Ovum divorces from Datamonitor and graduates to Informa ownership

There has been some talk in AR circles for a few months now about a reorg at Ovum but the firm remained remarquably quiet about it.  So in advance of tomorrow’s AR community call, here are some details about what’s going on.

All their analysts were gathered today near Heathrow for the Ovum Industry Summit, a customer event quite similar in form to the old Butler Group Symposia.We had a chance to meet with their CEO, Brett Azuma to get more details of Ovum’s recent change of ownership. At the end of June, it will have moved out of Datamonitor’s Farringdon offices and into Informa’s Mortimer street building. This physical relocation effectively completes the separation from Datamonitor ; Ovum has indeed been trading as an “independent company” for the past few months, though still in the Informa group (the holding company for Ovum, Datamonitor and many other businesses such as the Lloyds List, numerous events and journals).

This newly acquired relative independence means Ovum will have control over its sales force, will be able to design their own methodologies and deliverables, research agendas, etc, all previously common to the whole of Datamonitor.

There always was some unease about this marriage, though both in theory are research firms, Datamonitor has a strong focus on quantitative market research for industries while Ovum was selling its IT advisory services on the back of uncompromising analysis reports. This was epitomised by Datamonitor reports not citing the authors name while Ovum always has been known for its team of opinionated thought leaders.

For Ovum, the benefits translate not only in more flexibility around research agendas, processes and deliverables, but also in the possibility to step into social media and rebuilding an advisory business -this model was not a good fit at Datamonitor.

On the negative side, the divorce effectively means that it’s the end of the “Collaborative Intelligence” whereby Ovum was to leverage Datamonitor’s strenghts in verticals. While on paper it was a seducing idea, execution proved more difficult.

Bottom line

  • Now maybe the time for a breakthrough after a few disappointing years when Ovum got bogged down in organisational issues. They have a great opportunity, funding and… no excuses to fail.
  • We see a lot of potential for Oum to grow and capture share in EMEA in particular in the IT analysis market, especially at a time when Forrester has its eyes on APAC (see ) and a weak presence there.
  • Although it’s not competing strongly in APAC, Gartner’s weaker presence there and the fast growth of the market is also an opportunity for Ovum.

 

What does this means for AR professionals?

  • Ovum is a strong local player, with global aspirations and should be on any AR plans where it has coverage areas (telco, services and software), but do go to the level beyond and keep watching Ovum on the coverage front to make sure they deliver on promises.
  • Check your contracts now and evaluate whether you should re-negotiate as access to the Datamonitor research will be cut off (can be an issue for instance in energy, healthcare, etc)

 

More:

  • IIAR members can check past Ovum presentations and analyst directories on Huddle.
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    17 Responses to Ovum divorces from Datamonitor and graduates to Informa ownership

    1. phil fersht Wednesday 18th May 2011 at 00:31 #

      It was always a horrible fit. Ovum had always competed well with idc and forrester while noone could fathom what value datamonitor was bringing. Hopefully this can reestablish them again

    2. David R Wednesday 18th May 2011 at 07:16 #

      There was obviously a real cultural challenge in combining the two. However, I think that Ovum loses something with this split. My experience – when working with the combined Ovum / DM team in the energy sector – was very positive.

      It is going to be interesting to see how this re-org affects Ovum’s previous strategy of pushing more into end-user advisory. Forrester is becoming less and less visible in Europe so there’s a gap there if Ovum wants to take it.

      And now Ovum telecoms is in the same building at Informa Telecoms & Media, will we see more cross-working or a merger? Those two organisations have very complimentary coverage areas.

    3. Evan Quinn Wednesday 18th May 2011 at 15:46 #

      Ovum remains in the very early phase of a “prove it to me” condition in North America as far as I am concerned. Ovum has made several attempts to penetrate into the North American market over the past decade, regardless of ownership status, and never crossed the chasm. Until there are a bevy of new NAM analysts, not one or two, but a dozen or more with some real depth, Ovum will continue as a light tier-2 here in NAM. I would place TBR, ESG, the V3 consortium and several niche market focused firms like WikiBon well ahead of Ovum in NAM right now in terms of influence, research practice and knowledge. Keep your eye on their NAM analyst/researcher job listings on their web site, and until you see a bunch of NAM postings it is all hype – looking for Ovum to put their money where the mouth is here in North America.

    4. alan pelz-sharpe Friday 20th May 2011 at 20:30 #

      As an ex-Ovumite I have to say this is great news. Everyone knows that the Datamonitor/Butler/Ovum situation had never felt like a fit that would work. Here’s hoping Ovum can bounce back – it was a great analyst firm, maybe even the best if not the biggest…
      And the move back to Mortimer Street is great – Ovum was always more of a W1 than and E1 firm ;-)

    5. Ludovic Leforestier Saturday 21st May 2011 at 10:30 #

      Agree with Evan on the North American market, they need a few more analysts to get some cirtical mass.

      And agree with APZ, the staff seems upbeat about it and I wish Ovum to be a strong player again in EMEA. They need to beef up their RAS side (end-users business & inquiries) for this.

      What some have said though is that this could be a move towards a sale -not necessarily a bad thing.

    6. Neil Ward-Dutton Saturday 21st May 2011 at 21:40 #

      Ve-e-e-e-e-ry interesting.
      Might be a silly question, but do the former Butler staff and assets stay with Ovum or with Datamonitor?

      • alan pelz-sharpe Sunday 22nd May 2011 at 21:25 #

        With any luck they stay with Datamonitor……..

        • A Different Alan Sunday 22nd May 2011 at 22:22 #

          ex-Butler Group folk have been totally integrated within Ovum for well over a year, and the company makes the move to Informa Telecons & Media as a single unit

        • alan pelz-sharpe Thursday 26th May 2011 at 18:36 #

          Genuinely sorry if you did not like my comment. It was not directed at Butler personnel. Rather it was directed at the Butler brand and its brand values. Values which were polar opposites of Ovum’s. IMHO if Ovum wants to rebuild then spinning off the Butler brand or simply dropping it altogether would make a great deal of sense.
          Ex-Ovumites (Scrambled Eggs) would love to see the old Ovum and its values returned.

      • Ludovic Leforestier Monday 23rd May 2011 at 14:12 #

        Neil, Butler is part of Ovum.

        • Neil Ward-Dutton Tuesday 24th May 2011 at 22:42 #

          Thanks Ludo! I suspected as much from external branding, but wasn’t entirely sure how the internals were set up.
          Interesting times! I do think this gives the Ovum business more freedom to get things done.

    7. David R Saturday 28th May 2011 at 12:08 #

      Ludo, I’m struck by one of your comments: “Now maybe the time for a breakthrough after a few disappointing years when Ovum got bogged down in organisational issues. They have a great opportunity, funding and… no excuses to fail.”

      Moving into Informa TM is yet another re-organisation. I wonder how much management time will be spent integrating the business – establishing new processess, getting to know new colleagues etc – rather than focusing on growth, servicing customers and providing great research.

      From personal experience, I know that change is disruptive and unsettling to many people. It doesn’t mean Ovum won’t succeed but I suspect there are still going to be plenty of internal distractions, even if Ovum is no longer part of DM.

      Collaborative Intelligence was a great opportunity – and a fantastic positioning/differentatior for Ovum. It had funding to make it happen and three years to deliver the transformation.

      Yet it’s less than 18 months later, and the whole thing seems to have been ditched.

      Was it such a huge commercial failure that they couldn’t afford any longer? If so, then it needed to go.

      Was it proving to hard to implement? Without a doubt. But cultural change and transformation is difficult and takes a long time.

      Ovum’s management talks about the benefits of collaboration across the wider Informa group. If it couldn’t make it work when they were part of DM, what’s changed to make it work now?

      Lots of questions from me as only time will bring the answers. Brett and Ian Hemming obviously have a plan they believe is workable and which will make Ovum successful. I hope they make it work. The IT industry needs another global analyst firm capable of keeping Gartner, IDC and Forrester on their toes.

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