Friday, October 28, 2005


Industry Analysts and Enterprise Architects

I recently had a conversation with Andreas Antonopoulos of Nemertes Research and uncovered something very interesting about this particular firm. Usually when I talk with industry analysts in which we are not clients, they usually attempt to sell us their services. Of course, within most enterprises the notion of using industry analyst services from a budgeting perspective is under pressure.

Many analyst firms have structured their model around this fact and have changed their approach to pursue software vendors who have big marketing budgets who in turn use the research in their marketing efforts as collateral material to large enterprises such as the one I work for. Analyst firms that use this particular style and the software vendors who give them tons of money haven't yet came to the realization that us folks in corporate America have now caught onto the game and may in the future not only consider this form of research worthless but may start doing the research we desire ourselves.

The main problem with this form of research is that enterprises need access to ideas and the best thinking. They need thoughts on game changing plays not just whom happen to be willing to pay for briefings. Pretty much every enterprise architect I know of in other Fortune 100 enterprises have on their radar the notion of open source software which in the charge the software vendor model simply never seems to show up.

In another conversation with Bloor Research, they mentioned that the problem with most open source projects is that these projects don't do marketing. The real problem is slightly different in that if open source when covered by industry analysts only covers open source that is created by large software vendors and not the stuff that is truly useful then their research is discredited.

I publicly state that the vast majority of open source projects that are truly useful to our own enterprise are not developed by traditional software vendors who embrace open source but by folks in small software companies who don't have the money to pay for marketing and our peers in other enterprises who create valuable software for themselves.

One enterprise I have the utmost respect for is Duke Energy. Their core business is not selling software but selling energy yet they have created valuable software for others to use. I encourage folks to check out their .NET framework for software development. If I were to listen to the advice of analysts, I guess Duke should start marketing something they wanted to simply be a good citizen for?

Duke isn't the only company that is delivering valuable software to the community using open source. In fact, there are dozens more of large enterprises that not only use open source software but contribute. Wonder if we could get analysts to start telling a more interesting story?

Some of the open source projects that my peers have used and contribute to at work include projects such as Liferay Enterprise Portal, Virtual Token Descriptors (VTD) and OSWorkflow.

If analysts want to sell folks like me on buying their research, they will need to start telling the whole story which includes open source projects. They need to tell the story of enterprises whose business is not software but created valuable working software for others to consume. The secret is out and if analysts want to survive, they will do well by considering this value proposition.

Jumping back to the conversation with Andreas, I was very encouraged by our discussion. He was the first analyst to not simply arrange for a briefing where he wanted to talk to me about marketshare or other things of minimal value in my mind but actually asked me if I knew of innovative companies he should be researching. It was the first time I could give analysts a direction they should head. In thinking about this, maybe every enterprise architect should call up their favorite analyst firm and task them with the goal of not only figuring out alternative open source projects but vendors that are not on the radar!

In the discussion, I have learned that he was also working on a research report in the spirit of open source industry analysis that will be licensed under the creative commons model. The folks over at RedMonk were the first to do this with their groundbreaking research on Compliance Oriented Architectures. I wonder if James Governor has realized the effect of his own thinking not only on his clients but on enterprises such as the one I work for. He has started something magical.

We know that RedMonk gets open source, we now know that Nemertes gets open source, curious which analyst firm will be third...

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