Okay that might be a little too bold of a statement. However the impact of Web 2.0 and Social Media has definitely shaken up the status quo when it comes to analysts and influencers. Why shouldn’t it? Look what it has done to traditional press. So an industry that was built on the model of have a few select members have access to the vast number of technology vendors, with the goal in mind of leveraging this relationship and synthesizing what was learned and educating the masses of users that wouldn’t know a desktop from a server, has now come under siege as much of this information is available….for free….on the web.
Just go to Google or Bing and do a search around Gartner or Forrester with .ppt and you will find some of the power-point decks from these firms that contain a wealth of data which in the past you would have to pay $20k + a year to get access to these figures. Couple this with more analysts publishing blogs that are open to all to read, such as an Interactive Marketing blog from Forrester or the Logistics Blog from ARC Advisory. Suddenly the content and access to the analysts seems to be more open to the general public – anyone with a browser can reach out to the likes of Gartner et. al. and engage via social media channels. Add to this the phenomena of analysts throwing up their own shingle in cyberspace and now you have even more channels of information that are just one click away – such as supply chain matters or spend matters.
So as a vendor or user, should you spend $20k, $50k, $250k or more to engage with the likes of Forrester, Gartner, Yankee Group, IDC and the others? I will say absolutely. However the way you negotiate and structure your contracts will be much different that it would have been 5 or 10 years ago.
First, do not feel trapped into having acquire a number of access seats to the content. As we have seen, the barrier to the access to the content has become lower and lower. To have to pay large sums of money to allow the sales director from your Sioux City branch office to access the research is not worth it.
Second, as a marketing organization push for as much face to face/interactive time possible to be included in the contact. End of the day the amount of money you are paying in the contract is to allow yourself the opportunity to speak directly with analysts. The value of engaging with analyst firms is to be able to be first in the queue when you have a question, concern or need some strategic insight from the firm. To be able to speak with an analyst for competitive intelligence or insight on a prospect remains highly valuable and only consistently available via a traditional contract.
Finally, as a vendor the relationship with these analyst firms remains a strategic one – to gain intelligence and insight as well as a tactical one – tell users why your product is worthy of being short listed. As a user these firms are helpful with regards to grasping the technology curve and getting the true inside scoop of what goes on behind the scenes at vendors.
Web 2.0 has lowered the barrier to gaining insight into content and data. It has also allowed for easier access to the thought leaders of the industry. However without a traditional contract with these firms, clients remain limited in regards to how much they can take advantage of all the resources that are available.