A B2B News Network Exclusive Series: Analyzing the Analysts

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More than ever, B2B needs expert opinion and analysis. More than ever, “free” analysis in the form of thought leadership content marketing and corporate communications digitally proliferates. As technology becomes increasingly intricate and integral to business management, and billion dollar software decisions can make or break companies, experts with real experience, whose opinions can be trusted, matter more than ever.

But the always-murky field of analysis gets ever more complicated and fractured. Analysts are there to help make sense of industries or technologies that are not simple to understand; they are truly experts in their fields and counsel corporations, individuals and governments on how to use and manage new technology.

The largest field for this kind of professional service has long been the, at times, inscrutable world of IT and technology, though industry analysts exist in virtually every field. For the purposes of our analysis we’re focusing on the primary areas we cover at B2BNN: B2B tech, marketing and business strategy. We’ll look at the overall state of the space, traditional and emerging segments and models, and the future of analysis in the era of AI and crowd sourced insight.

The CEB acquisition, for example, has really moved Gartner in a category of its own, by changing and expanding the definition of what an analyst firm does. How far analysis extends into research, consulting and even implementation has long been a matter of debate. We’ll be looking at how the industry is changing and examples of traditional, emerging and hybrid analysis delivery models over the upcoming weeks.

(Disclosure – we have had previous working experiences or past business relationships with the following on this list: Gartner, IDC, Esteban Kolsky, Paul Greenberg, Altimeter, Servo Annex, Marketing Profs, Sirius Decisions, Peppers and Rogers.)

 

The 800 Pound Gorilla

Gartner 

With the acquisition of CEB, Gartner occupies a singular place on the analyst landscape. Its army of account managers, ruthlessly effective business model, and popularity of its MQ and Hype Cycle models make its analysts the most influential in their various fields and the de facto leader on the space. Like every 800 lb gorilla though, it’s got some weaknesses: it’s both too specialized (IT) and too broad (Forrester offers a much stronger marketing for example).

By adding CEB to its arsenal, Gartner expands past IT and into general business consulting and insight. It’s a massive expansion move that makes sense on the surface, though how the cultures will blend may be an issue according to those familiar with both organizations, and how sales teams will manage territories and offerings potentially another. On paper however, a single source for all that insight and expertise seems like a customer win. Existing customers we spoke with were cautiously optimistic about the combination, and eager to hear more. At this point there is no intention to integrate the service offerings, but requests for comment on further integration plans for the businesses by B2BNN went unanswered by Gartner as of publication time.

Gartner/CEB acquisition FAQ: http://www.gartner.com/technology/about/ceb-faq.jsp

 

The rest of this series will focus on the following groups of analysts:

 

*The Generalists 

Ovum

IDC

AMR

451

 

*TheSpecialists

Forrester

Info-Tech

RedMonk

Ventana

Aragon

 

* The Hyper Specialists 

Dennis Howlett

Paul Greenberg

Ayelet Baron

Esteban Kolsky

Dion Hinchcliffe

 

*The New Breed and Next Generation

Sirius Decisions

Charlene Li + Altimeter

MarketingProfs

 

*The Social Enterprise Magnificent Seven 

The ConstellationRG team

 

*The Hybrids

Peppers and Rogers

Servo Annex

 

*The Accidental Analyst: 

Scott Brinker and the Landscape model

 

*The Future: Crowdsourced, Automated Analysis: 

VisionCritical

Watson

 

@The Canadians

Branham

InfoTech

 

Feature image source: Jake William Heckey

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Jennifer Evans

Jennifer Evans

President at B2B News Network
President, @B2BNewsnetwork (launched Nov 2014). Content, community and analytics obsessed. Inventor @squeezecmm. Past chair, @itac_online @whiteribbon