Best times? Worst times?
In good economic times there is no better job than being a technology industry analyst. I make the distinction between the industry and financial analyst trades for a reason. The finance guys look primarily at a company’s or an industry’s revenues, profits and potential for future growth. On the other hand, we in the technology side of the house, get to write about new toys. The jobs might look the same to a casual observer but to my mind the first is very grown-up and kind of flat while the latter is full of the wonder of childhood. Perhaps this distinction is just slightly hyperbolic but it gets me out of bed in the morning.
I am an industry analyst and I enjoy learning, and ultimately writing, about new technologies and how they affect our working lives. When the economy sours the finance guys have about as much work, maybe more, as ever trying to figure out pennies per share and the like. But the technology analysts have less to do—fewer companies want to know about the future of technology and many more want a quick fix for the thing that is eating their lunch.
In times like these you see layoffs at industry analyst firms and over the last six months we’ve seen a procession of restructurings and right sizings—weasel words for the reality—at several analyst firms. Yankee restructured in August, Gartner is shedding 117 positions and AMR is lopping off ten percent according to industry sources.
In the last recession I was a vice president at Aberdeen Group and I recall that as we descended into the bad times there were layoffs and salary cuts just like we’re seeing today. On top of that we had taken in some venture capital when times were good and the VC’s were very interested in maintaining the value of their investment. When layoffs weren’t enough, the founders discovered that their equity had evaporated, or nearly so, and the investors brought in new management. That’s just business, stuff happens.
Eventually there was a recovery and the economy went back to more or less what it had been doing. Companies like Aberdeen survived but not before a total turnover of the staff.
Now we are at it again. Companies don’t want to know much about new and wonderful technologies because they are too busy bailing. I know this will pass and I hope that all the analysts affected will land on their feet. I don’t have any particular advice if you are an out of work analyst but if you like this gig, keep in touch. Read, Google, Twitter, hit Facebook and the other sites. There are small companies still bubbling up new ideas and it’s still fun to talk to them. If there’s any solace in this market, I think that’s it.