Around R. David Hofferberth of Service Performance Insight in 12 questions

R. David HofferberthContinuing our series of analyst interviews, next into the hotseat is David Hofferberth, from Service Performance Insights, one of the few analysts covering the Professional Services market -a huge but little spoken about industry.

  1. What are your coverage areas?
    I cover business applications that are used in the professional services sector. Traditionally, these have boiled down to include Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Professional Services Automation (PSA). However, now I am also beginning to review other applications that include Human Capital Management (HCM), Procurement and Business Intelligence (BI) The lines have begun to blur as more product-driven organizations realize services will become one of their core differentiators going forward, I am now actually spending more time now talking to the professional services divisions of these companies.
  2. What are your opinions of the IT Analysis Marketplace and where do you see it going?
    There are obviously fewer major analyst firms than there were a decade ago, similar to what I have seen in the business application market. I would expect there will always be three to five large IT analyst firms to keep the market competitive and provide different points of view. However, I have seen a number of analysts, including myself, who have ventured out on their own. This independence has allowed us to focus on specific areas of interest, without the need to change our area focus every time some new supposed “breakthrough technology” comes along.
  3. What’s your typical day like?
    I have a long but enjoyable day typically. My commute is very short, as I only have to walk up one floor to my office. That is when I am not traveling. I begin each morning scanning the e-mail I received overnight as well as the headlines from the various technology and business-related periodicals. In the morning I normally interact with people over in Europe, while later in the day I speak with people on the West Coast and Far East when necessary. I try to deliver any information that is asked of me in the morning, as I prefer to spend my afternoons conducting research and writing.

  4. Now, c’mon, tell me an AR horror story?
    I have only had two AR interactions that went a poorly in my ten years of being an analyst. The sessions were argumentative and not very productive for either me or the company I interviewed. Ironically, neither of these two organizations lasted six months after my meeting with them. It probably came down to their ego in trying to tell me how the world has changed, and my disagreement that what they were doing was really world-changing.
  5. How do you position your firm? What is your business model? (where are your revenues coming from, mix between users and vendors?)
    I established my firm so that I could continue my research into workforce productivity through the use of information technology. Ideally, I conduct research in the professional services sector and how they use technology, then publish the research and sell it on my website. From time to time I do consulting with end-user organizations when they have a specific need such as an independent opinion of their application infrastructure and where they should go ahead going forward. I also give speeches at a number of software conferences as well as other independent conferences focused on specific topics that interest me. These conferences generally bring leads for additional work, as well as provide me contact information on organizations that I eventually survey. Currently my revenue is approximately 75% from end-user organizations and 25% from independent software vendors.
  6. What is your research methodology, in 255 characters or less? (primary research, F2F or phone, secondary only, etc…)
    I conduct primary research via surveys, by phone, or in person. I believe that primary research is fundamental to my ongoing success.
  7. Any favourite AR professional you’d like to mention? And why?
    I will say a Ludovic Leforestier of Oracle because he is the one who introduced me to this Blog. Most of the AR staffs that I have met with keep me informed on a regular basis. However, Ludovic does a better job than most of keeping the current with Oracle’s activities.
  8. Tell us about one good AR practice you’ve experienced or one good AR event you’ve attended.
    The larger software firms typically have the most seasoned and polished AR practices. They understand the importance of keeping analysts informed in a timely manner. Analysts don’t like to be caught off guard when announcements are made. I especially like it when they provide me with concise information on current announcements in a book or PDF format, so that I can keep it and review as needed. I also like when these organizations provide me with a CD or thumb-drive with all of the relevant presentations on them that I can use as needed.
  9. What are your offerings and key deliverables?
    My firm has a number of offerings: from marketing strategy, to solution development, to presentations to reports. Each of the offerings have key deliverables that range from a one page a write up of the meeting that I attended to more customized research and analysis, which ultimately leads to presentation slides.
  10. Any hobbies or favourite restaurant / food that you’d like to share?
    One of the great things about being an analyst is that during your travels you have the opportunity to eat at many great restaurants. Currently, my favorite restaurant is Boulevard in San Francisco. However, it is always nice to stop at a Wolfgang Puck restaurant during my travels. In London, my favorite restaurant is the Bleeding Heart, which combines excellent food and an intriguing atmosphere.
  11. What is your biggest challenges for the upcoming 6 months? And for the next 30 mn?
    When I became an analyst again two years ago I thought that I would be spending a majority of my time covering the PSA market, as that is where I gained market credibility a decade ago. However the ERP solution market has begun to make significant inroads in the professional services sector. I must continue to research the ERP solutions, as they are much more complex than the PSA solutions I spent most of the last decade covering. It is important for me to understand each of the vendors’ integration strategy, and how that will improve performance going forward. I suppose for the next 30 minutes I must work hard to get this document completed, as well as handle a number of phone calls that continue to interrupt me.
  12. Is there another analyst (a peer in your firm or with another firm) whose work you rate highly?
    There aren’t many analysts who cover business solutions for the services. I would suppose that I always had a lot of respect for Matt Light at Gartner Group who occasionally ventures into this area.
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