This month Beagle Research Group celebrates its tenth birthday. I founded the company on January 3, 2004 and have spent the last ten years doing whatever it is that I do. This isn’t my attempt to draw your attention (ok, maybe a little). But face facts, if you’re reading this you must be a rather hardcore CRM-er and so my real motive for writing about this anniversary at all is simply to say thanks to all of the people and vendors who’ve supported this little experiment in self-employment for over a decade now. To my mind there’s nothing finer than digging into a new business problem with a client and figuring it out.
There’s also a growing community of like-minded people out there starting with Paul Greenberg but also including pals like Brent Leary and Esteban Kolsky, and many others that I will not name to protect the innocent. I see these people at conferences and events; we trade ideas, write reviews of each other’s books, and sometimes collaborate on research together. They make the experience more rewarding and a bit less solitary than working alone can be sometimes.
Let me also shout out the people who work in analyst relations and PR who must have majored in wrangling cats. They make my job much easier by arranging access to key CRM decision-makers, important events, and frequent briefings.
Finally, thanks to all of the editors who seek out my ideas and post my writing. I don’t make a great deal of money from these relationships but the exposure gained by posting my analyses on many subjects helps to keep me in business.
Ok, back to work.
On Beagle’s ninth anniversary.
This is a special time of year for me personally, regardless of everything else going on for the holidays because it’s a professional anniversary too. I started my career as an analyst on January 3, 2000, the first workday of the new millennium, at Aberdeen Group.
My job was to cover SFA in the exploding CRM market and, just for fun, I told my boss, Chris Fletcher when I started, that I thought this idea of hosted applications would be a major inflection point and I wanted to cover it. As luck had it, SFA and hosting went well together and my career bloomed. I wrote about the space for four years at Aberdeen and did pretty well advising clients like Salesnet, UpShot and, of course, Salesforce.com.
At the end of 2003 we were in a recession and Aberdeen looked like it was destined for oblivion. New management came in and rather than dealing with what I felt was a punitive regime, I left, four years to the day after I’d started.
But I really liked being an analyst and it was something I was good at so it was hard to leave just because I didn’t have a job. That’s how Beagle Research got started. The HMS Beagle was Darwin’s research vessel on a five-year voyage around the world for the British Navy. I’d always had an evolutionary orientation, which I have applied to my study of markets with great success, so the whole Beagle Research name made sense for me. I hung out a shingle and the rest just happened.
So as we end 2012, I am celebrating the completion of nine years of success as an independent analyst, researcher and consultant and my beat continues to expand. For instance, social was not an established part of CRM when I started out but it is now, so I keep learning and it’s been fun.
Now’s a good time to say thank you to all of you for sticking with me as friends, clients, associates and fellow analysts. I couldn’t have gotten through the last nine years without people like Paul Greenberg, Esteban Kolsky and Brent Leary or the many outlets that carry my writing — and all of my clients. I am going to stop here because there are really too many people to thank and I will miss some but you know who you are. I see you at shows, sit on panels with you, write for you, do research with you and most importantly trade ideas with you and learn from you. So, thanks for being unwitting partners in this journey and Happy Holidays!
FYI, we’re getting ready to launch a new website which will have a more establishment look. It will be up shortly and will finally consolidate the blog, the neglected website and the common URL. I look forward to continuing our many conversations and to the idea exchange that makes this work so much fun.
Four talented front office analysts join forces in a unique model to deliver market research.
Contact: Denis Pombriant
Denis@BeagleResearch.com FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Boston) December 13, 2012 – Denis Pombriant, President of Beagle Research announced the creation of The Bullpen Group this morning. The Bullpen Group, a new research and analysis firm in the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) market, includes such CRM industry luminaries as Paul Greenberg, Brent Leary, Esteban Kolsky and Mr. Pombriant. The group’s purpose is to provide an ad hoc model for senior analysts collaborating on important market research projects that concentrate on some of the most important trends and topics from front office, CRM, social business, collaboration, to cloud computing and mobile computing.
Pombriant, the managing principal of Bullpen Group said, “In bringing together four of the best analysts in the front office market we plan to leverage both conventional research modalities and social approaches to provide vendors and end users with some of the most in-depth and actionable research in the market.”
According to the group’s business model, the four principals will continue their individual practices while coming together under the aegis of the Bullpen Group to perform research that requires the talents of more than a single researcher at a time. Paul Greenberg, the group’s director of research said, “We know what the trends and practices that need to be investigated are. Our mission is to bring together the right resources to make sure that the research is of the caliber needed.”
Esteban Kolsky, founder of ThinkJar, LLC and co-founder of Bullpen Group, said, “This is the way primary research should be done – aggregated knowledge from experts shared across channels and time. I am very happy to be part of this new endeavor.”
“Things are happening faster than ever before, and it still feels like we’re in the early innings. While individually we are able to dig into a few areas, working together on projects allows us to cover more ground, provide deeper analysis and add more value to the industry,” said Brent Leary also a co-founder of the group.
The Bullpen Group can be reached at Denis@BeagleResearch.com.
This is an interesting week with three shows on my docket — SAS Users Group in Seattle, SugarCon and NetSuite in San Francisco. Much flying, too many hotels and lots of blog posts.
I like this part of the job, it’s where I get out to see many people of diverse backgrounds and I always come home with new and improved perspectives on our industry. Of course, there are company representatives who hope to impress with announcements of new and improved products and services. But, for my money, the real interesting part is speaking with end users, the people who can answer the difficult and simple question, how does this work for you? Customers are uniformly nice and happy to answer any question I can think up.
There’s another group that’s just as interesting, the independent analysts. Watching them you get a distinct impression that our industry is changing rapidly. Increasingly, I am finding that the established major firms don’t travel in the same circuit with us. Many of them have their own shows and stick to them. Nothing wrong with that but it leaves open the question of how they rub elbows with customers, especially small customers who might not have five or six figures to invest in an analyst relationship.
I’m an independent. I left Aberdeen Group more than six years ago to do what I want and I have never been disappointed and other independents have taken similar paths. There are many others like me too and while the recession has swelled the ranks of the independents, with ex-analysts and out of work marketing people, it’s pretty easy to spot the quality. I’ve been happy to get to know people like Estaban Kolsky, Marshall Larger, Brent Leary, and others by just traveling the circuit. They are uniformly smart and incisive but each brings something different to the party. We’re all disciples, in a way, of the man himself, Paul Greenberg, who seems to have a sixth sense for picking out the analyst gems.
How do you become an independent analyst? Well, a prior career in CRM, technology or business research and journalism or previous work for one of the big firms is the usual route. It takes a long time though. This is one of the most relationship intensive businesses I know and the relationships we have go back many years on the corporate and PR sides. If you were lucky enough to grow up in CRM you’ve got a big following on Twitter or Facebook and an even larger database. People tell us things because they trust us and building that trust takes time.
The analysts I know have solid grounding in business, technology and front office business processes and they’ve been at it a long time. Longevity and experience are tremendously valuable when you need to advise a client on what will likely work and what won’t.
The guys I’m hanging with have all of this and more. We read each other’s work and rarely compete for business, instead we support each other, trading ideas and even when we’re kidding around there’s an element of analysis at work. We were having lunch the other day in Seattle where the city requires restaurants to provide calorie counts for every item on the menu. We were at a Cheesecake Factory, which has a voluminous menu and a separate booklet with all the calorie estimates each of us took turns analyzing what we would have and joking about it. Ultimately we all changed our orders too. You had to be there.
Long story short, if you are into social ideas, and you need to be these days, there’s diversity and decentralization in this crowd of independents and it imparts a certain wisdom to what they do. It’s a pleasure to be part of the group.