Is Your Analyst Firm Still Relevant in the Age of AI?
By Jim Lundy
Is Your Analyst Firm Still Relevant in the Age of AI?
The question of the month for July is an analyst’s knowledge when it comes to markets and in particular for AI. The term used is analyst relevancy. Just this week, it came up multiple times in calls.
In this blog, we are going to discuss it. The big thing is relevance and now the need to help enterprises with AI
Do Analysts Know Their Market?
In the truest sense of the word, clients pay research firms for access to analysts who are supposed to know their market and the technologies that are part of that market. The reality today is there are many firms out there that don not have the same level of coverage that they used to or in some cases, they never really had the in-depth imagine knowledge.
Several of the other analysts at Aragon Research and I used to work at a tier-one firm (Gartner). Aragon Research is now 12 years old and given our extensive body of work, we have been rated as tier-one by our clients. However, it takes hard work to stay up to date.
The challenge today is knowing a market, knowing the vendors that participate in that market, and having a deep understanding of the technologies that are being used to produce products and services that make that market.
Client Inquiry – Conveying Knowledge and Advice
Given the fact that today business leaders increasingly have strong knowledge of markets and technologies that are part of that market, there is no place for analysts to hide if they do notknow their stuff.
A great example is our coverage of sales enablement. We started to cover sales enablement in 2015 because of continued demand from our client base.
In retrospect, it was a good move because it foreshadowed the trend of business buyers making their own technology decisions. The reason why people trust us to discuss sales and sales enablement, as well as marketing, is because we have tremendous experience in sales and marketing.
What Did A Client Say About Aragon Research?
So the comment that a firm made to us this week about the sales enablement market was “We have had a better discussion with you in the last 45 minutes than we have had with all the other firms we have talked with. You know this market and you know it well.”
Aragon Research’s Investment into AI Coverage When It Was Less Popular
Now with the advent of multiple flavors of artificial intelligence, many research firms are making bold claims about their knowledge of AI when it just is not true.
On top of that, it’s very hard to advise enterprises about complex topics such as AI when your firm has barely covered it in the past.
Does Your Analyst Know AI?
Analysts can run but they cannot hide when it comes to AI. Since OpenAI announced ChatGPT 3.5, there has been a flurry of analysts at multiple firms that now are suddenly AI experts. I’m sure many of them didn’t write about content AI back in 2017 as Aragon Research did. I’m also sure that many of them weren’t writing about generative AI in March 2022, which was nine months before OpenAI announced their new platform.
I would go further and say it is not just about knowing AI, but it is about knowing AI in the context of the applications you are looking at. My firm belief today is that it is not enough to get briefings from vendors and then tell clients about what you heard. Our take is you need to use products particularly as markets evolve and include AI.
Using and Developing with AI
We can certainly debate this at Aragon Research. We have been using an AI-based CRM platform for three years. In the spirit of full disclosure, we have Einstein Sales Cloud from Salesforce and we decided to purchase it after nine years of being a Salesforce shop. Since we have been using it for three years we have extensive knowledge of how AI works in a sales environment. I can pretty much guarantee that no other research firm has invested in their analysts by giving them access to products and services that are AI-based
On top of that when it comes to conversational AI, it’s also hard to talk about building bots if you have never used a tool. Aragon Research invested in our people and we had a contest between research and marketing to build a chatbot.
We learned a lot and in particular, learned vast differences in some of the ways that chatbots can be developed. Again this is how we can help clients by having a deep understanding of these emerging areas such as generative AI, content AI, and conversational AI.
How to Select a Research Firm: Do Your Homework
The key thing that enterprises need to realize is to understand their needs for help when it comes to technology strategy and how to put the strategy of work in the form of going to market. The excitement factor needs to be separated from the reality of the ability of the analyst to provide real advice that can help you move forward faster.
It is very important to understand if the research firm you want to work with has lead analysts or junior analysts and how much access you will get to the lead analysts.
Quality of Research Reports
Another key metric is to look at the research report examples and compare quality across the board. There is a vast difference in the quality of analysis and overall quality of reports and all you have to do is get your hands on a few of them and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Influencer vs Analyst
It’s also important to understand if the firm you want to work with is just a set of influencers that spent all of their time on social media. Here is a test – look at the research firms’ social media presence vs the individual analysts. If the firm is actually doing calls with real clients, they won’t have that much time to be on social media all the time.
Enterprises need to do their homework when it comes to selecting a research firm that can help them. Relevancy and market understanding are critical in the era of AI. Asking questions about whether you’ll have access to the lead analyst that you did the sales call is important due diligence. The bottom line is that a few number of Tier 1 firms go above and beyond the call of duty because they pride themselves in their work and their mission is to help their clients.
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