The Heimat Strikes Back

Dr. Thorsten Wichman, CEO of the Berlecon Research firm in Germany, has something to say about my hypothesis about why analysts’ consulting services are so much more in demand there.

German speakers can see Thorsten’s comments, together with a good summary of my thoughts, on his blog. My very rough summary of his comments are below.

  • 1. Detail preference. Do German managers use more consultants because of the quality of the available research? Much available research from the large firms simply does not meet German needs. If, as I experienced in a large-scale meeting some months ago, a considerable research house from the USA only brings over examples from India to illustrate the offshoring topic (although for CIOs here Eastern Europe is at least as important) then one must not be surprised at weak interest.
  • 2. Quick decisions. The fact that I hesitate now while writing gives the hypothesis perhaps something. But I would have gladly seen more proof, before I believed it.
  • 3. Language: The point is probably only a question of comfort. Naturally a German native speaker reads a German text somewhat faster (That is a reason, why we publish mainly in German). But certainly for younger, IT-savvy, coworkers in larger enterprises (the typical users of research) passive English is only a small problem. And analysts’ English is also not actually very elaborate.
  • 4. Culture: That may be correct in principle, but is it for those who work in IT? An analysis of the offerers of CRM solutions for example – a typical research publication – may differ in the emphasis of settings and in the selection of the offerers, but nevertheless there are only a few cultural aspects.

I believe that another factor plays a much larger role: Many enterprises in Germany do not know at all what analysts produce and what research publications contain. Most analysts are somewhat similar as market researchers: Number producers, who have a doubtful reliability with their Hockey-stick prognoses of the Dotcom time. The knowledge about our work is, simply, frightening small.

That is probably also connected to the press work of the large analyst houses: Since all gladly write numbers into their press releases (because journalists like that) this part of research results is often overestimated in the public eye. Clearly, fewer managers know that analysts also support users in enterprises with their technology decisions.

These are excellent points, although we feel they supplement our comments more than correct them. The greater information needs and differing time orientation of German managers has been well documented, and we can refer readers to the work of Geert Hofstede on this topic.

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