Around Phil Fersht from HfS Research in 10 Questions

Today we learn more about Phil Fersht, CEO at HfS Research. Phil has become a household name in the BPO business with a long track record of analysing this technology sector. Having worked as a Director at IDC for five years and then as VP at Yankee, Phil went on to work for Deloitte Consulting and AMR Research before joining HfS Research in 2009. You can follow Phil’s updates via twitter and LinkedIn or hear more from him and his team via the HfS blog.

  1. What are your coverage areas?
    Business and IT Services:  Business Process Outsourcing, ERP implementation strategies, Shared Services and Outsourcing, CFO and Business Operations strategies
  2. What are your opinions of the IT Analysis Marketplace and where do you see it going?
    It’s struggling to change the status quo of the last 15+ years. The traditional analyst firms are still making money so they have no burning platform for change. All their research is firewalled and very slow to market and their analyst blogs are rarely read and clearly regulated. Too many of the analysts, especially in services, are not from real industry/practitioner backgrounds, which frustrates clients because they want to talk to analysts who’ve done more than pontificate from an ivory tower. At the same time, I do not see many analyst firms challenging their dominant position, so do not expect to see much change anytime soon.
  3. What’s your typical day like?
    Crazy. I get up at 5.45 am each morning and spend two hours just writing and reviewing research, before the rest of the family gets up. I then spend an hour making my 3 year old son, Jonathan’s, breakfast and getting him ready for school. At 9.15am I walk to the office and spend 9.30-1.30 during client calls. I always reserve my afternoons for research work, managing the team and going to the gym. At 6.00pm I go home and spend until 9.00pm with the family until the little boys goes to bed. I’ll then typically sneak a glass of wine/ glass of scotch while I do some emails, maybe write a blog etc. I’ll normally go to bed about 11.00pm where I’ll watch an episode of “Game of Thrones” or “True Blood” before passing out.
  4. Now, c’mon, tell me an AR horror story?
    Oh my – where do I start? The only ones publishable are I am afraid, fairly typical; the most common one is the PowerPoint briefing which says “Gartner” on the front. Have also had one AR rep who uses “Gartner relationship manager” as his job title. Another one was being seated next to a vendor executive at dinner and another analyst deliberately switching the name cards so they could chew his ear off all evening. I think the AR rep may have got flogged for allowing that one to happen!
  5. How do you position your firm? What is your business model?
    HfS Research is the leading analyst authority and knowledge community for the global services industry. In addition to researching business services and technology services strategies, HfS educates and facilitates discussion among the world’s largest knowledge community of services professionals, currently comprising 120,000 subscribers. HfS provides a collaborative platform for the largest, highest impact, and most frequently visited professional community in the global services industry, offering rapid and insightful commentary on, analysis of, and debate about enterprise shared services, outsourcing, and global operations dynamics.  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, in 255 characters or less?
    Primary research only – we use our vast community to do massive quantitative and qualitative surveys.  We have gathered the opinions of over 15,000 organizations over the last year.  Our “on the pulse of the industry” demand-side data drives all our research and opinion pieces, which are always authored/reviewed by former practitioners from the user community. 
  7. Any favourite AR professional you’d like to mention? Any why?
    Wendy Schlensky at Infosys – she knows more about analysts than the analysts themselves.  Really takes pride in her job.  I also like Jim Tumminello at Accenture – really nice guy and always gets us the info we need. I am also really impressed by Brad Smith who’s recently joined KPMG – this guy really “gets it”.  There aren’t many AR folks I don’t like, but wanted to give these folks a special mention. On the advisor relations side, Pawan Verma at Infosys BPO does as amazing job with his relationships and industry knowledge.
  8. Any hobbies or favourite restaurant / food that you’d like to share?
    Hobbies:  skiing, whisky and rye tasting, blogging, playing Super Mario Cart on my Nintendo, hanging out with my little boy.  Fave restaurant:  L’espalier, Boylston St, Boston
  9. What is your biggest challenge for the upcoming six months? And for the next 30 minutes?
    Six months:  Satiating all my analysts’ gargantuan egos J; Making sure we get 50 major user enterprises at our October Boston event; ensuring that HfS dominates the airwaves and is consistently THE primary analyst for the dreaded “outsourcing” topic with the upcoming Presidential election.
  10. Is there another analyst (a peer in your firm or with another firm) whose work you rate highly?
    No. Just kidding. I’d like to mention Dana Stiffler (Gartner), Tony Filippone (HfS), Jonathan Yarmis (HfS), Ray Wang (Constellation), Stan Lepeak (KPMG and formerly of Meta) and Andy Efstathiou (NelsonHall) as really strong analysts with whom I have had the pleasure of working with over the years.

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