This is a time I’d almost rather be an Analyst

Don’t get me wrong, I very much enjoy my career in analyst relations, it’s just that the uncertainty of the times makes for endless opportunities to prognosticate.

Economic Downturn Cycles

This is the low hanging fruit.  Depending on the product set a company has or where it is on the technology lifecyle chart, it could be doomed, about to bust, ok for now, suffer in the second wave of non-buying or could surf into the annals of profitability.

Companies are clamping down on expenses buying and new technology investment.  The easist things to cut go first like travel.  So count the travel companies as first victims, except that they rely on technology so the companies they buy from get a deduction or a delayed deduction in the upcoming buying cycles.  I wouldn’t doom them as we are going to travel, but suffer would be appropriate.

Older technologies fall in two categories.  A lot of financial institutions have tons of legacy infrastructure that has to be maintained.  There is a trade off in the cost to maintain vs. the savings gained by using newer technology.  This is an easy decision on the lower security issues, but where privacy and security reign, don’t count on rip and replace.  The other category is replace any easy system that saves money or has broken, cut out the rest.

My datacenter experience has been that no matter what you are promised, the cost recovery is rarely there for the first years of a new technology implementation.  There is too much training, running dual systems for integrity, and of course the unknown.

The second slowdown wave is where contracts need to be renewed or lack of spending holds off sales.  These companies could be parts suppliers or those who have customers who aren’t buying.  That will be tough to tell as the first wave of immediate non buying will blend into this wave.  Earnings statements should give us an indication of this wave.

Finally, there are companies who have technology that makes sense (SaaS could be an example) where they will be in the right place at the right time and iff (iff is if and only if for you JCL and OCL types) you can show value, save money or help a company make money.  Everyone is watching their tails and hedging their bets so this is the sweet spot.

I thought of one last class, those companies who can manage to hang on long enough for the economy to turn around, but how many IBM’s, Microsoft’s, Google and Apples are there?  This is a good question for Yahoo to answer.

Analyst or Meteorologist

Everyone cracks the joke that being a Weathernan person is a great job as you can be paid even if you are wrong half the time (jokes here range from William Ayers to global warming).

This is where a good analyst earns their mettle.  How to forecast what is reality for which industry.  Eventually, except for examples like unstopping drains, there is IT involved so it gets back to our industry.

Predicting is next to impossible, advising and reporting are key elements of the analyst value to us right now.


There is a bigger chance to be wrong then right here, so why would I like to be an analyst on this one?  The challenge of finding out the answer is intruiging.  It is the thrill of the hunt, not the kill.   The endless amount of machinations of companies succeeding, treading water or drowning will happen at a rapid rate.

We’ll get to see who and what groups are what they say they are, the pundits.  No pressure right?

The Rumors of My Demise are a bit Previous

Frank Gens sent me this photo the other day, what a sense of humor.  What’s really funny is he pointed out that this guy had 2 wives.

That’s either 2 mother in law’s, twice the fun or twice the headache….or this guy was hard on wives.

Don’t ask my wife which it is, I’m not sure I want to know.

Anyway, for now I’m alive an kicking.

Talking to the Analysts vs. The Press

As I’ve noted before, I’ve worked almost all sides of this.  I’ve been in PR, in AR, I’ve been the content expert/spokesperson, the quiet informer (somehow deep throat just seems wrong) and I’ve been the writer.

This week, I’ve been at a customer conference where we have analysts giving supporting presentations on SaaS and the Cloud.  Most are the typical IT analysts, but there is one from a consulting group (nameless except that Lou Gerstner worked for them before IBM).

I had private conversations with the analysts at the event and we couldn’t wait to talk about what we are doing in 2009 and how everything from the credit crunch to IBM relationships are affecting what and how we are doing.


Conversely, there were press at the same event only one day (they didn’t really care about the event, just the story) and we had to sequester them for interviews and likely spent more time trying not to say something wrong or reveal more than what our goals were.  In truth, the conversations we had with the analysts would have been above the technical level of most reporters, but that is why we tell the analysts.  They help explain it to the reporters.

What a difference.

So knowing your constituency really matters.  I’ve heard horror stories about when things got printed in the press that shouldn’t have been written.  I almost got into that doghouse once, saved only by the fact that the actual mistake was committed by an incompetent PR manager who works at the company we sold the PC division to.


It’s because of the depth and transparency of the conversation.  Sure we get called to the floor more and are told far more often that we are wrong, off base, off message, off color, but when we go public, our messages rarely fail to improve.

The depth and breadth of the conversation goes from technology to economics to social implications.  All of this is very enjoyable and intellectually stimulating.

Are IT Technology Jobs Killing your Life (Slow down and get a life)

It may be.

I’ve stated before that technology is sucking more and more out of our personal lives.  We check email, crackberry’s, internet, blogs, twitter too much instead of life.

It turns out that that is today’s theme.

ComputerWorld writes of the health hazards of being an IT desk jockey.  Here’s the killer:

Finally, work-related stress, while motivating in manageable doses, can grind down your health over time. Undue stress can lower your immune defenses, increase the risk of heart disease and bring on anxiety, depression and difficulty sleeping, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Ziff Davis challenges us with:

Have we all become a bunch of anxious, depressed, sleep-deprived irritable stress-heads?

The story has the paragraph header:


IT workers, particularly those that are in IT service delivery or are in operational/support roles are constantly trying to meet employer and customer demands. We’re tied to email and instant messaging, and not just on our computers — we’re now permanently attached to our Blackberries and iPhones and other smart devices. We’re expected to be available at all times, and to be responsive, no matter where we are or what time of day it is……our synapses are firing like a V-12 Ferrari.

This is something to think about.  Work smarter, not harder or more.  Employees – you’ll be more productive, Managers – you’ll get more out of your employees…

Parents – shut down the video games and have a conversation with your kids.

Blogging and Analyst – SageCircle

I haven’t blogged much lately, because everything that I want to say, Carter has covered, or has said better than me.

He points out the obvious errors of my ways though with these facts.

Question:     I would read vendor AR blogs if they had relevant, useful, timely information (pick one)

  • 20% – Yes, regularly
  • 31% – Yes, occasionally
  • 26% – Yes, episodically related to major news or announcement coverage
  • 5% – No, because I do not read blogs
  • 8% – No, because I do not have time
  • 9% – No, because most vendor blogs are a waste of time
  • 1% – Undecided

I’ve been reluctant to blog on category 3 as I don’t want to be the site for here’s the latest IBM announcement, you can go to to see that.

The key is relatively useful and timely.  The jury is out as to whether I’ve been useful, but timely is a very fine line for me.  Here’s why:

Timely for me is way before the news, that’s when I want to get to the analysts.  It shows the trust and the very personal relationship we have to hash out our future prodcts, pricing and plans.  That is diametrically opposed to how to blog, being transparent about what you are doing.

So what’s a mother to do?  I have found that I’ve been able to reach analysts via the blog, twitter, social media back channel for speaking to them.  Heck, I’ve had analysts say to me that they didn’t want to wind up in my blog for me trashing their competition for timeliness.  So it’s how you use it that counts. I’m use social media as an analyst relations tool and find it an advantage over my competition who don’t use it or use it out of etiquette.

I can’t argue the points above though.  Carter as usual is right on.  But then I break all the rules of good blogging anyway like staying on subject and consistency, so there you go.