Yes, I have been trying hard – and failing miserably – to avoid using the term “Uberization”, but it’s everywhere! Even in the analyst business, where the sharing platform is the Internet and any old whackjob can get in on the act. All you need is a computer and an ability to write remedial English.
The technology and services industry today is awash with individuals whose only professional activity is flitting from vendor conference to vendor conference, with the sole purpose of writing completely non-objective puff pieces praising their vendor hosts in exchange for money (or in the hope said vendors will pony up some dough in gratitude). Vendors are only too willing to pay these people’s travel expenses, in return for such a willing and compliant audience.
Now, there is nothing wrong with this, in today’s free-for-all economy, as long as these individuals stop masquerading as analysts. I can’t proclaim I am a professional accountant, lawyer or hip-replacement specialist, without proving to the world I am trained and can deliver those services adequately, so why should we allow these people to call themselves analysts, when they are not. Do these vendors hire these fake analysts to do real strategic work for them? Of course they don’t – they use them as marketing advocates, and pay them as such. So let’s call them what they are: Vendor advocates.
We need to settle on this correct term for these fake analysts
Once we can all settle on that term, then we can all stop complaining about their tactics, crying foul when we see their blatant pay-for-play. Once they are officially branded as vendor advocates, then they can rent themselves out as much as they like to marketeers willing to buy their services, without having to masquerade as something they are not.
I know several of these individuals (and I am sure most of you do too). They never produce any real research (most simply do not bother doing any and hope noone notices), they usually have limited knowledge (because they do no research) and love the sound of their own voice. Some even plagiarize, make up data and fake surveys (but let’s not go there right now…). However, there is a role for these individuals in the world, but let’s just stop pretending they are analysts.
These vendor advocates play an important role supporting the industry – as long as they are correctly branded as such
But it’s not all bad – these vendor advocates really do have a purpose – they are helping marketing execs in technology and services vendors validate their offerings. They are helping out those frustrated marketeers who do not want to pay the exorbitant prices of the traditional research shops, and simply want to pay someone posing as an industry “expert” to express how wonderful they are.
And there is nothing wrong with this – companies have to pay to advertise to sell product – it’s been going on for centuries. If you are selling technology, you need to hire people with writing skills to communicate to the world that your products and services matter. So why not outsource to someone outside your firm who is at least pretending to have an objective viewpoint?
Bottom-line: You can be a great Vendor Advocate and be loved by industry. So be proud of it, but don’t expect analyst credibility
Anyone who appears in a TV commercial, or writes an advertorial column in a magazine, is an advocate for the brand paying them. It’s credible – for example, you see pro golfers advertising all sorts of products and services on their shirts and visors, but we aren’t offended. Noone cares whether Phil Mickelson uses KPMG to audit his accounts, or whether Shaq O’Neill really does use Gold Bond, or whether Roger from Madmen drives a Lincoln MDX… we love these personalities and our attention is drawn to the products and services they are marketing. It’s the same for marketing advocates – many of these individuals are great people with lovely personalities… there’s nothing wrong with marketing someone’s products or services, just don’t pretend you’re an analyst when you do it!