Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

New media analysts are slow to embrace new media

Posted by Tom Foremski - April 26, 2006

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

Wednesday morning I took part in a PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) teleconference organized by Barbara French of the head of Tekrati, which tracks industry analyst firms. On the panel with me was David Schatsky, president of JupiterKagan--the new company recently formed when KaganResearch acquired JupiterResearch.

The topic was: The Changing Influence Of High Tech Analysts in a New Media Age and we discussed some of the blurring distinctions between analyst, journalist, and industry bloggers. Ms French shared some interesting statistics: only about 5 per cent of the analyst community are engaged in blogging out of more than 4,000 analysts.

The number of analysts blogging seems very low to me and indicative that the analyst community does not appreciate the value of publishing their own blogs. I'm sure that will change over time, but for now, Ms French says that the number of blogs is steady although there is some churn as new blogs replace ones that have become dormant.

I'm surprised that more analysts are not blogging because it is by far the best way to establish your thought leadership and expertise. And I think that the analyst community does not yet understand this fact: blogging is by far and away the most honest form of self-promotion because if you can't walk the walk, talk the talk then it will be very readily apparent.

So is it that many analysts are afraid of being "found out" as being less expert than they really are?

Mr Schatsky has been a strong advocate of blogging within JupiterKagan and all analysts are encouraged to blog although only about two dozen or so do it on a regular basis. Mr Schatsky's blog can be found here: http://weblogs.jupiterresearch.com/analysts/schatsky/

No comment

Ms French discovered that most of the analyst blog sites do not allow readers to publish comments, or accept trackbacks. And Mr Schatsky's blog is the same, no comments or trackbacks. Feedback is by email only.

Is it a blog if there is no comments or trackback? I would argue it is not a blog it is an online publication but it is not a blog. And it misses the whole point of the value of a blog. And this is a strange position from JupiterKagan, an analyst firm that tracks the new media(!)

Mr Schatsky argues that he does not want to provide a platform for others. And that there would be considerable resources required to moderate comments and trackbacks on what is a free resource.

However, not enabling any form of visible feedback is missing half the value of online publishing, imho. I get very frustrated if I read something and I am not allowed to leave a comment or a trackback. I understand that JupiterKagan does not want to publish negative comments from the trolls but this continues to promote an attitude of "we are the experts and you are the consumers and we don't care to engage with you in an online forum."

I moderate comments but I find I never get any trolls or negative comments and the only time I delete a comment is when it is clearly spam or adds nothing to a topic.

The analyst firms seem to be scared of exposing themselves online and that makes me wonder if they truly are expert in their fields. Otherwise, they would engage in public forums with other thought leaders and they wouldn't be afraid of doing it on their own blogs.

An additional reason is most probably the amount of time it takes to be engaged in blogging, blog comments, and conversations on other blogs. Analysts bill by the hour and they cannot bill for their "blogging." And that is why so few analysts blog or engage in blogging--they don't have the time to devote to what they consider a "free resource."

Again, I think this is a mistaken approach and that mistake will be made readily apparent by the success of those analysts that do take their blogging seriously. Charlene Li, Forrester's top Internet analyst is a great example of an analyst that has used her blog to bring in over $1m of new business to Forrester, and also boost her own standing within her community.

Sharing the platform

However, Ms Li's success brings up another core issue for the analyst firms: do you let your analysts use the analyst firm platform to boost their individual reputations at the risk of those analysts eventually heading off to become independent and set up competing organisations?

This is an issue that many companies face, how do they encourage their staff to blog without also building their personal brands to such an extent that their staff become more visible than the company?

It all comes down to sharing the media brand both personal, and the company brand. And successful bloggers, be they analysts or others within an organizations, will have to be valued higher than others. Robert Scoble, for example, is Microsoft's top blogger, and in the blogosphere he is easily Microsoft's second most famous employee.

Yet Mr Scoble receives a salary of about $100k per year, something which he has complained about because he knows how much value his blogging has created for MSFT. But does MSFT recognize the value of Mr Scoble? It would appear not and MSFT risks losing Mr Scoble to a competitor.

Blogging is the next big thing

One common aspect between the mainstream analysts and the mainstream media is that both communities have been among the last to understand what blogging is all about. I know, because I was in the same position. When I was working at the Financial Times, the general view was similar to that at other newspapers, we viewed blogging as a fad, a CB radio of sorts. After all, it is "just" online publishing.

It wasn't until I jumped into becoming a full time journalist blogger nearly two years ago that I realized there is no "just" about blogging. It is so much more than just online publishing and it represents a class of media technologies that will dramatically change our entire society.

We now have a new Internet, it is an Internet 2.0, not web 2.0. We can now publish to the outer reaches of the internet and we can now publish back from the outer reaches of the internet--we have a two-way flow and that is truly game changing/disrupting for every organizations.

Media is where we see this game changing/disruptive effect most clearly. But in reality, the disruption is happening in every company because every company is a media company to some degree.

Every company, whether it is a steel producer or a chip maker tells and publishes stories to itself, to its customers, to its potential hires. Those stories have to be compelling and truthful and they should use the media technologies that we have available, to maximize their reach and effect.

Yes, media companies have to change to become technology-enabled media companies. And that is a big challenge. But if you accept my point that every company, to some degree is a media company, then every company faces the challenge of adapting to, and incorporating the new media technologies.

This has become a very important competitive factor. And I can guarantee that those companies that understand this, will move ahead of rivals that don't.

By the time the rivals figure things out, it might be too late. And it is already to late for some...

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