Wednesday, August 04, 2010


Star Analysts according to James McGovern: Part One

I have seen the likes of Ray Wang and former Forrester analysts talk about the notion of being a star analyst but without providing any guidelines for determination. I figured I would first start with whom I believe are the top analysts, why I believe it and finally some criteria in which you can use to create your own list...

Whether it is the folks from Altimeter or even the analyst relations crowd and the likes of Barbara French of Tekrati or Carter Lusher of SageCircle, the biggest gap is the simple fact that no one has ever asked an end customer of analyst services for their opinion.

Software vendors spend a lot of money in attempt to influence analyst thinking in hopes that this will influence people like myself who are employed by Fortune 100 firms with $1B in IT spend annually. Shouldn't the conversation include at least some hint as to what we like in certain analysts such that they can influence the people we care most about?

Without delay, I will list the top fifteen industry analysts that have the biggest influence along with my own opinion as to why I follow them. This list is not in any particular order.
  1. Bob Blakely (Gartner): Whenever Bob publishes he doesn't just provide the usual journalism approach of a titillating headline and spoonfeeds you a thirty second elevator pitch but instead makes you look at something from a totally different perspective. I remember having multiple dialogs with him in a work context where he put political correctness aside and said a few things that would have insulted many of my peers but resulted in me choosing to get smarter instead of being offended. How many analysts have ever said on a dialog "that is just plain dumb" He spares his followers writing about the latest vendor X to acquire vendor Y or other stuff you can find in newspapers. Many analyst firms are good in helping their clients make a procurement decision, but Bob helps you think about what to do after you have procured a product.
  2. James Governor (RedMonk): Open source analysis was the first thing that caught my eye, then followed up with brilliant insight into compliance-oriented architectures (a must read for the enterprise architecture crowd). He continues to pioneer not only new ways of performing analysis but does so in ways that I could only dream that the larger firms would embrace. Redmonk doesn't overload its clients with benign surveys attempting to quantify things that don't matter but instead focuses more on the qualitative aspects that enterprises are struggling with today. He is one of the most enterprise relevant analysts I know.
  3. Donald Light (Celent): There are a handful of firms that cover insurance technology but Celent is the dominant player. Donald has not only good understanding of core insurance systems ranging from policy and claims administration but has dug deep into the challenges of the ecosystem at large ranging from using ACORD as part of a service-oriented architecture to rolling out federated identity to independent insurance agents.
  4. Brenda Michelson (Elemental Links): She is the ultimate conversationalist. I like the fact that she is more of a consultant that happens to publish than a traditional industry analyst who publishes research that sits on the shelf. She directly engages enterprise architecture practitioners via a variety of means ranging from Twitter to simply picking up the phone and making a call. She isn't sitting back waiting for someone to initiate a dialog. In fact, she tends to be the catalyst for dialogs that discuss current challenges around business architecture as well as conversations that need to happen around standards, reference architectures and technology leadership.
  5. Jason and Ron (ZapThink): We all know that hype is the plague on the house of software and that cloud computing is its latest victim. In order to be successful at cloud, you need to be successful with service-oriented architectures and these guys continue to push a topic that many think is dead but still manage to come up with useful insights on a frequent basis.
  6. Nick Selby (Trident Risk Management): Want to understand early security trends before the rest of the world? Nick clearly is in a leadership spot. He stays on top of emerging trends and shares insights openly.
  7. Ian Glazer (Gartner): How many analysts are covering the topic of privacy? Is it because there are not a lot of products in this space or is it because the masses don't understand its importance? Ian has made me smarter in terms of understanding its importance in building robust enterprise applications.
  8. Andrew Jacquith (Forrester): The vast majority of information security professionals only have fear, uncertainty and doubt in their toolbox. Andrew helps enterprises focus on metrics and other quant approaches that are less about witchcraft and more about informed thinking.
  9. Andrew Hay (451 Group): Do I follow him for his devastatingly good looks or because he is a known leader in the information security community? He isn't just covering infosec but is living it. I know that he is one analyst that has walked in the same shoes as I and his guidance is grounded in what works. He is capable of looking past the hype.
  10. Michael Cote (RedMonk): Want to understand more about infrastructure and innovation? I have learned more about ITSM from Cote than I have in listening to the rants of our own infrastructure department. He has made me smarter in ways that I will leverage even outside of my current role.
  11. Neil Ward-Dutton (MWDAdvisors): I have been fascinated with the distinctions of how architecture is practiced in the Americas vs Europe and Neil has exposed concepts that work regardless of geographic cultural considerations which helps me strive to be a better architect in a truly global sense.
  12. Apoorv Durga (RealStory Group): I interacted with Apoorv when he worked at Wipro and he not only made me smarter regarding why certain things I attempted in outsourcing would not work in India, he provided corrective suggestions. Along the way, I also happen to learn an aweful lot about ECM technology from him as well. Too many architects are focused on structured data and we all need to get smarter about how to store, protect, encrypt, sign, etc unstructured data and Apoorv has some good insights.
  13. Jeremiah Owyang (Altimeter): Wanna develop a website and make it wildly popular? If you have led the development of multiple enterprise-scale websites such as myself, you would be negligent if you didn't understand how to make them usable in the way only Jeremiah can articulate.
  14. Josh Corman (The 451 Group): Ever heard of the Rugged Software Manifesto? If not, you need to google for this asap and it will become clear why I follow him.
  15. Dennis Howlett (AccMan): Need to be offensive and made to feel dumb? Seriously, Dennis is a no-nonsense individual who cuts to the chase and calls things out. He doesn't always help you be smart, but he most certainly helps you in avoiding being dumb.

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