Am I the only one who has no idea how to use all these allegedly amazing new emojis and ways of attaching content in iOS10?
I’m sure I’m not. But like it or not, we all now have to go through the obligatory annoying phase, now, of trying to deal with all these new aspects of the system – finding our shortcuts don’t work the same way, or enough differently to trip you up (for example, I now can’t see how to copy-paste iMessages?) – until it all settles down again.
I am sorry to write in the spirit of all the ‘How to stop iOS10 being annoying’ or ‘The stunning 25 things you can do with GarageBand now!’ articles on the Interwebs, but I see a similar issue with analysts.
What genuinely surprises me is how IT software and services firms – even the biggest ones! – just don’t ‘get’ these guys. Given that analysts are one of the core pillars of the entire industry, that’s a bit like not knowing what Siri is.
Now, I’m not expecting you to use Siri all the time – though it is useful, and even fun. But what I do need to give you is the knowledge to make an informed choice, and to be at least aware of the full range of functionality you can choose to benefit from from analysts.
I started talking about this a couple of weeks ago. There, I really said that a lot of companies, especially SMEs, just don’t deal with analysts at all. What I need to talk about this time is the poor way the ones who do work with analysts still miss their opportunity of getting the most value out of the relationship. So:
We Only Use Them As A Marketing Tick-Box
This I see a lot. For a certain class of supplier, just getting visibility is ‘enough.’ What that means is paying for services to just enough a level to get mentioned in the latest report or market survey, proving that they exist and are a player.
That is eminently sensible. Analysts do influence sales, and doing this will get you onto the radar screen of at least some enterprise CIOs who maybe wouldn’t have spotted you otherwise.
But the fundamental misunderstanding here is that all analysts do is market-watch. Even the ones that do, who spend maybe 80% of their time facing the supplier side, do still spend 20% with customers. And there are plenty of analysts who flip the ratio, who spend 80% of their time just talking to customers.
What worries me here, then, as we’ll see more of in a second, is that your bandwidth connection is too limited. ‘Firm x knows our name and we’re on the chart. TICK. That’s the analyst bit done, now tell me about the viral marketing campaign plan.’
Nope. Better: be more imaginative in how you work with them, and go up a bit from the dial-up modem, please.
All Analysts Are Grey In The Dark
There’s a fantastic bunch called RedMonk , which is all balls and brass, and which claims to be ‘analysis by the people, for the people’. It’s the first and only developer-focused industry analyst firm, and it’s unique.
I could mention others – Quocirca, Freeform Dynamics, MWD, Planet Retail etc. What all these guys have in common is that they are not the IDCs and the Gartners that you may have dealt with 10, 15 years ago. They don’t fetishise marketing graphics, they don’t just pump out big markets cap stuff… they are down in the weeds engaged with developers or users or niche parts of the industry.
So they are specialists, not generalists – and they see their job, RedMonk especially, as about defending the interests and special place of the developer in the equation. The takeaway has to be that one site does not fit all, and having a monolithic, simplistic approach to what they do, assuming they’re all the same, is a real noob error, I’m afraid.
Learning: take the time to understand the richness of the market and the specifics of the individual analyst company landscape. That can help, as you can find friends, resources and backers in places you never thought possible.
Analysts Only Function Is To Count Servers Shipped This Quarter
Yes, there are quantifiable analysts. Maybe certifiable ones. But if you think all analysts do is play with Excel and track product, again, you’re showing your age.
The real name of the game with analysts in 2016 is qualitative. They track the market not to exhaustively know market share (a concept, in software at least, that’s starting to become meaningless anyway in the realm of cloud) but to know trend and pattern. To that end, they want to hear what the suppliers have to say and their roadmaps, sure, but really what users want to do next is more important.
The learning here is that this is a superlative external research department that you’re not utilising. I can promise you that these guys know more about the technology and the market you are selling into than your smartest CTO and engineers. That’s because it’s their job to know that. They talk to everyone, including your rival, partner, and the new company in Silicon Roundabout doing this in a machine learning way you’ve never heard of.
The takeaway here is to use this knowledge base. It needs to be part of your product marketing mix. To be honest, you shouldn’t go to GA at all until you’ve checked with these guys that what you do makes sense to them. Yes, they could tell you what you are doing makes no sense – as everyone knows, shouty, developer advocate, James Governor doesn’t take prisoners (check out his colourful Twitter stream @monkchips if you don’t believe me!). But these guys are more likely to suggest better ways of building or marketing your special new thing. What’s to lose checking in with them?
The Halo Effect
One last IT analyst ‘feature’ you can have fun with! Why aren’t you using them in your marketing? In the average press release, I see the standard quote from the CEO and the customer… ok. Where’s the one from the smart, respected analyst that will add instant credibility to your message? Why aren’t they in your webinar… your podcast… your blogging platform, adding to your impact?
All in all, I think there are lots of ways we’re not using the power of analysts properly.
Just as I am sure there are a million great new ways for me to use this bloomin’ iPhone…. wish me luck and see you on the other side of the Great Upgrade!