1. What are your coverage areas?
IT and business services. My remit is to drive the HfS research agenda for the “As-a-Service Economy” across SaaS applications, cloud eco-systems and IT. Together with my HfS colleagues I will continue to develop the research around process automation and cognitive computing in both IT and business processes.
2. What are your opinions of the IT Analysis Marketplace and where do you see it going?
As I am getting old, now and then I indulge in memories of the good old days when I started at Gartner. The industry was in its infancy and even my modest knowledge did go a long way. These days an analyst has to be a segment specialist, being able to consult on very specific problems and be perceived as influencer through social media or more traditional means. The ubiquity of social media has not only changed the channels for research but introduced the notion of immediacy. HfS is at the forefront of reinventing the analyst model and that is part of the reason why I opted to join the folks. However, the downside in the industry is the consolidated nature of the analyst space with clients gravitating toward the big brands largely to mitigate risks and play the brand equity game.
3. What’s your typical day like?
Luckily there is no such thing as a typical day. Suffice it to say being German I try to be organized but any schedule is constantly being re-written by clients and industry events. Ever since I had my own analyst firm, the boundaries between work and private life are being blurred as the laptop plays a significant part in both spheres. On “quieter” days when I am not travelling even before the first coffee I check the inbox and on industry events. The morning is mostly spend tracking the industry news flow and talk to clients. In the afternoon I will try hard avoid being a master procrastinator as my lovely wife calls it and work on deliverables.
4. Now, c’mon, tell me an AR horror story?
The AR community is doing a terrific job battling with their internal stakeholders while feeding the insatiable appetite of us analysts for information and briefings. As for horror stories what happens in the community stays within the community. However, where I roll my eyes when companies or AR folks do a blind or unsophisticated tiering. I have worked for Gartner and I had my own firm. – which represent the extremes in the analyst food chain. Having seen one vendor having seating arrangements at a briefing where the front row was exclusively reserved for Gartner folks regardless whether they even cover the vendor was such an eyebrow moment.
5. How do you position your firm? What is your business model?
As a boutique firm you constantly have to differentiate and to stay ahead of the market. At HfS, we’re the leading analyst authority and knowledge community for the global services industry. We also exist outside of the walls of the CIO’s office and cover business operations, such as finance, HR and supply chain, while most of competitors are still firmly stuck only covering IT and technology speeds and feeds. We actually get deep into the weeds of business processes to understand how they are enabled and optimized by technology. In addition, our knowledge community of more than 100,000 services professionals is a huge differentiator for us as we can constantly test the pulse of our network with our regular surveys (we talk to more than 5,000 buyers of IT and business services a year). Our webcasts get over 1000 people regularly in them and our research and blogs / soundbites are read by thousands of readers everyday. In short we’re as much as media brand these days as we are analyst – service buyers love our insight and networking, while vendors love our strategic guidance, data and influencer over the buyer.
Our revenues come from four channels: 1) Enterprise uses/buyers of IT and Business Services; 2) “Big 4” Management Consulting firms; 3) Investors and PE; 4) Services and Tech vendors. Our mix is: 1) Enterprise uses/buyers of IT and Business Services – 40%; 2) “Big 4” Management Consulting firms – 15%; 3) Investors and PE firms – 10%; 4) Services and Tech vendors – 35%
6. What is your research methodology?
A unique blend of thought-leadership that is underpinned by primary research and real-time survey data from our network. The thought leadership is enhanced through broad C-level access while the primary research is leveraging HfS’ vast community, I haven’t come across any other firm with a comparable focus on primary research.
7. Any favourite AR professional you’d like to mention? Any why?
There are too many to single anybody out, but representative for the community a few names jump to mind. Veterans (in the best sense of the word) like Clare Loxley at HP or Jacqui McCouat at IBM, though they have moved on to pastures new. People like Ani Mukherjee at HCL who has grown in statue ever since we met and we have become good friends and shared the odd cigar. Representative for the many small vendors in process automation who don’t have dedicated AR functions, Daniela Zuin at IPsoft is the pick of the bunch. What all of these folks have in common is that they understand my requirements, are proactive and just fun to do business with.
8. Any hobbies or favourite restaurant / food that you’d like to share?
I wish there would be more time for escapism, but travel and work takes up a lot of my time. The more I treasure the time we can spend with family and friends, often I end up cooking which I really enjoy. At my advanced age these indulgences need to be balanced by as much sport as possible to stay reasonably in shape. Restaurant? The best find for a long time is the The Chancery in Central London. A new up and coming chef who cooks sublime and innovative dishes.
9. What is your biggest challenges for the upcoming 6 months? And for the next 30 minutes?
One of the reasons for HfS to approach me was to take their coverage into adjacent segments and to broaden the client base. Some of this research will be taking me outside my comfort zone but that is equally exiting as it is challenging. That is the only way you evolve as an analyst. As a company to scale while retaining the high quality of research and maintaining a unique culture is another challenge that we all will be working very hard on.
10. Is there another analyst whose work you rate highly?
I had the privilege to work with many outstanding analysts over the years. Many of them have become good friends and there are too many to mention. When I started out as an analyst I learned my trade at Gartner from shadowing Steve Brazier who now heads up Canalys. Without aiming to flatter my boss, Phil Fersht is constantly redefining the boundaries of what it means to be an analyst. And last but by no means least, Ian Brown at Ovum. He is an unsung hero but one of the smartest and nicest guys in the business.
Related Articles …
IIAR Webinar – A Fiery Fireside Chat with R “Ray” Wang of Constellation Research and Phil Fersht of HfS.
Around Phil Fersht from HfS Research in 10 Questions
HfS Research and Sylvan Advisory combine to form HfS Consulting – a service line of HfS Research