Two decades ago, Selling Power magazine had Gartner executives on the cover with the byline “When the Gartner Group says “buy”, the market listens”. Given the magazine’s audience, the focus of the article was Gartner’s well run field organization which the article cited “over the past five years.. has grown from 40 to more than 500 reps”. I remember being proud to read CEO Manny Fernandez quoted “We do not sit on the fence…We've had clients who have canceled our service because they're unhappy with what we've written about them - and that's okay."
Gartner is still very influential, but that milestone reminded me of another one. The Enterprise Irregulars, a group I am now part of, will celebrate its tenth anniversary this year. The group – a loose coalition with no dedicated salesforce - is a reminder the analyst market has changed dramatically.
Many readers know of the EI site and the blog posts there. You may not know its origins. Two visionary SAP executives, Mike Prosceno and Jeff Nolan, saw blogging grow in importance and invited a group of independent bloggers to the 2006 SapphireNow event. It was bold, and risky. In fact Nolan announced it in a blog post titled “When everyone has a suitcase nuclear weapon”. That small group, inspired by Sherlock Holmes’ ragtag team of young intelligence agents on Baker Street, named itself the Irregulars to contrast ourselves from the Main Street analysts like Gartner. The group has added and lost a few members over the decade, but most readers do not know much about the depth and breadth of the body of work of its members.
EI members have founded or are key contributors to sites like Larry Dignan at ZDNet, Phil Wainewright at Diginomica, Susan Scrupski at Change Agents Worldwide,Tom Raftery at Redmonk, Phil Fersht at Horses for Sources and others. Less than 10% of what they write (or what I post on my two blogs) shows up on the EI site. Our editor, Zoli Erdos somehow manages to homogenize our disparate content.
Even more impressive is how they have mastered changing channels of getting the word out. Many of us came from Gartner, Forrester, IDC etc – the traditional analyst world and have adjusted to the world of videocasts and social media. Ray Wang tweets from more places around the world than any other human. Jason Lemkin hosts his immensely popular annual SaaStr event reflecting the new world of ARR and multi-tenancy . Dion Hinchcliffe’s presentations are art form. Michael Krigsman hosts the weekly CxO executive talk show. Jon Reed is always leading the way with his videocasting. Charlie Bess has been active in robotics competitions for years. Paul Greenberg and Denis Pombriant are serial book authors. Brian Sommer, Naomi Bloom and I do an annual prediction videocast sponsored by Workday.
Very different from analyst/media firms is the fact that many EIs are technology executives (like Thomas Otter at SAP, Jason Corsello at Cornerstone OnDemand and David Kellogg at HostAnalytics) , entrepreneurs (like Ramana Rao and Ross Mayfield) and investors (like Evangelos Simoudis and Anshu Sharma). They bring a practical perspective to many of our internal debates.
Talking of debates, we have plenty of them. Not surprising given our roots we have a disproportionate number of current and former SAP employees, consultants and advisers. Yet many of EIs provided input to my SAP Nation books – as Manny would say no sitting on the fence here either.
Get to know the EIs - check out the much longer list of EI bios here And use them as a benchmark for the morphing world of technology analysis and intelligence.