Over the last 12 years, my colleagues and I have run dozens of webinars and telephone conferences to address the most frequently asked questions of analyst relations managers. This week I’ve been running the numbers, looking to see which topics got the most attention. Several of these topics were used more for than one event and, indeed, looking back even to 2003 I can see that some of the topics are timeless. Five thoughts come to mind.
- The most enduring problem is showing the value of analyst relations. It’s quite easy to measure what AR people do. It’s a little harder to measure what analysts do, but still straightforward. How to measure the value of the difference created by analyst relations is still hard for those AR teams that don’t know the impact of analysts. Even simple measures like the Influence Quadrant allow AR teams to communicate the stakes in AR.
- Many analyst firms struggle to explain their value transparently. Analysts are much more widely read than they were 12 years ago. The reach of analysts now goes far beyond the IT department and, as a result, the top firms like Gartner and Forrester and grown greatly in authority and scale. Even so, many AR people still struggle to be able to explain exactly which analysts are influential (our Analyst Firm Awards help with that a little) and how influential they are. As a result, they sometimes struggle to prove their own value. That’s one reason why so many people consult the Analyst Value Survey.
- AR people don’t understand the analysts firms as well as they did. Partly because of over-aggressive tiering, more and more AR managers are focussed on fewer and fewer analysts. That means they don’t see new firms rising, often under the influence of their competitors. And it means they struggle to understand regional leaders and niche players. Especially in the US, AR managers still need to explain why they need to do serious AR outside the USA.
- Services and sourcing are the segments where AR strategies vary most greatly. Pure-play services firms are very different in their analyst strategies. Some saturate a small number of analysts and miss out on the impact they could have. Others spread themselves too thinly. Some are almost invisible. That is complicated even further by cloud trends, which mean that almost everything is a service. A few firms, however, show that it is possible to understand the long tail.
- Without strong measurements, AR teams are adrift. Good measures are better than bad measures, but bad measures are better than nothing for most firms. Without ways of setting goals and explaining targets, AR teams often struggle to understand how they are creating value and, as a result, aimlessly wander between the competing priorities of different stakeholders and fail to develop strategic competence. Larger firms can use tools like the Analyst Attitude Survey, but many firms struggle to justify the budget for measurement and control.