Former Forrester Analysts Join Altimeter Group
27 August 2009
Big news today in the world of social media and analyst relations! After weeks of speculation following their resignations from Forrester, Jeremiah Owyang and Ray Wang are both joining their former colleague Charlene Li at Altimeter Group. Jeremiah is one of the most widely followed and quoted social media analysts with more than 50,000 Twitter followers, and his Web Strategist blog is a must-read for social media and community managers. Enterprise software guru Ray Wang is nearly as active as Jeremiah in the social media sphere, as any of his followers on Twitter can attest. He’s blogged at A Software Insider’s Point of View for years and is a vocal proponent of enterprise software vendors embracing social media.
These moves are not altogether surprising. It is yet another sign of the emergence and growing influence of solo practitioners and small analyst boutiques who are exploiting social media tools (Twitter, blogs, LinkedIn, etc.) to their fullest to build relationships and influence. Social media is already allowing analysts to connect more directly with clients and followers than they ever could behind the iron editorial curtain of the big firms. RedMonk figured this formula out years ago, and more recently ex-Forrester analysts Merv Adrian and Maribel Lopez are gaining traction as independent analysts leveraging social media. This trend is backed up by Hill & Knowlton’s annual Technology Decision Makers research , which shows the growing influence of blogs and consumer-generated online media on generating vendor short lists for technology purchases. An additional study into the growing field of Digital Analyst Relations as a discipline further tracks the increasing convergence of “digital influencers” and traditional industry analysts. Hill & Knowlton expects to see more departures from big research firms as analysts see their former colleagues successfully make the transition to solo practitioner or small consultancies.
What does this mean for AR professionals? Well, if you aren’t currently engaged in digital AR then you had better start following your analysts online now—both to see what they’re saying when not being filtered by the big editorial boards at the large analyst firms¸ and to see which ones might be next to make a move.
Today’s news does raise some questions about Forrester’s social media coverage. The firm took a hit last year when Charlene Li, Peter Kim, and Brian Haven all left within a short span. Jeremiah filled the vacuum and took on the mantle of social media guru, but his departure begs the question who will be the next social media lead? They certainly have a deep bench with Sean Corcoran, Nate Elliot, Emily Riley, Rebecca Jennings and others. We also hope that as a consequence Josh Bernoff, co-author of Groundswell, will publish more research as we’ve always admired his work — going back to the TiVo days! This is particularly important as Forrester has devoted considerable resources to cover this segment, including the Forrester Marketing Forum, and we don’t want to see them lose momentum.
In the interim, now is a good time to renew your contacts with other social media gurus such as Gartner’s Andrew Frank or IDC’s Caroline Dangson—and to check out Charlene and crew online! They could just well turn out to be the next Chasm Group of the Web 2.0 era.