Managing AR Risk: When a New Analyst Covers Your Segment – Part One

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Like any other profession, industry analysts move jobs. Sometimes they take on a new role within their current firm covering a new segment, and sometimes they leave for another firm entirely. They might also be completely new to the analyst role, having left an in-house or vendor side role.

For analyst relations (AR) teams, the arrival of a new analyst can be an unsettling experience – especially if said team had a strong and familiar relationship with their predecessor. If the analyst is going to be the new lead on a Gartner Magic Quadrant – which will have a strong impact on sales and market perceptions – the stakes can be very high indeed.

There are some typical patterns that emerge in this scenario. Much of the new analyst’s net impact will depend on factors like: how the analyst is sizing up the segment, their seniority within the firm, their personality, and (of course) the nature of their relationships with the vendors in the market. How AR assesses and responds to the new analyst will be critical.

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Here are some persona examples, based on our experiences:

  • The ‘Open Minded’ Rookie – This analyst is new to the profession and is unlikely to quickly change the firm’s analysis of the segment. They may well have an interim period while they orientate themselves on the behaviors of the various vendors. In a complex, fast moving segment the ‘watch and learn’ phase will be longer as they get up to speed on both the market’s back history and current thinking. Usually they are relatively open-minded and can be highly agnostic on how the segment is evolving. Typically they are shadowed by an older, more experienced analyst who provides context and guidance. The rookie analyst probably won’t be in charge of a major vendor landscape report right out of the gate. After a few years – and after their share of tours with vendors in the trenches – that may well change. However, if the firm is losing analysts hand over fist, they may handle more sensitive reports earlier than expected.
  • The ‘Bold’ Disruptor – Typically this is an analyst who’s deliberately looking to shake up perceptions of the space. This is either because they’re looking to make a name for themselves in this new area, or because they genuinely believe that the space is craving fresh insight. This persona can be refreshing in a slower moving segment that’s had the same analysts covering it for a long time. However, they can also be very dangerous to an established vendor if the segment is fast moving, complex and highly disputed. This goes doubly if they’re quickly taking over a Magic Quadrant early on in their new role. This analyst is likely to be favorable to vendors who they see as validating their philosophy on the segment. This is even more true if the vendor’s customer references validate the analyst’s theory.
  • The ‘Continuity Rules’ Veteran – An already established analyst who believes their predecessor pretty much had the right take on the segment’s evolution. Expect similar perspectives and research to what’s come before, with a few minor personality quirks thrown in. This type of analyst is most likely to be encountered if they’ve been co-authoring research notes alongside their predecessor. Clearly, they have no interest in nit-picking their previous interpretations. They may have taken over the role to support an overstretched analyst team.

What do you think? Are there other analyst personas you’ve encountered? In part two of this blog series we’ll give some guidance on how you can best handle these different personas in practice.