Anthea Stratigos – September 27, 2016
Anand Sanwal, Data Connoisseur & CEO at CB Insights started a you-know-what-storm a couple of weeks ago when he took on the big research and advisory firms and his clients to boot. The company is fun, has well-deserved swagger, and his newsletters and content marketing are second to none. He and his firm are on a roll. People love following him, love the ‘cruncher’ and love their transparency about their machine-generated data and how they run their content marketing engine. They are hot and they are in vogue. I admit I’m even a little jealous as we’ve been on a public effort to get the machines working here at Outsell and we’re way behind. But that’s another day and another post.
(Source: CB Insights)
Ever since the beginning of our tracking and analyzing the information industry, there’s always been a darling that kicks butt and takes names, and CB Insights is ‘all it’ right now. I just wish for a few things from CB Insights because they have an ability to contribute to a healthy dialog rather than rant and rave about ‘the pundits’ who they also claim as clients and early supporters, which feels a little incongruent.
Rather than say they won’t do market sizing or big forecasts are bunk, how about making important distinctions like describing why new technologies are not forecastable but other new technologies are. New, new technology vs. replacement technology. Or, rather than deride some analyst firm’s market sizing efforts, how about describing that supply-side market sizings are feasible with a census approach and modeling that includes the 80/20 rule and bell-shaped curves.
And if that’s not something someone wants their firm to do, fine – but there are also demand-side sizings where budgets are surveyed, or purchase habits quantified, and projected up to a population which can be defensible. I’m not arguing that CB Insights doesn’t want to do market sizing. I’m also not arguing with the rants about the large analyst firms who forecast things they have little basis in forecasting, such as Forrester’s recent forecast about job loss which adds little but fear to the conversation and seems more about headline mongering that much else.
It’s also ironic that CB Insights rails against the machine of analyst firms while being on a heavy recruiting binge to bring analysts on board. Fact-based analysis is nothing new and I’d like to see them talk about myriad firms that do it legitimately and who are in many sectors of B2B and focus very, very well on data quality. Data quality is important. It’s table stakes for being in this industry these days and it’s not perfect. There is no such thing as 100% data quality.
Big companies and little – focus on quality – IMSHealth, Nielsen, NPD, Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters, Capital iQ and even LocalBlox or Owler. CB Insights isn’t unique in their mission for fact-based analysis and they do what they do well. I’d like to see themselves talk about this nuance and also not call themselves a software company. They use software to make and manage their solution but they don’t sell software to clients, they sell business information and predictive analytics inside those pipes. They sell data, information, knowledge – that just happens to be enabled by software.
They do what they do well. In the words of one of our clients:
“CB Insights has created proprietary scores of a company’s well-being, its health, called Mosaic scores. They are unique and excellent. CB Insights also has numerous analytic capabilities, including their new market trends report; they also publish landscape-style segmentations from time to time. Also, CB Insights follows more startups than any company I have heard about.”
They are masters at the marketing mix and have great data. They are adding analysts to their mix and they are good. I would just like to see them contribute to market education and do it with a little less sarcasm and references about blondes, and does this newsletter make me look fat, or how many ways to put down competitors…
Sure it works but does that make it right? To appeal to the lowest common denominator of our industry’s customers? Keep up the mojo, and no one minds the swag – just improve the level of discourse because the old adage about competing by putting your competitors down vs. focusing on one’s strengths still stands and no one needs B2B tabloid journalists – just ask the folks at Gawker. CB Insights is too good for that.