Is Aberdeen an Analyst Firm Anymore?

Over the years, Aberdeen has put out some great research (and analysis) in the Spend Management world. But I fear that of late, the quality of analysis is not where it used to be -- despite the quantity of it -- as witnessed by briefs like this on the E-Sourcing space. In looking at this recent paper on the direction of the E-Sourcing market, I learned nothing that I've not already read about on other blogs in the sector (e.g., Sourcing Innovation, Supply Excellence, E-Sourcing Forum).

Perhaps this is why Aberdeen's leadership has said a number of disparaging things about blogs of late behind the scenes (according to a number of sources I have). This is a shame, as I believe that blogs and analyst research is complementary. Witness, for example, how AMR and Spend Matters have worked hand-in-hand as the primary analyst / media outlets to drive interest in supply risk management, a topic that should be on the minds of all procurement and operations executives.

Alas, I would suspect that Aberdeen will continue to move even further away from providing insight and analysis in its writing, focusing instead on the survey, benchmarking and KPI work that fit in so well with the lead generation activities of its parent company. But if this becomes the case, why not offshore all the survey work in the first place, getting rid of the "analyst" component of what they offer? Well, that might make it hard to host the "CPO's Agenda," a new material source of revenue for the firm.

Hmmm ... maybe on second thought that might not be such a big deal after all (especially if you dig into the demographics of the event). After all, if you look at Aberdeen's own survey data which much of the research for that event is based on, it might as well be called the Manager's or Director's Agenda (since the majority of Aberdeen's research respondents and participants fall into those demographic buckets).

Note: This post is not meant as a knock on either Vance Checketts or Andrew Bartoloni, two very talented and highly ethical individuals who run Aberdeen's Supply Management practice (and who have put out some other solid research when given the opportunity). Rather, it is an indictment of the direction the firm leadership is taking Aberdeen in (which emphasizes quantity over quality and data over experienced analysis). And don't give me the growth argument to justify Aberdeen's value. Revenues, after all, are a trailing indicator of reality, especially when they're provider-based. So where does this all lead? In my book, Aberdeen is not an analyst firm anymore -- they're a lead generation shop that happens to be in the research business as a means to an end (with a number of exceptional talented experts -- such as Jim Brown -- who are underappreciated by firm leadership).

Jason Busch

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