Monday's Musings: One Humble Industry Analyst's Thanks And Reflections On His Role

Published on January 25, 2009 by R "Ray" Wang


Four Years Into This Job And It Remains As Exciting As Ever
It’s been awhile since I’ve posted about life as an industry analyst. In fact, the last post was January 25, 2006, in the old Analyst 101 series. At that point, I was reflecting on the job during my one year mark.  In fact, I could barely keep up with the inquiries, writing, consulting, and core research, let alone blog!!!   Well, last Friday was my four year anniversary and I can tell you the job remains equally dynamic and ever intellectually challenging. What makes it work? – I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by great analyst mentors, objective research management, smart sales professionals, and seasoned executives that understand what it takes to protect analyst objectivity and best serve our clients, both the end users and the vendors.  So a big “Thank You” to the colleagues, clients, media, mentors, competitors, bloggers, and analyst/influencer relations professionals I’ve had the privilege of working for and with!
Three Archetypes of Industry Analysts Still Apply

When I serve as a “client advocate” type of analyst, (See the Forrester report on The Three Archetypes of Industry Analysts) my role focuses on three things:

  • Serving as a trusted advisor – this encompasses the sharing of best practices, walking a client through problems, or providing a framework for analysis.
  • Assisting with vendor selection- this covers all aspects from explaining the technology, assessing the market, conducting vendor selection, negotiating the contract, and providing overall apps strategy.
  • Providing third party advocacy – this focuses on delivering an objective point of view, making a business case, representing end users with vendors on tough issues with the vendor.

As a “product strategist” type of analyst, my role focuses on three areas:

  • Lending credibility – allowing a vendor to apply our objective view points for thought leadership and credibility without direct endorsement of the vendor’s product or solution offering.
  • Delivering product guidance and go-to-market input – applying end user customer feedback and insight into the development and market launch of products.  Explaining how end users will react to policies, programs, and campaigns.
  • Providing a competitive point of view – providing a view point of competitor’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats based on end user experiences.

As an “evangelist” type of analyst, my role focuses on two areas:

  • Sharing new ideas – cross populating new concepts and ideas, educating interested parties, and describing a technology and its impact on various roles, industries, geographies, and market segments.
  • Promoting a point of view– taking a fact based opinion or even a non-fact based intuition and promulgating the concept

The bottom line – third party objectivity remains the constant that benefits all stakeholders

As many of you know, the industry analyst business requires third party objectivity and a “truth will set you free” approach because end users (i.e. buyers) need objective information and vendors (i.e. sellers) need to earn and establish credibility. Industry analysts play a major part in this critical third party advisory role. In the past year, I’ve had over 120 conversations on the issue of third party objectivity with other industry analysts, clients, vendors, and analyst/”influencer” professionals. Despite any stakeholder differences, there was strong agreement on the core values of third party objectivity. These include:

  • Basing analysis on fact and research – building research based on primary research and data.  Putting extra effort in going beyond the marketing fluff provided by some vendors.
  • Making the hard call – taking a stand or position given the facts at hand in a given point in time.
  • Delivering balanced research – slight skepticism based on reality. Cross validating vendor points of view with other sources such as end users, competitors, system integrators, other analysts, bloggers, and vendor partners.

And of course, analysts will from time to time pontificate on their point of view in conversations with journalists and clients, that just can’t be helped given the nature of who many of us are. (j/k)
Your POV.
So, once again, many thanks for your support, camaraderie and input through the past four years.  You’ve heard my view, but I’m more interested to hear what you expect from your industry analyst.  We’re all not perfect but have the ability to learn from our mistakes.  So please share with me publicly or privately your feedback on how I can be more effective.  Don’t worry, I’ve got thick skin, you need that for this job!   In the next post about the job, we’ll talk about vendors behaving badly.  In the meantime, you can post here or send me a private email to rwang0@gmail.com.
Copyright © 2009 R Wang. All rights reserved.

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