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IBM analyst relations, who are we? – Nancy Riley

September 21, 2005

I’d like to point out that Jacqueline Bisset got this picture of Nancy before plastic surgery as the model for the doctor to work torwards.

I’ve worked with Nancy longer than all but two other people at IBM. Our paths crossed in PR and AR, Networking and Software. We have a good working relationship that is based on the trust that when either one of us is on the job, we have confidence that it will get done right, without much intervention.

As with the other interviews, I don’t edit the answers so you hear it from the person as is.

What is your job title (and what does that really mean as far as your job)?
Manager, WebSphere Analyst Relations — I manage a team of seven analyst relations professionals who interface with analysts who cover the application integration middleware space. Our product areas include SOA, ESB, web services, application server, integration, business process management, mobile middleware, and industry solutions based on middleware.

Some work experience that you want to tell?
My background is in communications and I’ve held lots of different comms roles in IBM, including marketing comms, field/internal comms, event planning, public relations and analyst relations. My previous job was as a PR manager, representing networking, security and e-commerce software products. My first job at IBM — and probably my most fun job ever — was developing marketing programs to sell computers to college students. We went to Daytona Beach for spring break and tossed IBM-logoed frisbees on the beach. Talk about job satisfaction!

How do you describe what you do?
We’re responsible for maintaining and promoting positive interactions with analysts and often that means putting them in touch with subject matter experts or supplying product information. We help the IBM teams distill their information and package it in ways that make it easy for analysts to digest, so that they in turn can advise their clients about our products. We hire analysts to help us refine our product and marketing strategies to make them understandable to all different sorts of customers.

When I tell my relatives what I do, I just say I work really long hours but I get to go to conferences at nice hotels and leave it at that.

What are good things about your job?
I work with a great team. I love the interaction with analysts — we learn a lot from them and it truly helps shape our product and marketing strategies. I get to be in meetings with a lot of really smart people. I like being able to influence the thinking of an analyst who maybe doesn’t think our products are as great as we think they are. Did I mention that I work with a great team? : )

What are things you would change?
As with any large company, sometimes we get bogged down in the internal bureaucracy and politics. Metrics reporting kills me. The number of internal meetings I have to attend kills me. We are often the first out the door with new announcements because we have to brief analysts well in advance of the official announcement, and it’s always a lot of last-minute thrashing. I would make it illegal to create a Powerpoint presentation that’s more than 20 pages and/or greater than 5 MB. (I can dream, right?) I would also have more in-person interaction, both with analysts and IBMers; we spend WAY too much time on conference calls.

Name a funny analyst story.
I’ve been around a long time, so permit me two funny stories.
(1) I was project managing an analyst briefing hosted by the IBM chairman. The meeting was being held at the very lovely Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto. After an exhausting day, I collapsed into bed around midnight. At 2 am, the fire alarm went off. I jolted out of bed, threw on some clothes and shoes, and headed down 30 flights of stairs. About half-way down, I realized I had two different shoes on and hoped I wouldn’t see anyone I knew when I got to the lobby. When I got to the lobby, I found I was WAY overdressed because most everyone else — including MANY of the analysts attending our meeting — were there in their plush Four Seasons bathrobes. It was so hard to maintain a professional demeanor when what I really wanted to do was crack up at seeing all those analysts in their bathrobes! Wish I’d had a camera — would be great blackmail…

(2) I was hosting two analysts at a strategy planning meeting at an IBM site. Since we were all staying at the same hotel, I drove them to and from the meeting. On the way back to the hotel after the meeting, not only did I get lost, I got a speeding ticket (but come on, I was doing like 46 in a 35 mph zone). I tried to explain to the officer that I was lost, didn’t know the speed limit, etc, all to no avail. To their credit, the analysts were very sympathetic (and said I should submit the ticket on my expense account).

Describe an analyst win situation for you.
It’s always a great feeling to see an analyst quoted in the Wall Street Journal (ok, CNET is cool, too) with a really pithy and positive quote about our products. That’s something I can show my mom to prove to her what a great job I’m doing.

Describe an analyst disaster for you. (no names)
I’ve given out wrong telecon numbers more times than I care to remember. I’ve scheduled back to back calls with the same number and passcode so that caller #2 arrives on the line before we’re finished with caller #1. I’ve sent the wrong presentation. I’ve introduced people by the wrong name. They’re all just minor disasters though, right?

What would you like the analysts to do differently, suggestions of what would help both sides maybe.
I’d really love for them to schedule a conference in Maui. Aside from that, I’d like more turnaround time on the reports they send us for fact-checking. I’d like “group rates” from the larger firms when we’re engaging multiple analysts for consulting. I’d like easier rules for quoting analyst content in presentations and collateral. I’d like all of them to be as cool as James (let’s see if he reads this).

Any thing else I missed you want to say?
Considering that there are less than 200 people in our company of 300,000+ who do what we do, we should all feel very priviledged to do this job! I know that’s hard to remember sometimes, but we are on the cutting edge of what’s going on with IBM Software and that alone can be a very cool thing!

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From → Analyst, blogging, ibm

3 Comments
  1. LL Cool J permalink

    LL Cool J? Of course he is reading this… How come nobody ever uses his last name?

  2. When I first met Nancy, she was ready to kill me, but that’s another story.

  3. awesome interview. as for easier rules for quoting, how about – whatever you want? 🙂

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