Continuing 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- What are your offerings and key deliverables?
TekPlus offerings are split into three boxes:
1) High end Consulting
2) Publications and Subscription Services
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.
- 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.
- 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.