Influencing the Influencers for Rockwell Automation
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Holmes Report
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Influencing the Influencers for Rockwell Automation

By consistently seeking analyst mind share by outlining its business initiatives and successes, RA favorably altered the mindset of the three firms in one year –- one of which became an outspoken advocate of RA’s enterprise-wide solutions.

Paul Holmes

 

For nearly a century, Rockwell Automation (RA) has built an enviable reputation as a world-class supplier to manufacturers.  Its legacy as the number two global supplier of automation products – devices that control plant-floor operations – preceded the company’s every move. When industry analysts predicted in 1999 that manufacturers needed to work with suppliers that offer enterprise-wide solutions (products and services) to remain competitive, RA was absent or misrepresented in analyst recommendations to manufacturers, influential media and Wall Street. RA worked with PSB to swiftly change its approach with industry analysts, from reactive to proactive.  By consistently seeking analyst mind share by outlining its business initiatives and successes, RA favorably altered the mindset of the three firms in one year – one of which became an outspoken advocate of RA’s enterprise-wide solutions.

CHALLENGE

Despite a growing services business, Rockwell Automation (RA) carried a 100 year reputation as a global supplier of automation products.  However, industry analysts – manufacturing’s leading pundits and harshest critics – predicted in 1999 that manufacturers needed enterprise-wide solutions (products and services) from suppliers to remain competitive, rather than buying individual products for the plant floor.  Despite a new strategic vision – “Complete Automation” – and success in providing solutions, being known solely as a products supplier left RA mainly absent or with less than favorable reviews in analyst reports and studies, and in direct recommendations to manufacturers, influential  media, and Wall Street.  

RESEARCH

Audit of industry analyst relations activities:  Any activity with industry analysts was executed “ad hoc” by various product groups throughout the company.           

Report content analysis:  Comprehensive review of all reports and summaries for the year (non-specific to RA).  Analysis was based on 1998’s analyst activities, RA’s strategic initiatives, and market standings of various product groups. 

Media content analysis:  Analyst quotes and attributions were tracked in primary manufacturing trade publications.

Research Conclusions:

Three analyst firms – AMR Research, ARC Advisory Group, and GartnerGroup – carried the greatest influence with RA’s target customer base

Each firm employed analysts with expertise in a wide cross-section of manufacturing topics

Analysts were calling for solutions over products from manufacturing suppliers – and not naming RA as a leader 

RA corporate didn’t have influence with analysts

RA’s analyst relations were fragmented, reactive, and driven by product groups

Product groups treated analysts like media, usually as an afterthought (e.g., analyst tour during a media tour)

Analysts misunderstood product-level business moves as shifts in corporate direction (e.g., GartnerGroup prediction that RA was becoming a software company)

PLANNING 

Target audiences included AMR, ARC, and Gartner (and topic experts within and also RA senior management, business units.

Objectives

1.  To get RA senior management onboard, speaking the same language and respecting analysts’ influence. Needed to have RA executives respecting the opinions of analysts and supporting the plan.

2.   To positively influence the perceptions analysts have of RA – from a products supplier to a leader in providing solutions (products and services) to global manufacturers, measured by moving analyst firms along a continuum:

  • from informed (receiving information over transom);
  • to correspondent (including RA in solutions analyses); 
  • to advocate (opinions favorable to RA’s market position).

Note that all three firms began in the informed category.

The end goal was to obtain more of the right coverage in analyst reports and more analyst quotes in the media regarding RA, thereby influencing sales.

Key messages

For RA Management:

  • Analyst opinions go direct to our customers and reflect on RA’s overall reputation in the marketplace
  • RA will be proactive with industry analyst relations, with increased accessibility and accountability of RA senior management 
  • RA will tie all analyst interaction – down to the product level – to RA’s strategic initiatives

For Industry analysts:

  • RA is positioned to lead the global automation market in growth, technology advancements, solutions and service
  • RA’s core competencies in technologies, products and service result in best-in-class solutions 

Communications strategies

  • Help RA leaders clearly differentiate the roles and influence of analysts, while formalizing analyst interaction at all levels to tie to corporate direction
  • Listen to analysts, then project a strong industry voice that speaks to their point of view 
  • Increase participation with analysts, and bring partners, customers along to reinforce
  • Leverage Rockwell Automation’s strategic focus to shape industry vernacular

Timeline: Oct. 1, 1999 - Sept. 30, 2000 (Fiscal 2000)

Budget for PSB services: $11,000

EXECUTION

Strategy: Help RA leaders clearly differentiate the roles and influence of analysts, while formalizing analyst interaction at all levels to tie to corporate direction

Matrix, analysts-initiatives:  An internal guide that identified the primary firm, and analyst, for each of RA’s business initiatives.

Key message collaboration:  RA collaborated all analyst surveys, one-on-one meetings, and conference attendance to ensure continuity throughout business unit and corporate messages shared with the analysts throughout the year.

Business unit collaboration:  RA used its quarterly analysis of analyst report coverage to create customized overviews to business units to help guide product and service-level marketing communications efforts.

Strategy: Listen to analysts, then project a strong industry voice that speaks to their point of view 

Industry conferences:  RA aligned key leadership to attend analyst-sponsored forums parallel to business initiatives for learning current industry vernacular and market conditions.

Industry analyst tours:  RA’s three major initiatives in 2000 – process/integrated architecture, e-business, and businessware/services – were previewed to AMR, ARC and Gartner prior to market launches for message testing and analyst review.  Three separate tours for on-site meetings were arranged.  RA leadership serving as presenters were prepped with reviews of analyst conclusions on RA’s role in each space, and presentations/messages were framed to acknowledge the analyst perspectives, provide RA’s perspective and successes, and solicit feedback from each firm.

Strategy: Increase participation with analysts, and bring partners, customers along to reinforce

Senior management briefings, Milwaukee:  RA hosted each primary firm and its key analysts for day-long briefings with senior management at headquarters in Milwaukee. Meetings were hosted in October with AMR, January with ARC, and May with Gartner.  Each meeting provided complete overviews of the company’s direction, initiatives, and successes, and provided each firm with the opportunity to share its own perspectives on the current manufacturing market with RA’s management. Summaries were used to shape the overall company messages and presentations. 

International Media Event ’00:  Analysts from ARC and AMR served as third-party participants on various topic panels at this annual media event for RA.  Each firm also covered the event as part of Automation Fair, RA’s annual trade show.

Case study, DaimlerChrysler:  RA and ARC partnered to develop a case study of the automaker’s application of RA solutions and services to increase success of new automotive launches in the company’s global factories.

Analyst quotes, news releases:  ARC provided a quote for a news release announcing RA’s acquisition of Entek Ltd., and AMR listed itself as a contact source for the launch of RA’s Allen-Bradley WebStore, part of its e-business initiative

Strategy: Leverage Rockwell Automation’s strategic focus to shape industry vernacular

e-Manufacturing definition:  In January 2000, AMR coined a new industry term, e-manufacturing.  To capture early recognition for RA’s complete approach to e-manufacturing through all of its business initiatives, RA worked with AMR to create a simple definition for the complex manufacturing business strategy.  AMR took total ownership, and published the definition in an August report.  AMR also provided a keynote e-manufacturing address at RA’s 2000 International Media Event in December 2000. 

Quarterly analyst summaries:  RA provided quarterly summaries of analyst reports to all company leadership, business units, and marketing communicators to help all stay abreast of current analyst opinions about market conditions directly aligned with RA’s business objectives.  The summaries also included recaps and forecasts of past and future quarter interactions with the firms.

EVALUATION

Report content analysis:  Comprehensive review of all reports and summaries for the year (non-specific to RA).  Analysis was based on 2000’s analyst activities and tracked against RA’s business initiatives. 

Media content analysis:  Analyst quotes and attributions were tracked in primary manufacturing trade publications.

Results:

AMR, ARC, and Gartner continue to carry the greatest influence with RA’s target customer base

Gartner moved from “informed” to “correspondent” in its perception of RA, acknowledging the company’s successes in providing solutions and services without losing its competency in products

ARC evolved to the “correspondent” level, fairly positioning RA in its analyses; the firm did move to “advocate” by endorsing RA’s ability to deliver services to manufacturers (as evidenced by Chrysler case study)
AMR evolved to the “advocate” level, providing non-solicited endorsement all of RA’s business initiatives as best-in-class solutions for manufacturers, particularly e-business and e-manufacturing.  AMR was heavily quoted in key trade publications, like Managing Automation, endorsing RA’s offering to the market as superior to those of major global competitors.

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