AR Classics: Amjad Khan on the new AR era

Since managing analyst relations for clients like Microsoft, Motorola and Kodak at CCgroup, Amjad Khan’s led AR in-house at Global Crossing and Amdocs and worked with the full range of analyst firms. In this article, Amjad made an early assessment of the new analyst firms which appeared eight to ten years ago.

Navigating the new era of Analyst Relations (AR)

When it comes to creating Analyst Relations (AR) plans and implementing tactics, AR professionals need to understand how the analyst landscape has changed. This is crucial in order to navigate the modern era of  AR. One needs to step back a little to understand how this sector has evolved in recent years. The two main changes to focus on are the changed role of the analyst and the way market research is produced and disseminated.

In the past, the role of analysts was mainly to write research and provide market insight in paid for engagements. Reports would be in-depth and sizeable. Research would be sold to clients in subscriptions or one-off purchases. The analyst influence would be felt in different spheres: with end-users, vendors and in the media.

The role of analysts gradually changed. Evolving business models has meant industry analysts now perform distinct and complementary roles within their organisations: Today,  analyst work involves creating smaller pieces of research and sharing opinion. Gartner Predicts is a good example of this.

Decision-makers and executives read shorter reports. Analyst don’t churn out as many larger reports anymore. The milestone reports such as Forrester Waves and Gartner MQs are produced and still generate media interest. The Gartner MQ report may take months to complete after the initial research questionnaire is completed by vendors. However, the influence of these reports within their sectors is debatable.

In smaller, independent and some larger analyst firms, analysts also perform a sales function and are tasked with winning clients and generating new revenue for their firms. Many firms have also added a consulting and events arm to their businesses to grow revenues. Smaller and nimbler firms that have grown over the last 10 years have challenged the subscription-based model of traditional analyst firms.

It is also important to note that other influencers have gained traction in recent years. In the past, the power of the big three analyst firms (IDC, Gartner and Forrester) dominated the research landscape. These days the picture is murkier with influencers such as management consultants, bloggers and academics having the ability to shift opinion and brand perceptions.

You can read more about the evolving and emerging buy-side and market influencer models by industry analyst Ray Wang here: new influencers

The key difference between analysts and the new influencers such as bloggers, is that analysts have a research methodology and process used to provide useful competitive insight and analysis, and do not merely share opinions.

So not only have the role of analysts, and the type of influencers, changed but the content produced and how it is shared has altered. Analysts now regularly write syndicated blogs or contribute articles to media titles. Social media is used to share links to research content and share opinion. Research content is shared in presentations at industry conferences and trade shows. Around trade shows there is regular analyst activity to highlight sector developments, company news and announcements.

So in brief, analysts now add value in different ways and deploy new techniques. They continue to have an influence in their sectors so long as they deliver real insight into end-user and vendor behaviour to help industry decision-makers.

So what do AR professionals need to do to successfully navigate the new era? They need to update their skills and continue to work on developing long-term relationships with targeted analysts. There also needs to be a be more focused and creative approach with sharing content with analysts, as well as influencers.  The core skills are still about knowing how analysts work and how research is produced and disseminated, relationship management and understanding markets and trends.

Added to this, AR staff need to understand how to deploy newer tools and know about trends that impact influence, such as social media. Finally, AR needs to focus on tailoring and differentiating content to hold the attention of targeted analysts.

In conclusion, AR professionals need to adopt new strategies alongside some traditional approaches. So an AR plan needs to include both a focus on the major reports being planned and the shorter opinions pieces and industry comments and events analysts attend.

With an increased focus on end-users and inquiry time to develop market knowledge, analysts will continue to be influential for technology clients they serve and AR has a major role to play in facilitating their role in the industry.

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