In January, Carter Lusher from Sage Circle asked a question through Linkedin Answers about “The biggest challenges that tech vendor analyst relations (AR) teams will face in 2008?
Below is a ‘clean’ version of my response:
The biggest challenge for the next 18 months is the marginalization of the traditional AR function.
Many of today’s AR ‘practices’ are based on antiquated engagement and relationship models defined over a decade ago. In order to maintain strategic relevance, the AR practitioner needs to understand the problem(s) that they are really trying to solve for their company and demonstrate how ‘the process’ of working with analysts and IT Influencers can help solve them. As you go through the exercise of really understanding your company’s business challenges, you may realize that the analyst engagement models of the past will not help you (entirely) secure the future opportunities for your company.
Looking beyond the traditional engagement with the big 3 or 4 analyst firms in your industry (choose from Gartner, AMR, Forrester, IDC, Ovum, Yankee, etc.) you will find that these firms have limited scope of 1:1 influence - relative to the true market opportunities that your companies may be targeting.
Gartner (as an example) has about 15k customers (of which 30% are vendors). The global market opportunity for vendors targeting the Large Enterprise market is about 80k customers, and for SME it is about 57million! Who are the influencers reaching the 99 percent of the market that your company is targeting???
This is not to say that the 1 percent of companies that the traditional analyst firms influence are not important! However, if we are in fact entering a recession, then growth for our companies will need to come from new markets and most likely new customers. Perhaps it is time to challenge ourselves to rethink the traditional AR approach that was cast over a decade ago?
If we do not innovate our approach, the value of the traditional AR manager will be marginalized as our precious resources (stakeholder time and budget) will be diverted to other high return marketing and communication activities that target new/expanded high growth opportunities for our companies.