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.

1 comment:

French said...

Good post, as usual David.

I see the larger and mid-size analyst firms drawn to M&A for topline and bottomline financial growth, not for increasing influence.

Meanwhile, the smaller and start-up analyst houses face the same challenges in growing their business as most content and professional services companies in the tech sector. They're likely to have the same overall success rate, also.

Firms that are simply publishing generic research and opinion more freely are, in my opinion, seeking to build brand and sales leads. It's marketing 101. I see this as a smart move for these firms. However, where is any evidence that the re-drawn free/paid research content boundaries are in any way more helpful to real world IT decision makers?

From what I've seen, the online tech media properties -- many of which made drastic cuts in their editorial staffs over the last few years -- are getting the biggest benefit.

I think we're seeing the very early stage of IT industry analyst firms -- and content/research companies currently outside the analysts' home turf -- investing in new models and methods for performing and applying in-depth and real-time research to tech selection, deployment and use. And, some are exploring new approaches to delivering personalized consultative services based more on fact and specific customer situation. These kinds of technology-enabled industry research services will eventually disrupt the AR professional's life... and bring entirely new contenders onto the analysts' competitive playing field.