AR evaluation’s growing focus on competitors and outcomes

Since our December survey we’ve seen increasing numbers of AR teams trying to move away from tracking their own efforts and trying to see how they are moving relative to their competitors. In the recession mood which still influences many buyers, analysts continue to play a market-shaping role. Clients, not technologies, are increasingly at the centre of analysts interests: as we’ve seen in the realignment of analyst teams towards clients interests at firms like Forrester, IDC and Informa’s Datamonitor, Ovum and Butler brands.

Tracking how the firm is moving relative to competitors is now an absolute must-have. Mindshare in top analysts’ research and share of voice in research overall have high value to those who fund and control AR. Strong metrics are crucial. Frequency of mentions in research is now one of the top top measures (normally the secondary one) in many firms.

In constrast, many firms are putting less effort into tracking analysts’ commented on in the media, especially if the vendors are not sure the analysts doing the commenting are the real influencers. The same issue exists for analysts in the social media: it’s very hard to score their quality, since it’s so easy to fake the characteristics of an influential twitter feed.

Interestingly, more firms are trying to connect up their interactions with movement in research – looking to see how they are moving relataive to their key competitors, and then comparing that to feedback from Analyst Attitude Surveys.

Most firms are still strugglying with Spoken Word Audits and other qualitative approaches that aim to get analysts to share which deals they are leading what vendors in to. Many firms are more comfortable saying how many clients shortlisted the vendors in questions. A few firms are able to develop shortlist scorecards, showing how often vendors are mentioned or recommended: that’s an interesting growth area for analyst firms’ custom research services.

Increasingly that reflects and interest in tracking outcomes, since that what AR teams can report upwards most easily. It also helps with Alignment (to use the language of our IDEAL model). Operations metrics for AR are often not reported upwards. However, AR steams need to find ways to ensure that activities focus on things that matter to line of business managers. Some metrics are easier for people AR to understand. However, more use it being made of almost all metrics because of the increased pressure to track resources and use them effectively.

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