In recent years we have seen quite a few changes in the analyst landscape: We’ve seen new boutique analyst firms entering the market and focussing on sub-segments or geographies (HfS Research, Crisp Research, Greyhound Research etc). We’ve seen M&A activities indicating a trend towards bigger firms and more comprehensive research coverage (CXP/BARC/PAC, ISG/Alsbridge/Experton, Informa/Ovum). And we’ve seen analyst firms like Gartner branching out into new areas (Gartner acquiring AMR Research and SCM World and CEB). At the same time new business models, like freemium, new research methodologies and 3rd party evaluations (e. g. peer insights) have found their way into analyst firm portfolios.
But is there a general trend towards bigger firms, smaller firms, local firms, specialist firms, freemium offerings, …? We don’t think it’s so straightforward, although people are using more firms than they were. Our yearly Kea Analyst Value Survey indicates that the users of analyst services can find value in a lot of different places and the Institute of Industry Analyst Relations (IIAR) has frequently named both large analyst firms as well as boutiques ‘Analyst Firm of the Year’. So neither the boutiques nor the big players can claim all the top positions in the rankings.
The down side: More effort and new approaches are required in analyst relations.
Obviously dealing with more analyst firms will mean more work for analyst relations professionals. In the past it was possible for an analyst relations professional to focus on a handful of analyst firms to cover a significant part of the research market. Today analyst relations not only has to deal with a huge number of analyst firms but also has to take into account the different roles (IT, marketing, management, …) these firms are supporting in the market. This means that analyst relations has to provide a multitude of perspectives, pitches and use cases to support the various analyst firms. It also means that there is an increased requirement to coordinate (and motivate) internal stakeholder within the vendor company to contribute to the analyst relations efforts. In addition new evaluation methodologies require different strategies to ensure a good positioning in vendor evaluations. The times where just providing the facts/data requested throughout an analyst firm RFI were enough to stand out from the crowd are gone. Finding and coaching references and encouraging customers to participate in peer reviews are now a key part of analyst relations.
The bright side: The impact of analyst relations is growing.
In the past analyst research has mostly been targeted at IT decision makers and buyers (CIO, CTO, IT Directors, …) today we are seeing more and more analyst firm offerings targeting the line of business and key executives within the company. The consumption of analyst research is growing – not only are more companies using analyst research but at the same time the more people within the company are now using analyst insights to support their decision making. This trend has been accelerated with the rise of ‘easy to buy’ SaaS offerings which are often bought by line of business rather than via the IT department. In addition to this our survey indicates that companies are now using more analyst firms and gain access to analyst insights not only via corporate subscriptions but increasingly also via freemium research. All this means that the impact of analyst opinion on technology, vendor selection and buying decisions is increasing.