Continuing the Bullying of Analysts Issue

Today I read a SageCircle post about threatening analysts by cancelling business, which seems like a variety of bullying and certainly an abuse. I discussed analyst abuse previously, a situation that involved bullying an analyst. I looked at the situation as one that hampered both the analyst/vendor relationship and quality of communications. SageCircle offers the following smartness.

“First, it does not make business sense for an analyst at a major firm to change research that displeases a vendor, even one that is a client. If an analyst developed a reputation for being that malleable they would soon have no clients as what they sell in part is objectivity and independence.”

I completely agree with this statement. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to show vendors that they’re not helping their cause when they try to undermine the objectivity of the analyst’s perspective. Occasionally a software vendor does try to unseat this balance–I’ve felt the implicit if not sometimes explicit threat of cancelled business. TEC based its model on trying to be an “impartial advocate for the end user” which is why our company has an audience that software vendors want to be in front of. That objectivity and independence is the wellspring of the audience the vendor seeks.

I tend to agree with most of the SageCircle points except I’m uneasy with the following.

“…analysts are not responsible for contract value so they don’t care if a vendor client cancels. Yes, the sales rep whose year just went down the drain will care, but the analyst just shrugs.”

But really, A cavalier attitude toward the work produced is unlikely to do anyone much good. Although the analyst may not be the one directly making the sale (in my company’s case we try to maintain a sort of church/state separation), all employees of a company do need to pull together in their work–after all the analyst’s job is every bit as much on the line as the salesperson’s. Does this imply that no analyst can be entirely objective? Well entire objectivity is a full topic in itself and covers a lot more ground than just where the money comes from.

So where am I going with that comment? Look, how could an analyst do his or her job well if s/he wasn’t attentive to a vendor’s concerns (even if they do involve threats or bullying)? There may be some underlying issue that has not been well understood or another sort of misunderstanding. The analyst, conscientious toward his or her labours, ought to critically consider these possibilities rather than shrug. I’d argue that the analyst ought to have the intellectual capacity to separate the threat from the issues so that s/he can rise above a vendors’ unsatisfactory communication skills (which, in the end, is all that a threat boils down to) in order to deal with the issue at hand.

As for the rest of the SageCircle post, it continues with a series of nicely-made other points on the topic of cancelled-business threats–I tend to agree with those and won’t comment further here. Software vendors, it’s worth a read!