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Are you a long term unemployed professional in this crummy economy and need a way to make yourself relevant again?  Maybe you just feel that you need to improve your personal brand, or actually want the flexibility of running your own practice.

Through my experience as a frequent observer, customer, and consumer of content from  IT industry analysts, I have come up with a step by step list of how anyone can become an analyst in any industry.  In fact, I came up with the idea for this blog while counseling an extremely intelligent long term unemployed friend about how to market themselves.  Here is my recipe:

  1. Find a problem in an industry and develop a message around it.  You don’t need to have the solution, but that helps too.
  2. Develop an organizing doctrine of sub points and sub topics related to your message
  3. Find an analogy that visualizes your message
  4. Conduct a survey with 100 of the most relevant populations you can find that characterizes the scope and how people cope with and solve the problem you are messaging about
  5. Publish exclusive research based on your survey and sell it, or get it sponsored by industry vendors that stand to benefit from awareness generated by your message.
  6. Write blogs, articles, and give conference speeches that give out tidbits or derivative ideas from your core research.
  7. Issue press releases, Tweet, Facebook, and do whatever verb applies for Linked In about the blogs, articles, and conference speeches you give.

           

The “value” you generate is basically a function of:  how big is the problem (pain x the amount of people with the pain) + how well do you communicate it + how big of an audience do you create.

How well you execute the above is the determining factor of your success.  Maybe you have deep expertise, but if you can’t communicate your expertise and have no audience, you might as well not exist.  And, you won’t be nearly as successful as someone with shallow expertise, but excellent skills in communication and audience acquisition.

Now, it might seem that I’m calling all analysts to be BSers, but that’s not really the case.  I think of analyst research as a kind of “infotainment”.  The customer won’t buy research or pay for conference attendance unless they have a desire and need to hear what the analyst has to say. 

Why become an analyst?

So what are the reasons why you’d want to become an industry analyst?

  • Make money as an industry writer – I don’t have any facts to back this up, but it seems to me that only the top tier analysts make a rich living. Lesser known, less successful, and newer analysts scrape by while working very hard.
  • Make yourself credible – If you’ve been out of work for a while, especially in IT related trades and industry, you rapidly appear to be obsolete since you don’t have the latest buzz words on your resume.  Executing the above recipe is a way to educate yourself again and generate credible resume work to help you get your next job
  • Find consulting work – This requires some additional expertise beyond what your analyst research is about.  In such a case, your analyst work is really marketing for your consulting services, providing awareness, lead generation, and a perception of value.  Your consulting can be directly related to solving the problem you publish research about, or simply related services that your research consumers would need.  (i.e. analysis on HR trends, but you do payroll and benefits consulting).
  • Find (or keep) a job – here you are applying the marketing benefits of your analyst research to the company you work for.  The hard part is balancing being “independent”.  I’d be interested in hearing from others how they achieve this.
  • Start a movement – I’m considering this to be the most altruistic of motives.  Maybe you are really passionate about your problem and its message.  Then execute the above recipe to try and bring about real change for the benefit of your industry or the world in general.  I suspect this same recipe could be used to launch a new religious order.

       

And now some quick words on executing the recipe…

Finding your message

Naturally, having enough industry expertise to find a big enough problem to develop a mantra about is very helpful.  But you don’t have to be an expert.  How many “social media” experts have appeared over the last couple of years?  Frankly we still don’t even know if social media is a passing fetish that will change as quickly as the Facebook privacy policy, or if this is a fundamental wave that will be replacing email, news, and search (I’m voting for the fundamental wave). 

If you don’t have the expertise, then just talk to a lot of people and be observant.  Try to pick an emerging trend, or agent of change in an industry and study that closely.  For example: consumer adoption of electric cars and the effect on electric power industry.  Or, find some big name analyst that covers “everything” and go deep and narrow on some bullet point on their power point slides

Develop your doctrine

OK, I list this second in the recipe, but in fact it’s an evolving “asset.”  This is your story that you tell – your intellectual property.  As you get deeper into your topic and talk to more people, your story will continue to evolve as you flesh it out with people’s personal experiences with the problem, ways to solve it, and if possible, analytical facts from your or third party research.  But, you need to start with an organizing framework for the details of your message.

Find your analogy

Probably one of the biggest benefits an analyst can bring is a way of simplifying otherwise complex Gordian knots.  An analogy to the familiar is one of the best ways to do this.  Now this often goes counter to the previous point as some IT analysts tend to overcomplicate problems in order to justify buying more research and hiring them for strategy consulting,  and to provide more reasons for vendors to sponsor them.  At the same time, you don’t want to gloss over real issues with a simplistic model.  A good analogy provides the anchor point for people to be able to deconstruct difficult problems and begin addressing them.  This point by itself probably deserves a long blog about different devices analysts use.

Conduct your survey

This can be serious, or it can be fluffy.  Unless you have the resources and knowledge to do a statistically relevant study, all you are really doing is creating a “thing” you can write about, and maybe a way to garner some pithy quotes and stories for your doctrine.

As far as choosing your population, consider this to be an opportunity to improve your network if you are job or gig hunting.  First, just start with the groups and people you already have access to.

Publish exclusive research

Again, I don’t have any hard facts here, but I consider this to be a marketing device more than an actual serious revenue source.  In the IT industry, it seems that IT analysts make more money off vendors that benefit from their research than actual customers that purchase rights to read it.

By pricing your research at hundreds or thousands of dollars, you create an appearance of value and exclusivity.  If your independent research is at least marginally favorable to a vendor, you might get them to buy redistribution rights.  Or, the vendor may sponsor you to write a research report that does favor them.   Example: if you write a research report on how golf equipment improves golf swings, you might find some golf club manufacturer that will sponsor research that says equipment like theirs might be useful if the right conditions are present.

Blog, write, give speeches, make videos and podcasts

This is your core marketing for proving your value to your consumers.  As you get more advanced, this can be revenue generating (google ads on your blog site, book royalties, conference speaking fees), all of which also help increase your credibility. 

But, you have to start somewhere.  Don’t be afraid of giving away goood ideas in free writing.  Just don’t give away everything in a single interaction.  Maybe your writings and speeches will help you sell your research, but again, I don’t consider research sales to be the biggest revenue source for analysts. 

More advanced analysts  develop a community for consumers of their writings and research.  They may augment their communities by encouraging other analysts to contribute.  Such a community provides a way to maintain a one to one relationship with your consumers.  If the community gets enough critical mass, it will become its own asset, and can potentially provide a revenue source through web traffic. I’m curious how much social media will be changing this however, since many users will want to interact via Linked In or Facebook.

Which leads me to the final point…

Acquire new audience

In the dark ages before social media, this was done through the press, email campaigns, and otherwise limited to word of mouth.  Now you can Tweet, Facebook, and post on linked in about your articles which significantly lowers the barrier to acquiring an audience.  What’s more, social media lubricates the process of word of mouth, so your posts can be cross posted, liked, forwarded, and retweeted to gain a wide audience very quickly (“going viral” to use an early new millennium marketing buzzword).

Doing this right is an evolving art, and as mentioned before, is the subject of research for a lot of analysts.

Consider social media to simply be a value multiplier.  You need to be at least adequate in the other steps of this recipe for audience acquisition to be useful to you at all.

This is an iterative process

Did I make it sound too easy?  The devil is in the details, and how well you execute.  The good news is, this is an iterative, learn-as-you-go process.  You’ll learn and get better as you follow the steps of the recipe above.  Your expertise and value to your consumers will increase.  The awareness and size of your audience will increase as you iterate.  And the best news is that the overhead for getting started today is only the time you invest.

Finally, remember the goals you are shooting for.  Is this going to be your business?  Is it just marketing to get the jobs or gigs you want?  Are you trying to change some aspect of the world?    Not everyone will be a top tier Gartner analyst, or have the following of Ray Wang.  But if you keep your eye on your goal as you iterate your way through the recipe, I suspect you’ll start generating measurable success.

What is your opinion?

What’s your experience trying to get started as an analyst?  How did you go about executing steps of the recipe above?  What did I miss, or what am I completely wrong about?

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13 Comments

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  1. Trond Stroemme
    Reminds me of the last “personality test / team building” session I went to a few years back. When trying to inquire whether the guys who had created the test (and subsequently set up their multi-million dollar business selling their expensive test to FT-500 clients) actually had any psychological degrees, or any kind of formal certificates within that field, the answer was a blank stare, followed by some unintelligible mumbling. It became clear to me that these guys were true “analysts”. Highly successful analysts, though.

    I’m thinking of setting up my own analyst business, focusing on how to best handle the issue of “green” technology. It will basically consist of teaching people to turn their computers off in the evening, when leaving the office. I’ll hire a few psychologists, a decent hypnotizer and a few laid-off night club bouncers, and charge thousands of bucks per program. The handouts will consist of a simple piece of paper with a stylized picture of the windows Start button on it. We’ll create a song, too. It will be a blatant plagiate of the Stones’ Start me up, but instead we’ll change the words to “Shut me down”. Sorry I can’t tell you more, but I’m off to order my new yacht!

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  2. In comparison to the other blog entries published in the last week, I am flabbergasted. Irony and self reflection here? I hope that the blog will not be deleted for diverging from the SAP mantra.

    Worth reading!

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    1. Greg Chase Post author
      It is actually intended to be some serious advice to people in the circumstance I mention at the top.

      Fortunately its tagged as “beyond SAP” which means its expected to depart from the SAP Mantra.  I suggest searching on this topic.  You’ll find a number of interesting articles that range all over the place.

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    1. Greg Chase Post author
      Thanks 🙂 This really honestly started out as a humerous attempt to help people get back to being relevant. Its basically what I do in the marketing dept at SAP (except the publishing exclusive research).

      But I have to admit, when you strip the technique down to its bare tasks like I did, the whole analyst thing does look a bit corny.  It all really depends on the value the analyst delivers.

      Job titles on resumes you have to study more closely: analyst, consultant, actor.

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  3. Michelle Crapo
    Looking at your points, I’m 100% sure we would disagree.  The internal analyst looks at our Processes.  Yes I see that in your blog.  It looks like this is just how to become an analyst.  But for me it misses on how to actually be one.

    My thoughts – and the easily could be wrong.  Remember I’m internal customer.  I do some analysis.  Then there is the business analyst, and next there is the business process architect.  Talk about a different model.  I’m moving more and more away from analysis – sadly.  We are just getting too big with too many projects.

    Anyway:
    1.  Someone comes to you with a problem.  It could be something as small as writing a report.  Your first answer: Why?
    2.  it’s something that sounds like a broken process.  I need a report to find the characteristic for Part XYZ and the batch characteristic of XYZ, and field X and field Z. Now I know our business.  I know that the material characteristic + Fields X, Y and Z drive the batch characteristic.  So – why do they want this?  The answer is sometime the batch characteristic is not right.
    3.  This is not a request for a report.  This is a broken process or a training opportunity.  Notice the person didn’t request one of the fields.
    4.  Determine how large of a problem it is.  The architect is the first line to getting a project approved.
    5.  Find the broken spot – notice I’m assuming it isn’t a user error.
    5a.  May have to bring in vendors or work on a prototype.  You would have to be approved for a discovery project.
    6.  Set up a project with requirements for different skill sets to work on the project.  ROI or quality points.  This is at the 10000 feet level. 
    7.  PRESENT.  Present to high level teams.  Present the project – if it is accepted, someone from the business is looking for it.

    8.  Get the team, and start the meetings. The business process architect stays away from the details, they are there for our overview meetings.   The details are worked out by the project managers, business analyst, end user community – they dedicate at least one person, and when people are smart, and it’s one of my good days the “Process Engineer” – I think that’s what they are calling us now – the developer are involved.

    8. Run away from the project.  Give it to someone else and monitor.  Basically what I said in step 8.

    9.  During that time give update presentations to upper management.  Our project managers also work with our business process architects to do this.

    10.  Reputation, Blogging, eternal networking – that’s nice, but doesn’t mean anything to the business process architects reputation.  Most people at my work rarely read these things.  What helps?  If they have other resources to reach out to for demos (They may have seen one, and ask to use it.) proof of concept, and resources for putting together a good solution.

    They do not get into the details.  The very best business process architect?  The one who knows OUR internal business processes and has a great relationship with the upper management of their process area.

    Now my long reply is what I think an Analyst does.  How to get there?  Experience, the desire to learn, and a level temperament.  Able to handle stress without blinking an eye.  In other words most are from our company.  Some we go outside for.  Those from the outside have to know their process and how it works with the other ERP processes.  Reputation, twitter?  Maybe, probably, my company is behind times.  But that doesn’t matter.  The person that walks in the door, and the resume that gets them there matters.

    So is the resume what you listed here?  Not really.  They don’t care / or care a little about what you’ve done that isn’t practical – “real” life experience.  Research, tweet, survey?  No not really what we would look for.

    Now I’ll add to the long reply.  What is looked at for an outside analyst??  If you are talking business analyst – which I don’t think you are – we do bring in outside consultants.  To my knowledge we have NEVER brought in an outside business process architect.  We have brought in subject matter experts that work with people on our team.. We’ve even had a project manager consultant, technical (developer) consultants – of course, but someone that looks across Perrigo and decides the best way to do something?  Not without an internal resource right by their side.  And again any social networking?  To my knowledge we pick them by their presentations and company reputation.  In other words we do not hire the independent.  We hire a company.  That company can (and usually does) bring in a subcontractor.

    The short answer – experience there person needs experience.  Moving from a business analyst who specializes only in their area to a business architect who looks at everything outside SAP and inside SAP solutions that is a nice move.

    Moving from a business area where you are responsible for different areas of the process, that’s another person who makes the move easily.

    I would say, if your budget allows start in a position where you get to know the company.  It’s really hard to be an analyst when you don’t know the exact configuration, customizations, and processes of the company you are going to work for.  Not saying it is impossible.  Just saying it would be hard.

    Long long answer and sadly it may be a bad answer if you meant a different level of analyst,

    Michelle

    PS – I could write more.  Complete with my rant about a developer can be interchanged in different areas.  But I won’t I’m trying to just answer the question.  And be good on a Saturday.

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    1. Greg Chase Post author
      Dear Michelle,
      You should make a blog out of your answer, it deserves higher billing.

      I think our disagreement is over the word “analyst”, which is highly overloaded word, slightly more than “manager”. 

      So let me make some refinements and additions to my points above. 

      1.  It would be more precise if I called this blog “How to Market Yourself as an Industry Pundit in Any Industry”.

      2.  The usage of the term “analyst” for a pundit is a marketing term …similar to calling yourself a consultant instead of a contractor.

      3.  Although I explain it in detail, maybe I could make it more clear that being a “pundit” is itself a marketing approach for the “purposes” I mention above, unless being a pundit is one’s end goal.

      4.  I gloss over how to be effective other than to make the point that having a good story, and a simplifying anology are key to commuication, which is the most important skill in being a pundit. 

      5.  I’m covering a gargantuan range from niche consultants to top tier analysts such as Gartner, and Ray Wang.  I’d even put the likes of Geoffrey Moore here, and his teachings are foundational in explaining how to run technology companies.

      PS: I’d love to see your rant about interchanging developers.  I think there’s some wisdom there that needs to be discussed, especially with the plethera of new tools, cloud based deployment models, and thinking.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

      -Greg

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        1. Greg Chase Post author
          Hi Michelle,
          First I’m *REALLY* humbled by your admiration as you are likewise one of the people *I* admire – someone with deep knowledge, passion, and an ability to communicate about it!  I’m always worried I’m just acting in comparison to those like you.  But then again, I never want to be the smartest person in the room.  That means I’m in the wrong crowd.

          I can imagine a Business Process Architect has many of the similar skills as a technology marketer and a pundit.

          Your “food chain” sounds like a highly specialized ecosystem.  Thats one reason why I’ve moved from BPM for Large Enterprises to cloud systems for small & midsized companies.  How do you do “business process architecture” for companies that have:
          1. No CIO
          2. No concept of what a business process is
          3. Highly siloed non-integrated systems (forget thinking about business processes)

          What I find especially intriguing is how you can remove many of the initial system roadblocks of implementing ERP with a cloud based system, which leaves bare the cultural changes required.  And it turns out these are not insignificant. 

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          1. Michelle Crapo

            We can be like an episode of Bugs Bunny and Daffy duck.  Duck season / no rabbit season / no duck season…  It would go on until I get you to agree. “I’m always worried I’m just acting in comparison to those like you”.    No comparison really? Michelle

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  4. Craig S
    I enjoyed your piece.  And Michelle’s comments.  I saw her first concerns and I kind of knew what your reply would be. As an independent I liked your steps you provided.  Freelancer’s are always doing what you described.  For years I have been fine with simply my resume and technical contacts.  With 15 years of SAP promoting myself wasn’t really a problem.  And not to mention I hated it. While confident in my technical skills, it takes a whole other level of confidence to go out crowing about them to the world.  And lets face it, basically, that is what you are doing when you start to promote yourself and your thoughts/ideas as a pundit.  But in the past couple of years as the markets got tougher, I’ve had to do a bit more self-promoting.  And I still hate it!

    There is a risk every day. And every day someone, somewhere will call you an idiot.  So not everyone has that confidence to put themselves out there.  For others, it’s a gradual accension to where you actually do believe you have valuable thoughts and ideas that can help others. 

    So the hardest part of your cycle in my opionion is step 1.  It is much harder I think then it seems.  You have to find that idea or concept that you are passionate about, that keeps you up at night thinking about it, that makes you spend your free time searching everyday for new articles on your topic, (cause you already read all the old ones and committed them to memory). 

    Once you have that you are golden.  Cause just picking somehting out cause it looks or sounds good, is a plan for a future disater.  Eventually you’ll be bored, do a sloppy job, miss a new, related event around the world, and you’ll be ridiculed for being out of step, sloppy, irrelevant or flat out wrong. 

    It’s much like the great athlete that gets into a sport because of their great natural ability.  Even though they might be great, they’ll never be a fan favorite becuase ultimately, even the casual sports fan will see the truth. And everytime, the true fan favorite will be the one that lives, eats and drinks the sport and leaves it all on the field.  Like Pete Rose in baseball, Michael Jordan in basketball, Pele in Soccer, Brett Farve in football(American)

    Ya gotta love what you do to be a really good pundit!!!

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  5. Arshiyan -

    Hello

    Your blog is full of guiding info for SCN users especially new users. Thanks for sharing and keep it up so that we can get light of future path from your blogs.

    Regards

    Arshiyan

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