Understanding Industry Analysts
(image via Michael Myers, thanks)
Memes are a thing. This is a goody.
When HRTECH companies I work with learn that I used to be a Gartner Analyst, they often ask me about becoming a cool vendor, or getting on a Magic Quadrant. Some imagine there is some magic handshake that opens the door to massive positive analyst coverage, but it turns out there isn't one.
While there are now more voices and influencers than ever before, the leading Industry Analysts have a strong impact on buyer behaviour, especially in the enterprise space. IT leaders in large companies rely on firms such as Gartner, Forrester, IDC, Constellation Research, Redmonk, and HfS for advice. Gartner has grown its influence beyond IT, having developed specialised services for marketing, HR and other LoB functions. In HRTECH, you need to understand who are the specialist analysts and influencers. I'll do another post on that soon, as there are several you should be aware of.
Analysts also talk to lots of buyers and your competitors. They can't innovate for you, but they usually know more about the current competitive landscape and buyer behaviour than you do. Analyst opinions are just that, opinions. They are sometimes wrong, but often they know stuff you don't know. You may be the third company in a week to brief them on an idea that you think is unique.
Getting the most out of analysts requires you to do some work. The expectation that spending money with an analyst firm will lead to great coverage and a bulging pipeline is nonsense. Signing up to Gartner or other analyst firms is a bit like joining the gym. You actually need to use it to get the benefit out of it. You can't just delegate analyst relations, the product leaders and founders need to give it focus.
I'll use this post to point you to useful articles and connections:
1. Ludovic LeForestier has set up a specialist Analyst Relations Advisory firm, Starsight Communications. Before you write a big cheque or wire transfer to an analyst firm, I suggest you give him a call. His business is new, but he has decades of experience in Analyst Relations. They put together this neat chart that differentiates AR and PR.
Ludovic, we still owe you a podcast...
2. Nigel Montgomery provides specialist advice for companies responding to Magic Quadrants, Waves and other evaluations. He is a former Gartner Analyst.
3. Skills Connection. Also run by ex-analysts. My good friend Julie Short is working with them.
3. Some posts on doing a good vendor briefing and analyst relations.
- How to Nail your vendor briefings.
- How to avoid an ineffective briefing.
- Posts From Beyond The Grave: How To Impress / Annoy An Analyst During A Briefing
- Analyst relations 101
- HfS vendor briefings.
- My favourite. A few suggestions for briefing analysts. Stephen O'Grady at Redmonk.
- Have a listen to our show with Stephanie McReynolds on the topic of category creation, we talk a lot about analysts and category creation / amplification.
More to follow on HR specific AR in another post.
Let me know if you have specific questions and I'll have a go at answering them.
I advise leading and emerging HRTECH vendors and their investors, guiding them to build better products and be more successful.