Nick Patience was the keynote speaker opening the 2014 Analyst Relations Forum: a part of the small ex-Computerwire team that founded AR in a small NYC office in the 1990s, Nick wrote over 1,000 reports, and took almost 5,000 briefings and other sessions from vendors and IT solution providers. 451’s name came from Ray Bradbury’s dystopia in which the written word was too powerful to be allowed to survive. It aimed originally to provide senior executives in technology vendor firms with skeptical analysis of disruptive technologies, regardless of their current market impact. Out of the first 50 hires, almost none were former analysts (although one ex-Gartner analyst hit the ground running): the journalistic skills of the founders allowed them to ask difficult questions and to learn about the market.
Nick, who wrote 451’s infamous Analyst Manual, explained his key take-aways from the event. Some stories are too candid to share online, and he had some several examples of where firms pre-emptively attacked him, misled him, treated him like a salesperson and otherwise fouled up their chances with 451. Nick listed both some of the most common errors of spokespeople and AR professionals, and some hopefully rarer examples of AR on the edge: Pressuring analysts for leads, controlling the conversation, failing to be concise, not knowing the product or the product marketing folk, not coaching executives enough.
Nick also spoke a lot about the value of 451’s approach, where it hit limits (For example, picking up a question from Rachael Stormonth at NelsonHall, one of the forum’s sponsors, it took and handful of years for the firm to get to grips with services firms), and how it found sweet spots for winning non-IT customers, such as law firms, M&A experts and venture capitalists, where market leader Gartner’s insight was not highly valued.
Nick also emphasised the impact of multi-channel approaches: use face-to-face media (keep those events at five-star resorts coming, he advises) and social media to supplement the growing trend towards online briefings. He stresses that the most effective way to improve the business value of AR is to focus more on the R in AR. He likens analyst firms to what military doctrine calls force multipliers: they are resources that significantly increase the ability to meet targets.
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