How Huawei’s analyst relations overtook Cisco’s

Sarita Kinkaid (Huawei's AR director) and Kea Company's Duncan Chapple
Sarita Kinkaid (then Huawei’s AR director) and Kea Company’s Duncan Chapple

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the 2017 Analyst Relations Value Forum was Huawei winning one of the KeaCircle awards given to several leading-edge analyst relations teams. Recommendations from industry analyst firms like Gartner and Forrester have not only been a powerful driver of Cisco‘s success over the last 20 years, but it has been a gold standard for all ICT vendors.

Huawei’s overtaking of Cisco reflects many contributory factors, most importantly market success: Huawei’s $42 billion revenue in the first six months of 2017 was close to Cisco’s $49 billion revenue for 2016 as a whole. However, Huawei is one of several firms (including Amazon, HERE, NetApp and Salesforce, which also won KeaCircle awards) which have set a new standard for building relationships with industry analysts.

The growing power of industry analysts is reflected in many ways. The largest firm, Gartner, hits record revenues every year. The Analyst Value Survey shows that executives are using more other analyst firms as well. These analysts are now much more likely to recommend Huawei to potential clients than they were.

Cisco has many advantages in its work to convince industry analysts. It is one of the preeminent mega-vendors in the US, where most analyst firms are headquartered. Few vendors can match Cisco’s reputation for being easy to work with. It still seems like a safe firm to buy from. Given these assets, how have Huawei and the other winners overtaken its analyst relations?

Trust is the key factor: in terms of technique, Cisco’s analyst relations team remains a benchmark for being proactive and for communicating customers’ positive outcomes. That’s why Cisco’s analyst relations team won an IIAR award, which celebrates the mega-vendors with most substantial analyst communications. However, KeaCircle winners are not only communicating to a lot of analysts, they are, in the opinion of analysts, also doing so more frequently, with greater candor and are easier to do business with.

Huawei is a great example of how this over-taking is remarkable. Even three years ago, and certainly, six years ago, its analyst relations managers were not so proactive, so frequent with their communication or so skillful in sharing customers’ success stories. Now both clients and analysts speak more positively about Huawei than ever before. Its analyst relations teams deserved the award because, in helping analysts to give better guidance to their clients, they are helping businesses around the world to more confidently continue their journey to the cloud.

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.