In our post on Friday that asked How relevant is the Analyst Firm?, we noted that, these days, I’m hearing far too often from new companies or smaller companies that weren’t acquired in the M&A mania that their [marketing] strategy is to “get on Analyst Firm Map XYZ” or “get in front of the big analyst firms as fast as possible and, hopefully get written up“.
And this scares me because,
1) as pointed out in our last post, they think “the firm” is the answer, when, in fact, it’s not the firm but the analyst because “the firm” will only get it right IF the analyst gets it right (and, if you get a junior analyst, you may find that they over-promote a competitor with great marketing and misleading AI claims but limited capability over a unique solution you offer that, due to the subtlety of the power at the solution core, the analyst isn’t able to grasp what he’s unable to see)
2) for an analyst to get it right, that analyst needs, at least, a dozen skill sets that, combined, require
a) an education that sometimes goes beyond an average PhD and includes
i) the equivalent of a bachelor’s in mathematics
ii) the equivalent of a bachelor’s in computer science or engineering
iii) the equivalent of a Master’s in Procurement or Supply Chain or
Advanced Operations Management (a Bachelor’s in business ain’t enough)
b) at least a decade of experience in the space to understand the breadth of technology, industries, and current capabilities
c) exceptional analytical skills (and questioning skills)
d) great writing skills (in a day where it seems no one can write anything without AI, but AI is only as good as the content sources fed into it, and those raw sources have to come from … that’s right … a human!!!)
3) the number of senior analysts we’ve had with the right education and experience has always been few and far between (with even the biggest firms never having more senior analysts in our space than you can count on the fingers of one hand at any one time), but with the departures / retirements of the majority of the best analysts in our space from Gartner, Forrester, and Hackett*2 over the last few years, and almost half of the senior analysts from Spend Matters …
that’s not leaving many senior analysts, or viable analyst firms, left, and, at least in the doctor‘s view, all of the firms except Spend Matters have been gutted*3 in our space at least once over the last few years, and, given the breadth and depth of requirements to be a good analyst, where’s the next generation of senior analysts going to come from?
[Unless another visionary in our space with a strong tech background, a couple of decades of domain experience, and great analytical and writing skills is willing to jump the fence to the analyst side, we’re not going to be getting many new senior analysts that we can rely on. They’re not at other analyst firms (outside our space), they’re not at consultancies, and the reality is that there’s only a handful of visionaries left that didn’t make their millions and retire already or who are still thrilled by the space and want to stay in it as long as possible.]
It wouldn’t be unrealistic to say that Bertrand Maltaverne could be the last great analyst in our space.
In other words, if you want to be sure you’re getting the right coverage, review, or feedback, you need to STOP assuming the analyst firm is the answer and start looking at the analyst inside, or outside, that firm (and further remember that many of the senior analysts who are still in the game are on our own for various reasons), find the right analyst for you, and make sure you get in front of that analyst (or don’t bother with the firm at all). And you need to further realize that it’s not possible for every analyst to be an expert in every technology in the Source to Pay space. You need the right review and guidance from the right senior analyst, or the end result is that it will be worse than no review and guidance at all.
*2 but, in fairness, we will point out that Gartner and Forrester have been aggressively working on replacing them, although this has often required poaching from other peer firms, so the number of senior analysts hasn’t increased by much 🙁
*3 one has to remember that, in addition to vendor poaching, there was M&A in the analyst space too, and this wasn’t always for the better! Especially when the acquirer worked to a beat or a model that was different then the acquired firm that itself was only successful because it was different and had the right people who worked well under their own unique beat or model.