How analysts see each other - v2

Obviously not meant to be taken seriously – hope you like.

For previous puns directed at the analyst community – see: Downfall: Gartner MQ, view on YouTube

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IMG00024-20111205-1921I was fortunate enough to spend time with Ray Wang, disruptive analyst supremo at Constellation Research. Taking advantage of finally seeing him in person, I collared him with a microphone and asked him several questions on the area he knows best – the enterprise.

This 10 minute podcast explores these questions…

  1. What would you define as leadership in today’s enterprise market
  2. Which companies are leaders in the enterprise market today
  3. How would you classify SAP’s leadership position
  4. Do you feel the cloud driven vendors are going to make the traditional on premise guys redundant?
  5. Between SAP, HP, Autonomy etc., who has the right answer to the big data questions? Who can deliver the insights?
  6. What are your predictions for Constellation Group?
  7. Any advice to enterprises listening to this podcast?

Listen to podcast with Ray Wang here

I hope you enjoy.


In Richard Edelman’s new blog post, he discuses that that in order to achieve resonance, a brand has to allow open conversations around a topic of societal interest. Brands have to be willing to risk losing control in exchange for gaining credibility. The three step process behind this has been defined by the Tuck Business School as ‘meaning management’.

TuckIn summary, a brand must first create awareness, followed by someone achieving association with the concept and only then can resonance be achieved.

This approach works exceptionally well when complemented by what we have been developing at the company for some time through the Topology of Influence.

Whereas the Tuck approach is bottom up, the topology methodology relies on targeting the smallest group first. The raison d’être behind this is that in order for a message to truly flow throughout the web/world then the most effective method is to engage firstly with the idea starters. Of course the approach should not be limited to this group but we should also actively target selected amplifiers and curators too.

topology

We are currently at a tipping point whereby sociology and technology are colliding enabling us to identify and engage with different kinds of influential people according to their behavioural characteristics.

It drives me mad how some brands are pushing the same marketing message at every ‘influencer’. My view is that we should adapt the strategy dependent upon the kind role that someone has in the topology.

For example, for idea starters you should have an argument. This kind of person does not want to be spammed with content but enjoy the rigour of a discussion that promotes or debates their theory. I tested this out personally by seeing if I could engage with someone whose time is in high demand. Instead of requesting a meeting, I sent them an email that referred to a premise they had championed and disagreed with it via a structured argument. The result – I was invited to meet with this ‘idea starter’ in person.

Conversely, this approach would be less successful with amplifiers. To engage with with this group, who do not have the time to get into deep discussion as they have numerous deadlines to manage to feed their high volume audiences, you need to send them pre-packaged content. This shouldn’t be a shock as it was the premise behind a press release. Of course there are other rules to apply (such as relevance, already having a relationship with the amplifier and appropriateness of delivered content).

There is a perfectly valid reason why we need to understand influence. Brands and marketers have limited time and money so we must engage with the people that count in the right manner. Only of we do this can we hope to have our message spread.


Recently I have been updating my twitter account adding relevant followers to be list of people I want to regularly hear from.

The process is pretty simply, I have several columns setup on topics ranging from #influencechat, #ARchat to #measurepr. After a while, i recognise that there are some people whose tweets are interesting that I would like to keep track of regardless.

However, and this is where the twitterquette bit comes in, after I follow them, I frequently get a DM from them. At first i thought it was quite a nice thing to do but now I can’t stand it.

More often than not, they direct me to a link asking me to ACT. I have only just followed you – surely we haven’t built up the relationship for me to start clicking on the links you send me. Other times, its a tweet (un)sincerely thanking me for following them. Should I be flattered that they have setup tweetlater as a way of being sincere with there new followers. In my case, no. Auto-DMs should be first against the wall when the revolution comes (followed by real estate agents and bankers).

The simple rule, which everyone inherently knows is engagement. Why is this forgotten so much? A DM is more intrusive than an @reply so please limit your usage of it to when it is right.

Rant over. You may now eat (but use the cutlery from the outside in).

Image courtesy of nickmack.net


clip_image001Technology is about disruption. Analysts are about navigating this disruption to help people make sound IT decisions.  Understanding these two statements at least makes me appreciate how Constellation Research has glorified in its own disruptive practices and made analyst firms question their very business model.

Constellation are now celebrating their first birthday and what a year it has been.

If this was a briefing, I would demand facts and figures to back up this bold statement – and boy, do these chaps have it in trumps.

  • 100 buy-side and sell-side clients around the globe
  • 31 team members including 13 research analysts and futurists, 5 sales professionals, 6 professional staff, and 7 industry recognized board of advisors
  • 735 Open Research insightful blog posts, 25 premium research reports, 15 webinars
  • A website receiving 2.4 million page views per year. Q4 page views per day have averaged above 10,000.
  • Recognition by the Institute of Industry Analyst Relations (IIAR) as the New Analyst Firm of the Year in 2011.
  • Creation of the Constellation Supernova Awards – the industry’s first and largest recognition of innovators, pioneers, and teams who apply emerging and disruptive technology to drive business value
  • Production of Constellation Connected Enterprise – an innovation summit and best practices knowledge sharing retreat for business leaders with 102 attendees and 25 sponsors

Its not all been a bed or roses. Some people have come and gone as they didn’t align with the core values and meant that not all employees were working in the same direction. This isn’t too surprising in itself as I know from personal experience that growth relies predominantly by the people you hire. After all there is only so much that Ray can do by himself. I am not naive as I know that Ray has fought hard to not create a galacticos experience where the superstar analysts meant that the larger team as a whole couldn’t deliver, nevertheless – he is, and will continue to be the rain maker and champion evangelist of the firm.

As far as the next year goes, it would be interesting to see how sustainable the research model is. With purse strings beginning to tighten, we will be entering a sustained phase within the analyst industry of longer sales cycles for IT procurement which will inevitably lead to cost cutting of conditional budget. Will Ray’s team adapt to the times – their new adoption of ‘Research as a Service’ – providing access to information on demand and bite sized research seats makes it certainly appear that way.


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Images courtesy of Google image search – the proverb is mine, the pictures aren’t


Every and then someone comes out with a phrase that is an epiphany to me. This time it is what Joe Chernov exclaimed when he said:

You’ve gotta go through the eyes to get to the brain

…and so the infographic was born.

Through Joe’s blog, he has now created an updated version of the Blog Tree showing which blogs are the most influential that have been created over the past year. As an aside i am obviously delighted that Joe decided to use BlogLevel as a way to determine influence. To understand a bit more about the Blog Tree, I have copied below a post originally published on Edelman Digital by David Armano

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I recently had an opportunity to catch up with Joe Chernov—Joe is the VP of Content Marketing for Eloqua, Co-chair of WOMMA member ethics panel and also the brain behind the “Blog Tree” series of infographics. Joe and I discussed the relevancy of blogs, influence, and today’s most significant business challenges for marketers.

David Armano: Tell us more about the “Blog Tree”: Who came up with the idea and in a world of Facebooking, Tweeting, why is a blog tree relevant?

Joe Chernov: I laugh when I think of this story. I came up with the concept – this sorta feel-good, tranquil visualization – while boxing. I literally dropped my gloves, grabbed my phone and called Leslie Bradshaw (my partner at data visualization firm JESS3). At the end of my rant, I half expected her to no longer be on the other end of the line. But she loved it. Leslie is a heady person, totally high concept. So she went with it, adding to the idea, changing it. She even suggested gnomes. But fortunately we drew the line at forest creatures. Anyway, a “blog tree” is relevant now because the jig is up on “best of” lists. Everyone knows that a “top blogs” list is a SEO trick masquerading as value. It’s self-serving aggregation. The Blog Tree is curation. It’s a visual exploration of what content matters and why.

DA: You decided to use Edelman’s BlogLevel to rank blogs listed on the tree. What drove your decision and more importantly what do you think are the indicators of successful blog?

JC: We went with BlogLevel for several reasons. To me, the Edelman brand is synonymous with “trust” and I think that a valuable blog is one that earns the readers’ trust. Take someone like April Dunford (Rocketwatch blog). She may not have the traffic of a top 20 blog, but I trust her perspective as much as I trust, say, The Economistmagazine. That has to count for something. It’s also worth noting that today’s Blog Tree is our “new growth” edition, meaning it’s only blogs that are less than two years old, so raw traffic is a poor proxy for success for these blogs. BlogLevel looks at much more than traffic. It gives a holistic perspective on a blog – influence, trust, engagement.

DA: Eloqua’s focus seems to be on scale, measurement and automation of marketing. Let’s take one of the three and dig deeper—how should marketers be measuring success these days?

JC: Ultimately it comes down to revenue. To what extent are your marketing efforts generating revenue, shortening sales cycles, or reducing attrition? Historically, marketers have been great at treating symptoms. The client is introducing a new product? We prescribe a massive PR launch, point-of-sale collateral, some influential endorsements, etc. Eloqua is focused on helping companies diagnose which efforts contributed to what amount of revenue. I think where Eloqua’s goals and the industry’s goals are tightly aligned.

DA: Marketers are more challenged than ever in capturing and holding the attention of the people they wish to reach and take action. Given your position on WOMMA’s ethics panel, what are some of the best practices when it comes to ethical practices, which yield results?

JC: First off, I get it. I am a marketer too. I know how incredibly hard it is to “get heard” on the noisy social Web. But attempting to short-circuit the system by obfuscating identity, creating fake profiles – or inducing others to do these things on your behalf – ultimately never works. And the irony is that these tricks, even if they were to work, are unnecessary. The real power of the social Web lies in transparency. It’s why the Edelman brand identity is so powerful and timely right now: credibility on the social Web comes down to trust. It’s the single most important attribute you can earn. I’d say that the best practice is to ask yourself before any marketing program: If all aspects of this campaign were made public, would my audience trust me more or less? If you even have to pause before answering, then I’d revisit the plan.

DA: Back to the “blog tree”: this year’s graphic surfaces some new voices compared to last. What is your prediction for blogging in the next year? Can we expect another tree?

JC: I was talking to my brother about how the first half of super hero movies is always more interesting than the second half. He said something interesting. He said, “Becoming is always more interesting than became.” That’s exactly why I think the New Growth edition is more interesting than the original Blog Tree. C’mon, most people already know you, Fred Wilson, Valeria Maltoni, and Brian Solis. To help people discover Caterina Fake’s personal blog or the incredible data visualizations on Information is Beautiful or the blog/community built around Stanford professor Jennifer Aaker’s book “The Dragonfly Effect”… well, that’s value of a higher order. We’ll keep The Blog Tree series going for as long as the public finds the infographics valuable. We have a few ideas already.

Thanks for your time Joe. Eloqua’s new “blog tree” can be found here and you can find Joe’s own blog here.