The 7 Tenets of the Connected Analyst

Two weeks ago I crossed the one year mark as an industry analyst, in retrospect, I approach the role differently than others before me. Recently, Forrester published a report signaling evolution to the Connected Agency, and states that agencies of yesteryear will evolve from ‘pushing’ messages to ‘pulling’ interactions and faciliating conversations. I know the same evolutionary steps applies to analysts, but to be clear, these tenets are just my opinion, and doesn’t necessarily represent that of any others.

[Rather than analyze from afar, the connected analyst should listen, join, and lead the online discussions in the market they cover]

Summary
Social technologies allow individuals to connect and get what they need from each other rather than from institutions –including analyst firms. Rather than analyze from afar, the connected analyst should listen, join, and lead the online discussions in the market they cover. As a result, they will be a trusted first resource to their market, and a profitable investment to the firm.


The 7 Tenets of the Connected Analyst
The connected analyst should:

1) Conduct community based research
The connected analyst’s relationships to the market using social technologies that the research subjects, vendors, and end users are at links reach. The connected analyst will use social media tools to improve the research process by: finding topical hot spots, conducting social research, and then promoting the findings using the same tools. Learn how crowdsourcing helps some –but not all research activities.

2) Lead the online discussion
Industry analysts are paid to learn, think, and provide guidance, as a result a tremendous amount of tacit knowledge is left outside of the reports. In this Google world, thought leadership can be measured by links, and the connected analyst should use social tools to lead the conversations in their marketplace –not just behind “paywalls”.

3) Be an accessible and transparent public resource
The connected analyst listens, responds, and helps the market they are part of. The connected analyst could provide indexes, digests, wikis, and other online resources to help the market find information –include pointing to other sources. The connected analyst will provide a behind the scenes look at the research process, findings, and interesting meetings.

4) Allow for community feedback
The connected analyst knows they can always improve, and is on a mission to constantly increase their insight, as well as improve how they relate to others. The connected analyst should allow for public feedback, ackwnoledge valid criticisms, and improve.

5) Converse with competitors
The connected analyst is on a quest for knowledge, and recognizes that smart analysts are not just at their firms, as a result, the connected analyst will participate in public discourse will fellow analysts, and is always gracious and respectful. Also, when findings from multiple independent research firms point the same direction, this can only reinforce market direction.

6) Be human
The credo of some analysts is to be god, yet ironically, like all humans, come with many faults (just ask my wife). The connected analyst should quickly correct mistakes in public, learn, then grow. Oh, yeah, it also helps to have a sense of humor once in a while.

7) Be profitable
All of the above tenets make the connected analyst more relevant, a public thought leader, and therefore, more likely to be a first resource to their industry and clients. Although laborious, the connected analyst must be a profitable investment for the firm by extending their thought leadership, I make sure this is top of mind.


So how well am I doing? Not that great actually, looking back at my tenets, I need to improve on 3 of the 7 tenets: I should join more conversations where they exist, run a public survey to get market feedback on my efforts as an analyst, (maybe analyst watchers Carter Lusher or Jonny Bentwood will survey on my behalf) and I’m not as accessible and responsive to the market as I want to be, but I simply can’t scale more than I am now.

I look forward to your feedback below, what’s missing? Is this a good approach for analyst firms?

36 Replies to “The 7 Tenets of the Connected Analyst”

  1. These are excellent, and I’m struck by the comparison to the intelligence analysts here in D.C., who – with modifications to 5 and 7 – share your challenge. (Then again, you don’t have armed competitors trying to throw you off the trail most days.)

    They are seeing successes by sharing fragments, raw data short of finished intel. The Intellipedia example is followed by the FBI’s Bureaupedia, State’s Diplopedia, and now DoD’s Techipedia. All in a realization that collaborative sense-making trumps the analyst god model.

    Good on ya for embracing similar principles. I wish you success.

  2. Thanks Jeremiah, I think this is very interesting. In particular, I think it is additionally useful for government analysts to re-think how they do their jobs and interact with SME’s outside the government.

    Mark
    @cheeky_geeky

  3. Thanks John, and Mark, this is interesting to hear from the intelligence analysts. Competitors are a wonderful thing, and are good for the market, yet in the end, whoever is the best resource to the market will win clients.

  4. Wonderful list Jeremiah and I would say that you are a great example of an analyst that embraces this model.

    I believe that this model that you have outlined is a mix of an evolution and an amplification of what was already being done. While my involvement with analysts is somewhat limited, they have been dogged in their pursuit of information, had in-depth discussions, tried to be profitable, but been constrained by time, technology, and the number of people they can talk to.

    Where a connected analyst is not simply an amplification, but an evolutionary step is allowing for open feedback and conversing with competitors – transparently. Your year at Forrester has been a great example of how to do this! Your new model is truly leverages the full range of the connected technologies at your disposal to provide better information for your clients – quicker and more cost effectively!

  5. Jeremiah:
    Great list.
    One to add and/or modify others: Simplify the complex. Through the use of charts, analogies, and anecdotes, the connected analyst should help people understand social media and its applications and help those same people become thought leaders in their respective organizations.
    Thanks for continuing to be a connected analyst 🙂
    -Eric

  6. Jeremiah,

    The fact that you are soliciting input says volumes about your dedication to accurate and timely information. The market is always thirsty for clear analysis and I think you provide a healthy dose of it.

    -Tony

  7. Good post. I particularly agree with tenant #3 “Be an accessible and transparent public resource.” This type of transparency makes the analyst more accountable to his/her statements and trending forecasts.

    With the still evolving connected agency model, it will be interesting to see how it all goes. With agencies, I’ve seen and heard a lot of in fighting.

  8. Hey Jeremiah

    I think you’re doing pretty good.

    It’s great the fact that you’re a public resource – and free and generous with your insights.

    Long may it continue.

    xMairin

  9. Hi Jeremiah

    A great list and a fine example to all analysts, gurus and consultants of whatever kind.

    I agree with the list in general. However I don’t agree when you say in #2 that, “In this Google world, thought leadership can be measured by links”. Your former colleague and co-author of The Connected Agency report, Peter Kim, is having a discussion on this very topic over at his Being Peter Kim blog. The consensus is that links are a measure of general popularity, not of thought leadership. Real thought leaders may have a big following, but they are more likely to have a smaller but more devoted following.

    I would also add a new Tenet – “Challenge Orthodox Thinking”.

    Having read literally hundreds of analysts reports over the years, my experience is that they tend to describe the leading edge of what is happening in business, but they don’t challenge orthodox thinking enough. Perhaps this is an artefact of the interview process used to gather information for the reports, which means the reports may suffer from the ‘Halo Effect’ as a result (the tendency to extrapolate what you need to do to be successful from looking at what other successful companies have done). The Halo Effect is acknowledged as a real problem in management research.

    Having said that, there are many examples of individual analysts who do challenge orthodoxy and we all benefit as a result. That is why I named you as my Social Media Gold Medallist in a recent post ‘The CRM Olympics: My CRM Gold Medalists’ at the CustomerThink blog.

    Keep up the great work… being open, being thoughtful and challenging orthodoxy.

    Graham Hill

    Further Reading:

    Peter Kim, ‘Ego Trap: Influencer Lists’
    http://www.beingpeterkim.com/2008/10/ego-trap-influe.html

    Phil Rosenzweig, ‘The Halo Effect’
    http://www.the-halo-effect.com/

    Graham Hill, ‘The CRM Olympics: My CRM Gold Medalists ‘
    http://www.customerthink.com/blog/my_crm_olympic_gold_medalists

  10. Jeremiah,

    Nice job laying out these tenets, which are spot on. However, there’s really not much new in them, from my perspective as a former analyst working in the Web 1.0 era. The tenets haven’t really changed.

    What has changed is the technology that analysts (and, indeed, all knowledge workers) can use to support their efforts to “listen, join, and lead…discussions in the market they cover.” I used to rely on phone, e-mail, in-person briefings, and industry conferences to conduct those discussions. Analysts still have all those things, plus social software!

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and tenets. I hope all of participating in a given technology market will adopt and act upon them!

    Larry

  11. I’d maybe add…

    * Look Beyond the Chatter
    Public discussion and transparency has tons of value. However, there’s plenty of years of research showing that what people say and what people do are different. As well, (you would likely know more about this then most), the connected participants may be a self-selected sample not representing full reality of markets. (I.e. Creators and Spectators may behave differently; though you’d more likely hear from Creators then Spectators.)

    * Share Some Back
    You personally already do plenty of this. Not everyone does. In the past, when you’d get some survey request phone call, they’d say things like, “your opinion matters because, etc. etc.” But for deeper requests for time and effort, there should be more. Everyone should understand an analyst is going to crunch some proprietary data for paying clients only. However, analysts who intend to more heavily use community need to add a bit more back. (Again, you and Forrester already seem to do this. Gartner is learning. Others???)

    * Reach for Whys and Empathize, but keep Objectivity in the final analysis.
    Understanding the whys and wherefores of individual and community behaviors sometimes requires more then just surface description. Try to really see things from others’ perspectives in a reach for understanding. The delicate balance then comes when such a reach for understanding must be tempered by objectivity.

    Scott

  12. Thanks Jeremiah. Two things. 1) To me, your tenets are a combination of advice on personal behavior and on use of “social media” to connect with community. Many of us have been doing this for years. The tools have changed, but the work has not changed much. 2) I would propose an 8th tenet: Answer the hard questions (“take a stand”, “cut through the BS…”, etc.) I hope this helps.

  13. Thanks Jeremiah. I would add two tenets to your list, modify two, and subtract one. Additions: 1) Answer questions (IOW: “take a position”, “cut through the BS” etc.) Conversations alone are of no economic value without producing a conclusion that’s useful. 2)Client first. you can’t do #1 without focusing on your client. Not the community, your client. Modifications: 1) Change #1 to “conduct actionable research” and I’m happy. Community research like a twitter post is pretty weak usually, and therefore insufficient. 2) change #7 to “make business” and I’m happy. Not everything you spend time on will be profitable (e.g. “un-forum”), but it should lead to business and profits (of course). Subtractions: “Talk to competitors”. That is part of being open (see #3) and available, but not a first-order bit. I hope this helps.

  14. Graham yup, I’m familiar with Peter’s Ego trap.

    Google rewards thought leaders and popular voices, it looks for relevancy. While not always perfect, it’s one of the most efficient systems out there for when people are seeking information.

  15. Larry, sure the same principles are still in place but the difference now is that the communities have formed online and analysts join the discussions directly and in public.

    Lastly, do see what I wrote about market changes, failure to do nothing could result in becoming irrelevant.

  16. Gahlord, it’s very simple, analyst firms are a business, they must be profitable like all businesses.

    The best way to become profitable is to make sure your customers are profitable, we, I, us work hard to achieve both of those requirements.

  17. John (colleague, and office neighbor)

    Sorry your comments got caught up in the wordpress filter, sometimes happens for first time commenters, believe me, I certainly want your voice heard.

    To your first comment:

    Is this new or are the tools new? A little of both. are analysts that don’t participate in the online community as relevant as the ‘connected analyst’. Perhaps, but I’m making a case that by not being connected, the market could self-organize without the analyst being present. While many analysts have done these tasks for years, doing them with this new social toolset is different, requires different skills, and a new level of commitment. Lastly, some analysts may not be ready to share as openly as they once have.

    To your second comment:

    I agree with your results driven objectives, but it’s important to note that being part of the online dialog where the market you cover is part of the research process.

    Not EVERY interaction in a discussion should result in wim and insight.

    By being a connected analyst, this process takes place all the time, and soon, the market gives you information without you asking (this happens to me frequently) as a result, making the analysis easier to formulate.

    To be clear as I mentioned above, community based research is only one input to the overall research process.

    I hope to continue this dialog, online and off.

  18. Jeremiah these are great points, and i would like to add that analysts should have their recommendations be reviewed over time to see how right and wrong they are at their predictions. I am sure it somewhat comes out in how much their analysis makes money for the firm, but it would be nice to know if the marketplace plays out as the analyst predicts. What is needed is a judgement from a third party, like Institutional Investor does for the stock analysts of the world where they rank them annually.

  19. Jeremiah,

    I’m new to your blog. Coming from a CIO’s and Consulting Practice Head’s perspective, your 7 Tenets (and some of those of your commenting readers above) offer some very valid advice for anyone in an advising consultant role, as well. The size of the “community audience” may differ, but the points and reasoning are still excellent.

    Personally and professionally, I’m fascinated with how you stay connected in so many forums and media, continually weaving your perspective and opinions throughout. For “get the message out” (PR, marketing, etc) and “get the message in” (feedback from customers, consumers, clients) strategies I can easily see how this is effective. But I am very interested in examples or case studies where firms “get the message across” using these cross-platform and cross-media near-instant technologies to improve the effectiveness of their field, their project teams, their up/down-stream vendors, and their deliverables.

    To Jennifer Jones’ point about tracking analysts’ predictions – The Industry Standard (http://www.thestandard.com/) does this, and includes social media forums for readers to comment and “bid” on predictions’ potential for accuracy.

  20. Thanks Mark, I’m just always connected, also my network has gotten to a certain size that when I hear patterns from multiple sources, I know to look deeper.

    Jennifer’s point is valid, but keep in mind, we don’t always do forecasting, often it’s best practices, and evaluating what was past, and now.

  21. I apologize if I appeared to say Jennifer’s point was invalid – in fact, I was acknowledging it, and commenting that The Industry Standard (and other social trending sites and even wikis now) are starting to show this kind of analysis and prediction tracking information. Sorry for the confusion, and thank you for your response!

  22. I posted this same comment on Thomas Bittman’s blog at Gartner (who riffed you). First let me say that I think you’re doing an excellent job and it’s work like yours that helps foster the entire community.

    I can only imagine that analysts must constantly walk a fine line when self-regulating open discussions – particularly in this space. If you’re an analyst of anything “online” and you spend much of your time fostering online communications as a tool and as a strategy, it must be difficult deciding what to discuss and publish freely online and what to put aside as the special nuggets reserved only for those paying customers.

    In reality, I suspect that those of us in the industry who are followers of analysts in this space are actually contributing by participating in active conversation, debate and an exchange of ideas.

    I appreciate the open dialog that is inherent in the social media industry and think that the value analysts bring to corporate clients is in your ability to distill the proper information in the proper context for each client in a unique way. The concept of “selling the farm” by routinely publishing online what your clients are paying you for isn’t something that I would be overly concerned about because of this reason: your clients’ core competencies are something other than social media such as: running hotels, manufacturing computers, managing investments, etc.

  23. Thanks John, and Mark, this is interesting to hear from the intelligence analysts. Competitors are a wonderful thing, and are good for the market, yet in the end, whoever is the best resource to the market will win clients.

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