This month marks the return of SageCircle, a firm that died as the result of an ill-advised move to use venture-capital money to expand. But there is life after death in the business world and SageCircle is back. And it could be a great and unique resource, and come highly recommended. Going into the VC experience and the mistakes that were made there wouldn't be particularly interesting for most of you, and others are far more expert on VCs and how to manage them than I am.
I do know something about analysts and where they can be most useful. But, being an analyst, much like any internal resource, I have a bias that favors my business plan and practices. Other than a good resource of historical stories about what to do and not do, you also need is an expert on analysts, which is what SageCircle is.
Roots of New SageCircle in HP Analyst Relations
One of the problems with analyst firms is that they often are made up of people who never actually worked in the areas they analyze. Even if they have, they can get so rusty that they are no longer expert in their individual areas.
This can be true of those who watch analysts as well, which is what makes SageCircle unique. At the core of the company are two analysts, Carter Lusher and Dave Eckert, who are credited with turning HP's Corporate Analyst Relations program into one of the best in the industry.
They implemented practices where they, inside HP, would see emerging problems and identify the analysts that could help prevent the problems from occurring. Instead of being a passive organization primarily focused on what often seems to be more of a PR role, they operated strategically and made the analysts less of a critical threat and more of an asset.
While there are clearly a lot of things that were done to turn HP around and allow it to occupy the spot that IBM once did at the top of the tech company food chain, HP's corporate AR group was a major part of this effort, and it was Carter Lusher's and Dave Eckert's personal involvement that created this result.
The Analyst Relations Conundrum
For a lot of folks working with analysts, whether they're IT experts or vendors, the relationship is a difficult one. Often the analysts are brought in late in the game and used to bless a decision already made. I've seen and been part of instances on both the buy and sell side where foolish decisions were presented by concealing some of the facts to assure approval, only to see the market, which has a cold impartial eye, show the result to be the failure it was destined to be.
This is a bad use of analysts, whose best use is at the front end of a decision to help flesh out all aspects so the decision-maker can be informed and a positive outcome more assured. While many executives don't like to be told they are wrong, failure should be even more objectionable. Avoiding that should be a major part of the role of an AR manager.
Properly trained analysts, when given the opportunity, can point to holes in strategies that can sink projects, identify potential problems that have occurred in similar efforts that can be avoided, and substantially increase the success of an offering or IT initiative -- but only if they are used properly.
Just like any analyst covering a project can do, SageCircle can help negotiate contracts and point you to the best resources for your project, whether that is to build or buy a technology product. My perspective, and the reason I support firms like this, is that they keep us productive. Since I'm in this business to make a difference, the fact that they teach folks how to use us to make a difference is what gets them my support.
In the end, choosing the best analyst to help you has a lot to do with really understanding when to use us, how to select between us and how to best benefit from the result. These skills are somewhat rare in any industry, but well worth the time it would take to develop them.
Oh, and if you've ever wanted to meet me in person, I'll be speaking at SageCircle's first event. This one is on AR/PR collaboration. You can find details here. It will be Jan. 29.
Hope to see you there!