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FREEFORMFOCUS

Summer Edition 2021

IN THIS ISSUE?

WHAT MAKES A GOOD SPOKESPERSON?

Sometimes you lose track of time when you’re speaking with someone. You are on the same wavelength and the discussion is simultaneously thought-provoking, useful and enjoyable. The positive buzz you come away with makes you want to tell others about the great conversation you had.

 

If you’re involved in industry analyst communications or relationship management, you know your job is done when you see this kind of interaction. The analyst’s advocacy for your company or client gets a boost, and having had a rewarding experience, your spokesperson becomes more accessible for future analyst engagements. Plus, of course, everyone benefits from enhancement or refinement of their knowledge, insights and opinions. 

Analysts yearn for these kinds of exchanges. Sure, you need to cover routine updates and announcements, but without that spark of interpersonal connection, no one’s views are likely to shift significantly. The truth is, you will generally have anticipated most of what you subsequently hear ‘officially’.

 

So when thinking about a suitable spokesperson for an analyst briefing, don’t assume that it’s always about seniority or product knowledge. These need to be adequate, but as experienced analyst relations professionals understand intuitively, much more important is knowing your analysts and spokespeople, then bringing people together who have similar perspectives, interests and communication styles.

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GETTING CREATIVE WITH VIDEO
 

The shift to home working has further fuelled the ongoing demand for video content. You don’t have to worry about disturbing others in the workplace, or risk embarrassment when a colleague overhears what you're tuned into! 

In response to this, we’ve been experimenting with alternatives to the talking-head format and finding video animations are going down very well. They're worth considering if you’re not already doing this kind of thing. Here’s an example of how it’s possible to bring even a relatively dry topic to life.

RANDOM THOUGHTS
 

Why do some marketing messages
fail to connect?

Most people involved in IT decision-making don’t wake up every morning thinking about how they can enhance shareholder value. Some want an easier life, some are looking for the next new challenge, while others value being empowered to do their job better or allowed to focus on what they find interesting. We see far too much messaging that assumes everyone is driven purely by business outcomes.

 

The bar will be higher on in-person
event attendance

We’ve just started seeing the first few invitations come through for live events running as things begin to open up. It’s a good indicator of confidence, but the travel situation is making us really think before saying “yes”. The risk of long queues and onerous screening/quarantine requirements translates to extreme unpredictability. If you’re thinking of running in-person events, selling the value will be more important that ever.

ANALYST RELATIONS GOING ON-DEMAND

The increased reliance on videoconferencing and virtual events has been  frustrating for everyone.  Most of us can’t wait to get back out there networking and having those lively face-to-face exchanges that are so important to developing and maintaining relationships.

 

However, the shifts we have seen have also created opportunities. One of these stems from the fact that if you deliver an event or briefing online, you can easily capture it and make it available for replay. Add pre-recorded assets to the mix, along with supporting materials, and you end up with a set of content ideal for an on-demand analyst portal.

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While not a new idea, this natural increase in content availability, together with the emergence of standard platforms, has created additional momentum. For example, we at Freeform Dynamics are big fans of what the guys at ARInsights are doing. Our analysts can now access materials from a range of companies via one portal with single sign-on and a consistent user experience. 

 

However it’s enabled, on-demand access allows analysts to tune into discussions and announcements when it’s most relevant and convenient for them - the AR equivalent to catch-up TV! You can also binge content when researching a new technology area or IT provider intensely, as you do with Netflix and the like. Being able to browse vendor portals to see what you’ve missed is also incredibly useful - and often thought provoking. It doesn’t make up for a lack of real face-time, but we hope that the trend in this area continues as on-demand analyst portals add value in so many ways.

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ANALYST PROFILE: TONY LOCK

Role: Director of Engagement & Distinguished Analyst

 

(In)famous for: Snappy dressing, ‘non-traditional’ ties, love of horse-riding, obsession with the Chelsea football team, reading and knowledge of science-fiction, collection of rare/expensive fountain pens, forthright views on pretty much everything!

 

Biggest personal challenges:  The ups and downs of Chelsea support, adjusting to life as a Londoner now living full time as a new German citizen in Germany. 

 

Biggest challenges at work: Saying “no” to briefings (it’s all so interesting!), trying to squeeze everything I want to say into the limited space/time that’s generally available.


Most rewarding part of the job: Talking to lots of interesting people, sharing ideas and perspectives, and maintaining that bigger picture view of the world. 

 

Best advice for new analysts: Treat it as a collaborative role and make use of the experience and expertise that surrounds you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you don’t understand, but always sanity-check and corroborate answers. Look for patterns and relationships as most ‘new’ ideas build on what’s gone before.

MARKET OBSERVATIONS

 

The analysts here agree this is one of the most interesting times we have experienced in the IT industry for quite a while. After years of procrastinating, many organisations were forced into new technology and service adoption because of the global health crisis. 

 

Where we don’t necessarily agree with some other commentators is that such activity has always been indicative of accelerated digital transformation. While true in some cases, a lot of what we saw was re-platforming of existing activities with minimal change, often involving cloud service adoption based on the bare minimum of due diligence.

The upshot is an opportunity for IT and cloud providers to help customers deal with the technical debt they have accumulated, and leverage recent investments to drive digital transformation more genuinely.

 

Beyond this, we see a large and growing appetite for anything that enables greater speed, agility and resilience, from modern delivery methods, through the latest application architectures and infrastructure stacks, to next generation IT funding options.

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FEATURE

What makes a good spokesperson?

An analyst perspective on who best to field

IDEA

Getting creative with video

Use of animation to get your message across

OPINION

Random thoughts

Our bottom-line take on some topical issues

FEATURE

Analyst relations going on-demand

A welcome trend that we hope is here to stay

PROFILE

Who is Tony Lock, and what makes him tick?

A peek behind the analyst

INSIGHT

Market observations

What’s influencing spending priorities?

UPDATE

Content recap

Highlights from some of our recent work

WELCOME TO OUR 
FIRST EDITION!

 

As industry analysts, we at Freeform Dynamics depend on the efforts and dedication of marketing, comms and product management professionals within the IT provider community. The briefings, events, and materials you provide are essential to keep us tuned in to your organisations' strategies, solutions and propositions. 

 

We therefore wanted to say thank you and to give something back, and the result is this magazine. The content mix is a bit of an experiment in this first edition, but we hope you enjoy it and would love your feedback and ideas for topics to tackle in future editions.

 - The Freeform Dynamics Team

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