If you follow my writing, you’ve seen blog posts with titles such as Industry Exposé: Technology Vendors Skew Analysts and Influencers and Industry Analyst Art or Fiction: Questionable Technology Predictions, so it should be no surprise I can’t resist an opportunity to talk about a little bit of insanity on the part of technology suppliers and industry analysts about social media.
It is both funny and sad to see how the technology industry is still fairly insulated from the use of social media channels such as Twitter. More organizations still ignore social media than embrace and use it to advance their agendas. It’s obvious how important social media is in streaming news and entertainment information, and startling how it has toppled political leaders. Despite its obvious power, many in the technology industry see it as a distraction for anything beyond basic promotion of a press release or live-blogging their conference. Many industry analysts completely ignore it as not part of their job description.
Some technology suppliers surface news and information on a regular basis across Twitter but do little to build community and dialogue about their brands or showcase the satisfaction and success of their customers. Few technology suppliers are actually trying to listen and understand their buyers’ conversations on social media, let alone interact. For most vendors, it is a struggle to find any roster of marketing or product professionals using social media; I typically have to Google their names or see if their social media information is on their LinkedIn profile. When I inquire about an individual’s or team’s use of social media, the standard reply is that it is not for them, and is beyond their age range or generational dialogue. Some representatives of technology vendors profess their embracing of social media for their products, but individually do not engage in it themselves. Even individuals in corporate communications supporting public and analyst relations seldom monitor or read information on Twitter; they fail to use it as an advantage to stay on top of conversations that impact their brands and products.
All of that is just lame. Anyone can participate in multiple social media channels through the use of applications such Flipboard on iPhone and iPad devices, which can take Twitter feeds, or activity stream updates from Facebook or LinkedIn, and make them easily to flip through with a stroke of the finger. Or just using TweetDeck is pretty darn simple.
I find many IT industry analysts from firms such as Gartner, Forrester and IDC regard the professional use of social media as some futuristic activity. Twitter has been operating since 2006 and now has 500 million users; it is clearly a well-established tool to gain leverage in the IT industry. This lack of analyst engagement is unfortunate; you should not be a technology analyst in this day and age without embracing and interacting via social media. To not use this communication medium is to deny the value of individuals who are conversing on any given technology and its use in the industry. But maybe I should not be surprised, considering that many IT analysts do not even use a computer at technology events to keep track of key points that one would think would be critical to include in any analysis of a technology vendor’s announcements and products.
Why does this all matter to you? Analysis and opinions of technology industry analysts are critical information sources. If an industry analyst is listening to only a select set of IT organizations and individuals and not using social media, then that analyst’s opinions and views are sheltered. Many industry analysts would respond that to criticism by saying they do not have the time. I would tell them I am sorry if you do not think you have time, but if you are responsible for analyzing technology in this industry or are promoting your brand or technology and do not use social media, you might want to reconsider your profession.
Though Twitter is well-established, the use of social media in the technology industry seems to still be in the infancy stage. The opportunity to raise the intellectual level of our profession and communicate more broadly with technology buyers and users should be a requirement for every analyst, and not just an activity of the more progressive segment.
Agree? Disagree? If you have feedback, drop me a comment on Twitter @marksmithvr and let’s continue to advance the kind of dialogue that will help all of us advance the technology industry.
CEO & Chief Research Officer