Influencing analysts’ growing market for consulting

Springboard’s acquisition of Hydrasight (discussed last month) and the expansion of Experton Group into the UK reflect an important shifting value curve in the analyst industry, with important implications for analyst relations managers. Communications managers need to know what’s happening, how to anticipate the changes, and what to do differently.

Our regular surveys of analyst clients shows that demand continues to shift from basic research and syndicated subscription service. Instead both CIOs and IT users want more interaction and customisation in their work with analyst houses. Firms that have CIO-level experts with meaningful industry experience, like Hydrasight and Experton Group, are in demands. That means that analyst firms that want to grow to fill that markets, such as Springboard, need to hire top analysts who can also be top consultants.

PAC, the firm which stand out as the develop of analyst-consultants (and at that firm they are also account managers) has a term that indicates the rareness of the individuals who combine these rather separate skills: “five legged sheep”. So it’s no surprise to see Springboard’s growing office in Dehli hiring PAC’s Frederic Giron (Whose twitter page still links to PAC today).

Generally, the growing need for more custom consulting means that firms need to have more consultants, or they need to have analysts with more time to interact with customers. Either way, it means increasing headcount. Some firms, like Gartner, are not really increasing their headcount except through acquisition. But for other firms, a down market is a great time to hire.

Several analyst firms are starting to hire, and some quite seriously. Most impressive is Yankee Group, which this week won a further $10 million investment by Alta Communications. They’ll be doubling their research staff over two years, and hiring a new CEO to allow Emily Green to focus on her ‘evangelist’ role, and are already hiring in both Europe and the US.

Since many economists are anticipating a double dip in the recession later this year, we see a continuing opportunity for analyst firms to cherry pick staff to grow new capabilities, especially from the end user organisations and vendor companies. One firm that’s doing that is EMA which has expanded coverage to include business intelligence and data warehousing. The first step in that expansion is the addition of Shawn Rogers to the team as a Vice President to lead the building of this new practice area.

The current space of change in the analyst industry is accelerating: and the next year is sure to see the current trends deepen.

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