An unfolding discussion on how to tier analyst firms has some AR professionals close to tears. Two directors at noted PR firms, Jonny and Dom, are of the opinion that one should tier analysts, and ignore the firm they work for. Jonny seems to feel that analysts should be placed in the top tier if they are taken seriously by part of the buyer, or media, communities.
However, very many analysts are important in one or both of these ways, since analysts with a high media profile tend not to be those with a high influence on sales. Such a broad definitionof the ‘top tier’ would be unworkable, since most of the analysts that firms currently have relationships with could, in this way, be seen as top tier. However, our feeling is that, for tiering to be workable, a small number of analysts need to be in the top tier.
In our opinion, influence is a function of both the analyst and the firm. One amplifies the other. Most importantly, the analyst firm is an important amplifier of individual analysts: Analysts at large firms do become less influential after they set up independently, for example. Furthermore, in B2B markets, analysts’ comments in the media may have little impact on buyers. As a result, it would be disorienting to not reassess analysts’ importance when they move between firms.
What would happen if tech vendors started to place analysts in the top tier on the basis of media profile alone? They would focus on analysts most frequently cited in media releases, i.e. those who are least independent and most tied to vendors’ viewpoints.
The opposite danger is one reflected by ARmadgeddon, a habitually contrary site with views generally opposite to our views — and everyone elses‘. ARmadgeddon proudly parades its ignorance of a leading niche firm. While we struggle to think that any niche firm can really be considered as part of the global top tier of all analyst firms, ARmadgeddon’s comment reflects the shallow pro-Gartner ‘groupthink‘ of those analyst relations professionals who try to simplify their lives with the convenient fiction that only Gartner and Forrester have real impact in the world’s varied national markets.