Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Analyst Influence diminishing further?

I think there are some interesting perspectives outlined on the diminishing influence of industry analysts where the view is not that analysts are losing their influence. It is that analysts are having to share influence with other influencer types of which there is some truth but this is a matter of semantics...

There is only so much time in a day and if folks shift whom they pay attention to, this can be important for all those vendors spending lots of dollars on analyst relations. In 2004, I had zero clue who Redmonk, The 451 Group or Elemental Links were. In 2006, however they are probably more influential on my thinking than the large guys (with the sole exception being The Burton Group. Would you still use the word sharing in 2010 when these guys become the only source I read?

The point of comparing large analysts to small analysts wasn't really about the analyst firms themselves but to say that a larger part of my day involves understanding the direction of the industry at large and blogs are one of the best ways to accomplish this goal. These analysts choose to blog and I would read them even if they weren't analysts. Likewise, I also have increased the reading of blogs by industry peers.

So this begs the question of if analysts want to retain their fair share of influence, then they must blog. The analyst firms I mentioned are credible not only because they blog, but because they also allow for commenting and trackback. Sometimes the one-way approach to blogging simply doesn't allow for us enterprisey folks to get what we need. The ability to observe conversations is crucial and in fact more important than getting the opinion of just one body.

Credibility is increased in many ways. For example, James Governor of Redmonk once commented on one of my blog entries. Most analysts wouldn't have attacked a customer in such a fashion, and even more so done it publicly, but that the point as to why I read him and encourage others to do the same. Insight doesn't emerge from briefings, rather insight emerges from folks who share their perspectives in a public manner and aren't fearful of political correctness.

If analysts want to increase credibility, I would suggest that they do some real research. Too many of them sit back and wait for vendors to call them up and spoonfeed them information and think their only job is to distill things into cohesive presentations. Research requires sometimes doing homework where folks aren't going to know all the answers.

For example, if I were to call up any analyst firm that covers open source and wanted to understand more about Alfresco or Liferay or Subversion and wanted to understand not only which Fortune enterprises use their products but which ones are openly contributing to them, would you know the answer?

Vendors in terms of briefings are too busy telling you all about their value proposition, and not the proposition of others that have helped make them successful. Maybe, credibility can be increased if analysts started asking thoughtful questions not only focused on the product itself but how it may implement other important considerations such as security. For example, I would love to know how Alfresco, Documentum, OpenText and others aligns ECM and Security. Likewise, I have been fascinated by Azul Systems and their 384 CPU Java Appliance but would also love to know which J2EE application server scales the best on this platform?

Maybe credibility is increased by not responding to us enterprisey customers who already have subscriptions with various analyst firms via our blogs and not just having phone dialogs. Maybe someone could even increase their credibility by responding with a matrix of vendor products that implement the XACML specification or OpenID?

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