Thursday, November 30, 2006


Industry Analysts and increasing Enterprise Transparency...

Over a year ago, James Governor of Redmonk and I had a conversation regarding large enterprises and their ability to become more transparent. I figured I would share a couple of thoughts that we have been noodling at work in this regard...

The very first myth that I would like to dispell is that large analyst firms have an advantage over small analyst firms when it comes to sharing of information. Alex Fletcher of Entiva believes that small analyst firms won't be afforded the same opportunity to talk with us when in all reality the exact opposite is true. In fact, we are currently working with a one-person analyst firm named Elemental Links who is currently doing a case study on some of our enterprise architecture practices. In the past we have also done case studies with a very large two-person analyst firm on our SOA implementations named ZapThink.

I bet you didn't know that in terms of working with an analyst firm to have our own perspectives told, we actually have a strong preference for working with the small guys but not for the reasons you may think. Consider the fact that large enterprisey places have folks in departments named media relations. Have you ever considered that they may be measured on how much media they generate? Now, consider one large analyst firm who almost never mentions the names of their clients and will take the tact of referring to us as a Fortune 200 Financial Services Company headquartered in New England. Do you think folks in media relations if they are measured would want to participate in abstraction?

Small analyst firms don't have silly anonymous policies and can whenever faced with an enterprise who only says things on the record actually has an advantage. Likewise, consider another large analyst firm that likes to cover a subject by including quotes from multiple companies in their research reports. Now consider the perspective of folks in media relations and ask yourself would they rather spend time being lumped together with other folks or would they prefer some exclusivity?

While I am personally a big fan of open source analysis and this wonderful idea started by the folks at RedMonk, I do acknowledge that conversations cannot be measured but the amount of printed research reports in which my employer's name is mentioned can. I also understand that while blogging is expedient, it doesn't carry the same weight as a research report. Sorry, analysts if you want to work with large enterprises, you should blog but also suck it up and also write more formal research reports on a frequent basis.

The third perspective I would like to share is that small analyst firms are making a crucial mistake in terms of not allowing anyone to steer what they talk about. I agree wholeheartedly that avoiding allowing vendors to determine your publishing schedule is a good thing that I can't honestly say the same thing applies to us large enterprises who have nothing to sell. We tend to have a preference of wanting to work with folks who express a preference in wanting to work with us. If I suggest certain research topics and you not only acknowledge receipt of them but actually make a conscious effort to do some of them then that will cause us to be more open. It is all about value and less about idealism.

If you ever happen to run across Dan Blum of the Burton Group, he will tell you personally that we share our thoughts not only in terms of formal calls but also periodically send him our strategies, results of proofs of concepts we have conducted and so on. Likewise, their analysts have asked not only myself but many of my peers to review their research to see if it resontates with us. I have never been asked this of any of the smaller firms.

Alex, I have had the opportunity read your report on LogicBlaze ESB and will be encouraging others to do the same. If you trolled old mailing lists for this project, you may run across several discussions with a Fortune 100 Enterprise whose primary business model isn't technology and their efforts to help certify ServiceMix to run on 384 CPUs appliances so as to ensure the most scalable ESB on the planet.

You are probably aware that neither Gartner nor Forrester even mentioned ServiceMix in their latest Quadrants or Waves, so enterprises that want to understand open source have no choice but to consider alternatives. If you were to decide to do coverage on Liferay Enterprise Portal, you would also see various familiar names of other Fortune enterprises who are contributing.

It would be interesting to see reports on other if you want to do a case study on anything my employer does, all you have to do is ask. This offer is open to any analyst in the blogosphere...

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