Apr 19, 2010
csalomonlee

New Breed of Analysts

Analyst FirmsThe landscape has drastically changed for analyst relations over the past few years. When I first started PR, there were just a handful of analyst firms with a few independent firms. In the end, you knew if you had briefings with Yankee Group, Gartner, Forrester, Jupiter and Meta Group, you had your bases covered. And for the company seeking to launch with a bang, Chris Shipley and the DEMO conference was the standard.

Now, there are more niche analyst groups and consulting firms that wield influence on a variety of topics. And the responsibility for managing AR no longer sits with PR or marketers, it’s extended to product management & marketing as well as all levels of the executive team.

But all is not gloom and doom. With the growth of niche influencers, there has been increased openness in research availability and knowledge. I also see this new breed of analysts having the potential to change how things have been done to date.

Quicker to Identify, Evaluate and Research New Technology Segments

With larger analyst firms, research areas are clearly defined to address the majority of incoming customer inquiries. Unless a nascent technology emerges as a definable trend, such as with increased customer interest, a traditional analyst firm may not formally delve further into that space. This is where a smaller analyst firm or consultancy has an advantage to identify, evaluate and research a new technology segment.

Open Garden Approach to Research and Thought Leadership

In addition to consulting clients, analyst firms charge hundreds and thousands of dollars to non-customers for research reports. To me, this is similar to the “walled garden” approach during the early days of the Internet when “membership” provided you access to valuable content.

For the most part, this metaphor is being replaced by free content which has challenged many industries, especially in publishing. While I don’t believe this will impact the revenue model for analyst firms, I do find it interesting that some firms – specifically The Altimeter Group* and ThinkBalm – allow individuals to access their reports free of charge.

Embrace of Social Media

This leads into the final area of change for analyst firms. The increased use of social media, such as blogs, twitter and event virtual worlds (for example ThinkBalm’s The Distillery in Second Life), further increases these analysts’ awareness in the market place. And for the savvy marketer and PR practitioner, new avenues to engage with these analysts not previously possible.

Conclusion

A new breed of analyst is emerging. They tend to have an “open garden” approach that engages people in conversations. And without a larger organizational structure, they have more freedom to explore different technology segments – both established and emerging.

The challenge for folks like you and me is determine which of these new analysts have the insight and business acumen to emerge as industry influencers. Engage the right ones and you’ll have an opportunity to shape the conversations around your industry.

For those of you overseeing analyst relations, do you agree or disagree?

* Read Jeremiah Owyang’s blog posting about the Altimeter Group Approach (two-thirds down the page).

5 Comments

  • For the most part, I’m seeing that this new breed is generating very good analysis and insights that only helps to drive the thought leadership forward.

  • Nancy, thanks for the insight and I do agree that Forrester/Gartner are the two main influencers within the industry. Besides these two, I wanted to highlight that other analyst/consulting firms worth paying attention to as they hold influence within their coverage areas.

    And because of their openness, may provide a company with opportunities previously not available to them through conventional paths.

  • With all the changes, there are still only 2 real deal makers and breakers in the IT industry with influence over sales: Gartner and Forrester. Gartner has grown both in size and influence despite their not having an open garden. They are opening the doors a bit–but still sticking to their very successful brand. I have clients come to me all the time who say–my customers want to know why I am not in the Gartner reports/Magic Quadrant. There are more players but we always measure influence against insight and most of the new players only have insight but buidling influence is a whole different ball game.

  • Clare – good point about the pros and cons. For the most part, I’m seeing that this new breed is generating very good analysis and insights that only helps to drive the thought leadership forward.

  • As a someone who has worked for large analyst firms and now runs my own marketing consulting firm, I would say YES, a new breed of analyst is emerging with a broader set of analyst tools, a broader client reach and the ability to have a faster impact on their clients and the market. Two other points can also be made: 1) The positive: experienced analysts can also use these tools and combined with their depth of experience can provide even stronger and more relevant analysis and recommendations to their clients. 2) The negative: alot of the “speed analysis” that appears in blogs and across the Web has no depth and little critical thinking. It can become shallow repetition with no value added. Thus, your point about waiting to see (over time) who has “the insight and business acumen to emerge as industry influencers” is very important.

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About

Cece Salomon-LeeCece Salomon-Lee is director of marketing for ACTIVE Network, Business Solutions division, and author of PR Meets Marketing, which explores the intersection of public relations, marketing, and social media.

This blog contains Cece's personal opinions and are not representative of her company's.

Learn more about Cece.

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