You’re about to get the skinny on technology industry analysts in the world of early-stage ventures. The contents below should provide you guidance on who, when and how to use both the research as well as the individual brains at firms such as Aberdeen, AMR Research, Gartner, Forrester, Frost & Sullivan, Yankee, etc. We may have left off a few of the generalists, and certainly the vertical market specialists, so if you’re looking for our thoughts on one we may have missed, just reply and let us know.
First and foremost, analysts can help your company if approached and engaged properly. You need to establish credibility with them and treat them just as you might a key customer. Keep in mind that most IT buyers look to the analyst community to do some of their vetting and that some of the largest customers of these analyst firms are Fortune 1000 companies – aka your customers (unless you’re dealing with consumers and SMB’s, that’s a different twist).
That said, it’s key to get your foot in the door and educate the analysts covering your space with who you are (your credibility) and what you’re doing (solving a verifiable market pain). It’s those two things that will open the door and keep it open. The other thing to remember is that analysts speak to A LOT of companies and executives. They get paid to learn, aggregate data points and write/speak about what they see and hear. This is essential. Remember, you’re getting feedback on your company as much as you are trying to leave them with interesting factoids to think about for the next time you chat.
So how do you make this happen? We’ll most firms will allow you to schedule a short intro-briefing session with an analyst. Keep in mind, that this is your first impression – so do your homework and stay on point. If you don’t know anyone in an analyst firm, it will most likely be a sales or account rep that helps you do this. Why??? Because they are a business and that’s just their process. So what happens after the first date? Probably nothing, unless you’ve got a break thru product that they fall in love with. However, what you will get is feedback. This is critical as you shape and re-shape your story over time and re-engage with the analyst community.
So, this leads us to the money conversation. Analysts are relatively expensive for an early-stage company and the prices for top-tier firms aren’t getting lower. That said, it’s smart to budget a small project (webinar, seminar, strategy session) to get the ball rolling if you can. It’s worth the money as it gets you time with the expert. That’s your master plan here… the more the analyst is on your turf, the less they are on your competitors. Ultimately, you’re able to afford an annual contract and retainer with the firm, but it just takes time and money (market traction).
Below is a quick snapshot of what the top analyst firms cover or are recognized by the industry for covering. Keep in mind that this is a people business, and as people move, so to does the expertise.
Retail, Services, Manufacturing, Procurement, Supply Chain, HR
Supply chain, supply chain, supply chain
No one ever got fired for listening to Gartner (…or have they)
IT across the Enterprise and SMB markets
Consumer, Supply Chain, Outsourcing
Frost & Sullivan
Wide net that includes financial as well as economic research in addition to IT
Communications and Mobility with some IT.