Tuesday, November 08, 2005


A customer perspective on Industry Analyst Firms

ealized that I never stated publicly why I like the folks over at RedMonk and the work they do. Figured I would take a moment and talk about a customer's perspective on industry analysis.

Disclaimer: I have never been an industry analyst, have no friends or family (except other bloggers in the community) that have been analysts. Likewise, I have no interest in changing careers to become one...

Nowadays, architects within corporate America are challenged to be innovative and to seek out better ways of using information technology. Part of the challenge of being innovative is in knowing if something has already been done by the competition. Essentially, when I look to industry analyst firms I am not looking for marketshare of software vendors, positioning or anything that even remotely feels like this. Instead, I need to know what others are up to in the Fortune 100.

One of the more frustrating things is that many analysts refuse to tell the story that I am interested in hearing. I don't really care about new software vendors. For this information, my best source happens to be InfoWorld. What I do care about is who is doing innovative things with service-oriented architectures, agile methods and above all open source.

Open source tends to be the place where not only innovation happens frequently, but it also occurs in a transparent manner for all to see. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? If someone innovates but no industry analyst is there to tell the story, do customers know how to improve their business?

Transparency creates credibility. As an architect whenever I have to sell something up the chain, I need to know the source in painful detail. If I am to remain credible, I need credible sources. Sources of information that are transparent and RedMonk provides this to me.

I can trust the guys from RedMonk but they themselves are creating innovative research. Have you read their stuff on compliance oriented architectures? They happen to be the most transparent guys I know. Have you noted that unlike other industry analysts, their blogs have trackback? They are keenly interested in having a dialog with the community, not just software vendors who pay for briefings. They actually like talking to customers. What's the world coming to?

In order to not appear biased, I can admit there are other industry analysts that I truly respect. I like the stuff being put out on SOA by Jason Bloomberg of ZapThink as well as research on the Data Center by the folks over at Nemertes.

Selling to me is the world's easiest task. All one has to do is perform two basic functions: be innovative and be transparent.

In thinking about my response to the blogging community, I do have one disclaimer. At work, we have a pretty reasonable media relations policy in which I am in full support. It does however require me to not say good or bad things about anyone whom is a vendor (i.e. contract, payment, etc) to us. This puts me in a situation in which I would like to engage the services of the analysts mentioned here deeper but then would no longer be able to talk about it. Right now, it is in my own best interest to see the best thinking become pervasively adopted not only within my own shop but even for competitors as no one entity should ever have a monopoly on good ideas, innovation, or industry research.

Right now, I am on a mission to tell a story that is less frequently told, the one of the customer...

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