I’ve been an Industry Analyst for 5 months, and I think I have a bead on what the job entails as a Senior Analyst.
Why I’m Sharing
I often advise clients to share behind the scenes at their job, giving customers a glimpse into what it takes to build a product, why and how customer service is important, and to build trust by building human relationships using these social tools. It’s pretty dang important that I practice what I preach, so I’ll share, in hopes of you trusting me more.
Several people told me that they felt I was being transparent with my research agenda and results, but many asked for more transparency with my day job. Over this last week, the feedback has been strong that people want to know, and they believe it will help them come closer to my employer.
Quite honestly, I’ve been hesitant to share too much of my job, as I’m concerned about not meeting high expectations, losing trust with my readers here on this blog, and I’m very sensitive to the cultures or my employers.
But recently, an email was sent to my management, where a client joined the company, and had strong intentions to work closely with me, that’s confirmation. Two client told me last night I was a big part of the reason they decided to become a client, wow, that’s confirmation that spurred on this post.
Truth and Misconceptions
Apparently the role of an Industry Analyst is shrouded with mystique and misconception. Meeting the many folks that I interact with online is much different than meeting them in person. In fact, people are much more candid and honest with me in person, and certainly over a beer or two.
At least once a week, people tell me “I could never do what you do, being stuck doing all that data crunching”. Apparently, the perception is that Industry Analysts spend most of their time sifting and sorting long spreadsheets. While that’s actually some part of my job, it isn’t the entirety.
How I spend my time as an Industry Analyst
I’m certainly only speaking about my experience, and by no way am reflecting on the experiences of others.
Pay myself first: Every morning, for about 2 hours before the world wakes up, I spend time reading everything I can on my industry, books, blogs, articles, reports. I use this time to manage my blog, manage comments, look at whos talking to me or about me. You’ll often see a flurry of tweets as I link to things that I think are interesting. If I stopped blogging, I would continue to get paid, but I know the value of being part of the conversation, both personally, professionally, and how it helps me in my day job.
Use the tools I cover: I come from the trenches, and was deeply involved in social media at corporations at Hitachi Data Systems, then went to the vendor side at PodTech, a podcasting, video, and blogging company. I’ve always found that the best way to understand tools (and more importantly, why they matter) is for me to use them. I push the tools to the limit, break them, then report back on how to effectively use them (or not at all). You’ll often see that I conduct a portion (about 20%) on this blog, by asking questions, spurring on discussions, and teasing out insight. If you haven’t figured it out, you are all in my lab, not as test subjects, but as co-scientists.
Research: The most important aspect of my job as an Analyst is to conduct research. I’ve a research agenda that I’ve worked with my manager and team on, and it’s based upon the feedback of clients, as well as where we think the market will need help. I need to spend quite a few hours a week obtaining data, adding feedback to the surveys and other data collection tools we do, conducting interviews, and simmering the content into something tangible and real. I’m learning a tremendous amount from my long term analyst Josh Bernoff, big picture Charlene Li, and guidance from Christine Overby, my research director and manager.
Apparently, Shel Israel linked to my recent report, which is only available to our clients (or you can buy individual reports), and met some feedback where folks felt the knowledge should be free. But just like your company has products, these are ours, and I’m not asking you to give me your products for free.
To date, I’ve published two reports on online communities, one on how to hire for social computing, strategist and community manager. Soon, I’ll be publishing a report on OpenSocial, and then on Marketing Campaigns on Social Networks, and a beefy Wave Report categorizing and prioritizing the White Label Social Network space. The end product is our reports that help provide insight to a confusing market.
Presenting/Sharing: I often present my findings from research at conferences, on webinars for clients, and you’ll see bits of it on this blog. It’s important to share what I’ve learned. The product is educating those who want to learn more, I list all my public speaking gigs on my profile page.
Helping Clients: This is the area of the day job I’m most passionate about. Perhaps the most unknown fact about my job is that I spend time helping clients. I act as a high level advisor, provide guidance, or can dig deeper into consultation projects, or can even bring a team in to help companies. I’m currently slated to help a few companies (some large brands you know) and this will only increase over time. The end result is helping business leaders make the right decisions.
Briefings: This is more of the ‘input’ that fuels my research. I’ve been briefed by many companies in my coverage space (social networks, white label social networks, and widgets) and I’m getting to know my market better and better. Quite honestly, the market is large, and there are 70 vendors in the white label space, I honestly have a hard time keeping track, it’s a overwhelming. Fortunately, I’ll be conducting formal research by producing a Wave later this year, and will define who’s strong in the marketplace. Important: I’m reducing the amount of briefings I’ll be receiving, and require briefings to be done in 30 minuets or less. The end result is me continuing to be informed.
Press Meetings: Another output is that I share my findings and insights to press, who are seeking a third party opinion. I’m contacted by reporters all over the world who ask me for findings, data, and opinions on the area that I’m covering. I’ve been in NYT, Mercury, NPR, BBC, and hundreds of others in the last 5 months, see this Google Query or see this ego page I sometimes update. I hear from family members and friends from all over who spot my quote in the paper.
While only a sliver of my time, I’m still keeping fresh with social media strategy as an implementor. I hope you’ve been watching carefully, as a few weeks ago I made a call for a community manager to join our company. It’s pretty evident that I had a hand in this, so in many ways, I’m still lightly helping with social media strategy as I did at Hitachi Data Systems, more news of this to come.
You’ll frequently see me at bay area tech events a few times a month, it’s pretty easy as there are about 4 tech events every night in Silicon Valley.
In summary, I’m getting to practice and focus in on my passion, Web Strategy, where I help companies understand how to use web tools to connect with customers, the mission of this blog, long before I became an Industry Analyst.
As I encourage clients to have an open and human conversation with their market, I’ll do the same, if you’ve further questions, feel free to leave a comment or question, I’m listening.
Update: I had a typo, where I listed Josh as my manager, but have now corrected the post.