Evaluating good analysts


gloopMaurene Grey (ex Gartner analyst) has just published a great post explaining how analysts informally evaluate their peers which I have reproduced below:

  1. Does the analyst actively listen before asking questions?
  2. Does the analyst treat non-client vendors with the same respect as client vendors? (If treated with respect, non-clients can become clients.)
  3. Seasoned PR and AR people recognize that analysts will generally not accept briefings from vendors outside of their coverage area. Does the analyst (or more likely, an assistant or vendor relations person) respond to a briefing request with a “no thank you”?
  4. Good analysts want to understand the relationship of the vendor’s product or service within the overall industry. Seasoned PR and AR people know that part of their job is to educate the analyst. Does the analyst ask for the vendor’s opinion?
  5. Good analysts assess the viability and creditability of the vendor. Does the analysts ask questions for which they already know the answer?
  6. Good analysts will break short a briefing that is rambling. Analysts don’t have time to teach a vendor how to do a briefing.
  7. Analysts do spend more quality time with a vendor client than a non-vendor client. Good analysts do so because they have built a relationship with the vendor client. In general, vendor clients contact the analyst firm more so than non-vendor clients.
  8. Good analysts generally have 10 to 20 years of experience in their coverage area. They know many of the vendor firms from their start-up days through multiple management changes.

I am not going to comment on which analysts would fail Maureen’s 8 criteria but there are several ‘high profile’ ones that I do not believe would make the grade.

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6 Responses to “Evaluating good analysts”

  1. I agree that many (often high-profile) analysts would not make the grade. My list was in response to what makes a great analyst. Often analysts have tight, tight, tight timelines on deliverables. Often their minds are split between the briefing and their deliverables. The best way to get the analysts attention is to a demo (if possible). Make it as informative, relevant and interactive as possible.

  2. 2 Steve Mc.

    I’m with a vendor and have been dealing with analysts for seven years. Something I would add to the criteria of good/great analysts is 1) how well their judgement calls stand the test of time (especially in the time frame for which the analysts are predicting, 2) analysts’ follow up and monitoring of their judgements and 3) their ability to come clean on these calls, especially if these calls were goofy trends. Anybody remember the Gartner Smart Enterprise Suites? I can’t stand it when analysts come up with some new paradigm or trend label only to quietly forget it like last year’s bellbottoms.

  3. Nice piece. Two points to consider – analysts run businesses and there will always be a bottom line to consider. As AR professional our value is matching up the right vendors/spokespeople to the right analyst/firms to support a company’s business. In my view, part of the reason for the issues you raise is the mismatch of needs analyst v vendor which at times is due to lack of thought in planning.

  4. A good piece – and have no idea how I would rate (hopefully ok – but I know some AR people who would disagree!)

    However, it is worth noting that not all analysts have vendor clients. At CMS Watch we only sell to buyers and users of technology – we don’t consult to, or write white papers etc etc for vendors.

    We are not the only ones either – take Burton Group – only a relatively small percentage of their income is dependent on vendors.

    Personally I think this is how analysis should be – free of conflicts. But it is a really hard model for AR to get to terms with, understandably……but help from the AR community to work out how best to work with troublesome analysts like us would be good to see…

  5. Great post, and one to pin on the wall – thanks Maureen. One thing I might add is the importance of understanding exactly what are the additional forces on IT vendors, particularly the financial ones. A company may have great products and superb market understanding, but still be losing money due to inept sales processes; meanwhile, perhaps the only reason that a smaller vendor wants to brief analysts is to check the box insisted upon as part of its VC funding requirements. You cover this in 4 and 5, but (for reasons that I recognise I could do this much better!) I think its worth drawing out explicitly the fact that really good analysts are the ones that incorporate the underlying drivers for vendor behaviours, positive and negative. “Don’t watch the mouth, watch the feet” etc.

  6. Another great topic for a post.

    I hate to be the party-pooper, but I think this is one-sided. What this post really describes are the analysts who are most likely to give satisfying verbal interactions. However, other analysts, even ‘poor’ ones, are often as influential or more influential. Senior analysts are often not the ones who are on the coal face gathering data and producing the initial guidance that analysts firms’ clients use.

    Many vendors steer their information, and best spokespeople, towards senior analysts. However, there are many reasons for that – and not all of them are productive.

    I’ll write more about that at Analyst Equity…


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