Monday, June 02, 2008

Relations with Analysts...the third


Another question posed to the panel, plus my response (not verbatim--it wasn’t being recorded--and I don’t have a phonographic memory--rather, this is a paraphrase of things I actually said live, plus stuff I should have said, perhaps stuff others on the panel said that in my memory are now indistinguishably blurred into my own comments):

  • Q: Does the activity of blogging fundamentally change the definition of “who is an analyst” or “a reliable voice in the industry?” and--as a consequence--who AR professionals should work with?
  • A: Not really. My feeling is that analysts have always primarily been self-designated entities, and that blogging has simply intensified that trend by making it free, fast, and easy to self-publish. We’re all fundamentally self-designated--in the sense that many of us start our core business/career models by self-asserting through some channel(s)--perhaps a newsletter that we put out too see if the world will read/subscribe--and then, if widely read and perhaps even paid to opine, we the analyst, by virtue of that, get progressively validated by others (to greater or lesser degrees). Self-concept is key. We self-designate ourselves as somebody worth paying attention to. Our “know-something” self-image may precede the perception of same by others (hopefully, without much lag, and without too much disconnect between our self-perception and universal regard). We don’t usually start our professional lives as “leading industry analysts”--gosh knows I didn’t (and I’m not sure I completely fit that designator now)--I got initially validated by the good Dr. Peter G.W. Keen, and then by the fine editors of Network World, just three years out of grad school, in the late 80s, when the former hired me as an IT industry analyst, and the latter started publishing my still-going column. So we pay our dues, sometimes for years, struggling to gain visibility, acceptance, smarts, connections, reputation, differentiation, starpower, etc. Building our brand, and aging into it. But no matter how big we get for our britches, we’re still all just alternative voices, none of us infallible, none indispensable, some of us more or less reliable/valuable than others. It does little good to demonize or marginalize any alternative analyst-ish voice over the long term--it will just stoke ill will against your firm or client. To the extent that any analyst (multi- or one-person, established or new, widely read or largely ignored) takes an interest (even a cynical/adversarial one) in your firm/client, you, as AR professionals, should respect their right to their viewpoint. You should also work with them--at least to the extent of adding them to your mailing list, and responding to their questions and requests for briefings (within reason). Reliabilty and professionalism are proved out by people’s track records (e.g., checking facts, responding to objections, defending themselves with sound argumentation, honoring NDAs, etc.) Some of these people just want your attention/validation, and just need to vent/showboat. That’s why they started blogging in the first place. Those who intend to keep doing in long-term quickly adopt the professional ethics of a true analyst.