Are industry analysts losing ground in the new media world?

Are industry analysts losing ground in the new media world?

Summary: Are industry analysts losing their influence to journalists and industry bloggers? This was one question we discussed Wednesday morning as I took part in a PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) teleconference organized by Barbara French of Tekrati, which tracks industry analyst firms.

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TOPICS: Microsoft
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Are industry analysts losing their influence to journalists and industry bloggers? This was one question we discussed Wednesday morning as I took part in a PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) teleconference organized by Barbara French of Tekrati, which tracks industry analyst firms.

On the panel with me was David Schatsky, of JupiterKagan--the new company recently formed when KaganResearch acquired JupiterResearch. The topic was: The Changing Influence Of High Tech Analysts in a New Media Age and we talked about some of the blurring distinctions between analyst, journalist, and industry bloggers.

Ms French shared some interesting statistics: only about 5 per cent of the analyst community are engaged in blogging out of more than 4,000 analysts. The number of analysts blogging seems very low to me and indicative that the analyst community does not appreciate the value of publishing their own blogs.

I'm sure that will change over time, but for now, Ms French says that the number of blogs is steady although there is some churn as new blogs replace ones that have become dormant. I'm surprised that more analysts are not blogging because it is by far the best way to establish your thought leadership and expertise.

And I think that the analyst community does not yet understand this simple fact: blogging is by far and away the most honest form of promotion because if you can't walk the walk, talk the talk then it will be very readily apparent. So is it that many analysts are afraid of being "found out" as being less expert than they really are?

And do the analysts risk eroding their influence because they do not engage fully in blogging?

Mr Schatsky has been a strong advocate of blogging within JupiterKagan and all its analysts are encouraged to blog although only about two dozen or so do it on a regular basis. Mr Schatsky's blog can be found here: http://weblogs.jupiterresearch.com/analysts/schatsky/

No comment

Ms French discovered that most of the analyst blog sites do not allow readers to publish comments, or accept trackbacks. And Mr Schatsky's blog is the same, no comments or trackbacks. Feedback is by email only.

Is it a blog if there is no comments or trackback? I would argue it is not a blog it is an online publication but it is not a blog. It misses the whole point of the value of a blog, imho.

Mr Schatsky argues that he does not want to provide a platform for others. And that there would be considerable resources required to moderate comments and trackbacks on what is a free resource.

However, not enabling any form of visible feedback is missing half the value of online publishing. I get very frustrated if I read something and I am not allowed to leave a comment or a trackback.

I understand that JupiterKagan does not want to publish negative comments from the trolls but this continues to promote an attitude of "we are the experts and you are the consumers and we don't care to engage with you in an online forum."

I moderate comments but I find I never get any trolls or negative comments and the only time I delete a comment is when it is clearly spam or adds nothing to a topic. The analyst firms appear to be scared of exposing themselves online and that makes me wonder if they truly are expert in their fields. Otherwise, they would engage in public forums with other thought leaders and they wouldn't be afraid of doing it on their own blogs.

Charlene Li, Forrester's top Internet analyst is a great example of an analyst that has used her blog to bring in over $1m of new business to Forrester, and also boost her own standing within her community. And comments are included

Sharing the platform

However, Ms Li's success brings up another core issue for any organization: do you let your staff use the company platform to boost their individual reputations? Robert Scoble, for example, is Microsoft's top blogger, and in the blogosphere he is easily Microsoft's second most famous employee and could leave today and do very well at another company.

Within MSFT you will find opinions that say "let's control Scoble." While others say "leave him alone." We'll see if the control faction wins out.

In the case of the industry analysts, the analyst firms will have to share their platform with their top analysts even though those analysts will build their brand and some will leave. If they don't they will face competition from their rivals--whether at other analyst firms or specialist industry bloggers--which are using the new media to their full capabilities, comments and trackbacks included.

Topic: Microsoft

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  • Another possibility

    The fact:
    Ms French shared some interesting statistics: only about 5 per cent of the analyst community are engaged in blogging out of more than 4,000 analysts. ... Ms French says that the number of blogs is steady although there is some churn as new blogs replace ones that have become dormant.

    Your explanations appear limited to ignorance and fear.

    But your subjects are people in the business of not being ignorant, and of sharing their expertise, thus risking their reputations. They also have to be concerned about bringing in business.

    Does an explanation which requires people to act in a way opposed to everything you can reasonably hypothesize about them seem the most likely?

    The first consistent possibility that comes to mind is No one ever made money by giving away his primary product, the key lesson of the dot-com failure.

    That would have to be modified in this case, of course. If no one can see anything an analyst does, no one can evaluate the quality of the analysis.

    Leaving aside publication to obtain general interest, it's important to have the names of recipients receiving samples so that follow-ups can be managed and responses checked.

    Publication for general interest could be a sort of calling card. No debate needed, and the best response is product interest by someone willing to buy.

    That would at least be a hypothesis consistent with the facts as known.
    Anton Philidor
    • Au contraire

      I have to contest that statement that nobody every made any money by giving away their primary product. I won't point to Myspace because you could say that is a throwback to dot-com days.

      Some examples from the publishing world: USAToday. Free at just about every hotel I stay at.

      McAfee on Dell computers and AOL. They *pay* to give away their product.

      All content producers on CNET and ZDNet. Advertising revenue is of course the secret.

      And a big one. Google. Pretty profitable but have you ever bought anything from them?

      -Stiennon
      RStiennon
  • I would have to say that

    most analysts are no better than snake oil salesmen. They talk a good talk and can BS their way along with the not so well informed. But quite a few would rather NOT be called to task for fear of exposure.

    There are some that are really good and really know what they are doing. To them kudos, stand up and defend. But the majority are people that know just enough to stay one step ahead of the average person and that is about it.
    Linux User 147560
  • Analyst's blogs

    Hi Tom,

    You bring up a good point, and one with which those of us in the analyst industry continue to wrestle.

    I agree not that enough analysts have blogs, but there are some very good ones out there - the Redmonk folks among them (credit where credit is due and all that).

    So by way of some of that "honest promotion" you mentioned, I'd like to point out that here at 451 Group we recently entered the fray with our CAOS Theory blog focused on open source.

    It is written by half a dozen or so of 451's analysts regularly, but all here are free to contribute to it.

    It allows trackbacks and comments (with a registration that is considerably lighter than the one ZD asks for here, ironically enough!).

    You can check it out at: http://blogs.the451group.com/opensource
    Nick Patience
  • Blogging and "independent" analysts

    You'll find that the smaller "independent" firms (like the aforementioned RedMonk, and us (www.mwdadvisors.com/blog) are the ones most keen on blogging. Why? Because if we do it well, it's a cheap and easy way to build our names and reputations far beyond what would otherwise be possible. It's the power of the Internet! ;-)

    The larger firms struggle with blogging (Charlene Li is a very honourable exception) because their legacy is closed subscription services that also happen to be very nice cash cows. Smaller firms like ours have much less conflict in giving something away for free, in order to demonstrate our capability.
    neilwd
  • I tend to throw analysts into the same category as lobbyists,

    i.e., they have an axe to grind. Whether they are aware of it or not, their 'analysis' is based on personal opinions and is thereby colored by them. What they have to say is not necessarily for the greater good but for personal gain, either wealth or notoriety, preferably both.
    Just give me the facts - I'll do my own analysis, thank you very much.
    mustangj36@...
  • Let's not forget business models

    Reflections from a former Gartner analyst...
    - Gartner's business model is enterprise-client focused. Client interest in new media is tiny compared to operational issues.
    - The majority of Gartner analysts' research agendas are based on what clients are asking about.
    - Time is money and analysts from large firms are time-bound.
    - Large analyst firms have sizeable mindshare.

    Reflections from a current independent analyst...
    - We are time-bound to clients and to self-promotion
    - Viral marketing is powerful (and inexpensive)
    - Independents are entrepreneurs - innovative and flexible by nature (or should be)

    To blog or not to blog is not the question. Does blogging fit into the business model of my organization... is more the question.

    Before I get "beat up," I will come clean that I don't yet have my blog up. As an independent - that covers the new media area in the context of electronic communications - it does fit within my business model.
    maurene.grey@...
  • Totally agree Tom

    You have identified one sea change in the way influencers influence. When I advise clients on how to influence I tell them to focus on the journalists and bloggers first. Traditional analysts just don't have the reach.

    That does not mean that analyst firms are going to go away or be replaced by upstarts. It just means that they are going to get a clue and start blogging.

    Richard Stiennon
    Chief Research Analyst (and blogger)
    IT-Harvest
    RStiennon