US tech companies hire 30x more Industry Analyst Relations specialists compared to Europeans
Updated: Sep 10, 2022
US tech firms’ willingness to invest in professional industry analyst relations is giving them a significant competitive advantage in winning technology sales, partnerships and business strategies around the world. In contrast, European competitors’ lack of IAR specialists effectively means they’re fighting with one arm tied behind their backs.
I have compared results of recent industry analyst reports and am sharing the findings here.
Todays hypercompetitive B2B tech and services market is marked by incredible dynamism, information overload and decision complexity. Corporate buyers depend on impartial industry analysts and sourcing advisors for guidance. In fact, independent research has shown that industry analyst coverage is the single most relevant factor in billions worth of B2B tech shortlisting decisions in Europe every year.
To make it brutally clear:
If, as a B2B tech vendor, you aren’t mentioned in „your“ markets’ most relevant industry reports, you basically don’t exist for most buyers.
And you have to explain yourself before you even get to start pitching. If you may at all. Because compared to vendors that are covered in leading industry reports, as an outsider, you’ll be regarded as a potential risk: „Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM.“ As a result you’re missing out on hundreds of billions worth of purchasing decisions that are directly influenced by analysts and sourcing advisors' publications and direct recommendations to buyers.
I recently noticed again though how big a gap there is between the number of job openings for Industry Analyst Relations (IAR) professionals in US vs. European B2B tech companies (excluding UK which is closer to the US model). Based on data from the Institute of Industry Analyst Relations and leading analyst and sourcing advisor houses, US tech firms hired 30 industry analyst relations specialists to every one hired by European tech firms in 2019. Thirty to one.
Is this level of investment justified? I went through a stack of some 70 recent market reports from the largest industry analyst firms covering a broad variety of global tech markets to find out.
Spoiler alert: The quantitative and qualitative findings make very clear - European tech businesses need to rethink urgently their handling of Industry Analyst Relations. Here’s why.
More placements & effective use
Getting named in a market-impacting industry- or vendor report is a high stakes game with real winners and losers. Appearing alongside the usual 10-18 „most notable vendors“ is much more than a pretty „badge of honour“ that makes a colourful splash on a marketing slide and PR note. It’s a full-access entry ticket to being considered seriously for larger scale and more strategic customer contracts.
When it comes to being mentioned in industry reports, I found that US-based tech and services vendors outnumber their European competitors four to one.
I guess nobody will be surprised that US companies dominate the tech markets - but 4:1 is massive. It almost appears like a US-only party with a handful of kindly invited special guests.
(One could argue that the US home of the biggest industry analyst and sourcing advisor firms might affect their judgement. But I don’t observe that because the fierce competition among these firms ensures their professional objectivity. No analyst can risk their hard-earned brand reputation. Of course shared corporate cultures and better access due to geographic proximity may still have some unconscious influence. For non-US vendors that would mean all the more reason to stay as close as possible to key analyst and sourcing advisor houses and also to balance US-based with European firms in their IAR program.)
Four times more report inclusions of US companies gets even more alarming when put into plain numbers: I found 663 US vs. only 158 European companies in my data set of 70 reports.
Which means there are hundreds of European tech companies that did not rate a mention in the most influential industry reports in their own field.
That is hundreds of European vendors who must appear to their target customers as not being worth to be considered, based on what the most respected market experts have to say. What an uphill battle for them in an RFI or shortlist situation.
This is the basis of why US tech vendors hire 30x more IAR specialists. And there’s more.
Much better results
Placement in an analyst report is a game changer for a B2B tech vendor because it allows for methodic means that are not available without it. It allows IAR specialists to guide their sales teams to leverage the credibility of the analyst firm and the thoroughness of their research to take customer and partner conversations from transactional to strategic levels. The better you score as a vendor against different criteria, the more angles you can play.
That is how US companies’ investment in IAR professionals pays off qualitatively as well: US companies achieved top-range placements in analyst reports far more often than they appeared in the lower end fields.
More than 70% of all companies who ranked as leaders came from the US and only 13% of leaders came from Europe.
Looking only at US firms, more than one third (36%) ranked as industry leaders while only 28% ranked in the low end range. With European companies it’s almost exactly the opposite. Only a quarter (26%) of European companies ranked as leaders while 38% could not get beyond the lower end range.
In short, B2B tech buyers may be left with the impression that European tech firms are second-rate compared to their US competitors.
Even more importantly, vendors that are better positioned in a high-impact report and are IAR-savvy, have objective analysis at hand that helps them inform their target customers evaluation criteria to their own offerings’ advantage. And they can use the independent experts’ findings to objectively qualify customer-specific hurdles for their competitors.
As a vendor in a fiercely competitive market you cannot ignore this reality. This is where investment in IAR specialists pays off with every single sales and business development interaction.
Closing the loop
Back to US-firms’ 4:1 lead in industry analyst reports. To what can we attribute the US firms’ success?
An analysts judgement that a vendor is a „leader“ in their field, must be earned in the tough competition for relevance and superior customer value. Just relying on your revenue numbers, PR notes and technical specs, that one could find on a website or in a newsletter, is simply not sufficient.
Therefore, much of the US-companies success is to do with that 30:1 lead in hiring IAR specialists.
First, it gives US firms more dedicated IAR resources who can identify analyst research projects that fit with their strategy and manage high quality submissions to matching reports. In addition, more IAR capacity allows them to engage with industry analysts more regularly i.e. outside „submission season“. This more regular bidirectional exchange helps the analyst to truly understand this vendor, which makes it more likely for the vendor to get a positive mention in a topical article or in the analysts’ many direct end-customer inquiries. On the vendor side the independent insights support faster and bolder decision making in product development, go-to-market, strategy, etc. And then of course, a regular exchange is perfect to tee up for next year’s report submission again.
Conversely, the lack of professional IAR resources and programs in European tech companies is a critical bottleneck or even a missing link for information to and from their end-customers’ most influential decision support channels.
The 30:1 higher investment of US tech companies in IAR specialists compared to their European competitors has direct impact on
a massive quantitative advantage in achieving presence in critically influential market- and vendor reports;
an impressive qualitative advantage for US companies in positioning stronger against European competitors;
much greater ability to leverage IAR results and insights to amplify systematically the value of their best people and programs in product development, talent attraction, strategic sales and business development. Which leads to an entirely different level of business dynamism.
Given these results, greater investment in IAR specialists seems a pretty compelling rationale.
Given the results above, can it still be acceptable for the industry analyst relations function to be foisted off as a side-task on product managers, or even on PR who neither have the capacity, nor the matching focus and who lack the specific background?
The success of US tech firms in dominating analyst reports (and the markets) clearly demonstrates that Europeans have to up their game in IAR significantly. More dedicated IAR expertise would be a first step.
And the timing for that is perfect. The last decade has brought enormous evolution to the business world. The platform model has opened minds to think in new value dimensions. Innovation and business development is being approached in terms of ecosystems. Agile development methods have been adopted broadly. And it is Europe’s younger businesses and a new generation of leaders who are proudly and successfully embracing the change.
The same mindset that carries the Industry Analyst Relations function is already rooted in this generation’s culture and their approach to innovation and business in general.
So in parallel to the obvious need and the long-existing know-how there is in fact a great opportunity for European tech companies to step up their game right now.
There is no reason to keep fighting with still one arm tied behind their backs. Let's get to it.