April 4, 2009

Merv Adrian’s threads on analyst blogging

Merv Adrian offers two well-commented posts on analyst blogging.  I think the whole thing was (probably not intentionally) framed in terms of large-firm analysts, leading to a lot of Golly gee whiz! Blogs aren’t the same as subscription analyst reports. Harm can occur when people forget this! And that led to various calls for things like industry-wide codes of how analysts should and shouldn’t write, etc.  (Merv himself was the lead offender on that one.)

Grrr!! Any suggestion that there’s one right way to communicate rubs me the wrong way.  Indeed, I’ve been arguing that there’s an evolving information ecosystem that will ever more depend upon there being healthy occupants of many different niches.  Most particularly — and few vendors have yet wrapped their minds about this — it will increasingly be the case that primary news sources are analysts with NDA obligations. And yes — every once in a while it is important to be the one who breaks the story.

I don’t even like the idea that there be rules about fact-checking, error-correction and the like, for a couple of reasons.  First, that kind of thing can lead minimum standards to also be regarded as sufficient care. Second, such things can easily be framed in a way that sets up vendors as arbiters of who does a “proper” job of writing about them and, even worse, who will be given enough information to be able to write about them.

Oracle once evaded my requests for information about app servers for 18 months and then called me “unprofessional” for writing about Oracle’s app server without a recent briefing.  Unsurprisingly, I was eventually proved right.

But all my caveats notwithstanding, I highly recommend that pair of posts to at least be skimmed through.

Comments

4 Responses to “Merv Adrian’s threads on analyst blogging”

  1. Merv Adrian on April 4th, 2009 7:01 pm

    Great comments, Curt, and I confess to being guilty of starting with “large firm” analyst bloggers as the basis – that’s the issue that catalyzed the discussion. As those folks have (finally) begun to enter the world outside their walled garden – me included – some important things have occasionally fallen away.

    The “minimum standards” you refer to (and I agree they are not by themselves “sufficient care”), such as at least attempting to connect with a covered vendor for comment, and the need to have attributable, verified facts, do to me represent necessities, not options.

    For my part, I’ve also experienced stonewalling or outright deception from people working for vendors. And I have no problem with calling it out. I suspect “independents” have more degrees of freedom to do so than big firm analysts believe they have. The new channels give us room to do it and make a lot of noise.

    Like you, I reject the notion that there is one way to communicate. In fact, it’s precisely that dimension that analysts and AR need to get right: clear, unambiguous exchanges of information, which will happen best when relationships are built and maintained based on trust. My guess is that it will remain aspirational, and we’ll all have to continue to call them as we see them (once we have our facts straight.)

    Thanks for joining in. Your work is a marquee example for those who don’t know that analysts outside those big firms offer exceptional, focused insights.

  2. Curt Monash on April 4th, 2009 7:21 pm

    Merv,

    Thanks for the quick and thoughtful comment. And of course for the lavish praise as well!

    One thing: Blogs as ongoing streams of commentary. I do not think it is necessary for every post to be vetted by every vendor it touches on.

  3. Merv Adrian on April 4th, 2009 8:01 pm

    Agree. Analysts are smart enought to know when a post ought to be checked on. Not sure of facts? Making a very negative material assertion? Worth an offer of conversation. That doesn’t mean prior restraint. Just a courtesy, as a judgement call.

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