Analyst Relations, it's not always a flat world, there are bumps in the road
With all respect to Thomas Friedman and his book, there are conditions that affect our ability to do our job sometimes. Technology has flattened things up to the point of social constraints.
For example, when we are trying to get a number of pre-briefs completed prior to an announcement, time has affected us. Mostly they are when we try coordinating a world wide event. We’ve dealt with the time zone issues via email and are able to live with a half day delay of communicating with the other side of the world, as long as it is straightforward. Every time you go back and forth there is the half day delay, but this is manageable. We even have a short window when we either get up early or stay late on both ends.
Now, it’s summer in Europe, and that means that many are taking advantage of the short periods of good weather (depending on how far north you live), so we come to a period where there are lengthy vacations. This changes the flatness of the availability. I’m not knocking vacation as the argument can be made that the quality of life is more important that 17 hour workdays. Half my family live in Europe and they think we Americans work far too much.
Nevertheless, it means there are certain geographies that can’t be addressed with the immediacy that the product owner desires.
A tangential issue of flatness occurs when we make a complicated announcement (I’m speaking for large companies and large analyst groups here) that can cross several ownership area’s on both sides. Analysts for the most part are very perceptive and ask deep and probing questions that affect other areas of our company, so we must bring in those respective areas….Again, geographical or political boundaries come into play. Then getting a hold of traveling execs or IBMers (I’ve Been in a Meeting) becomes an issue.
Conversely, we might be making a complex announcement that for large firms with specific areas, the analysts may not have expertise (or must also respect other analyst specialties or areas of coverage) outside of their focus. Small analyst groups can either be specific enough to a subject that the other information does not affect them, or are generalist enough (mostly they are educated enough and know more than us about a lot of our stuff) that this does not come into play. But put together a large company and a large analyst firm and you get complexity over a simple task.
Other speed bumps occur when an analyst (or the company person) shifts jobs or places. Then we have to try to hunt down the person(s) to solve the questions in hand.
Am I complaining? No way, that keeps us in a job to try and figure it out. But it just goes to show how technology can be overcome by social and people issues.