Around Helena Schwenk from MWD in 10 questions

Helena Schwenk / MWDToday we have the pleasure to welcome Helena Schwenk (bio, @hmschwenk, blog) who just joined MWD to lead the BI practice and where she reunited with some ex-colleagues. And she’s also a runner, so I’m looking forward to seeing her in races!

  1. What are your coverage areas?
    I cover Information Management (IM), BI and analytics at MWD. This is a huge area so in order to do it justice from a research coverage perspective I am honing in on the areas that I believe offer the most value to enterprises. This will involve looking at topics such as how advanced analytics can improve the speed to business insight and help create sustainable advantage, lowering BI implementation and development costs with Cloud, SaaS, open source BI and plug-and-play appliances, how to squeeze more value from existing IM and BI investments and how disruptive technologies for high performance BI, analytics and data warehousing can provide value. These topics will all form part of my IM and BI research agenda which we’ll be publishing shortly. 

  2. What are your opinions of the IT Analysis Marketplace and where do you see it going?
    I believe it’s a very exciting time in the IT Analysis marketplace at the moment. While the market consolidates around a few large and dominant players I happen to believe this is good news for a company like MWD. As a smaller advisory company I believe there is still plenty of opportunity in the market for us to exploit our specialist expertise. In comparison with the larger players we can’t aim to cover everything; instead our aim is to focus on what we believe is a core consideration for enterprises and vendors – that of IT Business Alignment.
    Likewise we believe our size allows us to be more personable and flexible. We believe in offering expertise and advice direct to our customers, you don’t have to jump through hoops or send loads of emails to get hold of one of us. Our size in fact is one of our key differentiators as it allows our customers to engage with us on a more timely and personalised basis.

    As the market continues to shake out I believe successful IT Analysis companies will be those that can prove they provide added value to their customers. Not just through written content but in terms of personalised and pertinent advice that allows them to get value from their IT investment – and to do that you need to be a ‘real’ advisory company.
     

  3. What’s your typical day like?Having been in the job for just over two weeks I have yet to experience a typical day. However what I would say is that my induction into MWD has been a terrific experience and that is thanks to the great team I work with (so thanks Beth, Neil, Dee and Angela). If you want to know how I will be spending my time at MWD then a mixture of one, several or all of the following activities would constitute a ‘productive day at the office!’
    • advising clients on the business, technology and deployment issues impacting their IM/BI initiative
    • writing incisive and opinionated research about the major developments and technology innovations shaping the IM/BI market
    • speaking at user events and conferences providing an independent and authoritative voice on the key events and issues driving the IM/BI market.
    • developing and evolving a forward-looking research agenda that reflects the current and future state of the IM/BI market and maps this against the research and advisory needs of our clients
  4. Now, c’mon, tell me an AR horror story
    I have plenty actually………. but unfortunately I can’t say; discretion is my middle name after all. 

  5. How do you position your firm? What is your business model?
    Right here comes the pitch; you have been warned…. MWD Advisors is a specialist European IT advisory firm which focuses exclusively on issues surrounding IT-business alignment. Whereas the majority of large IT advisory firm research focuses on technology in isolation, we focus on topics that help the business get value from their IT investment. We help IT explain to the business how it’s going to help them, how they can take innovation and make it useful and bring business people in their discussions.
    Our key competencies are in Information Management, BI and analytics, BPM and Collaboration. We provide advisory services and strategic consulting to both enterprises and IT vendors. Currently we have over 2900 subscribers benefiting from MWD’s research of which approximately 45% are from end user enterprises, the rest from systems integrators, consultants and ISVs, and a smaller percentage of media/PR/industry influencers or similar. We position ourselves largely as a European company for European subscribers, but in reality many of the issues we cover are relevant to everyone, and this is reflected in our subscriber base which includes not only Europe, but also North America, Asia and Australasia.
     

  6. What is your research methodology?
    We focus on primary research incorporating phone and web-based surveys, case studies and capability assessments that show real world companies working with the technologies. This is complemented with our in-house expertise and research, vendor briefings, technology assessments and one-to-one interviews. 

  7. Any favourite AR professional you’d like to mention? Any why?
    I have been privileged enough to have worked with some excellent and very talented AR professionals however I couldn’t possibly single out one particular individual (or could I…….?) That said anyone who has an in-depth knowledge of their area and can combine this with a responsive and proactive approach to dealing with analyst requests certainly gets my vote. A good sense of humour also goes down tremendously well as does a predilection to enjoying the social aspects of the role! 

  8. Tell us about one good AR practice you’ve experienced or one good AR event you’ve atttended.
    In terms of good practice I really appreciate a push and pull approach. One where the AR team understands your topic and areas of specialisation and push targeted content, briefings and event invites etc. based on these preferences. Combining this with a pull approach where I can get request briefings, call on customer case studies and schedule time with the relevant product or marketing teams according to current research needs would constitute a top-notch AR service in my book.
    Vendor events come in all shapes and sizes but those that are dedicated to analysts (or have a dedicated analyst stream) certainly provide the most benefit in my opinion. They get top marks is they provide an open and interactive forum to meet and engage with senior executives and hear firsthand about the strategic and product direction of the company. Extra marks are also awarded if the event is generously littered with customer case studies and an opportunity for one-to-one time with those customers. Of course a good social activity where us analysts can talk through the day’s activities and unwind somewhat can be a great boon – we are human after all!
     

  9. What are your offerings and key deliverables?
    MWD provides both advisory services and strategic consulting to enterprises and IT vendors. From an advisory service perspective there are four premium content types provided within the IM and BI service: Best Practice Insights, Market Insights, Vendor Insights and Strategic Insights:
  • Best Practice Insights: which aim to highlight key best practices, market maturity and perceptions amongst enterprises concerning technology usage
  • Market Insights: These reports provide event-based analyses of vendor moves, M&A, and other related business trends.
  • Strategic Insights: Concentrate on issues that concern enterprises’ medium term planning, as well as helping them overcome short term challenges.
  • Vendor Insights: This group of reports include vendor capability assessments and analysis of vendor positions, backgrounds and strategies.

We also cover event-driven issues through our blog and In Brief report format. And of course we use Twitter a lot to share our immediate thought and analysis.

From a strategic consulting perspective we provide a range of different services including strategic reviews and advisory sessions, custom research and analysis, multi-client studies, speaking engagements and customer roundtable facilitation.

  1. Any hobbies or favourite restaurant / food that you’d like to share?
    I profess to be a foodie and love baking (cakes, puddings, biscuits you name it). In order to counteract some of the downsides of testing out a lot of my creations (and my sweet tooth) I have recently joined a running club. I am hoping that getting back on the running trail will become a lot easier now that I’m a home worker and don’t have to commute to and from London.
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