Definitions

Industry analyst

Industry analyst

An industry analyst performs primary and secondary market research within a particular segment of an industry such as information technology or telecommunications to determine accurate market descriptions, market trends, forecasts and models. Typically, analysts specialize in a single industry, researching the broad development of the market rather than focusing on equities, investments, or financial opportunities as a financial analyst would.

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.

Industry analyst business

There is a community of more than 740 analyst firms around the world Research and advisory staffs at these companies range from one person up to several hundred.

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.

Roles and deliverables

Industry analysts deliver a combination of market research, competitive intelligence, and management consulting to their clients. Analyst firms offer independent advice and research to businesses that are weighing up potential purchases and deployment strategies, public sector organisations, and suppliers. They deliver both research and advisory through their publications, events, private meetings, and/or custom research/consulting projects.

Regardless of specialization, industry analysts principally offer independent advice and research to four groups of customers:

  • To businesses that use, or invest capital in, technology-based products and services
  • To public sector organisations that buy from, regulate or support technology businesses
  • The manufacturers, developers, providers and investors of technology-driven products and services
  • The 'channel' companies that resell or combine these solutions, such as mobile network operators, value-added resellers, and content aggregators

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.

Skills

Companies participating in the industry analyst profession have not adopted universal standards for employee education, skills, or professional conduct. Some firms adhere to standards set by competitive intelligence, market research or other professional associations. Overall, this situation results in competitive differentiation among analyst firms.

Most analyst firms require above-average written and oral communication skills.

Integrity and transparency issues

Analyst objectivity and accuracy has come under some level of criticism Much of the criticism is focused on the business relationship between analysts and technology providers. In short, analysts tend to rely heavily on revenues from the technology providers they cover (e.g., Darwin magazine, March 2001).

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.

See also

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