According to Sage Circle, Forrester plans to crimp its analysts from expressing themselves on personal blogs. I first heard of this (where else?) on Twitter via Jim Holincheck, Gartner Analyst. From SageCircle:
Forrester CEO George Colony is well aware that savvy analysts can build their personal brands via their positions as Forrester analysts amplified by social media (see the post on “Altimeter Envy”). As a consequence, a Forrester policy that tries to restrict analysts’ personally-branded research blogs works to reduce the possibility that the analysts will build a valuable personal brand leading to their departure. In addition, forcing analysts to only blog on Forrester-branded blogs concentrates intellectual property onto Forrester properties increasing the value of the Forrester brand.
Given I know several ex-Forrester analysts reasonably well this is no surprise. Jeremiah Owyang and Ray Wang were both considered Forrester rock stars. Internally, George Colony, Forrester CEO loved what they were doing...until they jumped ship. What staggers me is that Colony didn't see it coming. Jeremiah and Ray were (and continue) providing incredibly valuable market information and analysis for free. Unfortunately, that was not going back to Forrester. At least not directly.
Instead, both Jeremiah and Ray were generating huge interest in Forrester thinking. Not bad for a distant second placed player in the analyst community. Crucially and largely as a result of their solo efforts, Forrester was getting a LOT of new, incoming revenue. But equally crucially, neither Jeremiah nor Ray were rewarded for their efforts, often on top of 80+ hour working weeks.
I won't discuss the precise numbers here but let's say that neither the people I mention were benefiting more than 5% of the revenue they brought in, often with zero support from sales. In other words, Forrester had 90-95% margin on the back of personal blogs but against which it was not prepared to compensate two hard workers. The same was true for Charlene Li the year before. Given what Ray and Jeremiah were doing, that should have sent a loud red flag signal to Forrester exec. Apparently not.
Forrester will lose star analysts over restrictive social media policy, but they already factored that into the plan (cc @carterlusher)
That is a one dimensional view based on what? Forrester cannot reasonably prevent anyone of its employees from presenting an opinion. If they try overtly then @fake...you-name-it will soon be popping up. The same holds true for Gartner and for any other analyst firm that tries to muzzle its best people. How do you factor that sort of random behavior into any plan? But let's do a sound check here and review the reality.
SageCircle grandly states in the post to which I have linked above that:
For analyst relations (AR) teams with Forrester analysts ranked high on their lists, this new Forrester policy could be a benefit by decreasing the number of blogs that AR has to monitor. If the Forrester policy is success, it could spark similar policies at other firms again leading to fewer blogs to monitor. However, this policy and potential imitators could cause an increase in the volume of posts on firm-branded blogs, which would require careful monitoring by AR.
[My emphasis added]
Oh heck. Goodness knows that analyst firms might need be careful what they say. Especially given the large firms are in a Pay Per View death march with vendors. But then I also think - keep giving that advice. Good for independents.
Contrast this with Redmonk and James Governor in particular. Redmonk is a sell side crew that largely advocates from within the developer community. There is nothing wrong with that. James often complains his firm is not taken seriously but even given its small size it grew organically by 15% last year. Recession is supposed to hit the small fish first but....? Take seriously? I won't take words out of James' mouth but I bet they would not be 'ZD Net family friendly.'
Redmonk - and largely through James, is ridiculously active on Twitter - the place where its constituents meet. A good percentage of what James says is barely 'safe for work' or even relevant to any work. It's definitely not stuff I could directly quote on the pages of ZDNet. But...and this is THE point...it works. Clients benefit and developers love the firm. In other words, the Redmonk model of personal brand promotion combined with rock solid analysis/support for developers is proven as a business model. Can that be transmuted to the likes of Forrester or Gartner?
In further Tweet conversations with long time correspondent and Gartner analyst Jim Holincheck, he reminded me that Gartner started with a no blog policy. True. But I'd hardly regard most current Gartner blogs as exactly illuminating. And let's be totally fair. I know that is not a reflection of the individual analyst but a reflection of the firm level problem of matching revenue with value in the context of an outdated business model. Jim also says that blogs are not the only form of social media - heh - we were exchanging on Twitteer - right on !!
But whichever way you look at this sudden shift in Forrester policy, it represents an epic E2.0 fail.
Enterprise 2.0 mavens consistently argue that bottom up adoption of Enterprise 2.0 will make business better. That's fine except in one crucial regard: pre-existing success history dictating future policy. There is plenty of evidence for that. Forrester's belated but still knee jerk reaction confirms. Worse still. Rather than behaving as the doyen of what it preaches regarding social media, Forrester is showing itself as hypocritical in the worst possible way. It is sad that SageCircle is implicitly supporting that position. From which everyone - with the possible exception of the Redmonks of this world - will lose.