My brief screed about, IMHO, EMC’s braindead policy of requiring analysts to sign an NDA to attend analyst briefings, touched a nerve.

I’m new to the analyst game. I don’t know anything about it. For all I know, almost every company insists that analysts sign NDAs before briefing them. Maybe financial analysts sign NDAs too. It was just my luck that the first and so far only analyst meeting I’ve attended was at NetApp, and they didn’t ask for an NDA.

Or maybe it’s that I don’t care about roadmaps
As another long-time analyst pointed out to me, most companies want to share their roadmaps with analysts and don’t want them published. From long experience I’ve come to believe that roadmaps are almost worth the paper they’re printed on. I agree with EMC and Apple that new product proof is in shipping, not hyping. So please, spare me your roadmap.

An essay question for analysts
Since I don’t know anything, I’m asking the people who do. Here’s the topic:

How does information you receive under NDA, that you are not supposed to share with clients, help you be a better analyst?

Some areas I’m interested in:

  • Does the NDA change your behavior with clients? If so, how?
  • How you evaluate the credibility of the information you receive under NDA?
  • What, in your view, is the purpose of an NDA in a vendor-analyst relationship?

You can write your answer and paste it into the comment box below or send me an email. Please tell me who you are and if you want anonymity.

I’d like to hear from as many analysts as possible, and I’m very interested in what folks at Gartner – the 800 pound gorilla of IT analysts – think.

I’ve already heard from one analyst, my colleague at Data Mobility Group, Walter Purvis, who thinks I’m “dumb” for not signing the NDA. Former analyst Marc Farley also weighed in. Check out the comments to EMC has Ph.Ds? – Part I below.

The StorageMojo take
IT analysts play a useful role in a complex world. CIOs use them to assure CFOs that a vendor or strategy is OK. They lubricate dialogue between vendors and customers, providing an “impartial” outlet for each side to vent to. Analysts can be usefully brutal with clueless company managements, while providing a sounding board for those willing to engage in a dialogue. A group of smart, independent and well-informed people who talk to everyone and are beholden to none is a Good Thing. And nice work if you can get it.

There’s a dark side too. Weak executives who don’t want their world view challenged, or want analysts to spy on the competition. “Pay for play” white paper writers who happily regurgitate company talking points with a sentence or two of sorta, kinda, negative “analysis” in exchange for fat fees. Customers who want to ream their vendor with negative analyst commentary. It is all very human. Consumer beware.

Comments encouraged. How do you end-users view the analyst community? Clueless flacks? Deep wisdom? Useful fiction? Necessary evil? Phil, Prince of Insufficient Light? Please weigh in.