Listen up! Analysts say analyst relations is getting worse

Over the last week I’ve been discussing the initial results from our Analyst Attitude Survey with clients. The general picture is pretty depressing. AR is in reverse and analysts are less likely to recommend firms than they were. Because analysts are getting more experienced and more cautious, firms must improve their ability to put strategic spokespeople into discussion with analysts.

Some of the findings are:

  • Generally, firms are putting more effort into analyst relations. It looks like a 5% or 6% increase. That probably reflects the more intensive working of existing AR teams, rather than more budget overall. In particular, the firms that were worst at AR have improved notably – especially Asian firms.
  • Spokespeople, and companies generally, are seen as being less candid. One firm, a manufacturing powerhouse, obtained the lowest score for candor we’ve ever seen in seven years of running these studies.
  • Most firms are slipping a little on their understanding of analysts’ research coverage.
  • Firms are substantially more proactive but this seems to be a trade off: AR teams in large firms are slipping in their responsiveness to analysts’ information requests (while the smaller teams are improving).
  • Analysts are getting more experienced. Almost two-thirds have been analysts for nine years or more – and that’s another way of saying that analyst firms are not firing ‘fresh blood’ and that staff turnover has declined.
  • There has been a huge decline in the availability of spokespeople, especially with firms headquartered in the USA.
  • Analysts have a huge thirst for information about firms’ strategy. Out of six key forms of information asked for by analysts, strategy was asked for more than all the others added together. Interest in some forms of information has almost disappeared.
  • Generally, analysts are getting less comfortable at recommending top vendors – after a long period in which confidence was increasing.

These are astonishing and important results: firms should be using the to sound the alarm to colleagues, and to spokespeople in particular. Contact us to discuss the survey results in more detail.

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5 thoughts on “Listen up! Analysts say analyst relations is getting worse

  • Well done, Duncan. This is substantive and important – and accords with my experience. In particular, the proliferation of experienced analysts – especially outside the big firms – with increasing market visibility will be a challenge for already-strapped AR organizations. 2010 is likely to be an up year in IT spending, and now is the time for firms to tell the analyst community how they plan to capture the opportunity – or watch it go to other firms whose marketing and communications strategies are getting the attention they deseve. It’s never been more true that a good product is not enough; effective market execution in the face of powerful ecosystems growing around the majors will be critical. And analysts know it, and are asking the right questions. Hence the ranking of strategy as such a key issue, and one to be ignored at vendors’ peril.

  • Thanks for this. My take (largely from an Asia Pacific perspective) was that 2009 was a bad year for the industry on both the vendor and analyst side. This was expected. Budget cuts hit hard and momentum was lost. Some key and very large vendors have had quite spectacular declines in vendor engagement. For a range of reasons however the analyst community cannot just blame AR cutbacks. As an industry we need to hold up our end of the bargain to ensure we provide value. Having said that 2010 is going to be pivotal for our industry to return with full focus and deep relevance.

  • Duncan,

    This is obviously one side of the story, the other is:

    – recession means do more with less, so nice to have outreach might have suffered

    – its corollary is focus, probably towards analysts influencing deals, which means than the others are complaining about access, budgets and responsiveness.

    All in one, AR is a non-cost service provided to IT analysts ; refocussing on core objectives will invariably trouble most vendor-facing boutiques but my bet is that it’s a trend that won’t be over in 2010.

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