I just got influenced – the changing face of Industry Analysts

I was going to respond to Phil Fersht’s blog “Will the industry analyst business be dead in five years?“, but Dennis Howlett got there first with “Analyst, anal-yst, who cares?“. But it’s a matter close to my heart so I thought what the hell, I’ll put my 2 cents in too.

Both these blogs nail some really interesting points – and I also think they miss a few things too.

First, what’s happening to Gartner is also happening all over the world, for example the Enterprise IT consulting business that I work in. We are re-inventing ourselves all the time and we won’t be the same in 5 years time either. We have to get closer to out customers’ real needs and become much more relevant to them.

That said, I have some touch points within Gartner’s consulting group and these guys are switched on, restlessly curious about their market segment and with good knowledge of their customers’ businesses. Of course, that’s a far cry away from producing big thick research reports that no one reads. If Gartner et al are smart, they will change how they operate in the market like the rest of us. Probably some of the analyst firms won’t continue to re-invent themselves and will die out – just like elsewhere in the global market.

Then there’s the changing face of influence. I suspect I fall into the category that Dennis describes as “influencers”, although we don’t really know what it means or who is really in the group. I work for a consulting firm that sells SAP implementations and presumably the real world knowledge that exists in my consulting group means I can offer a different perspective. I also happen to believe that transparency in what we do makes the market a better place.

And like Dennis’, my perspective appears to be of interest to the Financial Analysts, customers and SAP alike. The problem with the model Dennis describes is that there’s two ends of the spectrum. On the one end is the monolithic analyst company which offers a single point of contact, and on the other is hundreds of subject matter experts offering a single area of expertise.

It’s possible that the hundreds of people might turn into a co-op – the Enterprise Irregulars are part way there (Phil is an Irregulars, and Dennis was), but I don’t think this would address the underlying issue of how that industry scales because it just creates a random group of people with some common ground – but without, for example, a shared commercial model.

I’m also certain that some traditional Analyst firms like Gartner will continue to be around at least for the medium term, because that $100k per year contract with Gartner buys the CIO a priceless commodity: a scapegoat. “But Gartner told me that XXX vendor was in the magic quadrant, it’s not my fault that it doesn’t work”.

What’s less clear is whether the “influencers” will be able to come together with some mechanism that allows a commercial means of purchasing services/information, a single point of contact and a lack of infighting.

Or even if that’s the right approach.

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5 Responses to I just got influenced – the changing face of Industry Analysts

  1. @John – I think I partially addressed that commercial angle in talking about the coming together of like minded people where it makes sense?

    • John Appleby says:

      Absolutely, you did – and I don’t think any of us know how the overall commercial model will turn out. History suggests that a socialist republic is unlikely to work in the face of capitalism and greed.

  2. I think it is pretty obvious that whether you are a IT consultant or analyst the only thing that is certain is that you have to be flexible and willing to change slightly ahead of the market. You could easy have an article title that says “SAP On-Premise Consulting will be dead in 5 Years” and make the same case as there is no doubt it will look dramatically different than it does today.

    One last point that jumped in my head when you wrote ” Gartner buys the CIO a priceless commodity: a scapegoat. “But Gartner told me that XXX vendor was in the magic quadrant, it’s not my fault that it doesn’t work”. is very similar to choosing a big SI (ie Deloitte) to handle the consulting for an SAP project. CIO dont get fired for choosing Gartner and Deloitte but could get in trouble if things dont work out for chosing a small analyst recommendation & a small niche consulting company. That said the CIO that does the later will be ahead of the curve with how I think key decisions will be made in the IT world in 5 years.

  3. John,
    I think one of things we will find is that analysts will form the co-op like Enterprise Irregulars more often as they offer much more flexible ways of presenting information, which I think is the key. Few people doubt the conclusions or the output from companies like Gartner, but as your post says – do they want to read a 100 page tome? I think those days are disappearing, the markets shift their gaze with a speed that makes it difficult for large research paper to hit their target simply by the virtue of the time it takes to put them together.
    How can Gartner and other compete with Dennis’ influencers? By opening up their markets and de-centralising their information collection/publishing to include other methods of dissemination(Gartner banned twitter and personal blogs for their analysts) . They should be embracing smaller, more discrete pieces which move quicker and cost less to consume or produce – they can capture niche areas more quickly with less effort and provide better value. Of course these have lower margins associated with them, but that is not always a bad thing if you are providing value to your clients and they recognise that.

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