks to Andy Lark for picking it up.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Correction: Ashim Pal

So Ashim Pal has left the analyst community and joined Microsoft. But it was over a year ago. Whoops. Better fact checking in the future, I promise. Thanks to Andy Bitterer for pointing out my mistake.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Insight sets up press release RSS feed

Our sister company Insight Marketing has just started putting out its press releases on RSS. I said I'd give them a plug.

Analysts continue to move in-house

Dario Betti has left Ovum to join T-Mobile.

And word on the street is that T-Mobile's not the only company currently looking to lure analysts in-house.

Describing analyst relations

Ever struggled to describe what analyst relations is all about? Here's a wonderful summary from John Mihalec, head of IBM analyst relations.

"...in the computer business there are all these research firms who write about the industry and provide advice to customers about what to buy, at the same time they also provide advice to the computer vendors about how to sell... it's our job in Analyst Relations to make sure these research firms understand IBM's products and strategies, and become convinced that IBM is doing the right things for customers. It's also our job to listen to what the analysts are saying about us, and to make sure IBM harnesses the wisdom in those assessments."

Thanks to John Simonds, Delusions of Adequacy.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Ovum and EVUA form joint venture

An interesting announcement - Ovum and EVUA form joint venture.

Given it also has a JV with the GSM Association - Wireless Intelligence - it looks like Ovum's started to develop a specialism in this field.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

PR agencies still failing the analysts

I was recently thinking about how much the AR market in Europe had matured over the past few years. PR agencies were seeing the light and recognising the importance of analysts. A crucial audience to target, worthy of dedicated communication and serious effort.

Then I read Andy's post and it makes me think, "Ummmm. Perhaps not."

An analyst's life is never dull...

You see, this is what I love about the Quocirca guys - life with them is always fun and never dull. And I learn something new (sometimes helpful, usually interesting) whenever we chat.

From Jon Collins ...

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Friday, September 23, 2005

James Governor on the future of the analyst market

Check out James Governor's latest blog

How Gartner competes with IBM. we all do?

It throws an interesting light on how the analyst market could look in the future.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Justifying an Analyst Relations budget

What is the value of communicating with analysts?

The answer changes depending on whom you ask. The success of analyst relations is often seen as intangible. There is no guarantee of coverage in the media or in research reports. Trying to track commercial leads is difficult.

One thing is certain though. If you don't dedicate resources to analyst relations, your competitors will gain a greater share of voice in the technology sector.

Dedicating more resources to AR is no guarantee of good relationships. You need the right tactics for the right audience. The companies that gain the most from AR are not necessarily the ones that spend the most - they just know how to do it properly.

We have just completed the latest paper in our "Analyst Insight" series. Written by Amjad Khan, it explains how the success of an analyst relations programme can be measured in a number of ways using perception audits, research tracking and the use of statistical criteria.

For a copy of the article, please drop me an email at analyst.insight AT gmail DOT com

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Off Topic: Free wine promotion

I feel priviledged to have taken part in Hugh (Gaping Void) Macleod's recent blog promotion for Stormhoek (http://www.stormhoek.com/)

Although Hugh made it very clear that there no obligation to write anything, I feel kind of obliged anyway. Perhaps that was part of the plan ;-)

So would I buy it again? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Would I ever have tried it without the promotion? Definitely not.

Nice marketing Hugh. And thanks for the wine. It went down very well!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Do people still read white papers?

Do people still read white papers? That was a question someone posed to me recently.

They argued that senior decision-makers in end-user organisations don't have time to read whitepapers. Meanwhile IT managers and tech specialists don't read them because they already have a reasonably good grip on what's going on in their technology space.

I'm not sure I entirely agree. Absolutely, any IT vendor who believes traditional whitepapers are read by senior decision-makers in end-user companies is surely dreaming.

But I know plenty of people in IT departments who will gobble up information from a whitepaper if it's on a subject they're interested in but don't know a lot about.

(What do I mean by traditional whitepapers? Well, that's probably a topic for another post - not least because I have to go out now. Hope everyone in the UK is having a great bank holiday!)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Forecasting: An Insider Explains


Rahme, one of the team here, has just written an article on forecasting.  She used to be an analyst with InfoTrends / CAP Ventures and forecasting was her job.  

This piece gives some interesting insights into the processes and challenges involved so I wanted to share it with you.  

If you'd like a PDF version, please let me know – analyst.insight AT gmail DOT com

============================================================

Forecasting - An Insider Explains

The forecast
Producing market forecasts is a key part of the job for many industry analysts.  They use their specialist market knowledge to predict growth or decline in segments of the market they track.

Regardless of the scepticism that is sometimes heard in the IT industry over the accuracy and value of analyst forecasting, in many cases these statistics are the only market information that a company has on which to base its product development and sales forecasts.

Without the availability of good data, the analyst will find it more difficult (perhaps impossible) to produce an accurate forecast.  An inaccurate forecast doesn’t benefit anyone as companies make investment decisions on a misunderstanding of the market they operate in.

Types of forecast
The length of a forecast period can vary depending on the technology being tracked but is generally five years.

The most common type of forecast is on sales or shipments.  This type of forecast will look at how many products and services in each segment of the market have been sold historically and, looking forward, estimates how many are estimated to be sold over a specific period.

For example, many printer manufacturers are interested in understanding how the entire printer market is developing.  This means that analysts covering the printer industry need to provide forecasts for both inkjet and toner technology printers.  They segment these technologies by the printing speed of the products and the environment in which they are used.  In addition, this is segmented by the printers’ ability to print colour and black-and-white.  And you must not forget the growing trend for multi-function devices (printers including copier technology and vice-versa).  All of a sudden, providing forecasts for the printer industry seems more complicated than it did.  (It’s not just the printer market.  Analysts tracking other products or services will face similar challenges).

Things aren’t easy for the printer manufacturer either though.  There are a variety of analyst firms that track the market and each has a different way in which they segment the market.  They are often similar but not always.  This is the most common reason for finding discrepancies between one forecast and another.

Analysts are aware of the difficulties that companies can face when trying to understand whether differences in forecasts are based on fundamentally different views of how the market will develop or whether it’s simply because of segmentation.  If that’s the case, get in touch with the analyst.  They should be happy to explain how they segment the market and help you understand the differences.

Forecast quality
The quality of the forecast will be determined by a number of factors:

-    statistical rigidity  of the forecasting model

-    the accuracy and depth of the numbers used in the model (accurate numbers dating back over several years provide a firm foundation)

-    the degree to which the forecast can be related to specific business decisions (is it being used for decisions that it was designed to support?)

-    the length of time that the forecast looks ahead (the further out a forecast goes, the less accurate it becomes).

Why you should help the analysts with their forecasts
There are two main advantages of helping analysts with their forecasts:

First, the analysts appreciate the help so it aids the development of positive relationships

Second, the better the numbers used in the forecasting model, the more accurate the forecast estimate and analysis of the market and major trends.

What do analysts require to produce a forecast?
Analysts have developed some sophisticated forecasting models based on techniques relevant to the sector being tracked.  There are a number of considerations that usually influence the choice of forecasting technique.

These include:

·   The availability of hard data

Hard data is historical data that a quantitative model will be based on to produce a forecast.

There are different types of data that a manufacturer can provide an analyst with.  Generally, anything is better than nothing!

Some companies only provide a total number, for example total sales of all their products and services for Western Europe.  This is regarded as top-level data.  The analyst will then have to break this data down by segment using their own market knowledge and expertise.

Other companies will split this top-level data themselves, as they understand it helps ensure that the analyst has a more accurate statistical base from which to produce the forecast.

Some manufacturers won’t provide numbers but will give feedback and guidance on estimates that the analysts submit (eg xx% above or below the actual number).  This is less helpful but at least allows the analyst to check whether their own estimates are relatively accurate.

·   The level of accuracy required

Generally, the greater the level of accuracy required, the greater the need for sophisticated models.

Analysts are aware that even the most accurate forecasts will never be 100% spot-on but in order to get as close as possible, analysts will sometimes conduct interviews with the distribution channels, such as resellers, systems integrators, etc.

These interviews help double-check the accuracy of the numbers provided by the manufacturers.  

In addition to this, the interviews help the analysts check the assumptions they have made in the forecast are as accurate as they can be.

Every forecast model includes assumptions but it is vital that the analysts have explanations for all the assumptions they make in the forecast.  Any forecast that doesn’t include details on the assumptions made should be treated with suspicion.

Why producing a forecast takes so long
Analysts normally have a process plan in place six months to a year before the publication of a forecast.

This is because producing a sophisticated forecast means planning ahead.

It takes an incredible amount of time and effort to develop or update a model, to gather and segment the data, to run the model and test it is producing the type of results which were expected.

Without planning, analysts are not able to get their forecasts complete on time.  They must plan their work in stages and ensure that they anticipate set backs in the process.

Some set-backs are minor, like a company providing data a day or so late.  Others are more serious.  Major set backs include companies agreeing to provide data and then not doing so, interviews with people in the industry not going ahead on time, technical issues with the data collection etc.

Given that some analyst firms produce forecasts on a quarterly basis (eg on fast moving sectors such as mobile telecoms), it becomes apparent how much planning is required and how much resource forecasting takes.

How do analysts collect the data and information for a forecast?
It varies from sector to sector but in the printing industry, for example, analysts contact companies on a quarterly basis to collect sales or shipment data.

The data is generally sent to the analysts in the IT manufacturers’ own format (usually Excel) but some companies request a data sheet from the analyst firm that they can fill in and return.

Several manufacturers have someone in the European head office whose job includes contacting all their European subsidiaries to collect the data and provide it to the analysts.  This is generally someone who works in the market intelligence or product marketing division.

Other companies ask the analyst to contact each subsidiary themselves to collect this data.  This can be a huge job, depending on the number of companies being tracked.

Analyst relations managers are now becoming a lot more involved with the data collection process for analyst forecast.  So are some AR agencies.

It’s also worth remembering that a common problem for analysts is suddenly finding that the person responsible for collecting the data has moved on and their colleagues are either unaware that this job needs to be done or don’t understand the relationship with the analyst and refuse to help.

And if companies don’t help by providing data, the analyst will seek to get this information from alternative sources and make a prediction of market size and trends based on that information.  

A couple of things to end with
In most analyst firms that produce them, the forecast is king.  Analysts come under immense pressure to get them completed on time.  Until the forecast is done, they are not encouraged (sometimes, not even allowed) to work on additional projects.  This means other reports and consultancy projects you could be interested in won’t be available.

A late forecast is less useful to corporate and product planning departments.

Without a certain level of detail, an analyst is simply unable to truly understand the changes or influences impacting the market they track.  In turn, their advice will be less informed and therefore less helpful.
    

Saturday, July 30, 2005

New mobile analyst blog

John Sun has started up an interesting new blog covering what analysts are saying about the mobile market. Nice work John.

http://mobileanalystwatch.blogspot.com/

Friday, July 29, 2005

Analysts v Press…Understanding the Difference

Dealing with industry analysts in the same way as journalists is a mistake commonly made by IT companies. They fail to recognise that the analysts are a separate specialist group of influencers.

It may not seem important nor be immediately apparent why it really is vital to treat these key audiences in different ways when communications plans are devised.

Actually, it’s crucial. Treating an analyst like a journalist will prevent you from realising the influence they have in the industry. (In the same way, treating a journalist as an analyst won’t get you the media coverage you’re after).

There are distinct differences between analysts and journalists. They play different roles in the industry. They require different types of information. They work in different ways. They operate to different timescales. They influence different people – in different ways.

Journalists are interested in getting coverage. That is their raison d’etre. Good stories – and especially scoops - lead to a healthy career. Poor stories – or worse, no stories – mean the journalist loses their job. However, while media coverage is important to many IT companies can it really compare to the influence that analysts can bring to bear?

Analysts are interested in gaining market insight. It puts them in a better position to advise their clients on how to gain strategic advantage. And that’s critical.

The analysts are the industry’s gurus, guiding technology purchasing decisions by providing independent and expert advice on which IT solutions and providers to choose. When customers and prospects review technology purchase decisions, they consult the industry analysts.

The analysts are listened to by every serious print and broadcast journalist, as well as attracting some of the biggest audiences at major industry conferences.

The analyst advise all of the major technology vendors, working with them to define product, marketing and sales strategies and messages.

That’s not to mention the influence they wield with the financial community and venture capitalists.

However in order to do their jobs properly, it’s important they have access to the right kind of information at the right time from the right spokesperson.

For example, briefing the analysts at the same time as the press makes it hard for the analyst. They don’t have the chance to think through what’s been said before their clients and the press are on the phones asking “what does this mean?”

Giving the analysts a superficial story angled for the press means they won’t have the depth of information they need to make an informed and educated judgement on what’s been said.

There is an art to communicating effectively with the analysts and building positive, long-term relationships with them. It is worth learning.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Changes in the mobile world

Andrew Tanner-Smith of Frost & Sullivan finishes there in August. He is on his way to Nokia.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Gartner absorbs vertical services from G2

I''ve just returned from a couple of weeks off and am catching up with what's been happening in the analyst world.

First off, it looks like Gartner's announced the plans that we heard about a few weeks ago and is folding G2 into its main research operation.

It will now focus on ten vertical markets - three in the FS space (banking, insurance and investment services), government, education, energy & utilities, healthcare, manufacturing, media and retail. Of the other G2 offerings, automotive has been folded into manufacturing while travel appears to have been dropped.

The word is that no new analysts will be hired. Nor will the sales force be aligned to sell specific verticals.

Vertical coverage has always been a field in which Gartner has lagged behind the market. With industry-specific IT research now increasingly demanded by technology vendors and purchasers alike, this move makes sense to us.

Outsell has more at:

http://now.outsellinc.com/now/2005/07/going_going_goi.html

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Off-Topic: Andrew Smith's look at IT media relations

Not analyst related at all, but I found this post by Andrew Smith interesting.

http://www.bloglines.com/blog/andismit?id=206

Most shocking? That this will surprise some IT PR people out there (and it will, trust me...)

The wonders of jargon and the TLA

Neil Ward-Dutton has a good post about how jargon / TLA-based sales and marketing is still being supported by some (un-named) analyst firms...

http://www.mwdadvisors.com/blog/2005/07/calling-time-on-esb.html

Friday, June 17, 2005

Confirmed: Ovum has acquired RHK

Duncan Chapple has just confirmed on his blog, Analyst Equity, that Ovum's rumoured acquisition of RHK has gone ahead.

http://analystrelations.blogspot.com/2005/06/ovum-buys-rhk.html

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Challenges (and benefits) of a changing analyst market

Andrew Smith's got an interesting post (http://www.bloglines.com/blog/andismit?id=189) about the publications that IT decision-makers actually read. It's not always what you would expect (in fact they seem to read very few IT titles, if any at all).

It's focused me on writing about some of the changes that are happening with the industry analysts and some of the questions that we're currently in the midst of answering.

Everyday, we're now actively engaged in challenging our own perceptions on the relative importance of analyst firms and individual analysts. We are constantly forcing ourselves to re-examine who has what knowledge and influence, how that is applied and how we can best help our clients make use of it.

We ask ourselves if Gartner's increasing size will actually result in an equal increase in influence. We don't think so. There will be an increase but not in a straight line proportion. There will also be some kind of backlash over its increasing dominance and the prices it charges.

We ask ourselves if there will be more consolidation among the likes of AMR, Forrester, Ovum and Yankee Group? Yes, because whether it's true or not, these companies are likely to believe they have to get bigger to effectively compete against Gartner for influence in the end-user market.

We ask ourselves if we will see the smaller analyst firms such as Quocirca (www.quocirca.com), Macehiter Ward-Dutton (www.mwdadvisors.com) and Redmonk (www.redmonk.com) gain more influence? Yes, because we believe firms are increasingly buying people rather than (as well as?) companies. Watch out for the rise of the 'individual' brand in the analyst market.

We're witnessing some interesting times in the IT industry analyst market at the moment. The changes will not make the AR job any easier in the short-term but it's forcing us to re-examine how influence works in the IT sector. It's also helping us get to understand how the role of the industry analyst is being re-defined.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Aberdeen comes top with end-users

A new survey from Azul Partners has Aberdeen ranked "as both the most insightful and valuable firm among end users."

But is everything as it appears? ARmadgeddon thinks there may be more to this than initally meets the eye...

ARmadgeddon: A new Aberdeen arises

A beer magic quadrant

I found this amusing - http://www.lwcresearch.com/filesfordownloads/beerquadrant.JPG

I meandered towards it via a series of blogs. Many thanks to:

Armadgeddon - http://armadgeddon.blogspot.com/2005/05/gartner-magic-quadrant.html
Louis Columbo - http://www.crmbuyer.com/story/42302.html, and
LWC Research http://www.lwcresearch.com

If you've not already seen them, the pieces on Gartner's Magic Quadrant by Armadgeddon and Louis are both well worth a read.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Introducing the Opinion Hype Cycle

Joe Guralnick at Gartner Watch takes a wry look at Gartner's Hype Cycle and introduces an interesting new variant...

Gartner Watch - Powered By Bloglines

Recap: Outsell on Gartner / META

I'm sure most people have seen this by now but I found it a useful summary of what Gartner did with META.

Outsell Now: What Happened to META?

Friday, June 10, 2005

Will and Richard

I had lunch yesterday with Will Arnold and Richard Laven. They are now running Performance Research Centre and provide the Apollo Analyst Database (along with a range of other media relations surveys, reports etc).

In their own words, "this service means you can target analysts, trace their relationships with the media, and gauge their standing within the media."

We've been using the service for a while now and it's proved very useful in helping us determine which analysts and journalists are interacting. It's particularly good at identifying which journalists are quoting which analysts.

If you're in the UK AR market you will undoubtedly know one or the other if not both. If you don't, then check out their website at http://www.apollosurveys.com

New retail analyst at IDC

Ivano Ortis has joined IDC as program manager for the EMEA Vertical Markets team.

Ivano is covering Retail and Transportation & Logistics in Western Europe.

Quocirca makes public sector hire

Quocirca has hired a new analyst. Elaine Axby will focus on "public sector IT and communications development."

Before joining Quocirca Elaine worked for Oftel, where she was responsible for mobile communications and Internet policy development, and at BT Cellnet, where she was marketing manager for its GSM network.

Analysts reject blogs, screws business model

An interesting piece from Dennis Howlett on how few analyst firms are blogging.

Bazaarz: Analysts reject blogs, screws business model

Why are YOU talking to the analysts

Don't talk to the analysts just because

a) it's what you have always done,
b) it's what everyone else does or
c) it's what everyone else says that you should do.

Every time you think about setting up an analyst briefing, ask yourself "why am I doing this?"

Then - knowing your purpose - you can ask "is this analyst the right person for me to be talking to? Is there someone out there who'd be more appropriate?"

It goes right back to basics but - hey - sometimes that can be a good thing!

PR-Guy makes the point in a far more entertaining style PR Squared: Skipping The Analyst Circuit

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Echoes of the dotcom bubble

Google is now the world's biggest media company by stock market value.

From the BBC: "Google is now worth $80bn. This takes it ahead of media leviathan Time Warner, which is valued at $78bn. The valuation comes in spite of the fact that Google's annual sales total just $3.2bn, a fraction of Time Warner's $42bn.... (some financial analysts) maintain that Google's high stock value reflects its future earning potential and that its shares could go as high as $325-350."

People have short memories.

BBC NEWS | Business | $80bn Google takes top media spot

Friday, June 03, 2005

Tony Hart leaves Datamonitor

Tony Hart left Datamonitor today. He's going to join an enterprise search vendor called FAST Search and Transfer in "a consulting role."

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Sorry, you're not important enough

It seems that a hi-tech company in California is trying out a new approach to analyst relations. Focus is important but going out of your way to tell analysts that they're not important enough? Read the full story at Armadgeddon...

http://armadgeddon.blogspot.com/2005/05/interesting-analyst-relations.html

Gartner looking for vendors to spend more?

The team at Armadgeddon have some insightful comments on Symposium and draw an interesting conclusion or two...

http://armadgeddon.blogspot.com/2005/05/distant-echoes-from-barcelona.html

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

IDC analyst moves on

Khalid Irshad has left IDC. No news yet on where he's heading,

Monday, May 23, 2005

Inside the mind of an analyst

Rahme, one of my colleagues here, used to work as an analyst at InfoTrends / CAP Ventures.

She's recently written an article that gives some insights into how industry analysts work, what they look for and how best to interact with them.

If you'd like to read it, please drop me an email (david AT sunesis-ar DOT com) and I'll send you a copy.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Can analyst firms grow too quickly?

It's great to see some of the smaller analyst firms doing so well these days. They really are garnering influence in the UK market and I believe internationally as well.

I just hope that they don't fall into the trap of growing too quickly. These companies have built their reputations on the quality of their staff. As they expand, they'll have to hire new analysts. If these individuals aren't up to the job, then the image of the whole firm will suffer.

In the IT PR market, it's a perennial problem. Agencies get hot. They hire quickly. The new people aren't as good. Clients leave. The cycle starts again.

So, to all the small analyst firms, a plea. Please don't rush into hiring. Take your time. Recruit the best. Train them well. Make them ambassadors to be proud of.

Winning business in the short-term is great. Damaging the long-term value of your brand isn't.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Is it just me? (updated)

I was intrigued to read a press release from Analysys (www.analysys.com) a few days ago.

It predicted mobile penetration in Western Europe is to reach 100% by 2007. Apparently in the UK, Italy and Sweden, we're already there – 101% of the UK population have mobile phones compared to 104% in Italy and 103% in Sweden.

Now does this mean that everyone in these countries has a mobile phone? Of course not. It's because some people buy more than one phone or SIM card (and Analysys does explain this in its release).

But for me the headline impression is that everyone in Western Europe will have a mobile phone by 2007. Am I just being pedantic? I'd love to know what other people think.

Update: Sunday 15 May 2005, 18.19

The Sunday Times is running a story today which claims that the number of mobile phones in the UK may be overstated by as much as 15 million. It's based on a survey commissioned by Enders Analysis. The firm believes that "millions of phones are abandoned in drawers and essentially unused. Some are retained on company books because they occasionally receive a text message or a 'wrong number' call."

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Gartner Q1 revenues down, makes loss

Gartner's announced that revenues in Q1 (ended March 31, 2005) fell to $199.8 million compared to $208.7 million in the Q104.

It’s putting this down to a fall in event income; the company held just five events in Q105 compared to nine in Q104.

Gartner also declared a Q1 net loss of $14.7 million, including pre-tax charges of $3.4 million related to the integration of META and $14.3 million related to a reduction in workforce and restructuring within its international operations.

Research revenue was $125 million, an increase of 2% from the same period of 2004.

Consulting revenue fell to $64 million versus $65 million in the first quarter of 2004.

Events revenue was $8 million for the first quarter of 2005 versus $18 million in the first quarter of 2004.

Gartner’s optimistic for the future though. It is reporting research contract value (at 31 March, 2005) up to $516 million, from $493 million at March 31, 2004. This is the company's highest reported contract value since December 31, 2001. Client retention was 80%, up from 77%.

http://investor.gartner.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=99568&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=704496&highlight=

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

...while Philip Carnelley departs (updated)

Meanwhile Philip Carnelley has left Ovum. His last day in the office was Friday.

Update: 17 May 2005, 7.56PM
Philip has joined The Hackett Group.

Stratos joins Ovum....

Renowned META analyst Stratos Sarissamlis has joined Ovum as a principal analyst in its Outsourcing practice.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Structuring your European AR

One of the questions I get asked a lot is "what's the best way of structuring our AR in Europe?"

In an ideal world, companies would structure their analyst relations to best work with the analysts.

However none of us live in the ideal world and – unless you have the luxury of building up an AR function from scratch in a green-field company – you have to take into account factors such as the existing organisational structure, the budget and where it comes from, the corporate politics and the current AR staff.

Ultimately, there is no single right way to organise your analyst relations. Every company needs its own solution because every company has a different culture, different AR needs and different resources available.

We've written up a piece that goes into a little more detail on the main ways of organising EMEA analyst relations and the key questions to ask. If you'd like a copy, drop me an email (david AT sunesis-ar.com) and I'll send it over to you.

BusinessWeek on the analysts

Things have been a bit busy here recently so I'm catching up on some reading.

James Governor (http://www.redmonk.com/jgovernor/archives/000640.html) points to an interesting article on analyst independence which appears on BusinessWeek's blog.

"The Truth about Linux and Windows" looks at some Yankee Group research.

http://www.businessweek.com/the_thread/techbeat/archives/2005/04/the_truth_about_1.html

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Forrester reports growth in Q1

Forrester has reported year-on-year organic growth in both revenue and EPS.

Total revenues for Q1 (ending 31 March 2005) were $33.8 million, compared with $31.7 million for the first quarter of last year.

On a pro forma basis, net income was $2.6 million compared with $2.5 million in the same quarter in 2004.

Net income growth is more impressive when using GAAP-reported figures. In Q104, Forrester reported a net loss of $257,000 companired to a net income of $2.7 million in Q105.

Chairman George Colony seems upbeat: "New business continued to improve and client renewals remained strong. Consulting, in particular, performed well during the quarter."

http://www.forrester.com/ER/Press/Release/0,1769,1002,00.html

Another UK analyst relations blog

It's good to see Duncan Chapple - head of Lighthouse AR - has started blogging again. His site is at http://analystrelations.blogspot.com/

Ovum IPO on the cards?

Ovum has confirmed that it is considering an IPO late this year.

There's been widespread speculation that 2005 could see the long-rumoured float take place.

It's now so likely that Ovum's including the information in a job ad running on Brand Republic for a new PR manager.

http://jobs.brandrepublic.com/jobs/index.cfm?fuseAction=jobDetails&loadSearch=32555&jobId=147890

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Another UK site about industry analysts

I got a note today from ARonaut who pointed me to their site - http://armadgeddon.blogspot.com/

It's got some interesting stuff there and is worth checking out.

It's not clear who's behind the site - it's written anonomously "by IT Analyst Relations professionals to relate tales of a symbiotic community: real stories, analyst gaffes and (un)predictions, analinguo, rumours, gossips and more."

Monday, April 18, 2005

Monday, April 04, 2005

GartnerWatch

GartnerWatch - http://www.bloglines.com/blog/GartnerWatch

Written by Joe Guralnick in the US, this blog concentrates exlusively on Gartner (as you might guess from the title). It provides some fascinating insights and provokes some serious thinking.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

And then there were - well, one less than last week

And so it has happened. Gartner's acquisition of META was completed on April Fool's day. The timing seems somehow appropriate.

But why did Gartner decide to buy META? Speculation is still rife and numerous theories abound.

1. It takes a rival out of the market.
Although Gartner's long been the biggest analyst firm in the market, this does make some sense. META had a lot of sway in both the end-user and vendor communities. Take it out of the market and there's more potential business there for Gartner. After all, who else is going to come in and take it away from them? Forrester or IDC perhaps. At the moment, it's hard to see another analyst firm that's credible across all technology sectors and can provide a global insight.

Oh - and with a major rival out of the way, Gartner is free to put its prices up with little or no threat of competition.

2. META was up for sale
It is possible the whole deal is opportunistic. After all, it's not every day that a leading international analyst firm comes on the market. And who knows what might have happened if, say, Forrester had bought META instead? The combined firm would still have been less than half Gartner's size but it would have undoubtedly been a more formidable competitor.

3. Gartner wanted to strengthen its consulting business
In Europe, META had a stronger reputation for its consulting work than for its research. As Gartner's laid off so many of META's analysts and consultants, it seems an unlikely reason. Consulting is a personal business - much more so than research. You don't buy a firm for its consulting business and then get rid of all its consultants. Clients will follow them out of the door as soon as they can.

Plus Gene Hall, Gartner's CEO described the deal as representing "a significant step for Gartner in our strategy to accelerate growth in our core research business."

4. META had in-depth country expertise in Europe which Gartner would like
If Gartner wanted in-country expertise, why not buy the company which really can provide it across the world (IDC)? Perhaps because Gartner only wants to beef up its business in certain countries where it believes it is missing out of major revenue opportunities? For example, META has traditionally been strong in Germany.

5. Gartner needs more salespeople.
From the day the acquisition was announced, Hall has stressed the importance of the sales team. He emphasised it again on Friday: "Today, we significantly increased the depth and breadth of our sales coverage in the vastly underserved market for IT research by welcoming more than 100 highly-trained sales people from META - individuals who know the marketplace and our products, and who already have existing client relationships."

But there are cheaper ways of acquiring them than buying a company - like luring them away with big salaries and bonus payments.


Time will tell if this was a good move. We're going to be watching with interest to see what happens to Gartner, its services, its clients and its staff.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Forrester upsets Ford with new magazine

And again from Tom at SiliconValleyWatcher, it seems that Ford has withdrawn a large amount of business from Forrester because of a story in the company's new magazine.

The full story's at:
http://www.siliconvalleywatcher.com/mt/archives/2005/03/news_forrester.php

Jupiter Research up for sale

Jupiter Research is up for sale according to rival Forrester.

Tom Foremski at SiliconValleyWatcher has the story:
http://www.siliconvalleywatcher.com/mt/archives/2005/03/jupiter_researc.php

New public sector analyst at Ovum

Ovum's added another analyst to its public sector team. John O'Brien joined from Computerwire at the start of this week.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

New wireless analyst at Ovum

Tony Cripps has joined Ovum as an analyst covering the wireless software space. He was previously with Computerwire.

So why are analysts important

These days most people in IT PR recognise that the industry analysts are an audience that they should be targeting. Still, not everyone understands why analysts are such a crucial audience for almost every IT company looking to sell to a business or public sector body so I thought it would be worth just running through the three main reasons:

First consider the impact they have on sales. There are numerous surveys that break this out in depth but here are some headlines for you to consider:

· 11 / 12 CIOs “get real value from the information and services provided by IT industry analysts” (CIO Jury, silicon.com)

· Analysts are the second most important source of influence on UK IT directors, after peer recommendation (Vanson Bourne)

· 86% of UK and European IT decision-makers will not purchase enterprise applications without getting analyst input (Insight Marketing)

· 40 – 60% of technology purchases worldwide are influenced directly by analysts (Kensington Group)

It’s not just about direct commercial benefit though. While the analysts can help IT companies get on a shortlist (and more importantly, can get them knocked off a shortlist), there are other benefits to be realised.

There’s the market intelligence that the analysts can provide. They are talking to the users of technology and they’re talking to most of the vendors who are selling it. Their view of the market is almost inevitably going to be comprehensive, well rounded, insightful – and independent. Whether it’s on the viability of a product or the effectiveness of marketing messages, the analysts can provide an assessment and evaluation of an IT vendor’s proposition and how it will play in the market.

Then comes the benefit that most PR folk are familiar with - the analysts’ exposure in the media. If we look at last year, Gartner, IDC and Ovum were featured in the UK media over 3,700 times. Sometimes it’s coverage on a press release they’ve issued, sometimes it’s a fact from a research report but often it’s individual analysts being quoted as a result of a call from a journalist.

Some analyst firms even publish analyst opinion pieces on the web and make them freely available to all (for example, Bloor’s www.it-director.com and Ovum) whereas others have regular columns, such as Quocirca with The Register, silicon.com and Computer Reseller News.

Changes to the mobile team at Gartner

Congratulations to Jason Chapman. We've just heard that he now leads Gartner's mobile and wireless team worldwide.

Plus Martin Gutberlet has joined the team. He will be focusing on network operator strategies and will lead Gartner's network operator research in Europe.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Ex Ovum analysts start up on their own

Two of Ovum's software analysts have left to form their own analyst firm.

Neil Ward-Dutton and Neil Macehiter started up Macehiter Ward-Dutton a few weeks ago. They just revamped their website - http://www.mwdadvisors.com/index.php - and I've just started this blog so it seems opportune to do a post on them.

All the best guys.

Friday, March 11, 2005

One easy source - news from the analyst firms

Check out Industry Analyst Reporter from Tekrati (it's one of my favourite links on the right).

Tie its site in with a RSS feed and you get all the news from the analysts pretty much as it comes out.

It's great.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

My first blog

So, I've been getting more and more into the blog world over the past couple of months and have decided that it's about time to take the plunge and go public with my own blog.

I'll come clean right away about my commercial interests. I run a PR business and we're 100 per cent focused on industry analyst relations.

Those in the techology world will come across these guys all the time. For of you who aren't (or don't), industry analysts are a hybrid combination of market researcher and management consultant. For various reasons, there are a huge number that focus on the technology and telecoms market (it is worth asking 'why?' and I will do a separate post sometime explaining).

My life is spent helping TMT companies recognise the value of the industry analysts and helping them communicate more effectively with them.

My objective with this blog? To share my views and opinions on tech PR and to highlight some of the great work that others are doing in this field for sure. Most important though is to stop sitting on the sidelines and join in what seems to be an incredibly exciting revolution in communication.