Le CXP Group moves to consulting – CEO Yannick Carriou interviewed

CXP Group logo (IIAR website)Le CXP is one of the oldest IT analysis firms around. It was created in 1973, six years before Gartner, under the auspices of the French Ministry of Industry by some of the largest French companies at the time: Air France, Anotec, Bred, BSN (now Danone), EDF, RATP and the Société Générale. Its remit was to provide expertise on packaged software -hence the name in French, the deliciously quaint Centre d’Expertise des Progiciels. It’s been doing just this plus some consulting for IT users, gently and in French (Americans would call this in “local language”) until it bought PAC, a rival but vendor-focussed French firm, in 2014. At last I should say, and after PAC’s founder, Pierre Audoin, passed away.

Before this, Le CXP bought German BI specialist BARC in 2011 and PAC snapped German firm Berlecon on the same year. As a result, we’ve got a Paris based firm doing more business in Germany than France. They must like it there.

Are you still following me?

On May 15th, its new CEO, Yannick Carriou (LinkedIn, @YCarriouex. Ipsos and TNS) announced Le CXP was buying Ardour, a business consulting firm. Here’s his exclusive interview.

 

Ludovic Leforestier – I expected a move by Le CXP but expanding in consulting surprised me. 

Yannick Carriou @YCarriou, CEO CXP Group interviewed for the IIAR blog - Ludovic Leforestier @lludovic

Yannick Carriou @YCarriou, CEO CXP Group

Yannick Carriou – This acquisition is absolutely in line with our long-term plans.

In the future, all organisations will have to navigate the exponential complexity of technologies that drive digital transformation. They will need inspiration and confidence to make multiple, critical and interconnected choices to grow, perform and thrive. We have been there to that end for decades already and will keep our strategy to talk to both end-users and vendors.

We see a lot of vendors developing plans and strategies to get closer to clients’ businesses, as opposed to the sole discussions with IT departments. They develop specific verticals, or consutlting activities to fill the gap. We have always been at a sweet spot to gain that intimacy and no one could blame us for biaised views. Chinese walls are a reality to us, but we share to understand the market dynamics and get more contextualized views on markets. When working with us, vendors know we have an intimate knowledge of their clients. And that is a precious asset. Nothing new from that end. As a reminder, we are invited to both Analysts and Advisors events. So our clients seem to understand that.

The addition of Ardour was a good option for us. They bring a tremendous knowledge on user IT strategy formalization and IT governance organization. These are increasingly demanded topics as IT Users need not only the best choices but to up their game in our they orchestrate all their investment, short term and long term. And Ardour is also an IP company : they have developed an incredible amount of IP in the domain that will immediately benefit our clients.

LL – What do you envision your business model to be?

We are and will remain a IP/Content based company. We don’t want to go with any of our client just because we have (actually excellent) reputation. Our difference comes from data, models and assets. You’ll see even more of that in the future. I also think that being a content company is a permanent effort which allow us to be highly regarded for our second-to-none knowledge of many markets, in Europe, including Eastern Europe.

LL – What will be the revenues  share of research and advisory, events and consulting in your business?

Events are a small part of our business, at around 15%. The rest is balanced between consulting and content. Sometimes the line between both is a bit blurred. Working intensively with clients on market data and their integration in the 3 years strategic agenda for the Board, that’s both data and consulting at the same time.

LL – What share of revenues from end-users for the CXP Group and your different entities?

50/50 sounds like a diplomatic answer but that’s not far from what we are doing.

LL – What is your competitive positioning?

We are the largest independent company in Europe. Ardour reinforces us further.

LL – The press release states BARC and PAC, is Le CXP not planning to unify its brands?

All our brands have a strong legacy and heritage. We do not plan to drop them. But you’re right that an history of growth has created a fragmented brand portfolio. We’ll remedy to that.

LL – How should AR position your group and different brands with their stakeholders?

PAC has always been a long-standing partner of Vendors to understand and measure markets, and provide consulting services to optimize strategy and acquisition roadmap. We have outstanding capacities in Europe and know the markets from a thorough bottom-up approach which is also largely fueled by the intimate knowledge of end-users. We are recognized areas of expertise (see Kea Ranking : we are always in the Top tier for IT Services, Iot, analytics and big data, strategy,..). We also try to keep the inherent qualities of mid-size organizations : reactive, agile and engaged. For AR, this is the front desk of our group. Behind, BARC is a world-class leader in analyzing technologies and players in the booming field of  BI and analytics. Le CXP and Ardour provide also intimate knowledge of users in many other areas.

LL – This changes the power balance further to Germany, how will this impact Le CXP Group?

We are getting obviously stronger in Germany, with a prestigious list of heavy-weight clients there coming with Ardour. But as Ardour is also an IP company, this will also immediately benefit the enire company and our future developments.

LL – Any  comments on your observations on the industry? What surprised you coming from TNS?

I ran global businesses at TNS, then Ipsos. Thousands and employees and clients, lately in Marketing, Media and Tech areas. Comparatively , I was surprised by the siloes your questions are just illustrating. There is a non-written principle that some company are talking to end-users, others to Vendors. Most of the time, when companies say they do both, the ratio is totally skewed towards one activity against the other. In “general” market research, we work with all the chain links of an industry ecosystem, without any issue, to cumulate knowledge and info and help everybody do better. I joined and invested in CXP for that many reasons. Maybe it needs reassurance and explanations to some of our clients. But the changes ahead are so deep  and fast that we all need to really maximise our chance to succeed by providing the best intelligence this industry has probably ever delivered.

 

Bottom line

At a time where IIAR member worry about the growing dominance of the research firm, Gartner, Le CXP can’t be ignored for local knowledge and influence. Their coverage in Germany and France on software and services is excellent and they have a number of excellent analysts. Yet, they remain a fragmented brand and their move into consulting could prove unsettling for European services providers which are long-term PAC clients.

 

Update

Le CXP is organising a webinar for AR pros on Wednesday 13th June 2018 at 1000-1100 EDT / 1600-1700 BST 1700-1800 CEST > register here.

 

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  1. IIAR Webinar: Le CXP Group, a European powerhouse? | Institute of Industry Analyst Relations (IIAR) - Thursday 6th September 2018

    […] CXP Group is has a fascinating and long history, now englobing PAC (Pierre Audoin Conseil), BARC, Berlecon and Ardour. It now combines end-user […]

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