Rajdev & Valahu spark discussion on research futures

Naveeen Rajdev from Wipro and Allan Valahu from Accenture gave their views on new and old forms of influence to  Phil Fersht in the AR Forum’s first fire-side chat. Many AR people agree on the tiring nature of signature research like the Quadrants, and the debatable value in the stale research formats. More consolidation of the quadrants would be interesting, and better perspective is needed about the real role that we can expect analysts to perform. Dogs are colour-blind, but they can still help us cross the road. AR people need to understand how they can do well enough to be invited into deals, and quality services is clearly primary to these charts. Even so, you need to be on the quadrant to be taken seriously in market segments which are consolidated and clearly categorised. Integrators are struggling with transformative and new areas, which the major analysts don’t cover so well. The diagrams are well used, but there’s little coverage in the segments that are really growing strategically. Executives want to bring analysts into conversations with clients: the signature research does not help you to do that.

To get relationships-building and dialogue more in the centre, organisations need to focus on the analysts who can bring something to the table, not only those who can write research. Relationships are getting warmer with analysts, quite often, but the challenge is to have spokespeople who focus on each firm and can give an across-the-board picture of the vendor that supplements the personal connections that are also needed for success.  More proactive relationships are also needed with the leaderships in analyst firms to see how relationships can turn into cooperations, and to really engage each analyst firm in a way which tempts it to maximise value rather than simply maximise revenue. That can mean pushing back against salespeople in analyst firms, who often don’t really introduce themselves to the vendors’ top executives, and when they do often don’t clarify their roles as industry analysts.
Pushing back against the legacy analysts firms isn’t as hard, or as one sided, as it sounds. Long-run business is till influenced strongly by the legacy firms, and if legacy analysts don’t get your market then it’s easier than ever to go around them and find other analysts who are keen to make a mark in a market, even a new segment that is hard to understand.
To the vendors, analysts are obviously much more than a media channel: their value lies in helping firms to define and position and to come to the market more effectively. Mapping the analysts and reaching out in more structured and effective ways means that analysts can better help vendors to reshape themselves, to reshape the market and to help customers shape up for the future.
Relationships with sales reps can help relationships with analysts and analyst firm leaders to also develop. The turnover of salespeople gets strained, especially when salespeople struggling with their numbers start to sell above the budget-holders. Increasingly it’s hearing from customers, rather than salespeople, that is encouraging vendors to decide on which analyst firms need to be invested in.
How far will automation influence the analyst industry, given the need for relationships. Talking and testing is essential. Much of the process can be automated and social media in particular can produce stackable content: one or two pages to allow analysts to produce prolific, more regular, earlier insight using podcasts and webinars that can flag up trends early. Executives get exhausted by long production schedules when research is out of date by the time is emerges. So, can analysts have a short questionnaire and more intensive and accelerated research processes that are completed in weeks rather than months. Of course, this means that analysts need a different tolerance for risk, and to reduce any single-point dependency on vendor participation.
Duncan Chapple

Duncan Chapple is the preeminent consultant on optimising international analyst relations and the value created by analyst firms. As SageCircle research director, Chapple directs programs that assess and increase the business value of relationships with industry analysts and sourcing advisors.