Friday, July 04, 2008


Ten things analyst firms can do to improve their value proposition...

1. One Hour Briefings: 1/2 hour briefings are simply too short. Many clients spend ten to fifteen minutes describing the problem to the analyst and then get another ten minutes of questions to help refine perspective. This leaves only five minutes of real discussion. With such a short time period, the only thing the analyst could possibly do is to verbally spill what was already written in a previous report before they need to run to their next call. For clients who want deeper insight, it can't possibly happen in 1/2 hour.

2. Open Source: Historically many enterprises wouldn't have touched open source, but this mindset is fast changing. When we have a problem, sometimes we need solutions regardless of whether they are open or closed and it would be appreciative if solutions were written in the *same* report. I guess I could always learn about open source in a briefing but the problem is of course the above, but reality says that documents are also shared within the enterprise to those who didn't participate in the analyst discussion and therefore it is important that they be in the same document.

3. Focus more on products and not vendors: Nowadays, is there really such a thing as an enterprise that is truly blue (IBM) or red (Microsoft)? Most enterprises interact with hundreds of vendors (I am probably stating the obvious) and aren't so spooked if we need to look at alternatives. Besides, if we are starting to adopt open source, the vendor matters less than the product. In many situations, the vendor doesn't matter at all. For example, if we use Eclipse as an IDE or Apache as a web server. Of course an argument could be made that vendors still matter in open source but I think you get the point.

4. Security is not just for the security folks: Enterprises are starting to care a lot about security with all the regulations they face. Do you think we would like to have some insight into whether the products we are interested in are secure? For example, if I am going to store medical information in an ECM system, wouldn't it be nice to know if they have taken steps to protect themselves against the OWASP Top Ten? How about telling us how an ECM, BPM, CRM, etc system can integrate into Active Directory so that I don't have to incur lots of expense provisioning folks into multiple systems.

5. Give me a sense of community: Wouldn't it be useful for an enterprise to have a sense of how the vendor creates a sense of community? For example, if I am a first time user of a BPM product, wouldn't I want to know about user groups I could participate in? Sometimes we gain the most insight by talking to others that are in the same boat as us. Talk about the vendors advisory board and how they enable conversation. When it comes to open source, it has to be more than the source code being available. How about figuring out whether folks from other than the vendor are contributing?

6. Don't measure revenue or license counts, measure profitabiilty: Revenue and license counts as a criteria are simply biased against both software as a service as well as open source. Besides, if you ask any accountant they will tell you that they would want to understand more about profitability than revenue. There are lots of businesses that have high revenue numbers but aren't profitable.

7. Eliminate notion of seats: Why in the world would I want to have someone else in my enterprise coordinate analyst requests? Doesn't this practice cause enterprises to lose productivity and spend time that could be used to propel their own businesses forward? Is that hour our internal coordinator spends arranging dialogs better spent on what their day job entails?

8. Case studies: Analyst firms lately seem to have been avoiding doing case studies and the reason isn't because enterprises don't want to participate as I know I have personally participated in several in the past. I also know that my employer is no different than any of their peers. I would say that there is less value in us participating if we are simply in the mix vs something more exclusive where we aren't anonymized into being a Fortune 200 in New England but our actual name is being used. If you want to do case studies on us, simply ask!

9. Blog: Dialogs with folks in large enterprises and software vendors should be ongoing conversations and not one-off and for the most part one-way dialogs. Start a blog on a topic, update it frequently and more importantly enable trackback so that other's can participate as well. Sometimes analysts can gain additional insight if they observe the conversation that others are having, so it is in their best interest to start some.

10. Increase transparency: OK, I am a big fan of Redmonk. I like the fact that they openly tell who is a client and who isn't. There is a cloud hanging over many analyst firms that the game is pay for play which sours our ecosystem. Declarative living is refreshing and will increase credibility of industry analysts by factors.

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