Jargon Watch: Altimeter envy

Social media changed the relationship between audiences and experts. Individual experts surfaced like John Battelle and Danny Sullivan built successful businesses as experts based on their blog presence. Some of the most profitable arbiters of expertise are the market analyst houses like Gartner and Forrester Research and this change in relationship with experts is a potential disruptor for their business models.

Forrester CEO George Colony has looked to gain some respite from the new expert model through strict non-compete contracts with high-profile current employees and a recent change in policy to restrict their off-platform personal social media activity. Forrester suffered the most out of the analyst houses with a number of high profile departures including Charlene Li, Jeremiah Oywang and R Ray Wang to the Altimeter Group.

Altimeter Envy is described by SageCircle:

The buzz around Forrester superstars Jeremiah Owyang and R “Ray” Wang joining Altimeter Group was several orders of magnitude larger than all the departures in the summer of 2008. Plus there is just the general increase in hype and fever around social media. This buzz is bound to percolate into the awareness of even the most heads-down, lost-in-his-work analyst at Gartner, Forrester, IDC, AMR and so on. This may be case even if the analyst does not cover the social media market. After all, Ray Wang covers the unsexy enterprise applications market. There was a lot of hoopla around how Charlene, Ray, Jeremiah and their non-analyst colleague Deb Schultz used social media to build up their personal brands giving them the platform for a potentially lucrative new career path. Also, all the analyst firm layoffs in the last year certainly have some analysts thinking that they need to hedge their employment bets. “Altimeter envy” then is a condition that strikes an analyst who uplevels his or her use of social media for a potential departure from their current employer.

Is knee-capping (a la Forrester’s new social media policy) a knowledge professional’s personal brand a step too far, given that there is no such thing as a job-for-life any more?

3 replies on “Jargon Watch: Altimeter envy”

  1. Thanks for picking up “Altimeter Envy.”

    One small correction: SageCircle is one word. Your readers can find more analyst ecosystem news and commentary on our blog, which can found on http://www.sagecircle.com.

    It is important to note that the impact of social media on the advisory analyst firms (e.g., Gartner and Forrester) is frequently misunderstood. That is because many think that what these firms sell is written research, when in reality what they sell to enterprise IT managers is spoken advice. I invite you and your readers to check out “Industry advisory analysts in the age of social media – round up of posts for analyst relations” for more discussion on the business models of the advisory analyst firms


    BTW, Gartner in 2009 added 1,613 large enterprise clients even in the midst of the worst economic downturn in decades and the explosion of social media adoption. This illustrates the power of a large sales force (over 1,000 reps, doubled since 2005), and a focused and proven sales message (“save you money, save you time, manage your risk”) that resonates strongly with enterprise IT buyers.

  2. History has shows that limiting the freedoms of employees, and consumers, is always the right way to go. Good to see some tried & tested policy being put into place. Clever thinking.

    OK, yes, i am being sarcastic. It reminds me of that famous tory about hotel chains who were losing their best employees to rivals. Rather than lock down their workers, they opened a hotel training school! Clever. Or banks, consulting firms, etc…rather than stopping employees from leaving, they embrae their alums (future sources of business, as well serving as shining examples to help recruit the best & brightest). Not to mention, the best feeder companies actually can pay lower salaries because new employees understand that the career opportunities are the brightest.

    Zig, when others typically always Zag

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