About Time We The IT Analyst Fraternity Take Onus

It’s not uncommon for us from the IT Analyst fraternity to run into situations where prospective clients either don’t fully understand the value of our services or either see it as a mere means to an end.

An end that is purely meant to use some evidence (from a well-known firm) to prove a business case to the board or make some market noise. It’s rare that we are blessed with an audience that truly understands the value that research has for an organisation and its stakeholders.

It’s even rarer to find CEOs in this audience who personally engage with IT Analyst firms and champion the need for using research on an ongoing basis throughout the organisation.

The brutal fact is, spend on IT Analyst services is treated as anything but ‘a must have’. In other words, a pure discretionary spend.

While the sell-side (read IT & Telecom Vendors) have long been exposed to the value that we folks bring to the table, most continue to still see it as a marketing spend that will ultimately help them generate leads and sell more.

Hence, the need to influence, and reap results thereof, continue to be chiefly focused on the big names from the IT Analyst fraternity.

Truth be told, sales folks across these big names have all jumped in to cash into the sentiment and are creatively crafting deals to help IT & Telecom Vendor marketers ‘optimise’ spend. In other words, help generate more leads. In my humble opinion (IMHO), IT Analyst firms involved in overtly promoting sponsored CxO Awards exemplifies this.

Sad as it may sound, the focus at events holding these sponsored CxO Awards is anything but knowledge sharing.

Of course, there are exceptions and it’s unfair to paint them all with the same brush. But the fact that IT Analyst firms are resorting to holding events to promote sponsored CxO Awards and help form a union between both buyers and sellers of technology is a harsh reality that we as peers (who don’t believe in such sponsored CxO awards) live with.

Back to the point of CxOs finding value in IT Analyst services, the problem is acuter on the buy-side (read buyers of technology). While more formally run organisations in the US, the UK and other mature countries have long found value in IT Analyst firms, their counterparts in Emerging Markets are yet to see them as “crucial” for decision making. Not to mention how many get the ever-obliging sales folks at IT vendors to get them a copy of “that quadrant or wave”.

So, where is all this headed? Quite honestly, it sometimes confuses me as well. Being the purist that I am, my opinion is not the populist one. IMHO, our role as IT analysts is to help educate and not help sell. Allow me a few lines to elaborate.

One, our focus must purely remain on launching research products & offering advisory services that do what they are meant to – offer independent and objective insights.

For those of us in the IT Analyst world who don’t subscribe to this guiding philosophy, then it’s best to stop using the term ‘Analyst’ and instead use a more broad ranging term like ‘Consultant’ or ‘Advisor’.

Two, educate our current and prospective clients. IMHO, the onus for this is upon us in the IT Analyst fraternity. It’s imperative for us to help our clients see our value as market observers who can act as strategic advisers, help gives direction to existing products / go-to-market activities and in some cases help shape new markets.

For those who either find us expensive or cannot seem to locate our value in the ecosystem, I would like to leave them with a quote from Jeff Rich, ‘If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.’

My two cents.

Now your turn – what does your experience of working with IT Analyst firms tell you? Please leave a comment and share your experiences with the fraternity!

8 Replies to “About Time We The IT Analyst Fraternity Take Onus”

  1. Sanchit, the comments shared by you are all valid. As a marketing director for a large tech vendor, I often get these creative sales guys you mentioned talk to me about how they stack up to their competing firms (including yours). Some even go to the extent of tarnishing competition and pointing faults in them. What’s your 2c on that?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Jim, thanks for chiming in. Glad you agree with the commentary. You raise an extremely important point on Analyst firms going out of their way to tarnish each other. At the outset, I have never prescribed to this philosophy and instead believe we must spend energies on finding our niche. Let’s be honest, the pie is big enough to accommodate all of us. Ultimately, as I said, the onus is on to help articulate the value that we bring to the table.

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  2. Pardon the cliche, but it looks like the lunatics are running the asylum. All analysis, trends and statistics are useless without bringing customers needs into sharp focus. What the article does not explicitly bring out is the cut-throat mindset that’s driving the frenzy. The end justifies every trick in the book where today’s business goes. Sad but true. And, I’d not restrict this to IT Analysts … t’s endemic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well said, Sunil. In the fight for a bigger piece of the meat, the focus is anything but the buyer of technology. Hence a conscious call at our end to ensure that we keep sanity in the business and say NO to deals where the focus is not true problem solving but blatant market noise.

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  3. boy ….this needs a bottle of Single Malt to fully answer …..having been mostly on the sell side i think the industry needs to take responsibility for creating the impression that analysts rank products and technical capability not how the customer achieves and outcome. There is way too much focus on selling to IT vendors who always shift the discussion to features and technology and again not how customers achieve their outcome. I would say stop ranking Vendors and start focusing on customer needs and how customers are getting value (or competitive advantage) from various technology solutions …not specifically the Vendor.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha nice one Bjorn! Needs a bottle (or two) and many a hours to debate this, let alone answer it 🙂

      To your point on focus being too much on selling to IT Vendors – hands down agree with you. But sadly, that’s what it has come to now and become second nature to this circus. Yes, circus 🙂

      Also, couldn’t agree more with your point on the need for Analyst firms to stop ranking Vendors. I have had many vendors ask me why we don’t produce such reports and my answer to them is pretty simple – we are in the business of insights and all our efforts must be directed at research that helps the real buyers benchmark vendors. Our job as IT analysts is not to use a single thumb rule to benchmark vendors (which doesn’t apply to all org types, verticals, regions etc) but instead aid IT Decision Makers with tools that will help them benchmark vendors specifically for their environments.

      But I must say, I am glad I’m not the only one feels so strongly about this subject. Thanks for commenting and helping confirm that after all the mess that has been created of this circus, there are still executives like you in the industry (esp sell-side) who understand the value that we analysts bring to the table!

      Cheers,
      SVG

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  4. Very true Sanchit. Unlike the matured markets like US or Europe, companies or folks in emerging markets neither value the research and efforts which go in preparing that. Probably it boils down to the mentality with which companies operate in. Sad part is even large and established companies do this unlike start-ups. If they are purely professional run they value it otherwise they don’t. Another factor which is critical in valuing our fraternity is directly proportional to the cost of effort. Its like Maruti ad, where they are focused on mileage rather than the car at large and they always look to bargain or feel the cost quoted is super high. Nobody bargains at Godrej’s Nature Basket, but will try to do it with small vendors. Branding and Marketing matters. Miles to go before emerging countries really value research!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great article Sanchit, agree with all your points. Quadrants and Waves have been done to death. The research on technological trends and disruptions are of little use to Enterprise clients if they remain prescriptive and not catered/ mapped to their real world environment. We, at ISG, are trying to develop research catered to Enterprise clients without ranking and rating vendors but rather providing forward looking guidance based on the necessary benchmarks.

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