I have very little to add to my colleague Pierre Mitchell’s 3,000-word essay from earlier this week on what’s become of the analyst and media world (see: Toothless Bumbles and the Search for Objectivity in the Procurement Solutions Market). Pierre wrote about how bloggers are fitting into this world, as well as the role of firms that are on the periphery (e.g., Hackett and SIG).
In short: read the essay now!
Once you have, here are a few additional points to consider:
- When evaluating the credibility of a source, think like Google originally did with PageRank. How often is it cited? By whom? How often does it come up when researching a topic (beyond simply entering words into a search engine)? In what context is it cited?
- Don’t discount the bigger name IT research shops. Many I know have proclaimed the death of the big IT industry analyst market. That’s BS. Some of the best and most independent thinkers in this and related sectors still work at Forrester, Gartner, and IDC. I personally believe they’re often handicapped based on the protocols and models of their employers. Invest the time to get to know them.
- In seeking out sources to help get smart on a topic, place an emphasis on those that curate as much as on those that do primary analysis. With all of the information available today, quarterbacks are less valuable than the coaches on the sidelines who have to bring all the plays together and then analyze what worked and what didn’t. Most content is overrated. The best is not. And get on Twitter. It has a collection of “curators” whom you would never hear about otherwise.
- Consultants can be your best source of insight. But only the best consultants. The ones that are truly in the weeds on a topic. For example, we are currently in the process of jointly writing a series of analyses with a Big 5 firm on the various account treatments of receivables and payables financing tools (e.g., dynamic discounting). Rather than do this ourselves, we sought out a partner who knew their stuff. Expertise often lies with those with little or no public persona. So get out and find the experts who would never publicly self-identify themselves as such.
- In the conclusion of Pierre’s essay, he talks about emptying your teacup and searching for new sources – all the time. Stay fresh (and smart) by never getting too comfortable with sticking with just the information and sources that you have and use every day.
- If you don’t find an expert on a topic, become the published expert yourself. In the process of launching a highly focused new Spend Matters Network site, I’ve found myself collaborating with two individuals who would never look at being analysts as their day job and never would have considered it before we all came together (one runs a software company; the other is one of the true expert consultants in the market in question). Yet they are precisely the analysts of the future. Analyst by accident. Part-timers. And I suspect they’ll be more credible – and have greater reach – than all of the existing sources of information in their niche area once they have a platform to broadcast what they think and not just what they know.
And don’t forget to read Pierre’s essay as soon as you can put aside 15 minutes to take it all in.