James identifies three essential qualities for an analyst.
- a passion for learning
- a passion for communication (with blogging as the preferred mechanism)
You will never stop learning. You will read 100's of pages of journals every week and will attend many courses every year.I don't think this is the most important kind of learning for an industry analyst. The kind of learning that industry analysts need above all is produced by reflection, discussion, and above all thinking. Assimilation of technical material is a means to an end, not an end in itself.
Industry analysts need to master the technical material, but they also need to appreciate the processes of technology development, dissemination and adoption. They need critical evaluation skills - to sense stuff that the vendors are either deliberately concealing or fudging, or perhaps haven't thought of yet. And they need to make creative connections across different technical areas.
And then they need to find a way of communicating this in a way that is useful and relevant to the practical problems faced by people on both sides of the vendor/customer divide.
Above all, the industry analysis firm needs to be a "Learning Organization" in the sense that it is constantly learning better ways of doing and communicating the analysis. I welcome the fact that Redmonk is willing to share its learning processes with the outside world.
Note: James also references Jon Collins post Guys in the bar – New Yorkers and analysts, discussing Malcolm Gladwell.