Jenkins World is coming up in just a few weeks, which will be the largest face-to-face gathering of Jenkins and DevOps users this year. It is the perfect time to put one of the most important pillars of DevOps to use: collaboration. As a DevOps company, your business strategy should include the participation of several parties, all working together to boost your status in the market. Analysts should be one of these parties.
But, creating an analyst strategy from the ground up can be challenging. How do you know which firms to engage with? Who will give you the most bang for your buck?
We recommend treating the process as if you were buying a car.
- Do your research
The first step – you guessed it – is research, and a lot of it. Analyst relationships are not cheap, so you want to make sure you’re picking the right firm and experts to engage with. You’d never buy a car without first comparing different prices and models to find the the one that fits you and your needs best. You’d probably even take it for a test drive. Finding the right analyst that fits into your strategy as a DevOps company is no different.
We suggest starting the research process by narrowing down the top 7-10 firms in the DevOps arena that you think you’ll want to engage with. These should be the firms you are interested in learning more about. Perhaps they recently published a “State of the Movement Report: DevOps” which featured one of your competitors, or maybe you heard one of their analysts speak about DevOps at a conference and you liked what they said; whatever the case may be, it’s important that the list be encompassing yet focused. We recommend having a variety of different sized firms on the list to start. Of course, there are the big players like Forrester and Gartner, which will inevitably be on your list at this stage, but don’t forget the smaller firms that can be just as beneficial depending on what your company is looking for. Redmonk and Ovum, for example, are two firms that we see having a strong hold on the DevOps movement.
- Hone in on the right model
Once you have your list of top firms that you’d like to engage with, it’s time to pick your analysts. Some of the more specialized firms might only have one or two analysts, which makes it easy. For the firms that have hundreds, start by looking to see who has covered your competitors. These analysts will most likely have the best idea of the DevOps market and where the movement is heading. This will be helpful both in terms of being able to rely on the analysts to provide you with a comprehensive view of the market to assist with your business strategy, and for ensuring that you are getting third-party validation from someone who has a handle on what others in the space are doing.
- Take it for a spin
Now it’s time to test drive! Reach out to the analysts that made your list and inquire about scheduling briefings with them to see who truly has what it takes. The larger firms will likely make you schedule briefings via a scheduling tool on their website, however with the smaller ones, you’ll be able to go directly to each analyst to gauge their interest in participating in the briefing. That being said, we’d still suggest reaching out to the analysts at the larger firms directly. If an analyst agrees to a briefing ahead of time, it can help speed up the scheduling process and will help ensure that you get to brief your target analysts. Plus, it always helps to have a personal touch.
- Negotiate and seal the deal
Similar to dealing with a car salesperson, it’s important to remember that briefing analysts is a two-way street. Just as you want to brief and have relationships with certain analysts, the analysts also want to impress you (after all, analyst relations is a paid relationship). While they may not answer all your industry specific questions on a briefing call before they count your enterprise as a client, it can’t hurt to ask. At the end of the day both parties are looking for a counterpart that they work well with and a relationship that is mutually beneficial. Asking questions will only help you make the most informed decision possible.
Before you make a final decision, remember that you will be paying the analysts for their services, so make sure you look at who is offering you the best deal. Whether you want to take out a lease – paying for a couple hours of consulting services, participation in a single webinar or press release – or buy the whole package, see if they have any special deals. Most firms will give you a discount if you are a first time customer. Even if that’s not the case, the analyst firms will allow you to customize package deals to fit your needs and budget. Also remember that unlike with media relations, you can voice your opinions with how the relationship is going and let your account representative know when you are particularly happy or dissatisfied with their service.
In a field like DevOps that is still new and quickly evolving it is important to have analysts that you can trust in your back pocket to help you keep pace on all the trends and latest movements in the industry. Analysts give you the important third-party validation that you need to take your business to the next level. They talk directly to your enterprise buyers and will have a firm understanding of your market and its players. In this way they can also provide an invaluable perspective on your business strategy. But before you go all in, take the time to ensure that when you drive off the lot, you’ll be satisfied with your purchase.