A gentleman named Venky Ramachandran (“I design context for the Future of Work”) wrote a LinkedIn post recently that made it easy enough to imagine he’ll soon be designing the context for his the Future of his own Work, since he had the courage (or the naiveté) to challenge the status quo of the analyst community and its relationships with its customers on both sides of the carrier/vendor fence (once characterized by a client as “a convenient little ruse”).
Beginning with the question, “Will Gartner go the way of the dinosaur?” Venky points out the flaw in the analysts’ business model, the flaw that seems, inexplicably, to not be fatal:
They operate as a trusted intermediary who is deeply knowledgeable about the underlying workings in both sides of the table … They sell research reports, offer consulting services and run technology events … they make no bones of the fact that their research is based on opinion, which could easily be biased by the client relationships they share with the vendors who are being researched and evaluated … The relationship is deeply incestuous to the point of being unethical.
After that, Venky stops pulling punches, which should give you an idea of the young man’s courage — or his professional death wish. Either way, he’s not wrong. To wit: This is an exact recounting of a conversation I had with an analyst (name withheld):
Analyst: Mark, would any of your clients be interested in buying our latest report?
Yours Truly: What’s it about?
Analyst: Policy administration vendors.
Yours Truly: Who did the research?
Analyst: I did it, with the help of a research assistant.
Yours Truly: What was your method?
Analyst: We went through the last three years of trade publications.
Yours Truly: So, if my clients read those same publications for the last three years, they’d know as much as you do?
Analyst: Well … yeah.
Yours Truly: What’s the going rate?
Yours Truly: They’re not interested.
As easy as it is to be cynical about that, I fight the urge. I do. And I often wonder if I’m imagining things or being too tough on the analyst community. Maybe I’ve been around the insurance industry too long and familiarity has, indeed, bred contempt. Then I see something like this: “HOW INSURITY’S ACQUISITION OF VALEN COULD CREATE A VIRTUOUS ANALYTICS CIRCLE“, and I wonder:
- Will Duck Creek’s acquisition of Yodil create a virtuous analytics circle?
- How about Guidewire’s acquisition of EagleEye?
- If not, why not?
- If we followed the money, where would it lead?
- Does anyone in the industry even wonder?
- If not, why not?
I don’t know the answers to those questions any more than I know why the addicted gamblers of the insurance industry keep going back to the fixed poker game of the analyst community. But if you see Venky on the way to his next gig, tell him I admire him.
His post is a 2,020-word paraphrase of W.C. Fields’ admonition: “Never give a sucker an even break or smarten up a chump.”
* Finley Peter Dunne in Mr. Dooley’s Philosophy.
Photo by tookapic, courtesy of pixabay.com.