Asia-Pacific customers’ different needs demand different AR

Our recent comment that AR is often out of line with analyst realities in Asia-Pacific produced some interesting feedback. Readers tend to agree with our basic argument that firms based in the region have rather AR different approaches from outsiders.

Firms in the region don’t have the illusion that it’s one market. While an APac AR programme can involve a core team in location, AR has to be local. Rahul Basarkar, who has led recognition marketing, advisor relations and analyst relations for firms like Tech Mahindra, CSC and Tata Consultancy Services, sent me this useful comment:-

Barring Australia, the other countries are just 2-3 hours apart in time difference from India. So it doesn’t make a difference if the AR person is based in India and covers the APAC analysts. Also, most of these analysts are well versed in English, so I really don’t see any language issues. Of course there are exceptions.

I see a big problem if the AR person, based anywhere, is not allowed to travel to the cities where his customers are based. If you travel once in a quarter to the analyst cities and meet them, it really helps in building that rapport. Also, many analysts travel to different locations and if they are visiting the country were the AR person is based, the AR person should make sure that he meets the analyst and spends time with him.

What I especially like is the understanding that the analysts are our customers. Indeed, the best relationships are built face to face but many Western firms fail to get face-time with analysts – and especially with analysts in China, where even market leader CCID is still unknown to come global firms. That has meant that, as was the case as long as as 2007, many of the global top vendors fail to get into APac analysts’ top tier.

Asian firms are a little different, and that’s one reason why Gartner and Forrester have failed to grow organically in the region. Famously, Gartner Consulting closed in Asia Pacific while its successful Japanese business is somewhat separate from the main firm, notably producing its own research in the local language.

The analyst market is deeply fragmented in Asia, both in terms of supply and demand. Traditionally Asian firms have offered, and expected, loyalty in their dealings with analysts. Often analysts are seen as being strategic advisors who were uniquely aligned to the clients they worked with, and that maintains the fragmented market for small analyst organisations, many of which focus on an individual. If analysts cannot be uniquely loyal then at least they can be more equalitarian market advocates: perhaps that explains the success of Frost & Sullivan and IDC with vendors in the region: those firms are always able to see the best side of vendors.

Naturally, the cross cultural issues are significant as we once explained at length in our webinar on When Bob meets Mr. Zhang, Mr. Tanaka and Mr Kim – Cross-cultural tips for analyst relations in China, Japan and Korea. It was depressing, very recently, to share the shock of Microsoft’s Andrea Edwards at seeing how some folk still don’t respect business cards in Asia.

Perhaps some of this can be discussed at the AR Forum? One AR leader will address the event by video conference from Singapore, and we’ll be lucky to have Indian and Chinese colleagues at the event. One of the key speakers, Shashank Kulkarni from ARInsights, can also add the perspective of an Indian who is working in the USA with global AR teams. I hope you’ll be able to join the conversation as well.

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