Accessing analyst research via RSS

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Vinnie Mirchandani wrote about the new Analyst Transparency Workgroup, a gathering of big industry analyst firms to talk about how users can "access their favorite analysts across all paper, proprietary and RSS feed platforms and can seamlessly compare and collate their views on technology subjects and tags." Vinnie wants to know when they're going to be more open to the rest of the world; I'm wondering whether there's any progress toward delivering their content via RSS to their paying clients.

Vinnie's post really focuses on the lack of blogging at most analyst firms. They're in the business of selling what they write, so it's not hard to understand, but look at how visible Forrester has become in social media, largely because of their blogging analysts.

Putting up 1–2% of your research will not kill your business model. In fact it will increase traffic. And acknowledging your competition, a trade pub, a blogger will not kill your business model either. Should actually make your user experience richer.
Which all makes sense to me. But when he mentioned "RSS feed platforms," I immediately flashed back to the Intelligence Delivery System™ I sketched out in mid-2006.

RSS as a delivery mechanism to clients
IDS was to be an RSS-based system for aggregating and redistributing market intelligence, including analyst research subscriptions, inside the corporate firewall. Existing access methods required logging into and searching each analyst firms's web site individually, which meant that many individuals with paid access to the research don't bother finding it. IDS would provide more efficient access to help companies extract more value from that research.

It turned out that existing enterprise RSS systems could do most of what I described, if clients could get their reseach in an RSS feed. So when I saw "RSS feed platforms" in Vinnie's post, I had to ask if the big analyst firms are making their content available to their clients in RSS feeds yet.

Barbara French answered:

The mechanisms for merging "competing" subscriptions include Northern Light and some other corporate content management systems. These solutions are not cheap, and none that I have found cover many firms.
Northern Light looks like an interesting service, in an environment where analyst reports are available only through their web sites. But it strikes me as a workaround.

RSS coming soon?
The availability of RSS feeds would free client companies to incorporate the research into their own systems, potentially making the research more available—and thus more valuable—to their users. Is this part of what the new Analyst Transparency Workgroup means when they talk about access via RSS feed platforms?

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4 Comments

I would like to respond on behalf of Northern Light to this post. Northern Light currently aggregates 500,000 analyst reports each year from 65 analyst firms in our SinglePoint Market Research Portal service. So far, we have a 100% sucess rate on recruiting new analyst firms to the service when a client needs that analyst firm in the portal. We are directly integrated with the publishing operations of the research firms so that we recieve each report for indexing as the report is published. We index the full text of the reports. SinglePoint also provides instant access to the reports for all authenticated users. Northern Light provides SinglePoint to industry leaders like HP, Cisco, Sprint, Unisys, and SAP to name a few. In aggregate, our Singlepoint clients total $450 billion in revenues and have 350,000 employees, all of whom can access analyst reports through the self-service environment that SinglePoint provides.

RSS feeds are a handy tool for organizations that do not whant a complete solution. Aggregating your own list of available reports using RSS would have these limitations: no full text index of the reports to search, no built in authentication solution, no ability to apply taxonomies or text analytics, no ability to find reports from a backfile that dates back before you set up your RSS feed for a particular analyst, and no ability to create a self service environment for the non-research staff.

-- David Seuss CEO, Northern Light

David, thanks for stopping by. Sounds like Northern Light would have been a welcome upgrade during my days at the big telecom vendors. I have a few quibbles about your list of limitations to the RSS approach, but indexing and archiving are clearly missing from that approach.

The argument for RSS is the usual open standards argument—interoperability. In this case, that's probably contrary to your interests, since you have the content distribution agreements and mechanisms in place. It reminds me of Dialog and LexisNexis—private data feeds into subscription databases. It's usually a high-value, high-priced service model, isn't it? Not that the underlying analyst reports are inexpensive.

On the output side, I was picturing sending updates to different media (portal, syndicated to other intranet sites, feed reader, cell phone, etc.) based on tags and user preferences. But I imagine you could offer XML/RSS outputs easily enough, if your clients wanted them. Then your service would feed into the enterprise RSS server as one of your output options (in addition to the existing portal).

Hi Nathan,

Interesting post. There are a few reasons why the major analyst firms are not aggressively moving on RSS and similar approaches:

a) Culture – The major firms are not use to being open and being part of a public dialog
b) Business model – The majors think that every word should be paid for
c) Lagging adopters of technology – Ironically, the major IT analyst firms are quite conservative when it comes to actually using technology, often to the frustration of their analysts.

Carter Lusher, Strategist, SageCircle

BTW, I linked to this post at Reading List for January 24, 2008

I was looking at this as a technology issue, assuming no change in current business models. I anticipated secured RSS feeds that would be available only to subscribers. As for the lag, this is the kind of thing that would tend to be driven by client demand.

Not holding my breath.

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About Nathan Gilliatt

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