Around Richard Mahony from Ovum in 10 questions

Richard Mahony

Today, in our continuing series of analyst interviews, we have the pleasure of welcoming Richard Mahony, Enterprise practice leader with Ovum.

1. What are your coverage areas?
I manage Ovum’s enterprise communications services practice. We focus on the fixed and mobile managed services market for enterprises and SMEs. We also provide sourcing and commercial mediation services to MNCs.

2. What are your opinions of the IT Analysis Marketplace and where do you see it going?
The industry will need to continue moving beyond compiling market information and selling it on at premium price. The days of attending a supplier briefing and simply writing it up are over for Ovum. Carter’s point ( about the analyst vantage point is on the mark for me – analyst houses that successfully combine their supplier and end user perspectives will be successful.

3. What’s your typical day like?
reply to the overnight e-mails first thing , respond to a handful of client enquiries in the early morning and typically have some content-related management to do such as planning or review reports with the team. We’ve normally got a project on the go so the remaining 50% of the day or so will be either working on fee earning assignments or writing content for the service. I look to limit my briefings to one or two a week – we increasingly have to be smarter about which briefings to attend.

4. Now, c’mon, tell me an AR horror story?
A few years back I attended a briefing where the supplier AR team guiding us through an open plan office on our way to the meeting room unintentionally walked us past marketing collateral mock ups for a new business which had not been announced. Personally, I once duly complied with an invitation to attend an analyst event in ‘business casual attire’ in my freshly pressed Chinos and my preppy shirt and jumper, only to find when I got to the event that everyone else had turned up in suits and ties. There’s a very funny photo of me in the auditorium with a back-drop of be-suited professionals behind me.

5. How do you position your firm? What is your business model? (where are your revenues coming from, mix between users and vendors?)
We are increasingly working with enterprise users – for the practice, this is the fastest growing area of our business. We position the firm as having great depth in data, combined with leading market research methodologies and practical advisory experience with end users which provides us with a real-world perspective. Since the acquisition of Ovum by Datamonitor, the depth of Ovum’s data has further improved and having access to industry experts in financial services, automotive, retail and healthcare has helped the whole enterprise services team. Reading some of the blogs, AR firms seem to have the notion that DM has somehow diminished the Ovum value. This is the polar opposite to my experience – we are in my view a stronger organization as a result of the acquisition… I’ve also had my research budget doubled, so my job is easier too!

6. What is your research methodology, in 255 characters or less?  (primary research, F2F or phone, secondary only, etc…)

Wherever possible we look to experience what we write about. It’s far easier to write incisively about an industry issue or supplier strategic intent having practical insight to share. However, we also turn to the usual research tools, including face to face briefings, telephone and online qualitative and quantitative research methods. I heavily rely on face to face meetings as I am all about personal contact and developing trusting two-way relationships between supplier and analyst. Such relationships are beneficial for both parties and the AR community is central in brokering this kind of interaction.

7. Any favourite AR professional you’d like to mention? Any why?
I would highlight Sally Elliott of BT Global Services who provides Ovum with excellent support and finds the time to connect us with the right people in her organization. She also has a firm grasp of BT’s business and positions her business heroically well. I am always impressed by the Cisco AR programme and would highlight David Taylor’s team at Cisco – I always come out of Cisco events with a new idea which I can build on and will therefore seek out their briefings. I am also seeing good things from the growing Telefonica team.

8. Tell us about one good AR practice you’ve experienced or one good AR event you’ve atttended.
The best event I’ve been to recently was the Cable and Wireless AR day run by David Thain. The format was relatively simple (but difficult to achieve) – which was a positioning of the business by CEO and key executives followed by open discussion with some of their largest enterprise customers. The frankness of the customer interaction was refreshing and as a result it is the stand-out event for me.

9. What are your offerings and key deliverables?
For Enterprise research we have a schedule of reports lined up this year on fixed and mobile global managed services providers and their markets; major new reports on unified communications offerings from telecoms service providers and systems integrators; surveys on multinational end-users and their global service requirements through an exclusive deal with the EVUA. We’re also expanding our annual survey of SMEs worldwide, taking in more countries. And because this market is changing and getting ever more demanding, we’ve got some new products in the pipeline—like our managed scorecard for service providers- that will tie all of our analysis together. We’ve got a pipeline of consulting engagement with enterprise clients and telecoms operators that is growing and we like to think that is a response to our research outputs last year on how to manage network services and budgets through the current economic conditions. These projects also help inform our understanding of today’s market conditions.

10. Any hobbies or favourite restaurant / food that you’d like to share?
I enjoy running and garner the strength to do a half marathon once a year. I also suffer the joys of being a Bristol City football supporter.

11. What is your biggest challenges for the upcoming 6 months? And for the next 30 mn?
My biggest challenge is to continue to differentiate what we do in the practice – there’s plenty of choice in the market and some good competition. Standing out from the crowd and articulating the team’s difference and value to our clients is therefore key. Any ideas how we can improve here from what you’ve seen from Ovum, give me a call. In the next 30 minutes, I will be defining some inter-company peering SLAs for a UC managed service. A very dry topic for most I am sure, but in my view will be increasingly important to many suppliers and enterprises as they deploy integrated communications.

12. Is there another analyst (a peer in your firm or with another firm) whose work  you rate highly?
Chris Lewis of IDC – although I am not really entering into the spirit of the question, as he’s my former boss and showed me the ropes of the analyst business. Chris has a great way of reaching the crux of the issue quickly and succinctly articulating his thoughts. Within Ovum, I think you will be hard pushed to find an analyst from any house more in touch with the UC market than Peter Hall. Eammon Kennedy has also done great things to improve our IT services business.

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