Why I wrote that piece…


Having been blogging for over four years, I’m used to putting down my thoughts and concerns about things I care about. I normally don’t think about it too much, I just write and enjoy the banter and discussion it creates.  It’s like having a “virtual pint” with friends, peers and colleagues.

So when I received many notes, emails, calls and comments after my weekend rant (which I barely categorized as a “rant” when I published it on Sunday), I suddenly realized this thing was going “viral” – especially when dangerous Dennis Howlett picked it up! How had I managed to hit such a raw nerve?  I throw the outsourcing business under the bus everyday, and noone bats an eyelid!

By Monday morning, several analysts informed me that the piece had been all over Forrester, Gartner and IDC, among other places. So why, pay tell, did only one Gartner analyst openly dare to contribute a comment (and a good one), while several consumers of research (buyers and vendors), in addition to analyst relations professionals, were only too keen to chip in? The fact that they all read it and pinged it around so prolifically suggests they care – but why they are not willing to defend themselves sends another – very clear – message.

I never said the analyst industry was going to be “dead”, I simply (admittedly) followed blogger-protocol of throwing out a slightly bonkers and controversial headline to get you to read it.  I wanted us to debate whether it would be “dead” if it failed to keep apace with such unprecedented shifts in the way research is developed and consumed in today’s society. And, oh my, did it work…

I do have very real fears – to which there has been violent agreement – that some of the traditional analyst business practices are in trouble and the business is going stale. My genuine fear is that some of the large firms are so consumed with meeting financial targets and complying with internal processes, they are taking their eye off the essence of their product – influencing, informing, analyzing, and staying ahead of the industry with real insight and thought-provoking topics – and in real time. Only one or two firms can get away with standardizing their research product so they have a cookie-cutter delivery model, a 1-800 analyst support-line and a common brand (not individual brands).  The rest will fall away, or desperately feed off of scraps that probably don’t constitute real “research” anymore (dare I mention some famous old analyst brands which are on life-support today).

And if you want to hear more on this little topic…

Our friends at the International Institute of Analyst Relations (IIAR) are going to feature a live debate on 13th July at 11.00am ET, where I will be discussing this “crisis” live and taking questions. Click here for more details, or email info at analystrelations.org.

Posted in : Confusing Outsourcing Information, Social Networking



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    This has been happening for quite awhile now actually; ie; various corporations waking up and realizing that the IDCs, Gartners, Infotrends, etc of the world offer up very little in the way of real insight. (And this is a surprise (?), more on this below) I think this has VERY positive implications and tremendous upside for skilled intelligence pros. It certainly has for me.

    So, first- why do these firms offer so little in the form of real insight? Well, let’s keep in mind what their predominant business is, it’s selling numbers! Secondly, who are their clients, and where do they really get the majority of their money? In my industry, printing and publishing, the vast majority of dollars flowing to IDC, Infotrends come from none other than XRX/HPQ. Accordingly, do you think the MR firms are really going to be critical of either of those companies strategies? Heck no! They’ve become nothing other than extensions of their PR departments accordingly! Say something negative, like one outside analyst I know very well, and HPQ doesn’t invite you to their analyst relations meetings; you’re effectively blackballed.

    Now, regarding their business model and how these MR firms work. The emphasis is short term, quantitative, project by project, and heavily emphasizes selling those numbers/forecasts. Exactly how does this really help illuminate whats happening under the covers? It doesn’t. It runs thoroughly counter to the CI approach, which is more systematic, holistic, ongoing focused research over time. Hence, why a CI pro can blow these guys away and bring the heavy hitting insights to the table that the IDCs of the world simply cant. With that in mind, when I took over as the CI Manager of one large multinational in the publishing industry, one of the first questions I got, before they saw real CI output, was well gee how do you differ from IDC? I said give me a few weeks and I’ll show you! And I did. Wow, the folks who were originally skeptical said when they saw CI output versus what they were getting from the outside MR firms, gee you CI guys really get deep, you give us historical perspective/context, an insider view. Yep, so all in all, I’m very happy that the world is waking up and realizing not to go looking for much from IDC, Gartner, etc. Frankly, this is tremendously ironic- I mean the companies should know better….. as who bought off said research firms to only put forth positive spin and who blackballs their analysts if they ever dare ask any potentially embarrassing question or bring forth any challenge to the version of the truth they want put forth?


  2. Great to hear that the analyst community were pinging it around. I started http://www.itdecs.com in Brazil with the intention to move on from the traditional analyst model and to embrace tools like crowdsourcing and P2P research. I agree with the original article and in any case, in the tradition of blogs, it asks more questions than it answers with the intention of kicking off a debate. Where is the harm in that?

  3. ‘m really glad you did write this piece, and you kicked a hornet’s nest up in the process to be sure. One that needed to be stirred in my opinion. Frankly, in so much as the industry analysts only want to recant the perspectives their corporate masters want put forth, there wont be any real insight. The paradigm is very broken, much like the economic system in general. The IDCs and so forth of the world, I think are going to have to derive a new business model that allows them some autonomy and room for truth telling, not regurgitation.

  4. Personally, I liked the piece, and shared it with our analyst relations person. In this business we need to be provocative once in a while, don’t you think? I worked for a large outsourcing firm that has since been acquired by another large technology firm (guess that narrows it down). We were pretty serious and aggressive, but what I liked best about the company was that we could, and did, often laugh about ourselves.

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