IIAR awards: don’t forget who the voters were


The IIAR has announced the winners of the 2008 Analyst of the Year award, on its blog.

The leading award goes to R. ‘Ray’ Wang, at Forrester Research – which also wins the awards for Analyst Firm of the Year. Forrester also came top in sectoral studies for the US, for services, for software and for communications. David Mitchell of Ovum came second, with the second spot for Analyst Firm of the Year going to Gartner.

These are, in our opinion, well-deserved awards for two great analysts, each different from the other. R ‘Ray’ Wang’s blog writing gives reader acute, sharp and easy to implement guidance, which is especially useful in responding to short-term opportunities. There’s little of that research at most analyst firms, and readers clearly appreciate it. David Mitchell’s blog continually delights and challenges its readers. It shows a breadth and depth of understanding of the broad industry context but is all the more refreshing because of David’s evident openness to testing and learning.

One question the IIAR will continue to mull over is the campaigning, which I am sure had no effect on the final results, which a few folk took part in. AR and PR professionals will understand that this enthusiasm for participation in the survey is most helpful and that both the survey and any lobbying on whom to vote for should be taken a with a grain of salt.

However, it’s clear from the initial reaction to the results that the survey will be taken very seriously by some. Evidence for that includes the issuing of press releases about the awards stressing Ovum, and one about Forrester (thanks for Hannah for suggesting I should point out that the releases came from the IIAR, rather than those firms).

The initial data were presented at a meeting in April, about which I wrote earlier. While a detailed summary of the results is online, there are some interesting trends in the data that are not visible from the summary. I hope the IIAR is able to release some anonymised data to allow members to make some more detailed analysis.

One fascinating element of the results is the high standing of some smaller analyst firms. Ovum’s press release describes this as a strong performance for boutiques, but the firms that did well in this survey were a very specific subset: they were vendor-funded micro-firms whose businesses stress English-language blogs, high media profile and which are well-connected into the vendor ecosystem. These organisations have differences from each other, of course, but they share exceptionally high profile with AR and PR managers. Firms like RedMonk and MWD are now well-established in vendors’ minds, but remain quite small organisations, each with a handful of people. It must be remembered that the award is based on the opinions of the IIAR’s members, and their contacts, who are principally engaged in representing vendors. As a result, the awards give the views of one tiny segment of the community of users of the analyst firms; the segment that most reflects vendors’ experience of working with analysts.

That said, that the survey is a valuable perception indicator for analyst firms on how they are perceived by one of their most important audiences -and let’s not forget that AR professionals are the ones most often doing the championing inside vendors for more candor with, and support for, industry analysts.

Because of that, the IIAR should be praised for conducting this survey and for making the results public. The study is the result of substantial efforts by a small group of people, led by Jonny Bentwood, who has almost certainly created the initiative will be the most effective at raising the profile of the IIAR.

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