Step number one: tell the world: “I am an industry analyst“
I realise this advice may seem trite, but I believe Richard McManus is on to something when he says: “I think I’m probably a good example of a blogger turned career industry analyst”.
There is no qualification or examination you take in order to become become an industry analyst.
So making a declaration is an important step in the right direction.
However, in order for that tag to be broadly accepted you need to establish a chain of trust (where tagging meets identity). Tag gardening is one approach towards networked authentication. If everybody in my community, and my interlinked communities, says we can trust her on a subject then we probably can…
How do others know you are who you claim to be?
The most obvious and at-first-glance powerful way to be tagged as an analyst is to be hired by a major analyst firm and have them give you the job title “industry analyst”. But, of course, its the market which will then decide whether you actually merit the tag. Markets as conversations. What are others saying about you? Did you do good work on your last project? Would your clients be upset if they didn’t have a chance to talk to you before the official product launch? And so on.
But in networked world where a bunch of people that never sit in the same room can build an operating system that can take on Microsoft, it becomes clear that top down “certification” has a valuable role, but only in as much as it reflects grassroots development and perceptions.
I am extremely proud of the reputation we have built up at RedMonk in three years. Tough, but fair, and insightful: those are values to live by. Those are the kind of words that make me happy when I hear them from a client, prospect, blog reader or anyone else for that matter.
But I owe my initial tag to Jonathan Eunice of Illuminata, who was the guy that first spotted my potential, and offered me a job as an industry analyst at his boutique firm in Nashua, NH. Up until that moment I was just a snotty reporter/then editor who knew a little too much about mainframe management tooling to be taken seriously as a journalist…
What makes an industry analyst? The industry does. Only the industry, the market, can truly apply the tag. We gain our credibility from the works we do and the people we interact with.
In the networked world definitions break down a bit, and the Gartner imprimatur becomes less, not more, important. After all, as with all major consulting firms the people doing the work aren’t the same as the people that built the reputation. Having said that, major firms in pretty much any sector have “credibility” by dint of sheer scale, whether or not the reputation is deserved. You think the industry analyst business has problems, James? Check out accounting - surely tax advisory and auditing are not the same thing. Conflicts of interest are by no means isolated to my sector.
Best of all have clients that pay you to be industry analyst. If you make money at it, chances are you’re already walking and squawking. References create credibility.
In summary, while I am not arguing that all you need to do to become an industry analyst is start advertising in yellow pages, I am arguing for a reduced mystique about the role.
I remember when I was a cub reporter I used to confuse my industry analyst sources with Google. These guys know everthing!
It was only after I actually became an industry analyst that I learned the trick. You tell the reporter you’re too busy at the time to help, but can call back in an hour or so, then head off to Google and refresh your memory about specific product names, competitive products and so on. Then call the reporter and show off your omniscience…
Industry analysts are only human. The usual on ramps to the job are working as vendor marketing executives, CIOs or IT managers, occasionally journalists, or graduate programs by larger firms.
I see no reason though why we shouldn’t see a lot more developers, sysops and architects doing the job well, especially if they offer great communications skills. The industry analyst business is decomposing, which is a good thing, and blogs are accelerating the process.
The most important element in the new analysis is collaboration, which underpins innovation and quality, and happens across organisational boundaries. Just like the patent filing process analysis is broken if it is a function of a single view of the world and single organisation. I am glad I work on the side of the change agents.
Great analysis emerges from dialogue.
I have often been asked: How Do I Become An Industry Analyst? Well… You’re it…