An Analyst's Day

5:30am, the family sleeps and it’s time to prepare – today is Analyst Day in Frankfurt. I’m on the road 2h45min before the event starts (1h20min should be sufficient) but sometimes the traffic is terrible. Last week I missed a flight because the highway was completely closed after an accident and I had to give up after 3h driving for nothing. When the concern of missing an appointment slowly turns into certainty, these are the moments that cost me some of my (remaining) hair.

(Of course) I arrive much too early, but other analysts are already there (probably they don’t sleep at all). Plenty of time to look through my presentation again for some final adjustments and for some small talk with customers that arrived early.

1min before the kick-off, I make the last slide changes and load it to the presentation laptop. Another analyst colleague goes first. I have seen some of the slides a hundred times and look around at the faces of the attendees. For most, it’s the first time they see e.g. our market sizing and forecasting data, and they make hectic notes into their notebooks. They don’t know yet that we will distribute all slides after the event. I’m getting a bit nervous, but I’m used to it. When I'm not nervous any more before a presentation, it’ll get boring for me and the audience, and I should probably do something else.

Ok, next agenda topic is jointly presented by a colleague and myself. We didn’t have any time to discuss the flow of the presentation between us, but that’s ok as we are used to working together closely. Time flies by as we present our research on the software market size and trends to the audience. I feel that they are interested and add some anecdotes here and there to the data facts. In the last row, the moderator reminds us that we just have 10min left, 5min, zero. My colleague has arrived at his favorite slide and continues to pull interesting and funny stories of customer examples. I try to catch his attention to make him speed up, but he is currently in another world. Then it’s me again to do the final part, and I’m sure my colleague tries to make me aware of the time, but I don’t really see him…. I finally hammer the conclusions into the audience: CLOUD COMPUTING, SMART COMPUTING, PARTNER STRATEGY, 20min over time but happy and relieved. I don’t recall if there was any applause – Dr. Jekyll rarely remembers any details that happened when Mr. Hyde presented on stage – but I know/feel that it was a good presentation.

Another colleague is presenting next, talking about marketing strategies. I’m busy with bringing my adrenaline level down but he catches my interest with the differentiation between marketing customers and sales customers – like it. I make a mental note to steal some of his slides for another presentation I have to give next week.

The presentation part is over and the main part of the day with customer 1:1 meetings starts. Everything is neatly pre-planned, and analysts and clients both have their individual meeting schedules at hand.

  • Customer no.1 wanted a short 1:1 meeting with me during the first break. Unfortunately, that break did fall victim to our presentation overtime and the customer now had to leave. As I have planned to visit that customer soon, there will be a good opportunity to catch-up at then.
  • "Customer no.2 cancelled, but there is another customer who would like to take the next meeting slot, is that possible?" Sure, I’m flexible. It turns out to be a very engaged discussion around one of my presentation key topics "smart computing." The (small) company actually has a very interesting solution that fits nicely into the concept of smart computing, and we end up with a list of concrete next steps for further discussion that can help to accelerate the client’s business.
  • "Unfortunately customer no.3 had to leave early, but maybe we can change slots and do one of the planned afternoon meetings?" Sure, I’m flexible. The client just wants to "meet & greet." After a short, small talk, we start to discuss the challenges and opportunities of (this) large diverse IT vendor(s) in the field of smart computing. I see that he is not ready (yet) for the topic, and, at the end, we agree to connect again sometime (much?) later.
  • Lunch time – I grab a bit of finger food and meet with customer no.4 over the lunch break, since he has to leave a bit too early for the regular planned meeting. As I have a CRM project running with this customer, the lunch break turns into a 1h project meeting. But that’s ok and actually very useful as I will visit the customer next week, now being much better prepared and briefed for the workshop.
  • Lunch break is over. Customer no.5 is right on time, and we quickly get to the point of his interest: cloud computing. We discuss the challenges of software companies that want to take their solution into the cloud: technical prerequisites, business models, compliance issues, etc. The client likes the structured approach, and we agree to discuss a possible SaaS readiness assessment in a next step.
  • Since the next meeting was rescheduled into the morning session, customer no.6 now gets a 1h meeting time. Out of habit, enthusiasm for his solutions, or some other not uncommon irritation, the client tries to sell me his product. I barely have the possibility to interrupt for questions, and after 1h I consider signing a trial contract to make the customer happy and give me the opportunity to look at the product myself. But it’s an interesting SaaS solution, and we agree to follow up with a dedicated briefing since the time today was just too short…
  • Customer no.7 questions the principles of smart computing. I like to be challenged and explain the concept again: highly vertical integrated systems that combine awareness, analysis, alternatives, and action. To make it more concrete I add typical examples like "smart metering" in energy or "patient tagging" in healthcare, but he’s not convinced why this would be new and innovative. I start to become creative and invent new examples I wish I would remember the next day, but he is not convinced. I start to get in doubt about smart computing myself, but we agree that I will send him research material after the meeting. Some people learn can learn better from reading than listening.

No more 1:1 meetings, and I can quickly catch up on the 50+ emails I received during the day before we go out for dinner.

A little Greek restaurant somewhere in Frankfurt, some Forrester analysts, and customer no.8. The discussion is about soccer. I’m really looking forward to watch the world championship in South Africa in few weeks, but don’t care much about the weekly craziness for local soccer teams and who scored which goal in which minute. So we move on to golf, but I don’t play golf either. I decide (again) that I should do more sports - just for the talking points. The dinner arrives, and we discuss a topic I do care about: the IT market, cloud and smart computing. Some asparagus and a steak later I remember the sports discussion and skip the desert. It’s time to drive home.

10:00pm, I’m arriving home and (most) of the family sleeps. Tomorrow I’ll need to work on the leads of today, continue with some overdue research documents, and maybe I’ll write a short blog about today – maybe.

It’s been an analyst’s day.

Please leave a comment or contact me directly.

Kind regards,

Holger Kisker