Friday, December 29, 2006

Bribing Bloggers.....(and Analysts?)

Joel ( a top notch New York blogger) has posted a very interesting piece on what he call's the 'bribing of bloggers' it is well worth a read.

What Joel discusses is moves by Microsoft to treat bloggers as influencers - and basically extend top bloggers with the same privileges as Industry Analysts. These privileges extend to flights and first class hotel and dining at the vendors events, plus in many cases lots of freebies (cell phones, laptops)
In reading Joel's piece he makes no mention of Analysts and I am not sure if he is aware that what he describes is everyday business for analysts at Gartner, IDC and Forrester etc.

Indeed it was my regular life for six years with Ovum (though I never accepted cellphones, laptops etc) - and now I have made the choice to work with CMS Watch, and politely refuse any offer of generosity by vendors.

I think the CMS Watch way is the right way, I think genuinely reaching out and involving the user community (buyers, integrators and consultants) is the right way to do analysis. I still speak to the vendors, and would not be able to do my job properly otherwise - but I am hopefully not in anyway compromised when I do.

I don't blame Microsoft for reaching out to Bloggers in this way, and they are not the only ones doing this - all major vendors are working out how to deal with the blogger phenomena - and some are pondering if the old Industry Analyst hegemony is as solid and important as they once thought. Its a difficult time for vendors, and Microsoft shouldn't be beaten up over this - they are simply offering to influential bloggers what they and all their competitors have offered to Analysts for years....and if this is not the right thing to do, then the bloggers should advise Microsoft and the others as to what would work, as I am sure they will get a listening ear..


apoorv said...

Nice one.
I see that Joel is okay to accept a google appliance from Google but not a vista laptop from MS. So when do you draw a line?

alan pelz-sharpe said...

Actually I don't know where the line should be drawn. I have seen many examples of things that were clearly bribes for example, expensive cell phones and PDA's(for 'research purposes') - sailing trips - analyst conferences in locations that seemed to include beaches and Ritz-Carltons - golfing on $200 courses etc) and also many more subtle 'bribes' such as access to the CEO, intimate dinners for key analysts with senior execs whilst other analysts ate elsewhere without realizing, seemingly part of the job (access to decision makers) but really little more than ego stroking.

But I was not immune to all this - I too enjoyed incredible hotels and locations, and meals etc for conferences and briefings.

I think the problem comes in two ways (not sure this is how you draw a line though) - one is analyst firms who accept consulting, and generous benefits (see above) from vendors and claiming to be neutral and independent advisors to buyers and users. It does not mean their analysis is poor, but it is ethically compromised unless they declare these potentially competing interests

But at the same time recognizing that an unimpeachable - straight and honest analyst is not necessarily a good one, and that a totally compromised senior Analyst at a major firm can produce outstanding insights....

It's tricky ground!