Is Analyst Relations a prisoner of its own success within the IT sector?
15 September 2010
Analyst Relations remains a relatively new practice within communications, but even during its formative years it seems to be going through an identity crisis. Every section of the communications industry has been challenged by the economic crisis that has beset the global economy, but none more so than AR. In the ferocious scrum for budget between advertising, PR, social media and AR it is by no means the case that AR has emerged as a number one priority for technology firms.
AR for PR, or AR for AR?
This is hardly surprising, whilst the case for AR (when it is done correctly) is compelling – strategic transformation, sourcing and consuming market intelligence to increase competitive advantage and of course influencing the sales cycle – too few within the communications industry have a grasp of the full extent of what is possible with AR. Even when companies are very positive to AR, they often adopt an ‘AR for PR’ mentality. Taken to its logical conclusion this approach can pervert AR, turning it from a strategic discipline into a highly tactical exercise in chasing positive analyst quotes in trade media.
Measurement Matters Most
Many within the industry complain about the maniacal focus that their clients often place on positioning within Gartner Magic Quadrants and Forrester Waves. Yes, the quadrants and waves are often misinterpreted and simplistically used in the battle for sales and mindshare, but this criticism misses the point. Many people like the quadrants and waves precisely because they are easily digestible. They provide a method of quantifying a discipline that can appear highly esoteric at the best of times. Vendor positioning reports are not only invaluable in providing a framework for AR practices, but they remain one of the most accurate yardsticks to measuring AR’s impact and success.
Illuminating the Way Forward
It is no coincidence that AR still remains a heavily IT focused discipline – other industry sectors such as Finance, Energy and Industrials, Manufacturing and Healthcare can have a potentially strong AR play, but these sectors remain much less of a focus for most AR professionals. There are no Gartner Magic Quadrants or Forrester Waves to show the way. Indeed AR often has to sneak into those sectors under different labels such as consultancy. In some cases it is the discipline that dare not speak its name at all!
The Need to Diversify
IT remains a growing sector and there will always be a healthy market for clever, dedicated AR practitioners. However, if the AR sector is to grow market share and address the many misconceptions currently held by those in adjacent, sibling disciplines, it has to do a better job at justifying its place within the communications industry. It needs to grow industry mindshare as well as increasing its economic footprint. A good example of crossing traditional IT boundaries is Better Place – a visionary organisation which aims to redefine next-generation transportation and infrastructure to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) and end the world’s addiction to oil. Better Place partnered with H&K at various points for its global influencer programme and helped to change perceptions about the industry and its solutions through, in part, the use of AR.
Exploration and Innovation
The slow pace of economic recovery globally will hopefully act as a catalyst that encourages the AR industry to develop new approaches and tools to successfully establish and embed itself as an essential part of the communications mix within new sectors. It will not happen overnight, but with diligence and inventiveness it is possible.
Magic Quadrant for the oil industry anyone?