Do the IIAR awards simply reward large firms?

The 2016 Institute for Industry Analyst Relations’ awards seem to be rewarding firms for the scale of their analyst relations, rather than their quality.

In a blog post on July 6th, the IIAR awarded IBM the status of best analyst relations teams, with Cisco, Dell and HP as runners-up. Together with Microsoft, which outsources much of its analyst relations to WE Worldwide, those are five firms most followed by analysts according to Kea Company’s Analyst Attitude Survey (chart above). It seems too much of a coincidence that the IIAR’s award has gone, yet again, to IBM and the three runners up are the other three with the largest in-house AR teams.

I’ve posed a question about the methodology to the IIAR: does the method track the good, or the large?

Given the general stability in the scale of analyst relations outreach by firms, the value of an annual award focussed on volume seems limited. Wouldn’t it be better to recognize teams that had most improved, or were most successful, such as Amazon Web Services or Ericsson?

Given the IIAR’s track record, I’m not expecting a meaningful response from the IIAR.  The IIAR has not given a meaningful answer to similar questions about its other ranking, the Tragic Quadrant, previously. While I haven’t asked about their analyst team awards before, the initial brief response (“the point is not to compare but to share the good news and elevate the profession”, see comments below) is a refusal to explain the methodology. It seems the IIAR is no more transparent about its rankings of analyst firms (about which it did not answer the question of how the survey calculated ‘Influence’ and ‘Relevance’) than it is about the ranking of AR teams (where again the IIAR is not going to explain its method).

What is certainly the case is that although the IIAR survey claims to be looking at nicely-named like Responsiveness, Relationship, and Results the results show that their method is adding rather than using averages (100 analysts on average rating a large firm at 5/10 will be a better score than 50 analysts on average rating a mid-size firm as 9/10). There’s no other way that those results, which highlight the largest programs rather than the most excellent, can be replicated.

I just think that the best AR teams deserve more meaningful recognition for their efforts.

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6 thoughts on “Do the IIAR awards simply reward large firms?

  • You crack me up Duncan. You asked the question before, same answer.

    Anyway, the point is not to compare but to share the good news and elevate the profession.

    • Ludovic, the IIAR has not given an answer previously and I haven’t asked this question before. I guess you mean it’s the same answer: no comment. The IIAR is no more transparent about its rankings of analyst firms (about which it did not answer the question of how the survey calculated ‘Influence’ and ‘Relevance’) than it is about the ranking of AR teams (where again the IIAR is not going to explain its method).

      What is certainly the case is that although the IIAR survey claims to be looking at factors like Responsiveness, Relationship, and Results the results show that your method is adding rather than using averages. There’s no other way that those results, which highlight the largest programmes rather than the most excellent, can be replicated.

      • Much as I agree with being open about methodologies I’d like to point out that there’s some value in pure numbers as well. If you engage more analysts (which is obviously easier for a large team) you are also doing a good job in creating awareness. So maybe the discussion should be around what constitutes good AR in the first place. In the end ‘analyst relations awards’ will always be based on subjective votes by individuals. So I don’t see any value in over analyzing this. Being recognized – based on whatever parameters – is always an achievement. That said it would be nice to have different categories to differentiate more.

  • Our analyst firm works with AR teams daily and has real hands on experience with most of them. I have to say, we experience some excellent class analyst relations from smaller IT suppliers – and smaller AR teams from large suppliers. In many cases, they are actually involved in driving strategic conversations with our analysts, introducing us to end users, exploring brain-storming sessions etc. I’d like to give a few shout outs for vendors not mentioned here:

    Cognizant – AR facilitates some great sessions right across the firm. Knows when to get involved and when to step out of the way and just let stuff happen

    Wipro – been a breath of fresh air to work with – AR is much higher up the totem pole and very involved at the senior exec levels driving interaction

    Accenture – one of the most efficient at just getting stuff done, responding to analyst needs etc

    Sutherland – just one AR exec for a $1bn firm, but does a terrific job

    EXL – really tracks our research and stays on top of everything we do. Again, a very small team which handles a lost of analysts and advisors.

    HCL – massively improved over the last year – very responsive and eager to drive exec level discussions

    Atos – great ideas for increasing analyst visibility and interaction

    There are others too, but these are just some examples. There are also some terrible AR teams out there, including some on the IIAR list which just tick the boxes, are completely reactive, and can never figure out what analysts cover – and NEVER reads their research….

    PF

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