Tuesday, October 31, 2006


An Enterprise Perspective on Analyst Relations

My significant other has decided to jump back into IT after several years of rest. She has figured out that working for a large enterprise where she would all day go from one useless meeting to another exchanging low-density information with folks who simply don't get it doesn't appeal to her. She has figured out that she has no interest in collaborating and therefore wants to be a CTO for a startup idea she has been noodling. Of course, she has used me to provide validation of the idea along with assigning me homework of understanding the other side of analyst relations...

I remember awhile back, I had a conversation with a Gartner analyst at work regarding not only our usage of a particular open source project but also my personal contributions to it. My take would have been that he would have been so excited to talk with someone who loved a product so much as to participate on both sides but of course I got it wrong. The perspective instead I got was that I somehow violated protocol by attempting to brief as a customer and that it removed any opportunity to sell additional services.

About a week later, I had another call with the same Gartner analyst on the same open source project and got an interesting response when I asked him what exactly would it take for Gartner to list an open source project in the magic quadrant in the leaders section. I got a response that was somewhat abstract in that there was nothing actionable that I could do as a contributor and user to change it.

Not being one to give up so easily, I asked the same question of the folks at Forrester. They told me that their Wave is primarily centered around the characteristics of a vendor which is distinct from a customers view of a product. For example, a large enterprise can use open source products such as ServiceMix without having a single interaction with the folks at LogicBlaze. While this perspective does have merit for the vast majority of large enterprises that may have enterprise architecture teams, it does have a negative effort on large enterprises who want to not only use but contribute to open source themselves without the assistance of a vendor.

Many folks in the blogosphere know that I am a big fan of small nimble analyst firms such as RedMonk, Elemental Links, ZapThink and others but in terms of my wife's homework, I too have a dilemma.

The thing that I do understand is that large analyst firms on a daily basis interact with folks like myself where as I cannot tell what the interactions of small analyst firms with large enterprises whose primary business isn't technology is. At some level, folks invest with analyst organizations because they desire sales leads. Yes, I understand there is more value than that, but leads are what have the best potential of putting monies into one's pocket.

Likewise, I understand that there is value in terms of being mentioned in industry magazines. The value of being mentioned in the press is in many cases more important than being given leads but I too cannot observe whether small analyst firms will be more useful in terms of spend over large analyst firms.

In terms of budgeting, it would be wonderful if someone simply published the fee schedule for all analyst firms in one place. My gut feel tells me that the average small vendor pays an industry analyst firm $25K per year and gets several strategy sessions with them. Am I headed in the right direction?

I still need to do some homework in terms of figuring out the budget for writing case studies? Do analyst firms charge extra to speak at their conferences? Anyway, we have some time to figure out what it means to be a vendor. We have determined that it is best to get three large enterprises (I already got five committed) to deploy the solution and serve as references. Of course, this will take a lot of time away from me blogging as my wife figures out how to assign more homework to me...

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