#ARchat, A New Paradigm for Analysts and Analyst Relations Professionals

There has been a new collaboration between both Analysts and Analyst Relations Professionals emerging on Twitter called #ARchat.  For the record, it occurs every Monday from1-2 ET. Here is a description for A/R professionals.

DESCRIPTION

ARchat is a weekly themed conversation on Twitter for business professionals that deal with Industry Analysts and Influencers. This includes Analyst Relations (AR), Public Relations (PR), Investor Relations (IR) and Marketing professionals (especially since many in small firms function as all of the above), not to mention Industry Analysts (IA) themselves. Our focus involves both best practices and pressing issues or trends. All tweets are tagged with #archat which makes following the discussion very easy with applications like TweetDeck, TweetChat, TweetGrid or Twitter Search.

I recall the days when even speaking with a person from a competitor would be grounds for dismissal (OK, I did start working when we were still building fires in caves) and now we are collaborating on best practices.  This doesn’t take the place of services like SageCircle (although they participate), rather it is the natural progression of social media in the Analyst Relations practice.  I give kudos to Fred McClimans (Twitter handle @fredmcclimans) and Stephen Loudermilk (Twitter handle @loudyoutloud).

We’ve discussed issues such as the proper social media tools and other best practices.

What is interesting to me is the back channel conversations I have with the other participants during the conversation about what is going on.  It makes the whole experience much richer.  While there is serious discussion of what is best for our practice, there is jocularity about certain analyst’s proclivities (tweotches) or habits like Ray Wang (@rwang0) staying up all day and night.

I invite all the analysts and A/R professionals to participate, learn and contribute to this discussion.

See you there, Aloha.

Managing Executive Ego’s; The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

I’ve worked at 8 different IT companies in my career and have seen many people in management roles. I’ll draw upon my career and the colorful stories for this discussion.

Managing Executives is a very sensitive issue.  This process is critical to the relationship and results with the press and Analysts.  Much of the time this is unseen externally, but the machinations exist under the covers for us to get to the discussion in an orderly manner.

Executives have many demands on their time and are pounded or pulled at from every angle, but they make the big bucks so butch up.  They might have come from a great meeting or one that they got machined gunned to death right before the analyst briefing.  Different people handle stress in different ways.

A common thread I’ve noticed is how much ego they bring, and how much control they have over it. Either way, the executive is the messenger and the content owner in the eyes of the audience.  It is our job to make sure they are best prepared, deal with the issues, understand the big picture and be as professional as possible to achieve results.  In some ways, we have to pull the strings and push the buttons behind the curtain to make successful analyst engagements happen.

As with the movie, I’ll take it in order.

THE GOOD

There are some executives that intrinsically get that analysts are deep thinkers, they have influence over customers, press and our reputation.  The media are rarely deep thinkers, but need to be managed and have influence, albeit less and less.

The really, really good ones know that the analyst can provide great input into the strategy and can point out any holes or landmines in our strategy.

The really, really, really good ones (Buell Duncan) understand that it is about creating a relationship and that no matter how much influence they have at IBM, they can put that aside and get the message out and deliver value to an analyst discussion.

One key is they can manage their ego’s and those of the analyst (not the point of this post, but it is related throughout).  The executive I’ve linked above always comes off as you’re smarter than I am, although it’s rarely true.  He also accepts that criticism is part of the deal and doesn’t take it personally.  I’m not sure if it was his basic nature or that he came from sales (I attribute a big piece to the fact that he’s from the south and is more polite than most) but no matter what the case, his briefings always were a home run.

These executives are of course the best to deal with.  Some have higher maintenance levels than others, but when you know your big gun is going to deliver, you want to make sure his gun is as loaded as possible with bullets.

There are always disagreements over issues, but when an executive can put their ego aside and listen to input, everyone wins.  These people are very perspicacious.

boss or leader

THE BAD

Everyone has a bad day.  That can precipitate a less than optimal discourse.  I’ve worked with some who just weren’t as good as others at dealing with media and analysts, although practice usually improved things.  Some executives just shouldn’t be doing briefings as it isn’t their strength.

As described in the GOOD section, I’ve seen good executives come off distracted as they just got chewed out, or a multi-million dollar contract is about to be lost….it happens.

Some need more coaching and preparation than others, that’s our responsibility in communications.  I’ll discuss this in the Executive Preparation post, yet to come.

There are some that are not cut out for analysts briefings.  They should not be put in this situation.  There is always someone else on the team who is the one really best suited for dealing with the  analysts.  They may not be as good with a P&L, but they get the strategy and the relationship issues.  I use them as much as possible as it produces results on both the analyst and the company side.

Some just don’t get give and take.  I don’t put them in the ugly as they just won’t budge on the fact that their solution is what it’s going to be, but many times they can be right. It is better for the company for them to make the tough choices and stick with our side of the argument.  It rarely makes for a successful analyst engagement, but I defer when history shows that they didn’t take the analyst advice and the company or division benefits.  Again, this a time where a lieutenant is best for dealing with the analysts.

I’ll bring up human nature here as I’ve been in a situation where an executive who is generally great at working with analysts has a beef with a person for some reason.  In one case, both the analyst and the executive described the other person in to me terms of a deification orifice.   Sometimes you just have to separate people and agree to disagree.  This situation is a challenge in communications.

Some of the bad are nitpickers.  The get caught up in details that are not relevant to the big picture.   They are a distraction and a lieutenant is again best.

Another category that could be BAD or could be UGLY are the quick triggers.  They fire off a response without considering the consequences.  The reason I put it into BAD instead of UGLY is you never know how it’s going to turn out.  It usually depends on the audiences’ response.  Either way it is high maintenance.  The quick witted exec’s can play this one well though, I’ll give them that.

I had to work with one entrepreneur who thought he knew more than anyone.  He managed to pick a fight over a lie that he was making a product (disk drive) that he bought from Control Data.  The reporters and analysts knew it and the company credibility was shot.  I had to tell one reporter not to equate me with him as I was not going to lie for him.

The last of the bad is the death by PowerPoint crowd.  They drone on and on and on and on without letting the analyst get a word in (when don’t analysts like to offer an opinion?) and everyone dreads these meetings.  Their objective is to get through the slide deck come hell or high water.

These executives are hard to work with, but sometimes you have to do it and get through it.

THE UGLY

These are the worst experiences of anyone’s communications career.  They also regularly put the company behind the curve with the relationship with the analyst.  I have only experienced this a couple of times, but they are burned into my memory as times I don’t want to relive.  Fortunately, I don’t work for or with any of these people anymore.

It almost every instance, it  is fueled by the over estimation by the executives of the importance of themselves.  These people also come in various flavors.head_up_ass

The Ugly Flavors

The Suits – These are people who have made it through the system via the Peter Principle. They pontificate, but aren’t well respected by anyone on either side and as with everyone in this category, are difficult to work with.  They are found out quickly by the analyst and it hurts the cause to come to the table with them.  Once, he called his assistant before a Forrester briefing to see if he could change his flight out so he could be home early and asked me to cut the analyst meeting short.  This was less than professional and was very hard to explain to the analysts why he obviously was blowing them off.

Another Suit (A former head of NetFinity and IGF named Callies) incident came up when I had landed one of the highest level press interviews of my career.  It was major media headline quality “Article of the Year” that anyone with half a brain would throw their best people and research at.  I had to pull the speaker (his lieutenant) from the Suit’s “staff” meeting.  The lieutenant was the best speaker I may have worked with and the Suit was one of the worst.  Said Suit wouldn’t let the speaker go to the briefing threatening him with “it’s only your job if you leave”, or I’m more important than anyone else.  As it usually happens with these types, I had to work around him to get the job done and got our name up in lights despite his efforts to torpedo any progress.

A different flavor suit flavor is described by Lou Gerstner in his book “Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?”  He describes an executive who wrote memo’s on how to deal with him including what type of gum to have and how to set the clocks (pg. 32).   These are unusually high maintenance people who want celebrity treatment.  There is a good song about this syndrome, watch the video here. Adios reality.

The Terrorists

These people give me nightmares.  Almost everyone has worked with or heard about these tyrants.  Nothing you can do is right, nothing is good enough and the analyst is wrong because they are right.  This is different than the BAD  situation from above.  The BAD executive there is making a tough choice not to go with the analyst view, but it is well informed choice.  The terrorist doesn’t really care about outcomes or just doesn’t know, rather it’s about what they want and their career, power and usually their insecurity.  Every company has one and the main IBM terrorist (who is known as much by one name, Sandy) has many dead bodies behind her quest to climb the ladder.  She made it up the chain and managed via the Dark Side as a corporate climber who both played favorites and pitted employees against each other.  We in communications had a support group for those who survived a term working for her and kept their job.  Once, I even wrote a press release for one of her female employees  just so she wouldn’t get fired, even though it never went out.  She personally set back diversity according to the women who worked for her.  I’ve rarely seen less respect for an executive.  When she got promoted, her employees were high fiving in the hallway that she was leaving.

No matter what the SJW’s try to redefine diversity rules to, the smart companies promote the best performers.

Sandy used to bring us through about 50 revisions of Powerpoint charts.  Most if not all changes were bad, but were done precisely as she had demanded.  We were later castigated with “why did you do this, I didn’t ask for it?”   She didn’t command much respect with the Press and Analysts who saw through this level (lack) of competency.  It was embarrassing to be in a press conference with her.  Although being a promoter of WITI,  she internally hurt the path for many women, and certainly made many question affirmative action and diversity policies at IBM.

Having to sweat through every meeting prior to and with an analyst is counter productive and has never lead to the results that could be achieved.

I’ve noticed that the terrorist is found out by press or analysts by many means.  Sometimes it is inconsistency in charts, sometimes it is through unusual calls and/or requests by A/R, many times it is through colleagues and sometimes it is through working with them enough times that your .

I’ve had one other terrorist who is now the VP of External Relations.  I called him to warn him of a problem that a reporter alerted me to.  It is expected that you let the person in charge of an area know if there is an issue so that they can deal with it as it is their turf.  I was being the good employee (in my first 4 months) so I left a voicemail explaining the situation and doing the hand off so that I wasn’t infringing on another person’s PR territory.

I got a call back from this type A New Yorker (a former Ed Koch employee) who lambasted me for my efforts.  Apparently, he was insecure as he kept reminding me that he was the boss and I was a nobody.  Let me point out that this was not a morale booster for a new hire who was trying to do a good job and be a team player.  Such is the life of working with terrorist Communications leaders.  I found out later that he regularly abused most people who worked there.  He deducted IQ points from those in the South which is another form of anti-diversity and discrimination.  Most just refused to help him or stayed away so as not to have to deal with the chewing out.  I’ve personally witnessed them confessing that they didn’t want to help him because of his temper.  What a shame.

Terrorist’s can come with unrealistic expectations.  I to this day am not sure how to handle them.  In both cases, I chose to move on and out as quickly as I could.

SUMMARY

To be effective with press and analysts, you must be able to manage the executives.  Executives come with many styles.  It is imperative that you learn the style and manage it for effectiveness.

Since people are different, one must adapt to each person.   Just hope you get the good, deal with the bad and escape the ugly.  As for the terrorist, I advise grabbing a parachute and jumping.  The plane is usually going to crash anyways.

Here is a quote that sums it up terrorists for me: “They are simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up.” – Paul Keating

Update: SageCircle links here with a good post on improving executives.

For you Clint fans and movie buffs, here is the song and movie opening video.

Analyst Predictions for 2010. Everyone is Going Out On Basically The Same Limb

I’ve been keeping track of the analyst predictions waiting for enough time for them to post a listing of them.  I think that since it is the last day of 2010, and that there is a sufficient amount of them out there, it is time  to list them. Analysts are the prognosticators of the IT Industry and they should be right, but then meteorologists tell us about the weather, and they are great if they are only 50% right.  In reality, they can’t tell us what next week will really be and yet we are basing many decision on what 20 years from now will be.  I’m trusting that IT analysts are more accountable and have more tangible facts less subject to acts of God than the weather.

In reality, Carter Lusher and SageCircle is where you should go to get your A/R best practice as to what to do with these predictions, but I have to make some calls of my own.  Here is what I’m going to use the predictions for in addition to Carters recommendations:

  1. Use it as the basis for discussion with the analyst showing that I have been reading and following them.
  2. Using them as analysts to select for briefings and consults based on their area’s of concentration
  3. Good natured ribbing if they really blow it at the end of the year. (note: not necessarily an A/R best practice here)
  4. Use it as part of my A/R plans to present to the executives I support.

So here is my listing.  I’ll note that they are in no particular order as I’m getting them from my feed reader as they come  up.  I like and work with almost everyone on this list, so I am not going to show favorites in a listing order, it will be entirely random.  You will note a trend very quickly as to where most of them are going for the year.  See if you can pick it out.

Analyst Predictions for 2010

IIAR video of Gideon Gartner on the state of the IT Analyst Industry.  (Note that this is not a part of the trend, just that it came up first).

IDC Webcast by Frank Gens, Robert Mahowald and Henry Morris. It has a link to the video which is worth watching, but the theme begins here with the discussion of the Cloud.  I’m glad they consider the Hybrid model.

Laurie McCabe of Hurwitz Associates and her 2010 Top 10 SMB Technology Market Predictions. At least she waits until number 7 to get to Cloud, thanks Laurie.

Bruce Tempkin of Forrester discusses Gen Y.  While not really a 2010 prediction, there is no denying the fact that the attitude, social media ability of Gen Y’rs and their length of patience is a big HR issue we all face.  They will help define the workforce make up as boomers exit.

James Governor of Redmonk leads the list with 20 predictions.  Note the continuation of the trend as James has Cloud at numbers 1 and 12.  I admire him for also considering the hybrid model as the cloud is not one size fits all.  As I work with James quite a bit, I’m surprised to see Google and Green further down the list than I expected.

Carter Lusher reprimands the A/R Community to pay attention to Social Media or suffer the consequences.

Amy Wohl and you guessed it, 2010 Predictions on SaaS and the Cloud. Note the build up in the trend.  I still swear to random selection, but Cloud is getting a lot of attention.

Judith Hurwitz titles her predictions as: Predictions for 2010: Clouds, mergers, Social Network and Analytics.  I’ll give her credit for the Social Networks as I delve there in my predictions also.

Claire Schooley again talks about Gen Y.  While not an official 2010 prediction, there is no avoiding that we’ll  have to address the issues of this culture in the  workplace.

Rob Enderle in 2008 on 2009 highlighting Security. I’m including this as Security becomes an issue with the uptick in terrorist activity, both online and direct attack like flight 253.

Jonny Bentwood also covers this topic in his yearly round up. He actually gets to it first and we cross over quite a few, but I’m not going to use everything in his list so that you have a reason to to there and check out additional predictions I’m not covering.

Lee Odden’s 12 Digital Marketing Predictions. There is a lot of good Social Media info here to look at.

Rob Enderle checks in again with one of my beliefs, that the Private Cloud will Win over the Public Cloud Model. Anybody picking up the Cloud trend in predictions yet?

John Levitt from AnalystXpress on the Top 10 Wireless predictions for 2010. Of course Cloud makes number 3.

Chris Collins of Yankee Group posts a Webinar on 2010 predictions.  Cloud Computing is a tag needless to say.

David M Smith of Gartner discusses the Psychology of Predictions, a different way of looking at it starting with caring about being right.

Ray Wang and Jeremiah Owyang discuss what’s coming to 2010 in a video with Robert Scoble.

UPDATE: Laura Cecere and Alan Johnson Of AMR have come to the table with another set of predictions.  You need to be an AMR client for this one.  Here is a link to their press release.

2010 Client Virtualization by Benjamin Gray

So between my list and Jonny’s list, you have most of the predictions for 2010.  Will the analysts be as good or better than the weathermen?  Only the Shadow knows.

My Turn at Making Predictions

Since I’m listing others predictions, it’s only fair that I put out my own.  Disclaimer: I’m not an analyst, so I don’t feel any need to get to 10.

1. The Cloud is important, although I think the hybrid and private models are more important than the all everything public model

2. Twitter will continue to erode the number and quality of good bloggers.

3. We need to find a new Twitter as the current model has now been compromised in security, and there are just too many people on.  We need another back channel to connect with our real business contacts.  Plus, I’m an early adopter, so let’s find that new best method.

4. All predictions go out the window if there is another Terrorist attack.  The top prediction will be Security.

5. Success in the economy will be defined as less of a loss than we expected.

6. Who you hire from Boomers to Gen Y matters to your ability to connect to the tech crowd when considering hiring practices.

Final note.  At some point this year, I’m moving Delusions to a new host.  Mine is bad so obviously I’m publshing on a back up blog.  Stay tuned for that .

The Back Channel, My Most Important A/R Tool

Getting to the person you want to meet with or communicate with when you want to is vital.

Relationships ultimately are very important, but I find that an A/R best practice is knowing the Back Channel.

My First Back Channel

I’m skipping the phone in this discussion.  Most people screen calls.

Backing up a few years when I was in PR, I remember when public email first started.  We were using MCI Mail on DOS and  300 baud modems back in the mid 80’s to reach influential people in the industry like John Dvorak, Paul Sommerson, Bill Machrone and others.  I think there were about 10 of us using it.  I was beating the big PR agencies and they couldn’t figure out why, as I was working for a small company that shouldn’t have had the presence we had.  We were the inside club.

Email then of course became mainstream so we lost that advantage.

The Next Tool –  IM

It’s hard to believe that as much as we use instant messaging now,  that at the beginning of the technology not many were using it and again it was the way to reach those who were using it.  At this point, Email immunity was beginning to take hold and if you weren’t important, you fell quickly out of the realm of first responders.  I read a tweet from an analyst recently who noted his inbox was so far gone that he was about to delete everything and just start over.

IM also fell to everyone abusing it and we moved on.

Twitter:

Skip forward a few years and you have  Twitter.  This worked until the recent explosion of everyone being on the platform and it again became commonplace.  It still is somewhat effective if you are high on the other parties list.

The Point of this Post:

I was meeting with an very influential analyst a few nights ago and to be honest, I’m not that high on his list.  I decided to ask him, what is his back channel when I really need to reach him.   The condition was that I wouldn’t abuse it so that when I really was using it, I had something of value to speak about.   He was up front and gave me a personal address that he said he will look at.  Bingo.

It occurred to me that this is the best practice.  First, be high on the relationship, you will get through that way.  Next, find out how the analyst wants to be communicated with as a preference and DON”T abuse it.

When you use that method, you get to them and they answer.  Sure they will answer you anyway out of courtesy, but at some point, you have an I need it now, or you are on the road and don’t have your usual access.  In a way, it’s part of managing the relationship properly anyway.

Getting Your Executives to Cut Down their Presentations

The first thing I read today was by Carter Lusher on this subject.  He calls it getting them to Change their presentations.

As always it is a good read and of importance to Analyst Relations.  After talking about this subject to analysts before, during and after presentations and conferences, I’ve developed my personal pet peeve list.

His example was an executive using a sales presentation for a deck which happens about 387 out of 365 days a year.

With that lead in, here is the list of issues I’ve thought about having done or been a part of close to 1000 analyst presentation decks (likely over that number).

1. Carter is right, don’t bring your sales presentation to the table, instant credibility loss.

2. If you can’t get your message delivered in 15 charts or less, you likely have clarification issues.

3. Analysts (most people) look at the number of charts and immediately judge what point they are going to listen to before they check email.

4. Send it in advance and ask what is clear and what is important to them to get to the point.  If you have to get through a couple of set up charts fine, but say that in advance.

5. No chart is golden, (many) could (should) be sacrificed.

6. Discussion about strategy and technology is a much better use of time than chart after chart preaching.

7. Don’t take offense in chartsmanship, most people aren’t that good at it.

8. If the analyst wants to go off the charts, be willing to go as long as you stay on topic.

9. Use A/R to speak to the analyst before the briefing/discussion/meeting/conference to see what is the analyst goal and actually make charts to answer the issues, not pound your chest on what your end of year rating is based on.

10. Accept criticism where appropriate, the analyst is right.

11. Never fail to have a chart to say, what do you think or are we on topic, message, right course or other to let the analyst offere advice or opinion.

12. Consider using web conferencing if your audience is over 10 people.

13. Personal opinion here – I hate powerpoint, it’s been used as a crutch for too long and we were able to get our job done well prior to it’s invention.  Please someone invent the next tool.

14. A presentation deck has a life.  Don’t recycle charts too long.  I’ve seen analyst eyes glaze over with “I’ve seen this before blaring in neon” on their face.

15. Be aware of your audience.  We at IBM run more conferences than months in the year by at least double.  I’ve seen the same charts at multiple conferences where I knew their were the same analysts (this is a similar comment to 14).

16. Leave time for questions at the end.  Don’t look at the time and gauge the number of charts you can cram into it.

17. Give the analyst a copy if you haven’t sent it to them upfront.  Sometimes there are circumstances that prevent one from sending early (the executive didn’t finish until 5 minutes before the presentation, been there and done that double digits).

18. If there are multiple executives presenting, have them compare notes prior to the briefing so they don’t conflict or aren’t redundant.

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.

WHY

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?

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.

THE PRESS

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.

WHY I LIKE ANALYSTS MORE

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.

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 IBM.com 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.

IBM SaaS Partner/Customer Event

IBM has not tackled SaaS the traditional way (CRM/ERP…BPO), nor has it (yet) offered a PaaS solution.  Instead, we’ve enabled partners onto our platform, rolled out an appliance called the Blue Business Platform, offered some SaaS solutionsin the non traditional (CRM/ERP) space from some of our aquisitions like Sametime Unyte. Further, we have hosted virtually every SaaS vendor or application through our Services group….yes, even the market leaders we all know by name.

While I’ve personally been on over 100 analyst briefings for our SaaS offerings, it’s time to get to the customers and partners.  We will be holding a SaaS event named Accelerating Business Value on October 15/16 in NY.  Our story has been good and virtually every analyst we’ve spoken to has raved about our pricing structure, but now it’s put up or shut up in front of the buying audience.

Here is the tagline for the event:


Accelerating Business Value. Oct 15-16, 2008

Leverage Emerging Delivery Models to Accelerate Business Value – Bringing Line of Business Executives and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) Together.

The schedule is as follows:On Day One, “ISV Day” – Software vendors will

  • Hear about IBM’s strategy for Blue Business Platform (BBP) and how they can engage as an IBM business partner
  • Ascertain best practices from analysts and successful SaaS ISVs. Learn how to leverage IBM’s SaaS Partner program
  • Discover how to grow their SaaS business by adding Business Intelligence and Collaborative capabilities
  • Network with IBM executives and other IBM business partners

On Day Two, “Customer Day” – Line of business executives and IT decision makers will

  • Learn how alternative IT delivery models can radically simplify the deployment of IT solutions
  • Gain insights from CIOs, analysts and IBM partners who have already successfully integrated these new delivery models
  • See demonstrations of relevant Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions from IBM SaaS partners
  • Network with peer executives and subject matter experts

It’s very interesting when you put yourself out there to be judged.  It was easy with the analysts as our story has been solid.  But this is going to be like asking the best looking girl out for a first date.  We’re putting our offering out there and inviting the top customers and partners to dance.