A couple of years ago the Gilbane Group rolled out a service it calls, Gilbane Analysts On Demand. The idea was that a company could subscribe to access to Gilbane’s lead and senior analysts for an unlimited number of short calls each year, across all the practice areas. I championed the idea and have suggested it as a good service for start-up content and search related companies. It is a good way for them to pick the brains of experts who have a lot of experience in their particular market niche or to cast about for a different perspective on how they might better approach their marketing, product expansion or services. I’ve had questions related to positioning, possible names or “tag lines,” pricing, and the type of partners a company might want to seek. I also encourage clients to talk to me about “what customers want” in terms of packaging and delivery. In 30 minutes to an hour, a lot of valuable information can be conveyed and, as an analyst I love helping companies think through a solution efficiently. Sometimes, just talking through the issue brings them to an obvious answer or to a better question to have answered. Business guidance seems to prevail over “enterprise search.”

Now that we have had a little experience with this type of service, I have decided that it would serve technology “buyers,” just as well. The service might prove even more effective for some companies than a lengthy contract for consulting services. Companies devote long lead times to thinking about, budgeting, selecting and procuring software solutions. Most of them don’t want a consultant waiting in the wings for the next evolution in a project. What they would like is an expert they can turn to at each project gate where a pivotal decision needs to be made, or for a little guidance on an approach or what the next step should be. As an analyst, talking to technology customers is valuable because I can hear customer thoughts and ideas about products and companies and then present these as anonymous feedback when appropriate.

The Gilbane Group has a long reputation for product independence. Our sponsored research, white papers and webinars focus on timely topical themes, not product briefings or marketing buzz for a particular client. We help vendors get out educational messages about how they view markets, customer needs, tool implementation and strategies for leveraging technologies. We give voice to the values they espouse as companies. When we work for a vendor, we also share advice about how they are perceived in the marketplace, and how to improve their brand because we believe that good and healthy companies make for a vibrant marketplace.

I’ve been told, “off-the-record,” that, while the Gilbane model is laudable, no vendor believes in true analyst or consultant independence. While I am sorry to hear that this might be the prevailing view, it is like saying that no bank can be trusted because of the current financial crisis. Are you hiding your money under the mattress, yet?
Not only are we a trustworthy resource – we have a lot of good people with terrific expertise. Check out the cast of characters at: Gilbane Contacts and consider how great it would be to have them all a phone call or email communication away. Just a thought.