Around Mitul Mehta of TekPlus in 10 questions

clip_image002Continuing our occasional series of analyst interviews, we’re delighted to welcome Dr. Mitul Mehta, Managing Director with TekPlus, into the hotseat to share his views on the industry.

  1. What are your coverage areas?
    My coverage area is fairly broad involving most of ICT. This came about due to my background from the very early days in this industry when I was the head of overall ICT research at a major US analyst house – I ended up having to advice a number of the leading end-user clients and most of the major vendors on overall IT and Telecoms direction and impact on their business processes, strategies and M&As. Focusing on too narrow a segment was not on and I had to learn fast to cover most technologies and segments else I could not have enough breath and depth to advice on overall strategy. Also given that a number of departments ranging from Technology areas like Servers, Storage, Software, Security, Networking, Telecoms to Services and Verticals like Banking and Healthcare were all reporting to me, I ended up being a strategist specialising in providing strategic and high level advice to the very senior executives and leaving the number crunching to my analyst colleagues . Over the years at TekPlus I have focused in a similar manner covering a number of areas strategically especially around infrastructure, software and services whilst leaving the number crunching and detailed product analysis and evaluations to my colleagues who specialise in Data Center Infrastructure, Security, Networking, Telecom Infrastructure, IT Services and Verticals.
  2. What are your opinions of the IT Analysis Marketplace and where do you see it going?
    In a way I see it going back to its roots of pre-Gartner times when both Specialist magazines and Analyst houses were both highly influential but could come from the same company, advice and training came from many quarters and an analyst house needed to use various associates and in-house mix to provide the right coverage and depth. I think given the new dynamics in the market place around blogs, free advice and the positioning of the ‘influencer’ the market will once again go through many providers and available avenues for general advice whilst paying big bucks for in-depth knowledge and highly strategic advice involving what actions to take. I believe globalisation will have a major impact and having observed the recent trends from the office we opened in India two years back we can already see that so long as you are experienced and have the knowledge, global brands don’t mean a thing – typically we as a small company still get highly strategic projects both with end-users and vendors in direct competition with some large brands due to the nature and depth of the advice we can provide. I believe this will become more and more true as the emerging markets grow and highly tuned advice comes from smaller analyst groups.
  3. What’s your typical day like?
    Currently most of my mornings go into managing both the Mumbai and London offices and making sure the senior management team and our analysts are all ok and on track. I spend a lot of time on Skype with my Indian office since it has started to grow. Around mid-day I generally have a number of vendor briefings lined up and I spend most of the early part of my afternoons on being productive with client meetings. The evenings are spent on writing or editing our publications.
  4. Now, c’mon, tell me an AR horror story?
    This was some time ago during the time of Compaq having the Alpha platform. I was advising some large financial institutions on the infrastructure landscape and had asked Compaq a number of times on what their intentions were with Alpha. Having spoken to a number of their executives across the board, I was coming to the conclusion that no new money was going into development and soon it would not be strategic for the company. By chance Compaq decided to have a briefing with a few key analysts and when we attended most of us found that no answers were forthcoming and the executive was very ill-advised. Two days later an analyst from IDC and me who were regularly interviewed by the IT magazines were quoted in one magazine under a big front page headline saying ‘Alpha is Dead’. You can imagine the calls that followed. I believe the writer had read between the lines from what both of us were saying and had come to that conclusion. My discussions with the Compaq AR team was to the effect that if you were more straight forward and we were better informed –we could have provided a more informed opinion! The Compaq AR team learned fast and were much better at keeping us informed from there on!
  5. How do you position your firm? What is your business model? (where are your revenues coming from, mix between users and vendors?)
    TekPlus has generally being positioned at the high end of the value stack for an analyst house in terms of us providing mostly in-depth strategy advice to both vendors and end-users around IT in business processes, architectural directions, eco-systems, global delivery models, SMB strategies, management and sales training, sales tools, executive workshops, etc. However recently we have changed direction as our Indian office has started growing and we have introduced a number of services in the lower end of the value stack especially around market forecasts for verticals and emerging markets, product analysis and comparisons, SWOTS and a number of new subscriptions around Security and Verticals. We have around 60% of our revenues coming from vendors – predominantly made up of senior level strategic advice. We see this slowly changing as the subscriptions and publications take hold. Currently around 40% of our revenue comes from end-user consulting from around three major verticals where we have had a presence now for a number of years. We are also bringing out more and more end-user publications so we see the mix here changing over time.
  6. What is your research methodology, in 255 characters or less?  (primary research, F2F or phone, secondary only, etc…)
    We do ‘in-depth bottom up primary research’ mostly via the phone but also F2F for all our publications (forecasts, products and end-user studies). We then analyse the data and findings with a ‘top-down approach’ of senior analysts and consultants sitting and discussing the data and then build up a view of our findings. We always have a detailed methodology published with all our products and clearly state up front how we undertake each project or publication.
  7. Any favourite AR professional you’d like to mention? Any why?
    Many over the years but a few that stand out – Bill Reed (IBM), Ludovic Leforestier (Oracle), Signe Loenberg (Loenberg-AR), Kim Horner (CustomerClix) and Malee Dharmasena (Cisco). Why? –in one answer they do not bullshit and tell you as it is, appreciate your value and make an effort to put the right calibre of executive in front of you!
  8. Tell us about one good AR practice you’ve experienced or one good AR event you’ve attended.
    The good meetings have always been when the executive knows his stuff and is not just marketing a message or telling porkies (some still do!). As an analyst who has been around – sometimes longer than the executive, you know what is in the company, where they are heading and what generally they need to focus on. So please put people who know what they are talking about in front of analysts. The early Cisco WW meetings with around 20-30 analysts and senior executives were very good. Your time was well spent and you got the answers and interaction you wanted. The same could be said of the early HP WW events.
  9. What are your offerings and key deliverables?
    TekPlus offerings are split into three boxes:
    1) High end Consulting
    2) Publications and Subscription Services
    3) Pathways

    High-end consulting is a key part of our business both at the end-users and vendors and we tend to do a number of senior/board level assignments.

  10. Our subscription services on the vendor side are split into two – customised strategic intelligence programmes (SIPS) ( currently on SME, Services, IT Enterprise, Next Generation Networks and The Channel) where we give regular monthly guidance, messaging as well as sit in quarterly meetings and Market Intelligence services (MIS) which consist of both market data and strategic guidance. We have just launched in the last two weeks new MIS subscriptions in security and health verticals. We also have a service directed to the end-user whereby our corporate advisories, SWOTS, Product evaluations, etc are given out free to them. We also produce a number of general publication reports around forecasts, end-user studies and guidance reports.
    In pathways we generally train executives and IT managers to new technology implications, vertical guidance, technology directions, sales training etc. They are generally delivered via workshops.
  11. What is your biggest challenges for the upcoming 6 months? And for the next 30 mn?
    Making sure our new subscription specializations get established. Grow our services in Asia and make sure the Indian office continues to grow at a high rate. Make sure the projects are still coming in despite the slow-down. In the next 30mins – making sure I am ready for my client meeting.

The IIAR Analyst of the Year survey — and the winner is….

image Over the past few months, the IIAR have been running a survey to identify who AR practitioners believe should win the award of ‘analyst of the year’. With over 116 respondents from around the world, the number of firms and individuals that people wanted to recognise was extraordinary (191 different analyst names and 103 separate houses).

For an analyst or their company to have made the top 10 is a truly remarkable achievement and my congratulations go to them. Specifically though a few individuals and companies should be highlighted:

Ray Wang, Principal Analyst with Forrester Research, Inc., is the analyst of the year. Respondents praised his insight, depth of industry knowledge, and independent voice. Runners up for the title were David Mitchell of Ovum and James Governor of RedMonk.

Ray was also named Analyst of the Year for the Americas, while David Mitchell of Ovum was voted the EMEA Analyst of the Year.

Forrester was highly regarded by respondents in all regions, and was voted the Analyst Firm of the Year. It was commended for the strength of its analyst team, the quality of its client services and its ability to spot new trends. Gartner and IDC came second and third, respectively.

Not only have the traditional global analyst firms done well in this year’s survey, but the smaller, boutique consultancies also scored highly. Freeform Dynamics and MWD came in the top five in EMEA with RedMonk in the top three in the Americas, and a number of other firms also received honourable mentions. Respondents liked their honesty, ability to innovate, the quality of their research and use of new media channels.

What came out clearly from the survey was that integrity, independence and market knowledge are the analyst qualities that are most highly valued by AR professionals. It demonstrates very positively how much the IT research industry has matured.

The results below have been split into several segments to reward those whose specialty in niche areas should be recognised.

A full copy of all the results can be downloaded here

  Analyst of the Year 1   Analyst Firm of the Year
1 Ray Wang, Forrester 1 1 Forrester
2 David Mitchell, Ovum 1 2 Gartner
3 James Governor, RedMonk 1 3 IDC
4 Ed Thompson, Gartner 1 4 RedMonk
5 Michael Cote, RedMonk 1 5 AMR
6 Jeffrey Hammond, Forrester 1 6 Freeform Dynamics
7 Dale Vile, Freeform Dynamics 1 7 Ovum
8 Bola Rotibi, Ovum (now MWD) 1 8 MWD
9 Massimo Pezzini, Gartner 1 9 Enterprise Strategy Group
10 Brian Babineau, ESG 1 10 CCS Insight

EMEA Focus:

  EMEA
Analyst of the Year
1 1 EMEA
Analyst Firm of the Year
1 David Mitchell, Ovum   1 Gartner
2 Dale Vile, Freeform Dynamics   2 Forrester
3 Ed Thompson, Gartner   3 Ovum
4 Philip Dawson, Gartner   4 Freeform Dynamics
5 Neil Rickard, Gartner   5 MWD

US Focus:

  US
Analyst of the Year
    US
Analyst Firm of the Year
1 Ray Wang, Forrester   1 Forrester
2 David Mitchell, Ovum   2 Gartner
3 Michael Cote, RedMonk   3 RedMonk
4 Jeffrey Hammond, Forrester   4 Enterprise Strategy Group
5 James Governor, RedMonk   5 AMR

Communications & networking Focus:

  Comms & Networking
Analyst of the Year
    Comms & Networking
Analyst Firm of the Year
1 Neil Rickard, Gartner   1 Forrester
2 Ben Wood, CCS Insight   2 Gartner
3 Nick Jones, Gartner   3 Ovum
4 Zeus Kerravala, Yankee Group   4 IDC
5 Danille Levitas, IDC   5 Yankee Group

Software Focus:

  Software
Analyst of the Year
    Software
Analyst Firm of the Year
1 Ray Wang, Forrester   1 Forrester
2 David Mitchell, Ovum   2 Gartner
3 Ed Thompson, Gartner   3 AMR
4 Jeffrey Hammond, Forrester   4 RedMonk
5 Michael Cote, RedMonk   5 MWD

Services Focus:

  Services
Analyst of the Year
    Services
Analyst Firm of the Year
1 Pascal Matzke, Forrester   1 Forrester
2 Stephanie Moore, Forrester   2 Gartner
3 Paul Roehrig, Forrester   3 IDC
4 Michael von Uechtritz, Gartner   4 Ovum
5 Dane Anderson, Gartner   5 NelsonHall

Importance vs. Relevance: Analyst Firm of the Year:

  Most Relevant
Analyst Firm of the Year
1   Most Important
Analyst Firm of the Year
1 Forrester   1 Gartner
2 IDC   2 Forrester
3 Freeform Dynamics   3 IDC
4 Burton   4 Ovum
5 RedMonk   5 AMR
6 AMR   6 Redmonk
7 Ovum   7 Enterprise Strategy Group
8 MWD   8 Freeform Dynamics
9 451 Group   9 Current Analysis
10 Gartner   10 TowerGroup

EMEA:

  Most Relevant
Analyst Firm of the Year
1   Most Important
Analyst Firm of the Year
1 Gartner   1 Gartner
2 Freeform Dynamics   2 Forrester
3 Forrester   3 Ovum
4 Ovum   4 IDC
5 MWD   5 Freeform Dynamics

US:

  Most Relevant
Analyst Firm of the Year
1   Most Important
Analyst Firm of the Year
1 Forrester   1 Forrester
2 Burton   2 Gartner
3 IDC   3 IDC
4 Ovum   4 RedMonk
5 RedMonk   5 AMR

Commenting on his award, Ray Wang said:

I’m very pleased to receive this distinction. AR professionals represent the critical link between an analyst’s perception and the company’s reality. Because the AR profession is not only a science but also an art, good AR professionals build the relationships from a position of trust which drive the foundation for all interactions. I’m thankful to have worked with so many true professionals.

David Mitchell, ranked first in EMEA commented:

Analyst relations professionals are playing an increasingly important and influential role in the ICT (Information Communication Technology) industry, both when working directly for companies and when working as third party advisors to those customers. As such, it’s a great honour to be recognised by the IIAR.

One of the interesting results from the survey is the distinction made between relevant and important analyst firms. From my perspective it appears that people made the recognised tier 1’s (Gartner, Forrester, IDC) as the most important as they realise that these companies have a strong impact on sales due to their customer base and research viability. However, relevant firms did not necessarily map on to these same firms and the ones ranked most highly tended to have a greater focus on bespoke advice (largely gained through inquiry time).

When we run this survey next year we would be delighted to hear suggestions regarding how this can be improved. For your benefit I have listed below a brief summary of the methodology used.

Methodology

1) Entrants:

This survey was open to anyone who works in analyst relations in any country, either in-house or at an agency/consultancy. In order for someone’s entry to be validated, they had to submit their email address and company name to verify they not an impostor trying to distort the results. This personal information will not be distributed or used beyond sending copies of the results to all participant. The survey was open for specific period of time and IP addresses were taken to ensure that someone could not vote twice.

2) Questions:

The survey specifically focused on an individual’s perception of the analyst world in 2007. All questions were free text to ensure that results could not be biased by presenting a pre-made list of companies or analysts. The result of this was extraordinary with 191 different analyst names being submitted as ‘analyst of the year’ and 103 different firms listed for the ‘analyst house of the year’.

3) Segmentation:

Respondents were asked to specify their submissions based upon geography (US, EMEA, AsiaPac, Global) and segment (Software, Hardware, Services, Communications and Networking). Based upon these criteria further analysis could be made of the results to identify specific regional or segment champions.

If you have any questions or comments about this survey please contact either myself or Hannah Kirkman

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