ARcade » Current Debates within Analyst Relations Weblog maintained by Hill+Knowlton Strategies\' global Analyst Relations team. Wed, 30 Nov 2011 02:40:13 +0000 en hourly 1 Grappling with the Cloud – What the Analysts Say (and why their opinion matters) Fri, 05 Mar 2010 09:30:29 +0000 Tris Clark Cloud. It’s the word that won’t go away in IT circles. If you believe the hype it’s a new approach to technology that will redefine the way we deliver and consume IT. If you don’t, cloud is not a new concept, but a rebranding of various technology services, processes, practices and strategies that have been evolving for several decades. 


The top line concept is relatively simple: Exact definitions vary, but Cloud Computing is effectively a metaphor for computing over the Internet. For example, instead of a company hosting their IT on their own PC or sever internally it is managed and delivered by a third party supplier. Effectively their IT is hosted in a virtual ‘cloud’ of external servers.  The IT industry has argued itself silly over various technical definitions, opportunities and problems with the concept of cloud. A lot of communications in the market around cloud has come from the vendors. In quite a few cases we question whether these messages have really contributed to clarifying what these services actually bring to customers.  


Where do analysts fit into this debate?

The topic of cloud computing is ripe for debunking. Analysts have been playing a key role in this – constantly outlining the various technical and strategic options for companies – and contradicting technology vendor’s marketing claims when they break step with reality. Analysts are particularly important to the cloud debate for multiple reasons:


Firstly, they are advising their clients (IT decision makers of every stripe) on IT matters every day – they are intimately familiar with companies day to day challenges, and how they can be solved.


Secondly, they talk with a wide range of technology vendors, and are frequently discussing the various ins and outs of trends. Vendors have a reputation for slinging mud at each other and spreading FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) about each other’s respective offerings. The analyst industry originally grew out of a desire to counter the rising tides of vendor hype. If anyone can tell you the real deal … it should be an analyst.


Lastly, because analysts gain access to technology developments before they even hit the market (and technology adoption rates can take several years to filter through to the mainstream) they are in the know well before the media. Analysts are rightly lauded for their independence – their influence can sometimes make or break a multi-million pound technology deal. Analysts have too much to lose if they become compromised by hype, so you know they will give you an honest answer to a straight question.


Cloud – New or not?

Most analysts have been around for a long time. They have heard it all before. The Application Service Provider (ASP) was the original poster child for ‘IT over the Internet’ back in the early 90s. The technology wasn’t up to scratch, so it never really took off. Prior to cloud many people got hot under the collar over Software as a Service (SaaS) – the same basic concept but delivered on a multi-tenant basis. SaaS has itself now been subsumed within a wider ‘theoretical’ cloud model which also includes hardware, applications and storage.


Much of this is a question of vendor positioning. There is an argument that ‘true’ cloud computing is globally scalable in nature – and requires the kind of resources and reach that only the likes of Microsoft, Google and Yahoo! can provide. Although many smaller, and less scalable, vendors would dispute this in their own cloud definitions. It’s also true (up to a point) that here have been several technological developments – virtualisation and web-orientated architecture for instance – that allow Internet resources to be used much more effectively by enterprises. Cloud is more pervasive than most technology topics because it embraces so many IT touchpoints. For example, a recent Inquiry H&K had with Gartner on virtualisation contained a healthy portion of focus on the topic of cloud – due to the role of virtualisation in supporting private clouds.


The analyst team at Freeform Dynamics have eloquently made the case that cloud is essentially a slightly tweaked IT approach to the old problems that IT has always grappled with – a view I am very sympathetic to. Dale Vile, Research Director at Freeform Dynamics called a spade a spade when he recently wrote in the Register that,while this discussion about styles of IT service delivery might be new to some, it certainly isn’t to anyone who has moved in senior IT and business management circles.”  His colleague Jon Collins, Managing Director and CEO at Freeform, added, “I think some vendors are being taken by surprise by the fact that Cloud just equates to IT done right.”


The good folks at Freeform are certainly not alone within the analyst community in arguing this point, indeed it’s probably fair to say that the majority of analysts arguably support this view. These kind of pragmatic ‘sanity checks’ from analysts are very welcome indeed. Such analytical doses of reality help the IT community to keep its feet firmly planted on the ground – dealing in the world of the possible rather than just focusing on the aspirational promise of tomorrow’s ‘next big thing’.


Cloud Adoption – Where it’s really at

More than ever the waves of FUD need to be countered – cloud particularly needs to be put into context. Although it is topping most of the ‘hottest’ technology lists for 2010, caution is justified. Broadly speaking analysts are advising a wait and see approach to adopting cloud services.


The analyst firm Gartner produces yearly Hype-Cycles, in effect market barometers which track technology adoption and market penetration. Coincidently, the latest Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies places cloud computing at the ‘peak of inflated’ expectations. This indicates that the technology has become as hyped as it’s going to be. Over the next two years the topic will slide into the ‘trough of disillusionment’ as customers begin to discover problems and issues with the implementation of cloud services.  This doesn’t mean the technology has failed; merely that it has reached the most difficult period in its lifecycle. As a general guide Hype-Cycles are a strong, but not infallible, method of tracking technologies and the right time to implement them. I’ve oversimplified the intricacies involved in Hype-Cycles slightly (but that’s a whole other blog post…)


Over the next year or so it will be bumpy ride for cloud computing enthusiasts.  Indeed, the words of caution from analysts have been circling for some time. According to a pan- European and American  survey[i] , conducted by the analyst firm Forrester, 49 percent of respondents recently decided not to implement cloud services due to ongoing security and privacy concerns. More questions are being asked over the ‘pure play’ approach to cloud, this trend will increase.  Such candour is well come as IT decision makers are risk averse at the best of times and rightly want to know their investments are justified (and will pay off).


The Real Future of Cloud

This is the part where I own up to having a vested interest in the debate. Several of my clients are actively involved in a hybrid approach to cloud computing which is known as Software+Services (S+S). The S+S model is championed by Microsoft, and other technology partners such as Mamut (a pan European software provider focused on SMBs). Both of whom – I’m very proud to say – are clients. Their approach is an evolutionary one to cloud.


In a nutshell S+S is a model which embraces both traditional on premise IT and the functionality provided by the cloud – letting the user decide whether they want to use online or on-premise functionality, or a combination of the two. It’s a salient approach as, in reality, most companies will use a mix of traditional IT and cloud services. Over the next few years the wider IT industry will come to acknowledge that cloud is not an ‘all or nothing’ proposition.


Indeed, for many businesses cloud is not an either/or debate – reality is rarely so neat and tidy – and there is a fine line to tread between business agility and retaining resiliency. In most of H&K’s conversations with analysts to date the feedback on S+S has been very positive. Whilst analysts won’t necessarily endorse one IT delivery model over another, many of the analysts the H&K AR team have spoken to agree that the future IT environment will be a heterogeneous beast. In our view, such an environment favours Software+Services. It lets the user pick their flavour of IT at their own pace. And in the end, cloud hype or no, it’s the user’s preference, and the IT facts on the ground, that truly matter.


If you are interested in starting a conversation with analysts or would like to discuss technology trends with the AR team at Hill & Knowlton then please do drop us a line.


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Great IIAR Event Last Night…Despite the Rain Fri, 22 Jan 2010 23:36:28 +0000 Ruth Busbee Last night IIAR hosted its first meeting of 2010 in Silicon Valley hosted by Cisco. Despite the torrential rain in the Bay Area, about 25 AR professionals made the trek to network, socialize and hear  Carter Lusher with Sage Circle present on “Trends in the Analyst Ecosystem.”

In addition to talking about the firm acquisitions such as AMR and Burton a topic of discussion was what is an analyst these days with Carter supposing that analysts have contractual agreements with end users and vendors. The group also explored ways to use Twitter in AR programs and several Twitter AR pro’s were there including Peggy O’Neill, Rob Hilsen with Genesys,  Kathleen Schaub with Sybase,  Jessie Freund with Cisco.

The next meeting is in March…watch for an announcement date from IIAR and hope to see everyone there.

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The half-life of market research Tue, 17 Feb 2009 15:36:53 +0000 Heidi Schall In January the DARA hosted a fireside chat where AR specialists and analysts discussed about how the crisis affects analysts and their research. A major outcome of the discussion was that the demand for very recent data is growing, traditional resarch cycles will not be sufficient anymore and the research firms will need to publish and update figures more frequently. So I wasn’t too astonished when PAC today lowered their forecast for the German outsourcing industry. Guess it will be just the start of a series of amendments to latest forecasts. Maybe Twitter IS the new tool for publishing research results and forecasts these days?

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Cross-post: Clean Tech Hype Cycle Mon, 28 Jul 2008 10:50:00 +0000 Dominic Pannell As followers of H&K’s tech practice will know, Joshua Reynolds was recently promoted to Global Technology Practice Director. At the start of the month, he published the following short article on the Hype Cycle that we have produced for clean technology, largely because it didn’t already exist. Clean tech is an area that is extremely important to H&K and you can expect to see much more posted in the coming months as we demonstrate our credentials.

Given the attention that Carter and others have given to Hype Cycles in the not too distant past, it seems very appropriate to cross-post Josh’s article on ARcade.

I plan to run an afternoon/evening session for clients and friends of H&K shortly that focuses on Hype Cycles, why they are important, what you can do with them and how you can influence them. Contact me for further information.


Clean tech is the latest boom industry. Global investments in clean energy are conservatively estimated at US$148 billion in 2007, with year-on-year growth rates of 60%. But this entrepreneurial frenzy brings with it a commensurate degree of hype. And it is hype—and how we navigate it—that determines long-term winners from losers.

Fortunately, we have a diagnostic tool that helps us predict waves of hype, separate legitimate innovation from fads, and enable us to become the voice of reason in a crowded and confused public dialogue.

Years ago, international technology research firm Gartner developed something they called the Hype Cycle. It plotted various technologies from various sectors along a market maturation curve that was divided into five sections:

  • Technology triggers were those innovations that had been invented but not yet broadly marketed—or tested.
  • Innovations at the peak of inflated expectations are those that are broadly publicized but often misunderstood as people rush to deploy them without first understanding their limitations.
  • In the trough of disillusionment, as people gradually realize that new innovations don’t live up to their over-hyped reputations, the industry goes through a period of general disappointment.
  • At the slope of enlightenment, wiser heads prevail and realize ways to achieve meaningful ROI from their investments with minor modifications in deployment.
  • And finally, a technology reaches a point where it has become so ubiquitous all the risk is gone, as is all the innovation. This is the plateau of productivity.

Originally, Gartner meant for this tool to help its clients determine levels of risk associated with buying or investing in specific technologies. And as Hill & Knowlton has discovered, this tool can be easily adapted to construct (and de-construct) marketing strategies not only for new technologies, but for other sectors, as well—including clean tech. Gartner has not yet produced an official clean tech hype cycle. But based on our own research and analysis, we have constructed a rudimentary one of our own (see illustration), which remains a work in progress.

Technology Trigger: Here we tell “next big thing” stories. Even if we don’t sell technologies in this phase, we make industry predictions about the long-term impact of new developments on mature markets. And we offer counsel on how to avoid becoming obsolete in the wake of fresh innovations. In the world of clean tech, this includes new long-life batteries and energy storage architectures for clean energy such as solar, wind and wave.

Peak of Inflated Expectations: Here we counter industry hype by running “mythbuster” campaigns that challenge commonly held misperceptions. We seed the market with the top five questions to ask your vendors, partners or senior management before investing in this area. And we offer counsel on how to mitigate risks associated with these new fads. In clean tech, commercial grade solar energy is often over -hyped. We can boost our credibility by challenging false assumptions around cost, energy storage and ease of deployment.

Trough of Disillusionment: Here we provide a counterpoint to industry skepticism. We offer counsel on how to achieve ROI from existing investments, and promulgate best practices for deployment. And we can offer expert views on “lessons learned” that position us as the wise ones in a down sector. In clean tech, people are extremely disillusioned with “greenwashing,” which involves a company trying to portray itself as environmentally conscious without accounting for the true environmental impact of its policies.

Slope of Enlightenment: Here we candidly address industry maturity and market consolidation and commoditization. We celebrate customer heroes who had the vision to see the long-term value in a new innovation. And we offer counsel on where the industry goes next. Energy efficient appliances, and intelligent power consumption in hardware and data centers, have long been promoted as good ideas. Now we can share best practices for others to follow.

And at the Plateau of Productivity, where you find things like energy-saving florescent light bulbs, it’s time to find something new to talk about.

In the coming months and years, clean technology will become an increasingly prevalent topic. The space will become crowded with visionaries, industrial giants, and general embellishment. The best way to stand apart in a space like that is to be the voice of reason, know where you are on the hype cycle, and speak accordingly. As we continue to learn more, this hype cycle will continue to evolve—and so will our marketing strategies.

Although Gartner currently only publishes hype cycles for technology, media & entertainment, supply chain and natural resource industries, this hype cycle methodology works just as well for other sectors, too. The clean tech hype cycle is just one example of a home-grown diagnostic tool used to bring immediately applicable insights to a burgeoning market. By putting our clients’ communications into a broader strategic context–regardless of which sector they’re in–we can enhance their thought leadership propgrams and executive profiling. But even more than that, we can anticipate the next big thing–or next big flop–and literally get them “ahead of the curve.”


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Flat News Earth Debate - Fri, 07 Mar 2008 07:09:00 +0000 Dominic Pannell I had an interesting evening two nights ago at the Flat Earth News Debate organised by the Press Gazette following the launch of Nick Davies’ book. The topic for discussion was “Is a culture of “churnalism” destroying real journalism in the UK?”

Top marks to the Press Gazette for attracting a high profile panel that included the author, several very established journalists and editors as well as H&K’s UK CEO – the book is being widely discussed within the PR industry and it’s important that we take part in the discussion.

The full list of panellists was:

  • Nick Davies – Guardian writer, former British Press Awards reporter and feature writer of the year and author of Flat Earth News
  • Andrew Gilligan – the former Today Programme reporter whose investigations into the office of London Mayor Ken Livingstone have prompted a police inquiry and the suspension of one of Livingstone’s closest aides
  • Malcolm Starbrook – editor of the East London Advertiser, a former editor of the Croydon Advertiser and member of the Press Complaints Commission
  • Peter Preston – Observer media columnist and former Guardian editor.
  • Michelle Stanistreet – President of the NUJ and a journalist with the Daily Express
  • Sally Costerton – UK chief executive of PR firm Hill & Knowlton
  • Dominic Ponsford – editor of Press Gazette

The debate did get somewhat sidetracked into a discussion of bad pay within UK journalism, but as this is part of the problem that Nick Davies describes in his book, panellists and audience-members were allowed to run with this theme.

I’ll come clean and admit that I haven’t finished reading Flat Earth News, so my opinions are liable to change somewhat over the coming days, but in short Davies is saying that ownership of newspapers has shifted from benevolent patriarchs who were interested in power and influence to commercial organisations driven by the profit motive.

According to Davies, commercial pressures have led to journalists having to churn out up to ten news stories a day, leading to a failure to check facts and consequently to the publication of many untrue stories.

The situation is exacerbated by a reduction in the number of journalists which results in their taking announcements from official bodies such as courts and the government at face value. To make matters worse, the Press Association, which Davies describes in his book as “the primary conveyor belt along which information reaches national media in Britain,” has replaced a network of local staff reporters and freelance hacks who used to cover news around the country. Davies asserts that the Press Association is woefully understaffed and frequently resorts to passing on information unchecked, only for this to be taken as fact by journalists in the nationals.

The other main argument is that editors are faced with enormous pressures from, for example, the government to publish or not to publish stories. The example of Prince Harry’s recent tour of duty in Afghanistan was cited as a powerful example of press collusion – interestingly a show of hands revealed the audience at the debate to be split down the middle as to whether the press were right or wrong to do so.

While the discussion was largely interesting, the debate was effectively snuffed out by the author himself: several of the panellists, including Peter Preston, Andrew Gilligan and Francis Ingham challenged the factual basis upon which Davies builds his Flat Earth News arguments and it was hugely ironic that he batted away these accusations of poor fact-checking by saying that it was “boring” to get bogged down with the detail. A classic case of do as I say, don’t do as I do…

Hats off to Ingham for the night’s best soundbite: “PR isn’t that powerful, journalists are not that lazy, and the public are not that stupid.” Quite.

What does all that mean for PR agencies like H&K and Influencer50? Well, here’s the hard sell: any erosion of the influence of journalists means that other parties can muscle in and grab mindshare among the customers of our clients’ products and services, so from a selfish perspective it’s good news for PR practitioners who engage with non-media stakeholders.

While we absolutely condemn the plight of journalists and absolutely recognise their lack of numbers, it highlights the importance of identifying ALL the actors that carry weight on purchasing decisions and working to align their agenda with that of our clients for mutual benefit. In other words, less ‘Media Relations’ and more ‘Public Relations’ in its true sense (or ‘influencer marketing’ if you must). In short, it puts a multi-specialist like H&K in a particularly powerful position as we frequently combine our deep expertise in disciplines as diverse as Public Affairs, Change Management and Analyst Relations with sector knowledge in Financial Services, Healthcare and Technology, etc. When combined with top class media relations, the result is a truly powerful marketing communications campaign that reflects directly on clients’ bottom lines.

My colleagues Guy and Niall, being more dedicated bloggers, have already posted their own takes on the debate – the latter demonstrating his note-taking skills by reproducing a good summary of the panellists’ positions.

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Social media in AR: private melds with public Sun, 28 Oct 2007 23:21:00 +0000 Dominic Pannell I was surprised today when Carter Lusher became my ‘friend’ on Facebook.

Surprised, and slightly concerned because Carter is AR Director at HP Corporate and the main contributor to the HP’s Corporate AR blog, whereas my profile on Facebook is distinctly unprofessional – to set the scene, my profile photo has me dressed as Father Christmas and the most recent ‘stories’ are that I have been ‘cuddled’ and ‘drunk dialled’ by other friends (both of whom I have met and consider to be good friends in the real world, since you ask).

Thankfully, Carter asked me a couple of questions, which allowed me to explain myself. He asked me how I was getting on with Facebook and whether I have managed to weave social media into my work.

My answer was rather long and Carter suggested I post a version of it on ARcade, so here goes:

I’ve been a member of various online communities for about a dozen years, from when I lived in Sweden (1995-1997). I have met many of my closest friends through sites like Shortcut (Swedish language community for young professionals) and Last Thursday (an irreverent place that is currently down for maintenance).

I’m a member of most of the big communities, from Bebo (started by my friend Paul Birch together with his brother Michael and Michael’s wife Xochi) and Dopplr on the fun side to Xing and LinkedIn on the professional front, but I treat them very differently. Much like my (and Carter’s) personal/professional blogs, I consider it appropriate to express myself according to the channel. You won’t find me writing about AR on Facebook, I prefer to leave that to places like ARcade and the IIAR. On Facebook and my personal blog, you’ll read about my exploits at Santacon and, at Christmas time, about volunteering for the homeless charity Crisis, both of which I’m passionate about, but there just isn’t a strong link to work (although I did persuade two colleagues to dress up as Santa last year).

Not long back, I took part in a discussion with the great and the good within H&K and argued that folk should be allowed to access Facebook, etc. on their work PCs. My position is that if we’re not on these sites, we’re lagging behind the competition and that’s professional suicide in PR. The only way to keep up to speed is to experiment. It’s also the best way to find out what’s useful and what’s not – am I the only person who can’t see the point of Me.dium?

Social media is changing business and personally I feel that companies that take policy decisions not to even comment on blogs or engage with social media are myopic and in time it will cost them dearly (even if they can be very useful – we create them for clients and for internal use – an email newsletter is like sooooo 1993!).

Conversely, I’m really pleased that Carter, already a prolific and talented blogger outside work, has started an AR blog – he’s a leading light in AR and practitioners can learn a lot from his posts. Moreover, by engaging in the online conversations, HP will benefit by understanding changes that are affecting the analyst community.

I saw how online communities transformed business life in Sweden, which is several years ahead of most other countries in this space – wait and see what happens to the US and the rest of the world now that we’re catching up.

Social media/the web will force existing unwieldy institutions to adapt or die – witness the Creative Commons, of which I’m a big fan. All mainstream IP systems are creaking at the seams and the Internet is speeding up the process.

Have I managed to weave Facebook into my work? No. My reply to Carter was the first time I’ve ever used it in anything like a professional capacity. Do I use social media in my work? All the time. From Twitter to Cogenz, I’m constantly connected, constantly scanning the web and testing new tools and it makes me and the rest of the H&K AR team better at what we do. We also have access to and use H&K’s proprietary tools.

It’s not surprising that I’m such an advocate, having worked on Language Army and Friends Abroad, both of which base their successful business models on community. I have also guest lectured on social media at Warwick University.

Oh, and to prove my geeky credentials once and for all, I haven’t had a TV for years as I prefer surfing the net to goggling the box.

In short, I’m quite happy to be Carter’s friend on Facebook, as long as he doesn’t expect me to do anything sensible on there.

Top tip: If you’re ever travelling to the Bay area, ask Carter for a restaurant suggestion. I did and can guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Disclaimer: HP is a client.

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Top 50 analyst bloggers Tue, 19 Jun 2007 16:21:00 +0000 Dominic Pannell A bit of fun from Jonny Bentwood over at Edelman’s AR practice: he’s put together a list of the top 50 analyst bloggers.

Now, some of the criteria strikes me as a little dodgy (mainly because the tools that measure blogs aren’t transparent) and Bloglines tells me that Nate Elliot has 179 subscribers, as opposed to James Governor’s 114, yet Jonny gives James the nod on that part of the survey, what’s more Mr Bentwood acknowledges there’s something fishy about Charlene Li’s place in the results, but it’s still interesting.

I’m a firm believer in having a go and then working to improve the quality of the results down the line (probably something to do with the anchoring and adjusting techniques I learned on my MBA). Jonny has made a first stab at measuring which analyst bloggers are influential and now it’s a question of fine-tuning. Personally I’m going to stick this under the noses of our Digital team and see what they make of it.

What’s particularly nice is that he’s giving away copies of his results. Thanks Jonny.

EDIT: It was remiss of me not to acknowledge that James (see his comment below) brought Jonny’s blog post to my attention. Thanks JG! /EDIT

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Measuring Analyst Impact Fri, 18 May 2007 16:03:00 +0000 admin  

My former Gartner colleague Vinnie Mirchandani has perhaps mischaracterized my comments about Gartner’s earnings, terming it a “rave” about its “growing ‘influence.’”  While I wouldn’t term my comments a “rave,” Vinnie actually raises an interesting question:  where is Gartner’s revenue growth coming from?  He posits that most of the revenue growth is coming from price increases to vendors and newer SME buyers, especially overseas.  I’m not prepared to do a detailed financial analysis, though perhaps I’ll contact Laura Lederman of William Blair, who has covered Gartner from its initial public offering and is the “dean” of stock analysts covering Gartner.  However, my immediate gut reaction is that this segment doesn’t come close to explaining Gartner’s revenue growth and that a considerable portion of it comes from selling more stuff (most notably membership programs) into existing enterprises.

More interesting to me is the issue of measuring “influence.”  <Caveat:  self-serving vendor hype to follow>  We’re just now producing the results of our annual B2B IT decision-makers survey, which has consistently shown both the influence of industry analysts and the impact of Gartner and as soon as we have results to talk about, we’ll discuss them here.  <end hype>  Why don’t the analyst firms do a better job of helping their vendor constituency understand their influence?  You’d think that were they to do so, it might actually help their business.  At its most basic, I can only conclude that the analyst firms either don’t know how to measure it either or, more importantly, that they don’t necessarily believe it will help (or validate) their business.  So who’s responsible for resolving this issue?  Is this market large enough, and is this issue important enough, to drive a solution here?  But since I’ve been working on this side of the street (vendor/agency), I’ve long wondered why the analyst firms don’t do more to help AR professionals.  (And viewing them as a revenue opportunity with AR-based offerings is not the kind of help I’m talking about.)  AR’s pain is often the same of that of the vendors:  how do we get more resources.  If the analyst firms could help AR understand their influence in quantifiable, defensible fashion, there would almost certainly be more money for analyst-related activities, including subscriptions and consulting days for the analyst firms.  I think the analyst firm/analyst relations relationship remains too contentious today.  When are the analyst firms going to wake up and understand that AR is their potential ally?  Forrester, with their wildly successful AR council (bringing AR professionals together in a way that we’ve never been able to do ourselves) is in a great position to bring this relationship to the next level.  But they may feel that as much as it might help them, it would help Gartner as much or more (and I can’t really argue with that concern).  So, Gartner, are you ready to stand up?

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UK Technology PR "Healthcheck" Survey Mon, 30 Apr 2007 17:15:00 +0000 Dominic Pannell I’m posting this with a degree of trepidation given the recent article by Berlecon analyst Dr. Andreas Stiehler criticising the way that many surveys are conducted (Heidi drew attention to the paper on this blog and it was subsequently translated by Duncan on his).

My colleagues in H&K’s UK PR team recently published a summary of the findings of a survey they ran at the end of 2006 asking in-house PR managers about their expectations for 2007. From my perspective, the results suggest that the immediate future is looking bright as 78% percent of respondents plan to maintain or grow PR budget levels and 15% consider adding Analyst Relations to their media relations efforts to be their key focus for the year.

This certainly seems to be borne out by what we’re seeing in the marketplace. Long may it last!

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How much (valid) research is in market research? Fri, 20 Apr 2007 15:12:00 +0000 Heidi Schall “How independent are independent analysts?”, asked Duncan Chapple in his post on Analyst Equity. Another interesting question often discussed at DARA meetings is: How professional and valid is the research offered by market researchers? Without any doubt there is a lot of reputable research available but the current hunger for market statistics also nurtures a trend for “quick & dirty” research – which can be observed at both big and small vendors. As there is no authority to set and control quality standards in market research users need to be able to judge for themselves and know how to separate the wheat from the chaff.


Interestingly enough an analyst, Andreas Stiehler of Berlecon Research, has written a  spotlight analysis on “ICT market figures and their reliability”. Unfortunately it is only for readers of German. Although I have been told that it is now trendy in the English speaking world to speak German ;-)


Basically he points out what the main indicators for bad and good research are and what users – that don’t have a degree in statistics – should look for when examining the quality of market figures. As always, the best way is to use common sense and ask the right questions, e.g. can a survey among 100 people around the globe really tell something about a market? When you break it down on a country level the basis will always be too low to base any assumptions on it. How good are online surveys if the group I want to examine is known to be slow in adopting new technology? And if a survey was done “among 100 people”, does that really imply that all of them actually responded?


But he is quite aware – and I would fully agree here – that there is no perfect research and it isn’t necessarily a bad thing to base insight on a small number of respondents or work with online surveys. We all know that collecting and interpreting data is hard work and almost every data might be of worth for some purpose. As long as the user is given clear and full insight into how, where and by whom the data has been retrieved and where there are possible restrictions in interpreting the data.


If anybody is interested in a full English version I can go and ask Berlecon if they would supply one.

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