Challenging IT Analysts by Shifting Research From Vendors to Clients
Traditional IT analyst firms have long provided and answer to the question, "Which vendor should my company choose?" Newer firms are taking a different approach by instead asking, "How should your company choose a vendor?"
Fri, March 15, 2013
By using a social media model, Ombud would, in effect, be a fourth-generation analysis firm. Analysis would come largely from volunteers, making it, in a way, the Huffington Post of analysis firms. (Disclosure: I now have a non-paid position on the Ombud board.
Ombud focuses more on the client than it does the vendor, product or solution. This idea seems so obvious in hindsight that I'm surprised we didn't see it sooner. We all got so myopically focused that we didn't step back and realize, "We are looking at this all wrong."
The First Three Generations of IT Analyst Firms
As I mentioned in the last piece, we've been through three iterations of IT analyst firms. The first generation was all about numbers. IDC remains the strongest example of this set. While the numbers were mostly used by technology vendors, buyers could tell which products and platforms most of their peers were using and, through this, pick the ones that presented the least risk.
Latest From IDC: Big Data Hype Still Here, But Maturity Beckons
Gideon Gartner created the second and third generations of firms. First, Gartner Group took a model created to independently conduct stock analysis and adopted it to technology. He primarily targeted IBM, which dominated the market at that time.
When that model had aged, he came up with the third-generation analyst firm, Giga Information Group. Giga was heavily staffed by IT practitioners (including me) and ex-CIOs. We separated ourselves from vendor influence and revenue to better assure independence. Unfortunately, for reasons ranging from uneven management to a disloyal board, the company didn't survive.
The problem with both the second- and third-generation firms is that they started with a model based on financial analysts, who have virtually nothing in common with those who buy IT solutions. The next generation has to correct that mistake.
Overcoming the Bias of User Reviews
The fourth-generation IT analyst firm is being built as a social exercise. Ombud is one of several firms vying for the position. Initially, it was believed that some blend of Yelp and Facebook would be ideal—largely because we all got so darn excited about social media. Then Facebook faceplanted its IPO, while we began to understand that Yelp reviews were uneven in quality.
A Yelp-like problem emerged: You couldn't really trust reviews being generated socially. There were three reasons why: