28 Feb 2012 The Oscars and the thought leadership ecosphere
I have a great deal of respect for the analyst community. They provide a valuable service, if somewhat overpriced but they have for a number of years suffered from the same problem that Hollwood suffers from. They take themselves too seriously.
Jason Busch has written on this matter more than once and as time goes by the view he’s been espousing for some time is being proved right over and over again. He’s not espoused the view that analysts take themselves too seriously – that’s my spin on it – rather, it’s that the quality and value of the debate in the procurement and finance world is improving markedly as the voice of the practitioner expert becomes louder and more articulate.
Allow me to explain why I agree with Jason and what the purchasing and finance community should do to take advantage of the change.
There are some really useful models that we use in the business world. The Kraljic matrix is a great example. Like economics models, isn’t science but it is a useful and reliable model that is supported by real-world, expert knowledge and objectively sourced data. It’s an invaluable sourcing tool.
Then there are models like the Gartner Quadrants or the Forrester Wave. These have gained a level of respectability that would ordinarily be afforded to academic business modeling tools like the Kraljic model. Newcomers to the business world could be forgiven for thinking that these models are objective or even ‘scientific’. They’re not. They are marketing tools. They are no more a scientific model to compare the relative merits of technology solutions as the Oscars are an objective assessment of cinematic art. They reflect the time spent by the analysts and the time and money spent by the vendors in developing the hype. For every solution in the top right hand corner, there’s a crowd of solutions that deserve the same recognition but that haven’t had the PR machine behind them.
Perhaps I’m being a bit hard on the analysts and I don’t mean to be. The Forrester and Gartner analyses are, rightly, highly respected. I have and will continue to use them – for example, to develop short lists for an RFI. It gives me a good first pass. In the past, the analysts where the only source of objective (if not that insightful) comparison. But not so any longer.
A new breed of analyst has emerged as practitioners and vendors alike have taken advantage of social media (including blogging micro-blogging and social networks). This new crowd brings a fresh type of insight and they’ve helped to create a kind of thought leadership or information ecosphere, a virtual space where expert views and insights are available – without the price tag.
This is an important change and not just because of the price tag. The quality of information is better. It’s more current and because social media encourages participation, it’s dynamic and vital.
As it becomes the authoritative information source, technology vendors need to understand how to make the most of the new information ecosphere. They need to know their way around. They need to know their place in it. They need to understand the role they have to play and they need to know the pitfalls.
In the second post on this topic, we’ll share some observations on how some organizations are capitalizing on the thought leadership ecosphere.