Many Industry Analysts Need To Rethink Their Role, Should Not Be Pay-To-Play

I know some industry analysts are going to disagree with this post but lets cut right to the chase. No company should have to pay anyone, just to be able to talk to them or give them a product briefing. And yet every week, vendors keep telling me that many analysts they contact, in the effort to give them a briefing on their company, get told they have to pay the company, or sign up for their subscription service, just to get a meeting. That is wrong. The job of an analyst is to educate themselves on as many of the companies and products in the market they track. Without all the vendors, no analyst would have a job.

If you are only talking to, meeting with, and taking briefings from vendors that subscribe to your services/research, then you’re not an analyst – you’re a consultant. An analyst’s job is to show the market what value they bring to the discussion, what expertise they have in the verticals they follow, and what knowledge they have to share with everyone. I get that analysts can’t give away all of their data and analysis on topics, but not even doing a briefing with a company, that isn’t paying you, only hurts your analysis. It means the analyst doesn’t have a grasp on the entire market if they are only concentrating on a limited set of vendors in the market they follow.

The other problem I hear from vendors all the time is how hard it is to get the analysts contact details. More often than not, trying to get an analysts email or phone number, is difficult to do. They don’t list it on their website, blog, Twitter etc. and maybe you can get an email if you are lucky, but a phone number is almost never listed. It’s as if the analyst doesn’t want to be bothered with pitches when that’s exactly what they should want. A good analyst should want to talk to and meet with companies and not just exchange a bunch of emails. While email can be useful to start the conversation, no email thread will ever take the place of what is accomplished in person with a handshake when you meet with companies.

I also find it so odd that so many analysts don’t even make themselves available to the media. No good analyst shies away from the media, those are the opportunities you should want, to help educate those writing about a topic or market that they don’t follow as closely as you do. You have the opportunity to shape the focus of the article being written and give the author some data points that others will remember. That is where an analyst can shine, help the market as a whole and display the kind of data and analysis they have. And yet many don’t want to be bothered with the work of educating the media, since they aren’t getting paid to do it. In my opinion, far too many analysts are only concerned with talking to those who pay them or their company, which is very short-sided.

As an analyst myself, I can only control what I do, what I share with the market, and the time I give to others. But it would be nice if many analysts saw the bigger picture of what it means to be an analyst and the responsibility they have, when the industry is looking to them to help set the right expectations and share market data.

  • Mark Lobo

    Dan, you make a great point. As a vendor, we can’t get in front of a lot of analysts as they want us to pay them just to even have a quick call. It should not be that way. Thank you for being the opposite of so many of the other analysts out there. It’s clear you do this as a passion, versus dollars, and I think that’s what’s missing with many of the other analysts.

  • John Willkie

    Great post, Dan. If they take money before meeting, “at best” they are a consultant.

  • Steve Hawley

    Absolutely right! No analyst should be too proud to talk with vendors. They also are professionals with points of view, best practices, and real world customer perspectives that help validate analyst claims and keep us up to date.