Two weeks until Influencer Relations’ Analyst Firm Awards for 2014

Next month this blog will announce Influencer Relations’ Analyst Firm Awards for 2014 (AFOTY14). The awards aim to recognise the most valuable analyst firms, and to recognise firms that have won a leading role in specific market segments.

Other annual Analyst Firm awards have been tried in the past, most notably from Communications Day and the IIAR, but it’s not been possible to sustain those year after year. I think the Analyst Value Survey, which I have run each year since 2000, is a sustainable vehicle for the award. It has four times more participants than the IIAR study (The IIAR paused its Analyst Firm of the Year programme, launching awards to recognise AR professionals, and of course continues to run its popular Analyst of the Year awards). Unlike the survey which the IIAR used to run, the AVS reaches out beyond the vendor-side analyst relations community and allows us to rank analyst firms according to the value they deliver to the users of analyst firm services. The awards will recognise the leading analyst firms, chosen by the value delivered to users, in the following segments:

Telecoms & Networking

Last year my colleague Ian Scott and I tested a methodology for turning the Analyst Value Survey into such a ranking: the Analyst Value Index. We launched the Index last year, and since then we’ve been discussing the methodology and refining it. The core of the methodology is asking participants what analyst capabilities they value, to see how high a value they put on that capability and then to see how well each of the analyst firms delivers each of those capabilities.

One of the issues that we faced in developing the methodology was the reality that each analyst firm’s impact varies greatly from segment to segment. Vendors need a different portfolio of analyst services than end-users, and end-users in North America value those services differently from their colleagues in Asia-Pacific. That led us to make some major changes in the AVS this year, and in particular we’ve looked at more analyst services, and we’ve discovered exactly how the value of those services differs from segment to segment.

Looking at the draft results, some things are obvious and probably expected. One is that value is a function of how many people are using a firm’s services, and how far those services march up with the services valued by clients. To deliver more value, firms need to reach more people or provide more, and better, services across the full range of services. It’s unsurprising, of course, that Gartner leads comprehensively.

But the other thing that strikes me, is that in comparison with the Analyst Value Survey, these awards are much more about value than about value for money. Nucleus Research, for example, is a leader on value for money but because it focusses on delivering one form of value – which it delivers is exceptionally well – it does not have the impact it needs to have a global leadership role. Another example is Ovum, which is shortlisted in only one of the ten areas: it’s widely used but it does not deliver high value in all the areas that its users are looking for.

We’ll be reaching out to analyst firms next week to give them embargoed news about the awards they have won, and tweeting about it using the #afoty14 hashtag

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