This is an important consideration to keep in mind when working with research and consulting firms. After all, you want to know that the information and guidance you’re getting is as unbiased as possible. And when making a purchasing decision, you’re counting on a recommendation based on your needs, not one influenced by any sort of financial relationship.
In recent weeks, we’ve seen other analyst firms that seem to be suffering from an identity crisis – instead of sticking to objectivity and neutrality as an analyst firm, due to whatever internal challenges they may have, these analyst firms are becoming more consultancy than unbiased analyst firms.
At Brandon Hall Group, we grapple with objectivity every day. My colleagues and I talk with hundreds of insiders every month. We must continually monitor and filter what we say and write, so as not to disclose private information, market rumors, or personal opinions (unless asked). We do our best to weigh research data so that results aren’t skewed or misleading. For sure, it’s not easy, and we find ourselves in frequent, but healthy debates over the issue.
It’s no secret that as analysts in the space that we – and virtually every other research and consulting company on the planet – work with solution providers. On a tactical level, they leverage us for directed research and to share our research in their hosted webinars. We offer insight and perspective that can guide their strategies and product plans. We also work on deeper strategic issues with providers in the Learning, Talent, Sales, and Marketing spaces, such as due diligence M&A projects and are part of the due diligence process based on our expertise as an analyst firm.
As an analyst and research firm, if we’re to maintain a healthy level of objectivity, we cannot enter into any kind of relationship that may be perceived to obligate – or even set expectations – of recommendation or favorable treatment of specific products or companies no matter how lucrative such a partnership might be. It’s what makes us a true analyst firm and it’s what has enabled Brandon Hall Group to thrive for 20 years in the business.
Before you engage any research and consulting firm, we recommend that you do some homework to ensure a level of objectivity that meets your expectations and comfort. Ask pointed questions! Do your own due diligence!
Just as any reputable media company will disclose up front all advertising and business relationships that could be construed as having influence, any analyst firm should be willing to honestly discuss any vendor relationships relevant to your engagement. You should be comfortable asking for a list of current and recent solution provider clients. Get details about the work performed. Understand what kinds of ongoing partnerships may be in place. When reading research – any kind of research – you should question the methodology, the credentials of the writer, and how the research was funded.
I’ve personally been in the research business since 2004 and I’ve been in the learning industry for 20 years. I know the value of a reputation built on objectivity – as well as the risks of compromise. Please know that Brandon Hall Group encourages your questions and welcomes any discussion around this important topic.