Thursday, December 21, 2006
Industry Analysts and Conferences
I found this statement intriguing:
- We were going through a budget triage the other day and the "research" line item came up. A discussion about which account we should keep be it Gartner, Burton, etc. I didn't voice an opinion since I think they are all equally poor. Analysts are playing the game at the same table but, they don't have any chips. Win or lose, they still get paid to be at the table.
Last week, I had briefings with three large analyst firms and two of them were absolutely horrible. Not a single scintilla of information emerged. Maybe I should post my questions to the blogosphere to see if something emerges. Anyway, I am in full agreement that the subscription model with large analyst firms leaves something to be desired. Part of the problem though is that analyst at large firms don't have to research anything in depth because their clients from Fortune enterprises tend to as a trend ask braindead questions. If you want depth, you not only have to stop getting your peers in your shop to stop asking idiot questions, but to openly encourage only smart folks in other enterprises to also surpress their idiots so that the bar is raised.
Part of the problem is that large analyst firms who embrace the 1/2 hour phone call model have a better chance of getting away with lack of depth than say the large analyst firms who embrace the 1 hour model. For example, let's say you wanted to talk with me as an industry analyst who is supposedly knowledgable on the topic of using metal detectors to find unicorns in your sock drawer. I will of course waste ten minutes of your time attempting to understand your business problem. The seek first to understand, then be understood approach makes enterprisey folks feel comfortable but in all reality appeals only to those who are clueless. I will then consume another ten minutes starting the obvious such as the need for executive-level sponsorship, IT aligning with the business, the need for a positive ROI and other cliche phrases. This leaves about six minutes for you to ask ten or so questions that have been lingering in your head which can't possibly be answered in such a short time period. Of course, the analyst will also state that they need to wrap it up (four to five minutes earlier) as they have to move on to their next call and the cycle repeats itself.
I would say that if you are going to eliminate an analyst firm, do yourself a favor and express a preference for those who choose longer briefing periods (say one hour) over the shorter ones. It is a lot harder to bullshit over one hour than a shorter period of time which almost forces credibility and more research depth.
I am surprised though that you felt the folks over at the Burton Group where in the same category as other analyst firms. Having had lots of interactions with them, I can say that these guys rock! My most recent briefing was with Bob Blakely was not only sufficiently deep in terms of discussion, but he actually pushed us to think about things differently. He actually has a sense of humor and directness that I wish other analysts would adopt. In terms of Burton, the only thing I would suggest to them on how they could get better is to read my blog on Enterprise Content Management and Security and address in upcoming research.
Bill, if you are unhappy with the current analyst bunch, may I suggest that you consider having a conversation with Brenda Michelson of Elemental Links, James Governor of Redmonk or Raven Zachary of the The 451 Group? I suspect after having a dialog with them, your perspective on industry analysts may change...
- The other disappointing thing about many of the analysts is that they only report on the current state and maybe stick their necks out about a year, or so.
Bill, I have to disagree with you here. I am of the belief that many analyst firms have made such boneheaded stupid predictions that they simply need to excercise their right to remain silent. For example, did you know that Apple doesn't exist or that Gateway is the number one PC maker? Imagine if you actually listened to these predictions and bet your business on them? Sometimes the stuff we suffer with in large enterprises can be directly correlated to some IT executive who practices Management by Magazine and them listening to bad predictions.
Besides, a better prediction model for your enterprise may be to figure out what other large enterprises are doing that have a lead on you. For example, folks in the financial services vertical tend to be ahead in terms of technology adoption over those in the hospitality industry. Simply by reading the blogs of those within our vertical serves as a better predictor of future technology than anything you could ever hope to achieve from an analyst firm...
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