Analyst industry ethics

I’ve just come across a paper by Joe Clabby (Clabby Analytics) talking about advocacy and objectivity in the analyst business (what InformationSpan calls Insight Services). It’s worth reading to get you thinking about how you use insight services, and what they’re doing.

Joe’s a researcher (as I am) and he espouses a solid research-based methodology. He expects insight services analysts to base their positions on actual research not just “feel”. He’s comfortable that analysts take a position on a market place: the best of these are hands-on researched, like Forrester’s Wave and similar tools, and I agree with him. After nearly 15 years as a service user, I know that enterprises want help and actionable support in making actual decisions, not just the raw data and an invitation to “make up you own mind”.

However – I think he’s over-optimistic in expecting technology press to be accurate and objective, over against an analyst. A reporter is going to be on one assignment one week, and another the next. They may have an area of specialisation, but a good analyst from one of the larger firms, or a niche specialist, will outdo them. How often have you read a trade press report about something you actually know about, and agreed with everything they say? Not often, I assume! which is by no means to question their professionalism, only to say that with deadlines and limited resources they will mostly get only part of the truth. Sure, I use the news sources; but I treat them with caution. Especially today, which is April 1st, but that’s by the by!

I picked the Forrester Wave as a prime example because, unlike some competitors, Forrester gives access to the raw data so that a client can re-balance the scores to meet their own specific environment. And that is another thing which I expect from a good analyst: the ability to take their in-depth research-based knowledge and apply it to my particular concerns: the company’s business aims and culture, the “how we do IT”, the CIO’s top six issues, and so on. In other words, reading the research report isn’t the end, it’s the beginning of the conversation.

Joe – thanks for starting this debate. Let’s keep it going!


IT Analyst Ethics: Advocacy vs. Objectivity Clabby Analytics, Jan 2008
Waves and Vendor Comparisons from Forrester Research

Links are provided in good faith, but InformationSpan does not take responsibility for the content of linked third party sites. Forrester Wave is a trade mark.<

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