Learning from Forrester’s ARM Council

Forrester Research’s long-term commitment to building up the ARM Council over the last two years gives a good idea of the effort required to develop the kind of critical mass required by an authoritative representative body for the AR community, something that is the subject of ongoing discussion here and between the ARmadgeddon gnomes.

Forrester’s initial caution in building the initiative was rooted in its reservation that, as an advisory firm, it might be seen as attempting to derail or co-opt the collaborative instincts of AR managers. Now, those reservations are long behind it. The Council has over 120 members from 110 firms, mainly the North American operations of global firms.

Key to building acceptance for the Council is that fact that, other than the membership fee, it’s not there to sell more Forrester services to firms. It’s clear that Forrester wants the team that staffs the ARM Council to be an advocate for its members. By developing better services, and by getting feedback of members’ ideas and comments, the Council can also be a valuable tool for Forrester itself.

Importantly, the Council focusses on delivering content-driven services to subscribers (in addition to a WholeView 2 seat), rather than simple networking.

  • Meetings are held face to face twice annually. Both are at the front end of events in the US: GigaWorld and the Executive Strategy Forum.
  • CouncilTels are regular telephone conferences for Council members on topics, like how to extend AR programs globally, which appeal to a wide range of Council members.
  • Newsletters and other written deliverables similarly have to focus on wide, cross-industry themes such as spending trends, setting SLAs, trends in the SMB sector or what’s happening in key vertical markets.
  • Surveys are useful, including a recent survey of the compensation of analyst relations managers, which closed last week.
  • Research Pipeline reports, similar to the Lighthouse AR Intranet’s ResearchAgenda option, reports on upcoming research.
  • Analyst Alerts are given to Council members, such as new hires, departures and significant changes in topics followed.
  • Inquiry Advantage is a regular report summarising the 5,000 or so formal client inquiries responded to by Forrester’s analysts each quarter. Excel geeks will love the Macros in this spreadsheet, which allows managers to focus in on the questions that most relate to their firm. The questions are segmented by the firm (type, geography, and size), client title and IT topic.

With a team of just three dedicated people (in addition to the central Forrester Oval team) the ARM Council’s staff has its hands full. They remain open to developing new services, to better understanding the AR managers’ goals, and to assist PR and marketing managers for whom AR is peripheral. However, it’s also important that the ARM Council is something that generates a reliable profit for Forrester – and therefore it needs to continually increase the value that delivers in order to justify the price premium that member firms pay. It also has to be careful not to stray too far onto the ground of the PR and AR consultancies. In fact it’s been careful to bring in organisations like ITSMA, Lighthouse AR and Waggener Edstrom, often inviting them to speak to live and telephone meetings of the Council. For example, Lighthouse AR is participating in a Council discussion on global AR later this year.

It’s to Forrester Research’s credit that the Council exists. However, there is a far wider audience of professionals that would benefit from its activities than the 120 which have signed up. This modest blog gets over 1,000 unique visitors each month and, of course, that’s only the hard kernel of the analyst relations community.

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.