I remain troubled by the state of the analyst community. Companies, like the one I work at, pay serious money to companies like Forrester. Part of what Forrester provides is great research. But, another part of why we work with a company like Forrester is the “great” coverage their analysts offer. I use quotations around the word great, because honestly, I’ve been less than impressed with their analysis.
When Jeremiah Owyang worked at Forrester, my feedback to him was that he needed to be less buddy-buddy with the companies and people he was evaluating. Instead, he needed to be more openly critical. For what it’s worth, I still think Jeremiah needs to do that.
Forrester isn’t the only company that’s failed to offer honest, old school, real analysis. eMarketer, Nielsen, etc. have all stopped delivering the goods. Every analyst review reads like something our of Entertainment Weekly. There’s no bite. There’s no decisiveness.
Maybe I should take a step back and outline what I’m looking for in an analyst:
- Knowledge of the space or industry
- Clear understanding of what it is they are analyzing
- Honesty, integrity and the brutal truth
- A solid point of view grounded in facts
Here’s what I don’t want:
- A puff piece
- A middle of the road analysis that offers no conclusion
- Softened feedback to maintain a “friendly” relationship with the company or person
The reason we subscribe to services like Forrester is ultimately to make our lives easier. In theory, they’ve already done all the digging, uncovered the good, pointed out the bad and offered up a real analysis that helps me make solid decisions. What I’m finding more and more lately however, is that I’m having double and sometime triple check all the work being done by these companies and individuals.
Frankly, I don’t trust what they have to say anymore because I think the analysts clearly lack integrity. Yes, I said integrity. It’s becoming more and more apparent that these analysts refuse to be brutally honest because they’re fearful of upsetting the company or individual they’re reviewing. I mean, sure, I get it. If you’re a tough critic, what company is going to want to let you critique them…especially when they’re in beta. But, for those companies fearful of receiving critical and negative feedback, I say, “shame on you.” That’s right. Shame on you for having thin skin and clearly lacking accountability. If you were acceptable you’d value the feedback because it would help you improve. It’s that simple.
Michael Gartenberg is one of my favorite analysts. His feedback is always honest, grounded in insights, specific and completely relevant. With is recent announcement that he was joining Altimiter Group, I had to cringe just a little bit. I wonder, will he now be less inclined to be straight forward and often critical analyst he’s always been? Time will tell and I hope he does remain true to his roots.
What we have going on right now is a situation where the someone needs to be analyzing the analysts and keeping them honest. Who’s going to do it? It’s a thankless job. You won’t make a lot of friends in the industry. You probably won’t get invited to the hip SXSW parties or get access to the early beta of a cool new product. Nope, you won’t be getting any of those things. But, I do think you’d be getting the respect of the paying clients. People will like me and the companies I represent will be thanking you for having the integrity that clearly so many analysts have forgotten.
Maybe it’s time for a new breed of analysts or maybe it’s just a case of old being new again. Either way, we need a change.