Marc Dowd
Marc Dowd (Principal, European Client Advisory)

When I joined the IDC Advisory team back in 2018, I had plenty of experience of using research and advisory services as a customer, and a vision of how I wanted to deliver these things from the “other side.” One of the biggest challenges we have in IT (and in this we are no different from any other part of the business) is that we are “time poor.” In a conversation with an advisory client this week, I mentioned that I spent some time that day catching up with our recent research. “I envy you the time to read,” he said. This is not unusual, and my memories of being encouraged to spend time reading around a particular subject when there were four or five things demanding my immediate attention and my decision on how to progress inform how I work with my clients each day.

Your job in IT is to be informed — it’s too fast moving an industry to rest on your laurels. You are expected to know about the latest technologies being used in the industry, what benefits they are bringing to your competitors, how you could use them, what the cost is, and by the way, did you know you are already using it in that location over there? You’re expected to understand the skills market and how you are going to find the people to deliver against the strategic and tactical demands of your organisation, not to mention a highly dynamic economic environment. You need to make sure you are working effectively and efficiently for the benefit of your customers and your teams — “best practice” might not be possible but you are expected to know what good practice is in different areas of technology governance as the game constantly changes. This isn’t a list of woes — technology is a fascinating and challenging world to work in.

Given the fact that most of our clients do not have very much time to read, our job as advisors is often to make sure that if they are going to read something from our research, it is very relevant and meets their immediate need. A research library of a million documents sounds impressive, but if one has to search through all of them to find what is needed, it’s worse than useless. To be able to provide the most relevant, on-point material, we need to know the context. When we talk to our clients, that’s a big part of the value for us — immersing ourselves in the context so that we can add value beyond that immediate conversation. 

Moving beyond this description of how we work at IDC, there have been plenty of times when I have not had the luxury of a research subscription. There is an enormous amount of material available “free” on the internet or that can be accessed for the price of your contact details and a small amount of potential sales contact. Much of this is produced by those with an interest in the data, so there is bias to be found, but an intelligent eye can see through much of that. It is entirely possible to become well informed on a subject through blogs, podcasts, conversations with your peers, discussions with vendors, etc. All these sources have value if you have the time to process them.

Sometimes these blogs have a conclusion where I give my thoughts on an approach or strategy that you can use to solve a particular problem. I’d have to declare an interest in this one — I think you should use the IDC Advisory team, of course 😊. Realistically there are many avenues you can take and this week in our Digital Leadership Community discussion we’re going to talk about how you stay informed in such a fast-moving world.

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