This ’email interview’ is the first of -we hope- a long series, in which we will open the IIAR Blog to analysts and get their insight on the industry. Being the quickest off the mark, the privilege to test this format comes to Clive Longbottom, the founder of Quocirca. Read below on his unabridged views on the industry… and one of the most unusual hobby/ice breaker conversation topic I’ve ever heard!
What are your coverage areas?
Predominantly, communication and collaboration approaches, along with business process. However, I’m a bit of a generalist who can cover most areas at a push. I come from a business background, and firmly believe that technology is just a means to an end – it is not the answer in itself. I also believe that analysts who are too focused cannot always advise anyone to the required extent – a business process is both dynamic and broad reaching, and someone who can only discuss one part of the process could well be like an automotive engineer who specialises in brake pipes trying to sell someone a whole car.
What are your opinions of the IT Analysis Marketplace and where do you see it going?
The market seems to be in a bit of flux at the moment – we have many different approaches from many different companies with different influence models. As the recession bites deeper, I see quite a few of the smaller companies starting (or continuing) to struggle, and many one man bands being given up as the analysts move back in to the “safer” big company model. In the long run, it’s probably safer to look at the overall “influencer” market, rather than just analysts, as many journalists have changed their models to be less focused on the headline (although, it has to be said, there seem to be quite a few analysts who have changed their model to be more focused on the headline rather than the content!), and many consultants are also seeing themselves as being a sort of analyst.
What’s your typical day like?
A mix of vendor briefings, report and article writing, reviewing of other Quocirca analyst’s output, discussions with existing customers, travelling, researching, prospecting for new work, web site management, and grabbing some sleep wherever I can. I tend to meet with a large number of smaller vendors – these are the guys where newer ideas are being tried out. They may never make it as a company, may never spend any money on research or analysis, but they help to coalesce views that we may be seeing elsewhere, and provide viewpoints on where the market may be going a year or so down the line.
Now, c’mon, tell me an AR horror story?
The best has to be Palm, when launching the original Treo. This is far enough in the past such that few people involved will still be around, so hopefully, it won’t upset too many people. Palm briefed the press in the morning (who all went “ooh, how pretty” as it was a gadget) and then briefed the analysts in the afternoon (who went “Aah – this is not a proper phone, it’s not a full PDA like other Palms, the battery lasts around 12 minutes, the interface sucks and it generally can’t be recommended by us at all”). Then, the press phoned us all up for our comments – which were negative, and were printed in full. Palm learnt, and briefed the analysts first from there on, listening far more to input.There are also those vendors who can only see as far as the big analyst companies, believing that the smaller companies or one man bands have no part to play in the influencer markets. I think I’ll leave that one as it is…
How do you position your firm? What is your business model?
Quocirca is a company that carries out “perceptional research”, along with the creation of business positioning reports, provision of strategic advice and analysts for presentations, seminars, webinars and so on. Our customer base is the vendor community who come to us for various reasons. We do not do market sizing, concentrating instead on the perceptions of end users as to how any emerging, evolving or maturing technology will impact them and their organisation. We interview end users on a continuous basis as a core part of our model, with world-wide coverage for telephony based interviews, all carried out in the respondent’s native language to minimise any mis-understandings in the surveys. Our end-user output is provided completely free of charge to the reader, and Quocirca has a reach to many tens of millions of possible readers through our agreements with the many large multi-national and global portal sites we work with. These agreements mean that Quocirca reports reach organisations who have no access to paid for analyst output, who would normally not consider utilising analyst output (seeing it as too expensive to gain access to), as well as the casual reader within other analyst companies’ customers who may well be unaware of any existing agreement that may be in place. We also have very strong relationships with the trade and mainstream press, writing articles for many of the major UK and US outlets, and being one of the most quoted analyst houses around.
Although our research, reports and presentations are all sponsored/commissioned. Quocirca is strongly independent. The customer has full view of what we are writing, and can argue their cases as they see fit, but Quocirca will not add something to a document that it does not believe in itself, nor will it take something away that it believes is critical to the final result.
What is your research methodology, in 255 characters or less?
Quocirca majors on telephony interviewing, with face-to-face or email being utilised in certain geographies where telephony is culturally less acceptable. We concentrate on gaining the perception of the respondent – not trapping them into trying to second guess hard facts, such as the exact amount that has been set aside for Project A next year. In the technology world (as elsewhere), perception is reality, and this approach has been shown to provide solid depth of insight to our many customers. (May be slightly more than 255 characters – you’ll have to count them!)
Tell us about one good AR practice you’ve experienced or one good AR event you’ve attended.
There are still many AR people around who see their position as ensuring that their customer or company gains the biggest number of ears for their message as possible. For me, the best AR practice I see is where the AR person realises that a core part of their job is in matching their customer’s/company’s requirements with the best analyst resource for that need. Outbound communications are important – as analysts we do need to know what is going on – but even during these sessions two way communication should be encouraged.
What are your offerings and key deliverables?
Quocirca offers business-focused educational reports driven either by primary perceptional research or through our experience built up through previous research and in discussion with end users. With primary research projects, we also provide “eyes only” analysis which may address issues with the sponsoring vendor’s messaging, possible market penetration, comparisons of differing levels of maturity within markets, comparisons by geography, type of user, size of organisation and so on. We also offer internal strategic help for vendors of all sizes who may be looking for help in defining or refining core messages, looking at channel strategies, looking to break in to new geographical or technical product markets or who want some external viewpoint presented to the sales force, marketing group, product managers or whatever. We also present, facilitate and moderate events, whether these be physical seminars/shows or webinars/teleconferences.
- Any hobbies or favourite restaurant / food that you’d like to share?
I’m a qualified wolf handler, working with the UK Wolf Conservation Trust in Beenham, between Newbury and Reading. Favourite restaurant would be anywhere that serves good food, and favourite food would be fish.
What is your biggest challenges for the upcoming 6 months? And for the next 30 mn?
The weakness of the dollar is leading to a tightening of budgets, and it is probably inevitable that this will have a knock-on effect to UK and European analyst comapnies, as many budgets are held in the US. However, we are seeing that many US-based companies are seeing that UK and European analyst companies provide different approaches and services to many in the US, and we hope that this viewpoint will continue through any possible market turn-down or recession.In the next 30 minutes, my main issue is getting this finished so that I can get back to earning money.