Around Ben Wood from CCS Insight in 11 Questions

ben Wood matrix Today we hear from Ben Wood who is a director at CCS Insight and one of the best known analysts in the mobile world. He and others in the CCS Insight team can be found blogging here.

1. What are your coverage areas?
CCS Insight specialises in research about the mobile and wireless industry — but we have a diverse range of customers from all sectors, because mobile is on the agenda of almost every company these days. Personally, I’m best known for my knowledge of mobile devices and everything that is associated with them — applications, services and so on.

2. What are your opinions of the IT analysis marketplace and where do you see it going?

The world is going mobile — and, as you can imagine, we’re very excited about that. Our business is growing very quickly and much of the growth is coming from companies outside the traditional mobile space who want mobility to be part of their strategy. Whether you are an IT specialist looking to mobilise your business or a consumer brand trying to engage with your consumers, it’s a technology you can’t ignore.

3. What’s your typical day like?
One thing is for sure: no day is ever the same and that’s one of the things I love about my job. I’m not great at getting out of bed, but I always try to be at my desk by 9 am. That gives me a chance to catch up with 5:30 am e-mails from one of my colleagues, who is a serious early riser!

Once I’ve got on top of my e-mail (sadly, a never-ending task) I usually spend a bit of time catching up on the latest news via my trusty RSS reader and then get on the phone or IM to the team to catch up on work in progress.

I spend as much time out on the road seeing clients as I do at my desk. It’s something we really encourage at CCS Insight, because it means you’re very aware of what clients want and what’s going on in the market. This means I spend a lot of time in the car, most of which is spent talking on the phone (on a full Parrot Bluetooth car kit, in case anyone is wondering).

Depending on what written material we have to get completed, I’ll be back at my desk in the evening — sometimes supporting our North American clients, many of whom are on the West Coast.

4. Now, c’mon, tell me an AR horror story?
Now you’ve put me on the spot… I guess for me the biggest horror story is sitting in briefing sessions with other analyst firms and having someone asking ill-informed questions or, worse still, being aggressive and arrogant. This means everyone in the analyst community gets tarred with the same brush and makes it hard for the AR folks to set up meetings with senior people in companies again. You’ll see me squirming in my seat when this happens.

As for more humorous stories… they usually revolve around equipment not working, screens, drinks or people falling over, or meeting small companies with products so bizarre they belong on a cringe-worthy episode of Dragons’ Den. I’m not going to name names, though.

5. How do you position your firm? What is your business model? (Where are your revenues coming from, mix between users and vendors?)
Our goal is to be the “eyes and ears” of our customers in the mobile and wireless space. We have a diverse range of customers, both vendors and users, and the list is growing rapidly — hopefully, this is a reflection that we’re giving clients what they want.

We see ourselves as offering a different service to the big analyst firms. We aim to make our research concise, hard hitting and delivered in a timely manner.

Over 80 percent of our revenue comes from outside the UK. Most of our business comes from on-going research agreements with our customers, although we do have a consulting practice which works on a project-by-project basis.

6. What is your research methodology, in 255 characters or less? (Primary research, F2F or phone, secondary only, etc…)
We base our research on lots of inputs, but the industry contacts we’ve built up over many years are the most important sources. And we have a team of researchers in the UK and the Far East, who support our analysts with factual and statistical research. (And that’s 254 characters.)

7. Any favourite AR professional you’d like to mention? And why?
I’m not going to name any names, but the AR professionals I rate highest are the ones that understand our business and what the individual members of the team do. There’s nothing worse than getting spammed with releases that are not relevant to our coverage areas. Another great trait is being able to respond quickly or let us know about breaking news as it happens, even if it’s just a quick text message.

8. What are your offerings and key deliverables?
We have a wide range of products, a few of which I’ve highlighted below:

  • Weekly research (the CCS Insight Hotline): incisive and opinionated analysis of the latest mobile and wireless news
  • Quarterly reports: focus on a broad range of topics, from devices and pricing to mobile network operators and services
  • Event reports: cover key industry events and analyse the highlights
  • Industry access: we respond to clients’ questions by e-mail or on the phone
  • Presentations: regular face-to-face updates on topics relevant to clients or defined by them

9. Any hobbies or favourite restaurant / food that you’d like to share?
Anyone that knows me will be aware that mobile phones are more than just work. I have a collection of over 400 mobile phones, some dating back to the 1980s. They chart the history of our industry, and I’m happy to accept donations if anyone has an unused phone hiding in the back of a drawer.

Another hobby is taking pictures (of everything) and then blogging them. Over the last two years I’ve uploaded more than 10,000 pictures to my photo-sharing site — most of them taken on mobile phones.

My other obsession — Formula 1 motor-racing — is a passion I share with colleagues at CCS Insight. During Grand Prix races in Asia, we’re often online in the middle of the night, exchanging thoughts on the progress of the race.

10. What are your biggest challenges for the upcoming six months? And for the next 30 minutes?
Growing the business is the biggest challenge in the near term. We’re signing up more clients, and to maintain the high-touch model we pride ourselves on, we need great people in the team. Undoubtedly, this means we’ll expand internationally, too. As for the next 30 minutes — whether my laptop battery will last as I head back to the office on the train.

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