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Jargon Watch: Altimeter envy

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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?