Some will parse this as an exodus but following on from Ray Wang's departure from Forrester, we now learn Jeremiah Owyang is on his way to pastures new. From the Interactive Marketing Professionals Forrester blog:
Nearly two years ago, I heard that an influential blogger was interested in an analyst job at Forrester. I had just taken over management of our interactive marketing team and to my complete pleasure was able to hire that blogger -- Jeremiah Owyang.
And so it's on a bittersweet note that I share that Jeremiah has decided to leave Forrester at the end of this month. All of you who connect with Jeremiah through his reports, blog posts, and tweets know that he is an enthusiastic teacher, a client advocate, and a creative force. We will miss his exuberance and his contribution to the Forrester "Idea Factory". We will miss him. What's next for Jeremiah? He's going back into the field to apply the trends. I expect that he'll still sleep in shifts so that he can stay connected. :-)
It's obviously a shock to Forrester, coming so soon after Ray Wang's departure.
I've known Jeremiah a couple of years and while we've had our share of tetchy 'moments' (I am not a fan of the incessant consumer facing social media hand waving) his enormous stature as a consumer facing social computing analyst cannot be denied. I had a sneaking feeling something was afoot when he reached out to me a couple of weeks back - we'd not spoken in ages. I hasten to say that nothing was revealed at that time. I also have a feeling he'll be learning about enterprisey stuff in early course. But we'll see.
So what's going on in the analyst community? When Ray departed, Vinnie Mirchandani provided a solid insight:
Analyst firms like Gartner and Forrester, unlike investment banks, do not really encourage “superstars”. Ray’s compensation was likely less than 10% of revenues he was directly or indirectly bringing to Forrester. It’s funny because I had the same realization precisely a decade ago about how under-compensated I was.
It isn't just about compensation and despite what Vinnie says, I remember the days when getting a press call with a top flight Gartner analyst was like pulling hens teeth. At conferences, you'd literally have to mug them to get an interview. Folk like Jeremiah and Ray have gone out of their way to make themselves available - even to curmudgeonly old fools like me. Why would they do that?
I sense there are several things at play. The analysts firms are starting to realize that clipping the wings of their brightest and best just ain't going to work. Blogs are too easy to set up and use, they provide a great channel for their thinking and a solid way of gleaning feedback in real-time. That's enormously valuable to the firm and unquestionably drives business.
We're also seeing the emergence of the personal brand - Ray and Jeremiah have that in spades. It's something they work ridiculously long hours at, taking huge risks along the way. Why would they give all of that up to the larger firm when there is so much more they could do in the wider world? It's a non sequitor.
Changes in the compensation model may help retain the next rock star analyst but somehow I doubt it. The analyst firms are going to have to get used to their brightest and best viewing the analyst bench as but a stepping stone for greater things. That has to impact the business model and quite how the firms respond remains to be seen.
In the meantime - congratulations to Jeremiah. Job done.