Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Come on industry analysts, sharpen up your game

Ben Evetts, a former colleague of mine, pointed me to this article a few days ago. It is an interesting and rather damning critique of industry analyst firms.

Here's just a few extracts from the blog by James Gardner (but do read the whole piece, there's plenty more good stuff in it):

“And here is my problem with analysts: if we are taking strategic advice from such firms, then they'd better have better people than us. Experts, not graduates who have worked their way up the analyst ranks without much experience doing whatever-it-is for real.”

This is one of my bugbears. Like many of my colleagues working in analyst relations, I spend a large portion of my life educating people about the value of the industry analysts.

Then you set up a meeting – either a briefing or an inquiry call – and in strolls someone who knows less about the market than I do (never mind my CEO, CMO, product manager or technology guru). It is happening more and more frequently. It's almost as if the industry analyst firms have a death wish.

Get wise guys. People pay a lot of money for your insight. You're important because of your influence. You're valuable because you're the experts. And you need to keep proving it continually.

Thankfully, it's not all bad news from James:

“I'll accept that there is some value in analyst research, and that the reports written by the superstars have a value that counteracts the journalistic reporting that is mainly what's provided.”

What's most concerning is that these type of complaints aren't just coming from James. I hear similar comments every week.

There are some really strong analysts out there in the market but there are also a lot of people who use the title when they're really just market researchers, marketing consultants, journalists or industry commentators.

Even some of the more reputable analyst firms are doing themselves a disservice by increasingly trying to trade off a global brand while in Europe, the calibre (and / or size) of their analyst teams simply isn't there to support the promise.

If you call yourself an 'industry analyst', people have certain expectations of your knowledge, your insight, your abilities, your expertise. Nowadays, these are often not met.