Analyst search tools: Analyst Direct


One of my biggest moans in recent years is at vendors who spend a fortune subscribing to different analyst houses and then never use these services as a market intelligence tool.

The reason why? It takes too long.

A few enterprising companies have noticed this and launched their own applications to take the time-burden out of search.

imageFirst on the list was – a really simple service that allows you to run BOOLEAN searches across multiple analyst houses. This has been my default way of finding reports ever since Dominic and Jim pointed it out.

There are good and bad points about this tool. Firstly, it’s free (at least for the time being) and it’s simple to use. However, it’s basic functionality runs on the assumption that it is only as good as what Google has in its cache. Admittedly in the tests I have run, it comes out 90% accurate which gives me a good indicator of trend and direction but is not something I would use to solely rely on.

However, search is often not enough. Ludovic Leforestier from Oracle AR has regularly debated with me the need to understand sentiment when performing searches. How good would it be to find out which reports were positive about my clients and competitors and why?

Northern Light have done just this with their recently launched service Analyst Direct.


By identifying the tone of voice (positive or negative) the text analytics engine performs meaning extraction to tell you what the business issues they address in areas like corporate strategy, product marketing, market share, and pricing. In my view this is killer app and will no doubt save a huge amount of time amongst market researchers, AR Pros and consultants who spend too much of their time running fruitless searches.

Analyst Direct have also opted against the ‘Google route’ and through partnerships, can guarantee that every report from the major analyst houses is included in their database. I prefer this metric to the 90% success rate I mentioned previously. There are other nice little features (like alerts, remembering login details) that are expected rather than groundbreaking.

On the negative side, this service only analyses 16 firms (another 6 are planned over the next few months) but seeing as the major companies are included I am not going to rant too much about this. I would also like to see Northern Light extend their search beyond reports from the major analyst houses to also include key analyst blogs and conference materials – this move I believe is critical as only looking at research reports is a very outdated way of understanding this ecosystem (especially as only 20% of what an analyst does is write research). The price though is a major sticking point at $1,500 per seat – time will tell whether this cost is acceptable in the market but with 50 trials currently running, things are looking good for Analyst Direct.

In summary, and after my initial cynicism where I felt it hard to justify the costs where I can do virtually the same service for free, I am beginning to tone down my view as the ‘sentiment tool’ is just too good to ignore. This is certainly an application I would like to use moving forward.


10 Responses to “Analyst search tools: Analyst Direct”

  1. Hi Jonny,

    This is a nice tool, I’ve signed up for the trial. Reporting capabilities are lacking but the semantic analysis seems to be working…. More later.

  2. Jonny,

    Great topic for a post. Thanks.

    Now you’ve used it a little longer, are you still so positive? I was a beta tester, and found a lot of issues. One, of course, is that Current Analysis has massive weight in their base of data, as do US firms generally. Another is that the indexing of firms and analysts is very weak — PhD was down as an analyst the last time I looked.

    For the modest price, I think it’s good value. However, I think we cannot recommend it without also giving a real ‘buyer beware’ statement. If you used the reporting in here to direct or meaure a programme, you’d end up seriously distorting activity.


  3. Jonny,

    I’ve had a look and it’s good but the main flaw is that it does not index European firms nor gives the possibility to add custom sources, like blogs.

    Also, I’d like to be able to generate an automated report, something I could send internally with a traffic light system -something even execs can understand.

    In the past, I’ve had a look at Datops and seemed to have a good service and finally cracked automated reading (using humans is too expensive and is the reason Kensington Group closed shop). I’ve never done the trial though, as it needed to be customised. They have since then been purchased by LexisNexis and I have had no contacts since then.

    The other one was KWHR Network, who was bought by Echo Research.

    And finally, there’s Apollo Survey but last time I spoke to them they could not do automated reading.

  4. Thanks for the great review and helpful feedback on Analyst Direct! I just wanted to let you know that we announced yesterday that we have added one-third more research sources to Analyst Direct since its launch. Some of the new analyst firms are AMR Research, ARC Advisory Group, Datamonitor, Saugatuck Technology and MetaFacts. (More detail at

    We hope that by adding firms like Datamonitor will increase the international coverage of the content in the collection. Are there other specific firms that you would recommend we reach out to for adding to the search?

    We are always working on our text analytics engine to make sure we are not getting false hits (like listing PhD as an analyst’s name or boilerplate as a business issue).

    Your feedback on the reporting capabilities and on access to blog content is very helpful and we will definitely take it into consideration for the next phases of the product development.

    Sheri Larsen
    VP Client Applications at Northern Light

  5. By the way, Analyst Direct should not “guarantee that every report from the major analyst houses is included in their database”. For example, they seem to have just 6% of Gartner research with the keyword Treasury.

    Take a look at:

  6. 6 Steve

    Ive tried both and to be honest found the results from alot better for my needs – I know where i stand with results based on google IP.

  7. Very interesting comments.

    The two things that made analyst direct stand out was the face they ‘guaranteed’ all major analyst house research was covered and also the fact they could rate the sentiment of a report.

    From what a few of you have said – Analyst Direct may not have the access to research they claim to have or their search tool is not up to scratch. This puts me in a real dilemma and I may be back to my original scenario where I have to go to each analyst site directly and perform multiple searches – which takes far too long.

    The jury is still out on this one but I will continue to monitor both tools to see which is the best app to use.

  1. 1 links for 2007-09-18 « Flying Cloud
  2. 2 Links for September 21, 2007 « Flying Cloud
  3. 3 ‘Analyst Direct’- the dangers of Numerophobia : Analyst Equity

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