I was taking a quick peek into my twiver last week and saw this update
from Forrester Analyst Jeremiah Owyang
This got me to thinking over the weekend about the state of the industry analyst industry (say that three times fast). I have been engaging with a number of analysts in the past few weeks and most of them are outside of the traditional ‘PLM’ or ‘Manufacturing’ practice leads that I normally talk with. All of them are really smart in their topic areas and I always do learn something or gain a new way of looking at something each time I talk with them.
What occurred to me though is that analysts really cater to the early / late majority of the adoption curve. This may seem rather obvious, after all that’s where most of the customers are. But it does represent a particular challenge when your at a company that is traditionally very conservative and part of the late majority at best and are trying to move earlier in the curve: one of the first things you get asked by the senior execs you are pitching is “where is the Industry Analyst research to back up what you are proposing?” Well, there is none. This is the cutting edge and by the time it gets to the pages of an industry analyst, its already ‘old news’ and ‘everyone’ will be doing it. It sort of reminds me what a professor once told me about his stock broker friends that never read the WSJ (which was at the time my bible of all business goings on): “real brokers never trade on news in the WSJ – by the time it gets there its no longer trading on the future, which is the basis for having any advantage.”
Now, don’t misread what I am saying: there are a lot of very progressive and cutting edge analysts out there (I have run into many of them in the last few weeks). Its just that the reports they produce are answering questions that I already generally have an idea of the answer – they just add the data to confirm what I already thought. Generally they are adding confidence – not new discoveries.
The real question is: is this just the way it has to be? Are the resources required for primary research and market analysis such that the only way to amortize the cost is to focus on the center of the bell curve? Or is it more of a research material question? In other words in this case there is no chicken / egg problem: there has to be the chicken of enough people / companies doing something before it represents the egg of something that is possible to track / analyze and report on, creating more chickens later on up the curve.
Or is there a real opportunity for a niche / focused analyst to find a following amongst the early adopters? Is there a big enough market there to make a business out of and more than just a flash in the pan? If so, it would have to be analysis that was very quick to react and be based on very small sample sizes. It would ave to be a firm built to respond to their clients’ questions via Twitter. Maybe a new practice / subscritption service for someone to build out…