Nice post on Ovum by the folks at Loudhouse Blog, reprinted here with their permission. Of course, because it’s a Loudhouse post it’s not the official IIAR position, in case anyone thought otherwise. See also the other Ovum posts on this blog, including the one on our recent IIAR London Forum featuring Ovum’s top management.
Ovum, which has been the leading European-headquartered analyst firm for around twenty years, has been going through a lot of change. That seems to be confusing both the vendor community and analyst relations professionals, who grilled the firm’s management recently. Vendors are questioning Ovum’s relevance now in way we have not seen before. The changes at Ovum are causing these confusions unintentionally but, despite that, the firm remains a key influencer in Europe.
The confusion is also a reflection of Ovum’s sales tactics. Many of our clients primarily experience Ovum through the way that its account managers approach them. In a pretty typical interaction this week, one of our wisest clients asked: does Ovum really matter? We meet them, and then they call back to sell us reprint rights on what we told them.
We think Ovum still does matter, but given that experience our client can’t be blamed for reaching that conclusion. But despite Ovum’s sales tactics, it’s one of the few analyst firms with several thousands of end-user seat holders in the UK, US and Australia. That’s a positive channel to influence, and one that’s growing: the firm’s end-user base has risen 8% and is tightly focussed in a few verticals: public sector, financial services, utilities/oil and gas, and media. Ovum is one of the few analyst firms that almost every vendor’s influencer marketing outreach has prioritised in Europe.
I think a lot of people on the vendor side are asking similar questions about Ovum, and for understandable reasons. Reprints are easy money for analyst firms and, regardless of what else an analyst house does, it’s straightforward to conclude that the value proposition it presents to vendors is the value it has to the market as a whole.
You don’t have to be rocket scientist to understand where this came from. The Ovum brand now combines vendor-centric teams from Butler Group, Datamonitor’s technology practice and RHK into Ovum, which generated more of its revenue from end users. Reprint rights and sponsorships were key tools at those other businesses, and that means that they come easily to hand as a business development approach.
Coincidentally, in one of the conversations I’ve had with folk at Ovum recently, they were uncomfortable with how Ovum is promoting reprint rights. If that carries on, even the sales reps will get uncomfortable about it.
While reprints are easy money, the major downside for Ovum is shown by our sagacious client. Ovum speak to some vendors, certainly a few of the ones we work with most closely, as if the value of Ovum’s work is primarily the lead generation potential of the reports when distributed by the vendors. That ‘de-positions’ Ovum as an end-user influencer, and conceals Ovum’s increasing base of subscribers and consulting clients from the vendor community (unusually, Ovum doesn’t name any of its clients). There’s a second down-side as well: many people in the industry feel that the range and quality of the research has been falling at Ovum (and at some other firms) partly because the reprint business is, in the short term, less sensitive to quality.
So, lots of people with that experience of Ovum are asking similar questions. I think that’s quite understandable.
That said, Ovum’s sales tactics conceal the reality that 90% of the world’s largest 30 firms subscribe to Ovum (and to Gartner and Forrester but probably to no other firm). It has over 4,000 end-user seat holders in Europe alone, spanning business, non-profits and the public sector.
Reprints certainly can be useful: I’ve seen a lot of great campaigns that use them. But that’s not why vendors should be building relationships with. Ovum’s influence on buyers is the main reason why, followed by its impact on regulators, the media and the IT channel.
Previous posts on Ovum
- What’s really going on with Ovum? Meet the MD, Aneil Rakity 18/09/17
- IIAR Webinar & Cafe with Ovum POSTPONED 10/03/17
- The IIAR Tragic Quadrant for 2017 24/02/17
- Around Tim Jennings from Ovum in 10 questions 24/05/16
- IIAR members – be among the first to meet the management team of new Ovum 6/06/14
- [GUEST POST] This Thursday, learn what the new Ovum is up to: webinar with CEO Steve Hotham 19/05/14
- Ovum finally gets assimilated 7/04/14
- [GUEST POST] 451 hires ex Ovum, Gartner chief to lead global research 30/01/14
- Ovum, the quietly competent of ICT research industry? 17/05/13
- [GUEST POST] Crunching the analyst firm numbers – what do they tell us about Gartner, Forrester, IDC & others? 2/05/13
- Analyst events- Is booze better than a booth? Financial Services- Why economic downturn is killing the City but not European FS industry analysts 14/03/13
- IIAR London Forum on 7th March 2013 in London 25/02/13
- IIAR Christmas Networking Event concluded successfully! 17/12/12
- IIAR APJ Forum on 12th Dec 2012 11/12/12
- IIAR Analyst of the Year 2012: Winners Announced! 31/10/12
- IIAR US Teleconference with Ovum MD – Q&A session 23/07/12
- [GUEST POST] Despite it all, Ovum is still a tier one analyst firm in Europe 4/07/12
- Ovum lays out its strategy to the IIAR 8/06/12
- IIAR UK Forum reminder: Your chance to hear about the future of Ovum 25/05/12
- IIAR UK Forum: Come and meet Ovum’s Senior Management Team 30/04/12
- Cloud Set to Dominate 2012 15/12/11
- Ovum AR community call tomorrow (22/11/11) 21/11/11
- IIAR UK Gets Festive! 17/11/11
- [IIAR London Forum] LinkedIn the number one social media site for analysts 6/10/11
- [Guest Post] IIAR UK Forum – Sales and Social Media Debated 30/09/11
- September IIAR London Forum featuring social media 19/08/11
- Green ICT debated at May 26th IIAR London Forum 2/06/11
- Ovum divorces from Datamonitor and graduates to Informa ownership 18/05/11
- IIAR Cafe with Carter Lusher – 12 May 2011 5/05/11
- Ovum launches its ‘brief a ton’ 26/04/11
- Le CXP and BARC merge: ignore local firms at your perils 13/04/11
- Ovum’s got a brand new AR soapbox 11/04/11
- Reminder to Attend Jan 20th IIAR London Forum 14/01/11
- January IIAR London Forum Features Ovum 16/12/10
- Analyst Panel on Cloud Technology at Tomorrow’s IIAR London Forum 17/11/10
- November IIAR London Forum Features Analyst Panel on the “Cloud” 28/10/10
- IIAR Discussion Group – OVUM to Discuss the Black Book of Outsourcing 22/06/10
- The British Are Coming! Datamonitor stalks Gartner analysts 16/12/09
- WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Gideon Gartner on the IIAR Blog! 4/12/09
- An update from Ovum 22/09/09
- Brief summary of the last IIAR Forum presentation by Datamonitor 17/07/09
- Around David Mitchell / Ovum in 10 questions 6/10/08