It’s interesting times in the world of technology industry analysts and their counterparts at technology vendors, the analyst relations (AR) professionals. Selling analyst research can be a challenging business. We have a market leader in Gartner, with almost a thousand analysts looking at almost every corner of the market. Its perennial competitors Forrester and IDC – like Gartner – sell a mix of research, consulting and custom work of various stripes and to varying degrees. We have some companies pursuing freemium research models, such as HfS & Redmonk, while others – such as my alma mater 451 Research – sell research as the mainstay of its business – and lots of it, churning out about 10 reports each day. All are looking for the mix of business lines that will enable them to generate as much revenue from their analyst team as possible.
But into this mix comes questions over analysts’ objectivity and methodologies. The NetScout lawsuit over its position in a Gartner’ Magic Quadrant, Nuix’ questioning of the process of the eDiscovery MQ and Hitachi Data Systems not meeting the criteria of a storage array Magic Quadrant have put Gartner in the spotlight recently. But Gartner doesn’t take this lying down, of course and will contest the NetScout lawsuit and fight its corner. And when the nagging accusations of it operating a pay-for-play policy arise, as they often do when its methodologies are questioned, one of Gartner’s senior analysts can be relied upon to respond and attempt to put that accusation to bed once and for all, though I’m certain we’ve not heard the last of it.
These events – all in the last two months – have a direct effect on AR professionals and how they work. The potential for executives to adopt a cynical view of analysts is heightened and AR folks need to make sure their work is more valued than ever and that their voice is heard when product marketing, product roadmap and other critical discussions are taking place.
This confluence of forces is one of the reasons I’m jumping into AR and influencer relations with both feet as a consultant. I aim to help AR people at technology vendors optimise the way they work with analysts and analyst firms get the most from their talented teams. I’ve been an analyst, I’ve been an AR professional and I’ve worked in product marketing. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I know what good and bad AR looks like – from both sides of the table.