If your company relies on market analysis research reports offered by the many independent research organizations, you might wonder how there can be so many widely conflicting conclusions resulting from what should be the same (or at least verifiable) sources of information. Shouldn't the facts speak plainly, and shouldn't the "independent experts," who write these reports adhere to standards of professional conduct?
Michael Sampson, has just thrown down the gauntlet in response to a paper entitled, "IBM Lotus & Microsoft -- Corporate Messaging Market Analysis". The paper, published by the Radicati Group, makes bold, yet apparently unsupported claims about the future (or lack thereof) of Microsoft's Exchange and IBM's Lotus Domino and Workplace.
Michael's Response to the Radicati market analysis study of June, 2004, challenges the accuracy and conclusions of the paper and calls the nameless author to account for the positions presented.
I applaud Michael for his response -- not for only the questions that he asks, but for doing his part to raise the bar of professionalism for independent consulting, research, and reporting.
Many years ago, when I was CTO for Peloria Technology Corporation, I had the opportunity to serve with Michael along with members of the Radicati group on various committees of the Electronic Messaging Association, (now, the Open Group). The commitment of these individuals to objective evaluation and analysis of the messaging and collaborative issues of the day helped propel the industry forward and I am excited to have played a part in that process.
It concerns me, therefore, whenever "independent research" is presented in an unscholarly way -- without support for the conclusions presented and without citations of sources for the "facts" and figures quoted. Further, when a paper is presented anonymously, I am forced to wonder whether the opinions presented represent the entire organization or just someone who is unwilling to stand by his or her claims. The fact that the paper is offered free of charge on the Microsoft site further suggests to me that Microsoft, at a minimum, stands by the veracity of report or at least wants me to.
I encourage you to read both papers and to draw your own conclusions.
Aside from any technical or marketing reaction to these papers, I think that the greater issue at stake is the behavior and professionalism of "Independent experts." It is my strong desire that Michael's response will serve as a catalyst that will call us consultants and research organizations to a high level of professionalism and accountability in our research, analysis, and presentations.
As independent consultants, our clients rely upon us for our expert analysis and recommendations and we have a vested interest in the reputation and perception of our industry. We can improve that reputation by following Michael's challenge to demonstrate analytical rigor and integrity in our work.