Industry Poll - Independent Analysts Holding Their Own

I don't cite polls very often and I don't conduct my own polls as a matter of course, but this one caught my eye the other day. It was put together by Paul Greenberg, a well regarded thought leader in the CRM space. The poll was asking which enterprise analysts/firms people trust the most. Initially, the poll ran last week on Linked In, but then it was moved to his column page on ZD Net, where it could reach a wider audience. That turned out to be true, as the LI poll tallied 46 responses, while the current location has picked up 149 votes as of this writing. I could have run this late last week, but wanted to wait for the long weekend to pass to help boost the tally.

Anyhow, based on 149 votes, it's a pretty interesting pastiche of replies. No single analyst firm dominates, and it was great to see that the broad category "Independent Analysts" fared better than most everyone else, with only Gartner coming out a little bit ahead. Here are the top vote-getters...

Gartner 15%
Indies 13%
Forrester 10%
Bloggers 10%

Interestingly, the biggest response category was none of these - 18% said "I don't trust analysts". Well, fair enough - can't please everybody. Otherwise, here are the big takeaways for me....

- No surprise seeing Gartner at the top - but only 15% - sure is a fragmented market.

- Indies were was identified by name, but as a category, they definitely have a following, and hold their own against pretty much everyone else out there. I do my share of consulting in the enterprise space, so this is good news for people like me.

- Aside from Forrester, the other big name analyst firms rated much lower - only 3% for IDC and 1% each for Yankee, Aberdeen and my alma mater, Frost & Sullivan

- Institutional analysts rated 0%, which I found kind of scary. No doubt there would be some inherent distrust there, but I'll vouch first-hand that most of the research I see from this space is pretty good. That was a surprising finding for me.

- Very interesting to see Bloggers at 10%, and Journalists only at 1%.

This last point touches on all kinds of issues around category definition and the research methodology for this poll, but it's clear to me that bloggers are viewed as a credible source, whereas the mainstream media is not. No surprise there, but you have view all of this with a grain of salt since bloggers are such an amorphous bunch. Journalists are bloggers, vendors are bloggers, analysts are bloggers, etc. Very hard to really tell which is which, but at least the poll tells us which brands are well regarded.

Regardless, I find it disappointing that Journalists are held in such low regard, especially if you follow my thinking about blogging vs. journalism. We all know top drawer journalists out there, but they seem to be fighting a losing battle these days. As much as I like blogging, I DO NOT want to see a world where blogs become the preferred source of authority at the expense of journalism and their underlying principals that bloggers are not beholden to.

Crowdsourcing will probably win out in the end, but it sure places all the onus on readers to decide who to trust. No doubt bloggers usually have the best expertise, but until you know them on an individual basis, you don't know what their agenda is, and that takes work.

Reading the various comments on both polls - LI and ZD Net - I echo the thought that it really comes down to the individual at the end of the day. All these firms have really good enterprise analysts, and some not-so-good. I guess the firms that rate the highest just have more of the former. Setting aside the relatively small sample of this poll, this would be a very different exercise if the poll asked about which specific analysts they trust. At this level it's really about subject matter expertise, and to some extent, fame/general reputation, but that would add more clarity to the topic. It's great to see Bloggers rating so highly as a category/source, but that doesn't tell you much without knowing who these bloggers are. I suspect many will be with analyst firms, but many will be from other spaces this poll wouldn't otherwise capture.

I'll stop now. The market researcher in me has an endless fascination with this type of research, but I have to get back to work. You can review the top level results along with the comments on Paul's CRM blog page, and if you want to comment further, I'm sure he'd be happy to hear from you. I'm just happy to see the results, and will take it as further validation that the voice of independent analysts is still valued out there.