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.

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.