Most analyst firms focus on one or more market segment, such as information technology, telecommunications, energy, health care, and aerospace. However, many analysts are diversifying their coverage areas in keeping with technological convergence and media convergence. Still others are aligning their specialization based on the convergence of technology with business processes.
Well-known analyst firms using "traditional" business models include AMR Research, ARC Advisory Group, Basex, Burton Group, Butler Group, Canalys, Datamonitor, Enterprise Management Associates, Forrester Research, Dittberner Associates, Evaluator Group, Inc. EGI , Frost & Sullivan, Gartner, IBISWorld, IDC, JupiterKagan, Ovum Ltd, Springboard Research, Strategy Analytics, Verdict Research, Current Analysis, Mercator Advisory Group, and Yankee Group.
Several firms are designing new analyst business models based on contemporary technologies, open source licensing concepts, loosely federated analysts, and/or a more radical and visible emphasis on offshoring. Notable examples of analyst firms creating models based on social media such as Canada's ConneKted Minds and "open research and analysis" include RedMonk, Macehiter Ward-Dutton, Quocirca, ResearchFarm and Freeform Dynamics, all based in or having offices in the United Kingdom, and US-based Wikibon, an open source project. Meanwhile, Singapore-based Springboard Research exemplifies progressive use of offshoring research and Experton and Experture exemplify loose federations of independent analysts.
Regardless of specialization, industry analysts principally offer independent advice and research to four groups of customers:
Research: Analysts survey and interview technology providers and their key supply chain partners, technology buyers and users, financial investors, channel partners. Analysts also track and cross-reference trusted information sources. These sources can span economic research, equity investment research, media, academia, newsgroups, user associations, legislation, and other third party sources as appropriate for their market and focus.
At most firms, analysts set research agendas, design surveys and analyze data, but subcontract the actual field work to third party market research organizations. Increasingly, the analyst firms or their subcontractors use online survey tools and offshoring to reduce research costs and turnaround time. In a few cases, analyst firms are mining new sources of information, such as consumer cell phone bills and RFID-enabled point of sale data.
Deliverables: Client briefings/consultation, publishing, public speaking, media relations, and industry networking are part of the daily routine for most analysts.
Sales: Analysts generally perform at least passive sales support for their firms, such as contributing to sales meetings, contracts, project profitability, or lead generation programs.
Supply-side relations: Typically, technology providers leverage the analyst research agenda to build trusted business-to-business and person-to-person relationships with industry analysts. This is often achieved through specialized marketing and PR programs called industry analyst relations or analyst relations. This function not only facilitates effective two-way communications between the companies, but can also control spending on industry analyst research and advisory services.
It has become a common practice for analyst firms to assign a central "vendor relations" contact within their organization, to coordinate briefing, reprint and similar requests from vendors.
Most analyst firms require above-average written and oral communication skills.
Other common objections include emphasis on qualitative vs. quantitative research, transparency with regards to research methodology and survey sampling, shallow vs. indepth or hands-on technology expertise , and applicability of research services to technology and business decisions.