Sunday, November 26, 2006


Why do I love small analyst firms...

If you have read my blog for any extended period of time, you will know that I am beyond frustrated with large analyst firms and their lack of integrity in not showing all the software products that are worthy of enterprise consideration and instead simply focusing on proprietary closed source vendors who pay them money. Enterprise architects really need to ask themselves if they appreciate industry analysts practicing censorship and not telling you about opportunities to reduce total cost of ownership...

In the past I have encouraged others to check out industry analyst bloggers such as James Governor of Redmonk, Raven Zachary and others in hopes that if the conversation moved away from large analyst firms to those who are smaller that some additional insight may emerge. The folks over at ARmadgeddon may have caused me to rethink my reasoning.

The real problem that enterprises face is getting stories told that folks otherwise wouldn't here. Sometimes, we benefit from gaining insight from meaningful discussions with analysts, at other times the benefit we could gain feels a lot more like the ability to tell an analyst to provide coverage on a given topic of importance to us and to share it with others. I still have yet to find any analyst firm that wanted to help me out with this dimension.

Imagine being a large customer to the likes of Oracle, IBM, BEA, Microsoft, EMC, etc and really wanting to see a feature show up in their next release but having to overcome an otherwise painful conversation. How many times have enterprise architects dragged their vendors into locked rooms and made them listen to their ideas only to hear a civil response indicating how wonderful the idea is but to also hear we haven't heard your requirements articulated by other customers?

Wouldn't it be interesting if a large enterprise could simply articulate their problem to an industry analyst firm who would also find other customers with the same problem and then collectively write up the research for all to see? Enterprises in this scenario would actually become more sharing in terms of their media relations policies since it is not about endorsing a vendor or giving away anything that even remotely feels like competitive advantage.

If you consider the frustrations that us enterprise architects encounter on a daily basis in this regard and the evil solutions we are forced to consider, the cost-benefit analysis of using more industry analysts would actually work. For example, if large vendor X decides to pull the phrase that acknowledges the problem but states that they haven't heard it elsewhere, the enterprise has three choices:

Right now, I tend to only interact with large analyst firms in my day job. I know I can make a sound business case for purchasing services from small analyst firms if and only if I could get them to not just share insights but to actually write research papers on topics I suggest. The funny thing is that the large guys seem to be more willing to take some of my ideas and run with them.

The folks over at Redmonk have a policy of not getting paid by vendors to create research reports. While I understand this perspective, I would argue that the logic is somewhat flawed in that it also unfairly excludes folks such as myself who are not vendors to have our ability to influence what gets written by simply paying for it.

Don't get it twisted as I am not attacking Redmonk nor suggesting any form of integrity flaw. They happen to know that I am big fans of them. Likewise, the notion of transparency is equally important to me and them and I shall respect whatever decision they choose for their business model. Hopefully, they will not leave open an opportunity for others to seize...

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