Thursday, July 17, 2008
Are Industry Analysts nothing more than branded reporters?
Whenever an industry analyst calls to gain insight into processes and practices of large enterprises, they are almost always routed to the media relations department, the same folks by the way that interact with reporters. If you are a vendor selling research in the same manner as pretty much every other analyst firm out there, why aren't you anything but an expensive commodity?
If the differences between analyst firms from the eyes of consumers is a dimes worth of difference then isn't it just plain wrong to call yourself a thought leader? Other than the obvious challenges that most folks in large enterprises haven't interacted with lots of analyst firms, if they were to make themselves freely available, could the average consumer tell any difference between the firms? Sure, we can tell the difference between analysts as the ones from the smaller firms tend to have a larger body of knowledge and tend to be more credible as they survive based on their own self-worth more than just having the ability to hide under the brand.
How much thought do large enterprises put into thinking about their analyst research needs. They are creatures of habit and simply do what they have always done. This doesn't make us lazy or dumb, but does call out the fact that there is little if any stimulus for us to change our behaviors.
I do believe that firms such as Redmonk, Elemental Links and Entiva stand out from the crowd, but I am in the minority and within my own firm, I can surely say that the masses have never heard of you. Of course, you are probably wondering why this matters. This should matter to the entire ecosystem as vendors are paying for value that isn't fully realized. It is one thing to gain insight as a vendor from an analyst firm, but it is another to get introduced to me as a buyer.
Why aren't software buyers who purchase analyst research asking a little more about the characteristics of us customers. More importantly, shouldn't they want more metrics on us? Right now, I am working on figuring out the 2009 budget for preliminary discussions which means that I am probably more in strategic mode now than in any other part of the year. Industry analysts always ask me about my perspectives of vendors within their narrowly defined classifications but how come not a single industry analyst has ever asked me which categories are more important?
Consider what questions aren't being asked. Does James McGovern think that spending money on Federated Identity is more important than focusing on solutions in the GRC space or do I think that spending money on entitlement management is more important than full disk encryption. Enterprise architects make tons of tradeoffs on a daily basis and software vendors along with the venture capital firms don't even have a freakin clue as to what I am thinking nor for that matter what my peers in other enterprises are thinking. Does this make sound business sense?
So, maybe someone can figure out something more innovative to increase the value proposition of both software vendors and their customers alike? It will require some deep thinking and of course innovation, but I know there are a few of you out there that will take this as a call to action while others further slide into the trough of disillusionment...
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