2021 Analyst Relations Forum: deck & takeaways

Analysts relations professionals are under new pressures. Many are questioning whether, and how, AR should try to transform its value to colleagues. Others feel that AR has not yet exhausted its core mission and should resist mission-creep. All these views came together at the 2021 Analyst Relations Forum, organised by the Analyst Observatory. The slides are at bit.ly/2021ARForum.

Here are five things that I took away.

  1. It’s happening. AR people are slowly warming to the idea of AR transformation. Gartner’s strategic planning assumption is that 40% of AR functions will change their role so much that their name will also change. On the basis of our survey, it looks like 40% of people are onboard with that, and 60% are not. So, that could be an early sign of which sort of teams will transform, and which will not.
  2. Other audiences are being subjected to AR. One metaphor for AR transformation is horizontal integration. Imagine an Italian restaurant that takes over the burger restaurant and the tapas place. AR teams can extend their reach to include academics, business thought leaders, social influencers, or sourcing advisors. Attendees at the 2021 AR Insights User Forum heard examples of that, and it’s also reflected in this year’s renaming of the Institute of Industry Analyst Relations as the Institute of Influencer & Analyst Relations. However, it’s clear that some firms are trying to enroll non-analysts into processes that are optimised for analysts. That produces some misfires, when methods that work with analysts might not connect with the needs and expectations of other influencers.
  3. TPAs are the next-best audience for AR, but they require different relationships from analysts. Sarah Shamouelian outlined joint Analyst Observatory and SageCircle research into a global community of around 3,000 sourcing advisors and supporting staff in TPAs. Third-party advisory firms have a huge impact on cloud, SaaS and professional services purchasers. Wisely, most large professional services firms have separate advisor relations and analyst relations functions. However, where those don’t exist AR leaders see the potential to address TPAs and, in doing so, increase AR’s value. However, expectations will not be met if AR expands its remit without expanding not only skills and resources, bit also understanding the different purposes, strategies, tactics and measurements used with TPAs.
  4. AR is on more solid ground when develops mature processes for insight. I’ve seen Robin Schaffer’s ability to extract insights first hand in the Analyst Observatory’s Analyst Advocacy Study, where she has interviewed many of the world’s most senior industry analysts. Robin spoke through ways that AR must advance from delivering analysts’ comment, to synthesising new intelligence and then driving workflow in the rest of the organisations.
  5. Insights are ARs entry ticket into sales enablement. Wendy Shlensky joined the discussion to talk about AR and sales; linking our themes of third party advisors and using insights to support internal stakeholders. Wendy, like Sarah, has deep experience in enterprise selling. Sales people are cautious about involving analysts and may not see the value of AR. The more mature an AR team’s insights capabilities is, the easier it will be to show value to sales.

Taken as a whole, the Forum reframed the AR transformation powerfully, from a foggy and existential threat into a clear set of choices about how AR can create more value. Many thanks go to the 2021 sponsors:

Duncan Chapple

Duncan Chapple is the preeminent consultant on optimising international analyst relations and the value created by analyst firms. As the head of CCgroup's analyst relations team, Chapple directs programs that increase the value of relationships with industry analysts and sourcing advisors.