Over at Sourcing Innovation, Michael Lamoureux has continued and expanded the debate about the differences between analysts and bloggers that I started on these virtual pages earlier in the month. I won't go into the details of his post -- read them if you wish -- but Michael takes a strong stand against analysts who, in his view, are too high level from a technology perspective. According to Michael, an analyst "should know the basics of how software works, how it is built, what good architectures, standards, and protocols are, and why." Personally, while I believe that analysts should have a deeper understanding than most when it comes to analyzing emerging technologies and looking at objective functional comparisons between solutions -- not influenced by vendor PowerPoints, but influenced by their personal experience and perceptions -- I disagree that getting down into the architecture and code level is necessary. And certainly a good analyst should not need the prerequisite capabilities of being able "to build an Excel-like spreadsheet tool in a reasonably modern computing language," as Michael suggests.
If those are Michael's qualifications for analyzing software, then I've been knocked out of the running for more than fifteen years (the last time I coded). But that's not the important point here. What matters is that I could just as easily criticized Michael -- and even myself -- for not having an in-depth understanding of what it's like to be a practitioner working for a company rather than a consulting firm. In the industry analyst world, I think one of the reasons why the perspectives of Mickey North Rizza and Debbie Wilson are worth hearing is specifically because they've worked as practitioners in the past. Neither Michael nor I can claim a similar experience on our resumes.
Granted, I have some sourcing experience under my belt -- and I continue to contribute to global sourcing projects on occasion -- but I'm not an expert in the politics of maneuvering around or within an organization. I also know Michael has worked with clients in the past as a solution provider, but it's not the same as working for or managing a procurement organization. In other words, I could disqualify the two of us from dishing out words of advice just as easily as Michael dismisses the credibility of the analysts. But I believe there's a place for all of us, and there's no need to go there.
Personally, I view myself as a career advisor, strategist, and columnist turned blogger. That's it. I would not pretend to be an industry analyst, but I certainly respect their role in the ecosystem, especially considering the one-on-one advice they give their clients. As to their written words -- with the exception of longer reports -- it's my view that they will become increasingly marginalized as more and more experts and pundits become bloggers and gain a voice in the Spend Management ecosystem. In addition, as is known by one large software enterprise who has invested significantly in blogger relations, it's the bloggers who will own the influence game in the middle market when it comes to technology and solution selection, largely because very few of these types of organizations have industry analyst relationships or contracts.