Jeremiah Owyang of Forrester had a wonderful post called “The 7 Tenets of the Connected Analyst”. I really appreciate his list, but I felt he didn’t discuss the challenges enough to strike the right balance between his first six tenets, and the last (“Be profitable”). This is very hard! For those of us in the business of selling our knowledge and expertise, the online community is a valuable resource and tool, but we must draw a line between what we freely discuss with the community, and the value we give to our paying customers.
So, with respect, I’ve riffed off his list and made my own that helped me to describe that balance a little better. I would encourage my industry colleagues (including those from Gartner!) to comment.
1) Listen: All good analysts are good listeners. They learn from every useful resource. Social communities are a valuable and very dynamic source of information and feedback – especially as analysts are forming their early thinking about a subject. Good analysts are willing to make mistakes, publicly, get feedback, and adjust.
2) Connect: A connected analyst not only finds and learns from connections, but shares those connections with others. A successful analyst is a resource not only for personal knowledge, but knowledge elsewhere in the online community – they can’t be seen as a dead-end of information, but as a router to other information (some of which may be behind the paywall, and that’s OK).
3) Contribute: Connected analysts should add to the discussions that relate to their areas of expertise, comment on industry trends and events, and build relationships with members of the community (including competitors!). A successful analyst doesn’t use the community as an obvious sales tool. On the other hand, the successful analyst cannot freely distribute all of their knowledge. Finding the right balance point where they are a valued community contributor (but can obviously do more) is critical.
4) Lead: Connected analysts should be very active in leading community dialogue, especially in terms of new trends, major changes, etc. Successful analysts will draw the line on sharing specific ramifications and specific recommendations – this is value that should be reserved behind the paywall.
5) Succeed: A successful analyst must do more than build a reputation as a public thought leader, or a great public collaborator. Successful analysts also participate in communities to learn and grow, and ultimately provide better advice and counsel to their paying customers. It’s relatively easy for a smart analyst to elevate themselves on a public stage – it’s much harder to elevate yourself while not sacrificing how you or your company actually make money. Successful analysts can do both – and that’s mainly about finding the right balance between public sharing of knowledge, and keeping high-value knowledge behind the paywall.