The rise of the right-brained analyst

There’s a opportunity facing analysts. It arises from a gap between what analysts offer and what their clients are looking for. Analyst firms traditionally use analytical skills which, by focussing research through structured and sequential methods, tend to blinker and confine their analysis.  In today’s difficult market, businesses often need creative solutions. Both vendors and users of high technology need to develop creative solutions. Creativity is a word that sometimes sounds a little strange in a technology setting. Many businesspeople think of brainstorming as the sum total of creativity’s place in the workplace. In fact, many business people need to ‘de-tox’ their process because structured and analytic thinking works better for stable, late-majority, processes but not for organisations that are looking for radically new ways of developing new solutions, finding ways to transform experiences.

This requires *strategic* creativity, not just a toolbox of tactics. Business people need open minds to develop new approaches. Managers need the motivation and methods for adding value and for solve problems (including those which are not similar to past ones) . Intelligence needs to be used flexibly, rather than by the pattern recognition that analysts excel at. This flexibility requires a combination of both playfulness and maturity to look beyond what we already know.
Analysts often work by looking for incremental changes to meet users’ already-stated needs.  They often lack a ‘innovation push’ approach, trying to identify new opportunities, rather than just a ‘demand pull’ approach. Analysts are often poorly equipped to anticipate changes, to speculate or to redesign business processes in a way that focusses on the value derived from customer experience. Analysts focus on hard RoI, rather than the crazy, risky need to imagine.
What can analyst firms do to help clients envision new ways out outperforming already-established best practise and of risking crazy ideas? In particular, this requires an open and interactive method for getting ideas, learning from others and experimenting. That is very different from the uninspiring, unoriginal, conservative, repetition-based, approaches which flow from stable, permanent research processes.
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  • Back to the future then? I don’t see firms hiring ‘mad professors’ or ex. academics starting their own crystal ball boutique, do you?

    Or in other words, is there a new generation of Robin Bloor, Gideon Gartner, Martin Butler, etc -or is there no longer a business model for it because IT is now “normal”?

  • As an analyst focused on financial ROI, I can assure you that creativity and ROI are not exclusive. Understanding the ROI of BYOD, mobile applications, social media, visualization applications, and other consumerized technologies can take some creativity. I actually find that end users tend to be flexible and creative (because they have to be) while vendor AR tends to be very rigid. That makes it a challenge to translate end user inquiries to AR because it really is speaking two different languages. AR wants to hear about pure deal influence rather than how they can provide new offerings that can change their relative positioning.

    This isn’t hard and fast; some of our vendor advisory clients do understand the opportunity. But on the whole, the end user advisory clients are far more flexible.

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