Rich Sturm, CEO and founder of Enterprise Management Associates, and I have been discussing a recent article in which I point out that most analyst firms get a third of their revenue from vendors. Spending by vendors is much more visible, because that's what vendors pay for - visibility in the events, research and quotations of vendor-funded analysts. However in most markets, and especially outside the
I appreciated your article about the sources of analyst revenue. However, from my own observations and input from many vendors, I have the impression that for firms based in
As I mentioned to Rick, there's a long answer to this, which would involve a discussion about the relative sizes of vendor-dependent and enterprise-dependent firms. The short answer really has to explain (at least) two scenarios.
- If the vendor buyer is a market intelligence manager, they often want highly structured data rather than insight. That rewards firms with niche expertise. As we all know know, with five or ten analysts in a single niche an analyst firm can go deeper than Gartner or Forrester in most segments.
- On the other hand, if the buyer is a marketing manager then often they want love. They don't want difficult conversations; they want mirrors. So, again, there is not much interest there in real end-user rapport.
And, of course, in both these cases the reality is that those folk won't often pay a notable premium for deep domain expertise if it's not what they want.
Now on the end-user side it's very different. When I was an analyst, for example, one of my clients was financial services firm that needed to integrate their various credit card businesses. The potential downside was unlimited. The only thing I knew about was very large databases. Back then, I couldn't even ride a bike. It was just databases. So they really needed my insight, or the insight of someone like me. And many analysts at vendor-funded firms just would not have been able to do that. Those analysts are less likely to have end-user clients and, often don't have deep technical background. There's really a ongoing market for personal insight, and there's very little economy of scale there. So there's a space for user-focussed analysts.
I'll let Rick have the last word:
Part 1 would fall in the category that I labeled “consultant”. the second category would explain how some seemingly clueless firms manage to survive. (The emperors do like to be complimented about their new clothers.) I agree with you about the end user side. I would also add that, like vendors, end user requirements for level of expertise can vary significantly. based upom my experience at EMA™ I can have observed that there are engagements that require real in-depth subject matter knowledge. There are also subscribers who do nothing but read the published reports – this is high-class journalism. Other subscribers will make use of the inquiry function and that is another time when a moderate to high degree of subject matter knowledge is required.