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9/23/2009
09:51 AM
Seth Grimes
Seth Grimes
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Twitter Stirs Up the Analyst Industry

Every Twitter user gets the same on-site visibility and capabilities. As a result, celebrities excluded, authority chez Twitter derives from your network and from your tweets and only after that from your biography and employment. Since open publishing is an independent-analyst ethos, we independents have taken to wide-open Twitter like, well, whales to the air...

A few recent tweets got me thinking: Twitter has stirred up the analyst industry.

Every Twitter user gets the same on-site visibility and capabilities. As a result, celebrities excluded, authority chez Twitter derives from your network and from your tweets and only after that from your extra-Twitter identity (a.k.a. your biography and employment). Since open publishing is an independent-analyst ethos, we independents have taken to wide-open Twitter like, well, whales to the air.Twitter whale
It's the big-firm analysts, habituated to rarefied, invitation-only venues, their identities subjugated to their firms', who have generally been slower to get into the game: Twitter and even basic blogging. The net effect is a big boost in stature for independent analysis. Writing as one myself, that's a good thing!Merv Adrian kicked off a provocative thread with a September 18 tweet --

"Several #AR pros tell me shitfing more spend to independents, less big firms. Maybe what they think I want to hear. But maybe not. Comments?"

(We've all learned to read past the abbreviations, elisions, and misspellings that result when you're limited to 140 characters, as tweets are -- I've pasted in my friend Merv's message to help make that point -- in an informal medium such as Twitter.)

Merv is an independent analyst with an insider's background: Senior Vice President at Forrester Research, an analyst and research manager at Giga Information Group before that, preceded by stints at Sybase and Information Builders. His blog is well worth following by the way, but isn't that the central point? We tweet, we have blogs, we publish in widely read channels that include this one (TechWeb's Intelligent Enterprise), and we present at conferences.

Two responses were particularly interesting. Lorita Vannah replied --

"@merv Most independents have blogs/public speaking opps that reach wider audience than big firms' client base. Important to reach both."

Vannah's right. It is indeed important to reach both, and I'll add that it's impossible for most companies to be clients of all the analyst firms that are worth consulting.

Lorita Vannah's Twitter bio reads "Slightly neurotic marketing professional trying to figure out where the 'intelligence' in business intelligence is." I see that she's Director of Marketing Communications at Kalido, a company that "delivers industry leading solutions for turning bad data into meaningful business information," a company self-description that certainly fits the slightly-neurotic category. (Kalido doesn't work with good data?!) Clearly Vannah understands that nowadays communications is not a figurative soapbox and megaphone, and it's not just a two-way street: it's a commons that includes open venues such as Twitter. Put it another way: business intelligence -- all kinds of data, both good and "bad" -- can be found on Twitter and other social media that obsolete traditional marketing-communications models.

Nadina Talukdar, who describes herself as a Tech Marketing Diva and who runs worldwide analyst relations at TIBCO, posted a second, interesting reply to Merv Adrian's tweet --

"@merv no increase in spending on our end. flat at best. independents are considered for projects...but not large contracts at this time"

This comment presents a vendor insider's insider perspective. The "projects" Talukdar refers to are presumably as often about reading the market as about public thought leadership, about shaping market views. She's right about a point that's implicit in her tweet: independent analysts don't (yet, with exceptions) compete with analyst firms when it comes to larger-scale research projects. Speaking only for myself, I'll confess that I envy the resources that analysts at large firms enjoy, which enable them to mount market surveys that are comprehensive and deep where each of my own is constrained to a narrow focus. But the independents' social media advantage will surely change the balance on the large-scale research front as well.

I'll conclude by pointing you to a list of analysts on Twitter that was compiled by SageCircle. Supposedly the list is 700+ long. I haven't counted names myself, but I have observed that the list orders them alphabetically by company name, mixing independents and analyst-firm names, testimony that Twitter and other social-media platforms offer a level playing field where your authority derives from yourself and your personal presence and what you have to say and much less, as in pre-Twitter days, from your employment status.Every Twitter user gets the same on-site visibility and capabilities. As a result, celebrities excluded, authority chez Twitter derives from your network and from your tweets and only after that from your biography and employment. Since open publishing is an independent-analyst ethos, we independents have taken to wide-open Twitter like, well, whales to the air...

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