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Drive-By Poaching
At least one analyst firm saw consolidation as an opportunity for creative recruiting.
For the rest of the March 2010 issue of CRM magazine please click here
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Ovum takes to the streets in Connecticut, sending a message to Gartner’s recently acquired analysts.

It’s an ice-cream truck. It’s a moving van. It’s an analyst-recruiting billboard!

On a quiet Monday in December, the Stamford, Conn., headquarters of Gartner Research got an unwelcome surprise visitor. Referring to Gartner’s acquisition of AMR Research two weeks earlier, a billboard truck was circling the firm’s buildings with a message: “Gartner + AMR = New Opportunity,” the truck said, followed by the words “We’re hiring” and the Web address for a job site—a site belonging to competitor Ovum.

Some see the truck’s message as guerrilla marketing. Analyst watcher and consultant Barbara French, of the analyst-focused publication Tekrati, says that she doubts the effectiveness of such a ploy. “I think that’s an inappropriate way for an analyst firm to conduct outreach to potential employees,” says French, who authors the analyst-relations blog Sway. “It was much more of a [public relations] gimmick.” Ovum has made its growth strategy clear in recent months, she says, but the unconventional approach may not be enough. “If they were doing aggressive outreach though Facebook or LinkedIn, or through some of the online forums and communities, that would tell me this is a company with new thinking,” she says. “Yet the point wasn’t to reach the people in a personal, connected way through referrals—it was about pointing attention to Ovum itself.”

The truck’s messaging may not have resonated with many Gartner analysts that day—the display was large enough to be seen by any of the windows, but few analysts actually work from headquarters, French notes—but it also made an appearance in Boston, outside AMR’s offices. Regardless, French says, potential employees should not be swayed by such efforts. “A lot of reputable analysts work [at Ovum],” she says. “This should not be the gating factor for deciding to pursue an opportunity. It’s just one tactic.”

The Ovum truck may not have ruffled the feathers of Gartner and AMR executives, but it demonstrates the importance of individual analysts. “Gartner goes out and spends a lot of money to buy AMR, but what [it’s] really buying is the people,” says Jim Zimmermann, director of research products for Books24x7. Analysts are any firm’s key differentiator, so a firm must work to keep people on board. If analysts leave, a firm is left with little, Zimmermann says. “That’s the biggest challenge in any acquisition where people are the business,” he says.


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