Who are industry analysts?

Technology industry analysts are a group of IT experts and market influencers that have the potential to make or break IT buying decisions. The Institute of Influencer and Analyst Relations (The IIAR>) defines analysts as:

“An information and communications technology (ICT) industry analyst is a person, working individually or within a firm analysing and publishing research and/or opinions, forecasts, market sizing, on ICT products and services trends, adoption, market-fit, procurement, deployment and/or advising independently technology buyers and vendors and/or providing go-to-market services.”

IIAR> Primer: Who are industry analysts and what do they do? May 2021. 

In short, industry analysts have a unique vantage point with access to both technology buyers and technology products, solutions and services vendors. This makes analysts the original thought leaders for the technology and communication industries.

What do industry analysts do?

Analysts produce research and analysis for technology buyers and also directly advise those enterprise users and buyers on their technology choices. They’re usually also thought leaders in the industry. 

Technology analyst research roughly falls into three categories:

  • Analyst research can be evaluative to offer buyers a guide to different vendor product, solutions or services. The best known are the Gartner Magic Quadrant, Forrester Wave, IDC Marketscape, GigaOM Radar and Omdia Universe, but there are many others.
  • Industry analysts also can produce quantitative research, such as market sizing, forecasts and market shares,  which can be valuable reports for investor relations.
  • They also look at technology trends, publish annual predictions and author commentary and opinions –plus other types of research such as benchmarks, case studies, etc.

And they spend a lot of time talking to all market participants, technology buyers, investors, channel partners, solution vendors and services providers, regulators, etc. This advisory is usually delivered in three ways:

  • inquiries, which are (usually) 30mn calls embedded in a RAS (research and advisory service) subscription
  • workshops, also called by some strategy advisory sessions (SAS).
  • and bespoke consulting projects, for instance a TAM (total addressable market) or an M&A due diligence.

What is analyst relations?

Analyst relations is a business function that can be found under product, marketing, communications, strategy or investor relations. It’s often misplaced and misunderstood –so what does it really mean? The IIAR> has crafted the following definition of AR:

“Analyst & influencer relations (AR) professionals engage with industry analysts and other B2B influencers on behalf of technology vendors. They build relationships with the analyst community and drive conversations about vendors and their solutions to gain strategic insights, educate analysts to help them knowledgeably position vendors with their user clients and leverage analyst research and content for marketing purposes and advocacy with technology buyers.”

IIAR> Primer: IIAR> Primer: What is the Analyst Relations (AR) role and the AR job description? August 2021
The analyst relations trust triangle displays the triangular relationship between analyst relations managers, IT industry analysts and IT company executives.

Analyst relations professionals strive to position the right analyst with the right stakeholder at the right time to deliver maximal AR impact. The analyst relations manager role requires strong organisational skills, excellent communication abilities, a deep understanding of technology and good business acumen.

Why is AR important?

Analyst relations is important because analysts are top influencers throughout buying processes and that means your company’s relationship with them must be managed. They influence the market with syndicated research and they influence buyers at all levels.

Analysts produce reports based on their perception of the technology market. This includes market shares and market forecasts that present a statistics-based positioning of your company in the market. They produce evaluative reports ranking vendors in each market, such as the Gartner Magic Quadrant, Forrester Wave and IDC MarketScape reports. Featuring in one of those can guarantee a place on the longlist of many procurement teams, increasing your visibility in market and chances of making a sale.

Analysts have influence throughout the sales cycle, which means they have influence on your bottom line. Tech buyers not only read the research they produce, but also directly ask analysts via inquiries for product recommendations based on their individual requirements. That’s why it’s important to regularly brief analysts and ensure they have the latest information on your offerings and are able to knowledgeably position your company.

What does analyst relations do?

Analyst relations professionals take on many roles – a project manager, a translator, even a dating agency. The multiplicity of this role means it requires experience, knowledge and agility to deliver a smooth interface between analysts and vendors.

AR is like a dating agency, pairing companies with the right analysts and coaching them to make a good first impression. An AR team will understand the difference between Gartner vs Forrester vs IDC vs all the other analyst firms and will help you tier your analyst outreach in a strategic way, putting you in front of the right analyst at the right time. AR pros can also prepare analyst spokespeople before a briefing to ensure they don’t make any industry faux pas’ on the call.

Analyst relations is like a translator, helping you distil insights from analyst conversations and published research. With experience of dealing with analysts comes a deep understanding of their work. AR pros can help you strategically structure an inquiry call to reap the most rewards. We also understand the different types of analyst research and what value can be extracted from them – helping you learn from the best.

Additionally, analyst relations pros are project managers – ensuring analyst RFI completion and seeing briefing requests through to the end. AR works with a variety of stakeholders, from product to marketing to sales, combining those functions and their expertise to craft expert responses to analyst RFIs and create spell bounding briefing decks that go beyond marketing collateral. Doing this means managing each teams expectations, providing crystal clear directions and seeing those projects through to delivery.

What is the business impact of analyst relations?

With a robust AR programme in place, you will benefit from the four business impacts of analyst relations – insights, sales, awareness and go-to-market.

A successful analyst relations programme will use analyst insights to improve your product and analyst advocates to enhance your sales outreach. With analyst insights, gleaned from their syndicated research, analyst webinars and inquiry calls, vendors can quickly identify product issues and potential enhancements to help them stay ahead of the competition. In addition, once analysts understand your product, they can be used to train your salespeople and will, of their volution, advise customers when it’s appropriate to buy your product.

Constant contact with analysts will increase your awareness in market and open up opportunities for go-to-market engagements. Analysts shape industry conversations, they are quoted in the press and speak at industry events. Ensuring they have clarity on your product position, understand your messaging and are constantly engaged will help you occupy their mindshare, increasing your likelihood of being mentioned by them in their public engagements and private conversations with tech buyers. This deep understanding of your business can also be leveraged by commissioning an analyst for marketing outreach through whitepapers, webinars and event speaker slots. Their third-party validation will increase your credibility and draw in a new audience of engaged tech buyers.

A compass showing the four impacts of analyst relations, insights, sales, awareness and go-to-market, and the areas of the technology ecosystem they influence.
Analyst Relations has impact across the technology ecosystem.

What happens if you don’t have analyst relations?

As a tech company, if you don’t have analyst relations you run the risk of missing out. You won’t benefit from the four impacts of analyst relations mentioned above and you risk being misrepresented in the market. It’s not enough to reach cruising altitude and tap out, analyst relations is an endurance sport.

Analysts may come to their own conclusions about your company’s status –which could be misguided or totally wrong. They might think your lack of outreach means you are not doing as well as you previously were or that there is some deeper issue with your product. This can impact how they position your company when speaking with prospects. Additionally, they may not be aware of new product updates and releases and therefore will not know to recommend you when the time is right.

Without analyst relations, you could fall off the analysts’ radars and be missed in key research reports. An AR team will monitor analyst research agendas, not just at the beginning of the year but throughout, and craft an AR plan with targeted outreach to ensure inclusion. If you haven’t spoken to an analyst for a long time, they may not realise you meet the criteria for their report which means missing out. You also won’t be their first point of call to get an update on trending topics and they may ask your competitors for their view of the market instead as they are occupying the analysts mindshare in a more strategic way.

Who are the top industry analyst firms?

The biggest and most famous analyst firms are the FIGs: Forrester, IDC and Gartner. There are many more technology research firms, often very good and impactful in their niche –see our Starsight Transmissions on the Top 100 analyst firms. These market influencers have a unique vantage point and unmatched expertise.

This infographic displays the differences between the FIGs, Forrester, IDC and Gartner, as discussed in the blog by Starsight Communications.

What do technology analyst firms sell?

The business model of industry research firms is usually a blend of subscriptions, consulting and events.

  • Research and advisory services (RAS), mostly sold on a subscription basis and packaging published research together with inquiry (short calls with analysts).
  • Consulting, including due diligence for M&A, message testing and other strategic advisory.
  • Custom research and reprints of syndicated research for go-to-market activities.
  • Events, typically aimed at CIO’s and IT management, with a strong focus on content and with a vendor show floor. Examples include the Gartner Symposium, Forrester Summits, etc.

What are the differences between the Gartner magic Quadrant, the Forrester Wave and the IDC Marketscape?

The star methodologies of each firm are similar but also different.

The Gartner Magic Quadrant (MQ) plots solutions (can be a hardware or software product or a technology service) in a 2×2 matrix. The X axis is the vision for this vendor’s  solution, which means how differentiated, innovating and future-proof it is according to Gartner. The Y axis is the ability to execute for this vendor , which is its ability to take the solution to market and service its customers. The MQ is based on vendor briefings, a long questionnaire (RFI) and customer references, surveys or interviews (either directly via online or phone surveys or via Gartner Peer Insights).

Representation of a Gartner Magic Quadrant, a 2 x 2 matrix evaluating technology solutions and services providers along two axes: completeness of vision and ability to execute. The four quadrants of this matrix are leaders, visionaries, challengers and niche players.

The Forrester Wave is broadly similar but a key difference is that Forrester provides scoring in the Wave report itself, whereas Gartner only provides this in the accompanying Critical Capabilities document. The Wave also has a third dimension as the dots are replaced by bubble sizes for the market presence.

The Forrester Wave™ is a guide for buyers plotting technology vendor offerings along two axes, offerings and strategy, and a third dimension, market presence.

And finally the IDC Marketscape is more quantitative, taking into account market shares (the bubble sizes are truly proportional to vendor shares) and performance.

IDC MarketScape is a vendor assessment tool, ranking vendors as leaders, major players, contenders, participants along three dimensions: strategy, offerings and market share.

Is analyst relations (AR) the same as public relations (PR)?

Sometimes, analyst relations can be conflated with press and public relations and PR agencies will try to manage the relationship with these key market influencers. This can be detrimental as these two business functions are very different. They have different targets (analysts vs press), different content (deep dives vs newsworthy), different timeframes (annual agenda vs 24-hour news cycles), different salience (high touch through sales vs high volume early in sales) and focus (deepening relationships vs raising awareness). These five differences between AR and PR are the reason they should be run separately, whether it’s in house or by an agency.

Five differences between analyst relations (AR) and PR.
The five differences between AR and PR.

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