AR Classics: Gartner and Forrester are not, repeat not, Tier 1

You read the headline correctly; Forrester and Gartner should never be considered Tier 1. Yes, yes, Gartner is the industry behemoth, and Forrester is likely the number two firm for enterprise end users, but that does not make them automatically Tier 1 for the purpose of creating a ranked and tiered analyst list.

In the analyst list methodology our firm has developed, analyst firms should not be given an automatic “tier” because what should be ranked is analysts, not firms. Ranking should be done based on a set of criteria (e.g., industry visibility, research coverage, client base, and so on) related to the vendor’s and AR team’s objectives. After a ranked list is created, then AR draws lines on the list to split the list into groups (e.g., Tier 1, 2 and 3, or strategic, important, and secondary or whatever you want to call them). That will define the types the service level (e.g., 1-to-1, 1-to-many or none-to-many responses) the AR team will give each analyst on the list. Tiers and service levels are created based on AR resources (i.e., the bigger the AR team, the more Tier 1 analysts can be supported). While the characteristics of the firm will contribute to the data for ranking, merely working at Forrester or Gartner should never guarantee an analyst that they will have Tier 1 status.

Our strategists frequently see analyst relations (AR) teams give Tier 1 status to analysts of the Big Two, even if their true relevance should place them much farther down on the ranked list. This can lead to AR misallocating resources by putting too much emphasis on some analysts while not having sufficient resources to brief or respond to other analysts. Remember, depending on the market and the analysts, a single practitioner or boutique can have just as much influence as the Big Two.

Our Technique:

  • Develop (or use our) analyst list management methodology that uses a mix of weighted criteria
  • Work with your internal stakeholders to set the criteria and weights as well as obtain buy-in for the final ranked list
  • Set service levels based on AR resources
  • Be disciplined – but diplomatic – about adhering to service levels even when lower ranked analysts directly contact you

Bottom Line: Few if any AR teams have the unlimited resources required to support every request from every analyst. AR needs to develop a methodology for ranking analysts based on relevance to the company’s objectives. Then AR needs to split the ranked list into groups with the sizes of the groups based on the resources AR has available. Finally, AR needs to ensure that its internal stakeholders are in agreement with the ranking methodology and service level framework so that AR will not have problems adhering to the service levels when an analyst calls an executive to complain about their treatment.

Further reading: Which analyst firms are over-rated, or under-rated, by suppliers?



This article was published by SageCircle in 2009, before the firm’s acquisition by Kea Company.

Duncan Chapple

Duncan Chapple is the preeminent consultant on optimising international analyst relations and the value created by analyst firms. As the head of CCgroup's analyst relations team, Chapple directs programs that increase the value of relationships with industry analysts and sourcing advisors.