So who’s peddling “influence” these days?

On-a-mission-from-god Prolific blogster and all-round industry pundit Vinnie Mirchandani asks whether the IIAR's definition of the analyst is outdated.   He also begs the question whether my good friend Ray Wang, who has recently left research firm Forrester, will repeat his honor next year.  Unless old-school PR executives get with the changing times, somehow I doubt it. 

Vinnie goes on to declare "seems like AR (Analyst Relations) folks want to cling to a narrow (and shrinking) definition of market influencers."  I didn't even feature in the top 3 services analysts, despite the fact there are 45,000 RSS subscribers to this blog and my calendar is booked solid until well beyond Labor Day with client meetings (but I promised my wife to keep my ego in check, so will not venture further with my little dig here…).  I haven't even heard of these "top 3" guys… but they seem to be "influencing" far more than I seem to be.  Maybe I need to get myself double-booked next time?

To cut to the chase, our marketing agencies need to broaden their horizons beyond stale analyst models and look at who is really influencing the decision-makers.  My firm AMR Research, for example, has a huge subscriber-base of Global 1000 clients and a deep vertical focus, but didn't get a single mention, while none of the sourcing advisors, such as Alsbridge, Equaterra, Everest or TPI get viewed as industry influencers, despite playing pivotal roles in influencing and brokering many of today's outsourcing and services engagements.  Meanwhile, some analyst firms which focus predominantly on procuring vendor business - not buyers – get mentioned in these ratings.  And none of the industry's top bloggers get so much as a mention. Analysts should be rated on the following criteria:

1) Market visibility (blog traffic, press quotes, research report downloads, speaking gigs, webcasts etc);

2) Vendor-selection influence (number of actual deal-flows influenced, number of user clients);

3) Quality of buyer-focused research (new ideas, unbiased thinking);

4) Respect from vendors;

5) Respect from buyers;

5) Proven industry longevity.

As many of the analyst "rock stars" leave the traditional analyst industry, such as Ray and, even more recently, star social-media analyst Jeremiah Owyang, isn't it time for marketing and PR folks to look further-afield to identify the new industry influencers?  With the new era of social-media upon us, and new entities partaking in thought-leadership, isn't it time for new influencers to be recognized:  those people actually communicating with – and enlightening – today's decision-makers?

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5 Comments

  1. Posted August 24, 2009 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    and don’t forget the biggest influence these days…peers

    in 70s, buyers turned to IBM for advice, in the 80s to Andersen, in 90s to Gartner, now they turn to each other…

  2. Lepeak
    Posted August 25, 2009 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Ex-research “analysts” (who couldn’t cut it as analysts) ranking analyst firms is basically a circle jerk. There is also a big difference between providing aggregated market commentary (“x percent of the global 2000 did y last year”) and tangible execution advice and support (e.g., how do I structure and govern a global ADM effort). On the latter I agree with Mr. Mirchandani that buyers are increasing looking to their peers, or select third parties, for support and not the traditional “analyst” firms.

  3. Naomi Bloom
    Posted August 25, 2009 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    My thanks to Vinnie and Phil for hitting this hard. I’ve never been what anyone calls an analyst, and I haven’t even launched my blog yet, but I do think that, within the world of HR technology and the HRM delivery system, I’m considered a significant influencer of vendor products/services and buyer methodologies and decisions. Or perhaps I too am delusional.

  4. Posted August 28, 2009 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    Traditionally, the ‘influencers’ have been those individuals or firms that were privy to deal knowledge over a number of deals and had information databases on pricing, arbitrage and so on – typical analyst firms mentioned in this thread. However, along with the tremendous increase in the availability of such information as well as increased relative outsourcing maturity levels of clients, there is definitely a change in who the real influencers are. In my view, the influencers today have more of a management consulting profile – a strong understanding of strategic and organizational challenges and ability to provide leadership not only on “macro” areas such as market trends and vendor scans but also an ability to make it work in the specific client environment, addressing challenges across policies, procedures technologies and personnel.

  5. Posted September 17, 2009 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Okay, I hear your frustration. So where does a marketer like me go for credible advice on who are the top dogs among analysts?

    When I used to manage investor relations I had the same problem. I needed to identify and take my company story to the key buy side and sell side analysts. But then we had rankings from magazines like Institutional Investor and similar and that really helped.

    In the AR space, I’ve come across companies like the Knowledge Capital Group that put out what seems like insightful stuff on industry analysts. What do you think of them? Or let me broaden the question–what AR ranking lists do you respect?

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