"Analysts have become regurgitators, not cogitators" says Jonathan Yarmis

The 21st century analyst world is in crisis. This is how we got here. How do we get out from the morass?
Written by Dennis Howlett, Contributor

Jonathan Yarmis recently of Ovum messaged me with what you see as the headline to this article. I asked his permission to put this into the public domain. He said: 'proudly.' Why such ire from the past representative of a mainstream analyst firm? Step back.

Over the holiday break I took the opportunity to read and watch material on topics wholly unrelated to IT but which have everything to do with the way I see the world and the tangential influences on my life. This was important because one of the things I am trying to work out is how the analyst world is going to shape up in the next few years.

Disclosure: I am an advisory board member to Constellation Research. It is working its way towards finding a fresh approach to the business of IT analysis and research. It hasn't got there but it is making steady progress. I'm offering a few ideas. Some will stick, others will be modified, still more will be tossed in the can on the basis of the 1-19-80 rule. My modus is about attempting to keep the main analyst crew honest, fresh and genuinely differentiated. We'll see how well that works over time. In the meantime I make no claim to special insight other than closing in on 40 years around this business.

In a recent post, Vinnie Mirchandani suggested the 2000-2010 period was a 'lost decade:'

Honest CIOs will tell you it was mostly a “lost decade”. The hangover from poor payback Y2K projects which started the decade blended into just as poor ERP, Sarbanes and other compliance investments. There were few delighted consumers who lined up for blocks like they did for iPhones. Instead there were plenty of disgruntled users and critics like Nick “Does IT matter?” Carr. There is palpable frustration in most executive suites about technology costs and performance.

It's an authentic observation. I see much the same pattern among those who call themselves analysts. It seems to me that just as Tom Foremski suggests that 'we're all media now' pretty much anyone with a half baked opinion and a skill to write catchy headlines gets to call themselves an analyst. It has come to the point where anyone with a following of more than 10 people gets to spout whatever they wish with a good chance they get some attention. In principle that's not a bad idea. How else does the long tail of analysis surface and become considered of value? Yet that is only a fraction of the analyst story.

We are now told the 21st century is one where you should build your personal brand. Heck - some people are running courses for that. I don't recall that needing to be spelled out in 1995 when Gartner/AMR/IDC/Giga etc could each showcase a clutch of seriously talented analysts. Those were the days when getting a call took weeks with people like Vinnie, Jim Holincheck, Barry Wilderman, Erin Kinikin, Bruce Richardson, Erik Keller, Jeff Comport and many others. Those were the days when if an analyst of their calibre said something of importance, tech CEO's took interest...or tried to have them fired. Today? We have Twitter and the relentless pimping of me, me, me. A great example? 'I wanna be adored.'

The latest iteration of platforms for the self important is Quora. I love it. That's where I get to find the latest crop of attention seeking anal-ysts, assess the extent of their idiocy so I can ignore, block or otherwise avoid their regurgitory, brown nosing nonsense. Juxtapose that with the blatant vendor biased position of those once great firms.  Add the third leg of Silicon Valley attention seeking paid for junk and what do you get? Pap.

It is time for a real change. It is time for those that have been in the business trenches and know what it takes to build effective IT to step forward and push aside the fashion driven marketers masquerading as analysts. It is time to squish the idea that media is analysis and ask the question: Did you really think that or were you gaming Techmeme? Do you truly believe what you are saying or chasing the latest buzz phrase? Tell me, where is the evidence of which you speak so boldly and with such paper thin conviction?

Because when someone asks me the question: 'Why are you so rude?' I cannot help but retort: 'Why do you treat me like a childish fool?' Buyers deserve much better and a return to serious thought tempered by humility.

Rant over.

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