Today’s IIAR> Around in 10 questions interview is withBen Wood / Chief Analyst, CCS Insight (@benwood, LinkedIn) who oversees the research programme at CCS Insight with a specific focus on connected devices.
1. What are your coverage areas?
I have a broad remit within CCS Insight covering a wide range of topics, however my area of specialisation is connected devices be that smartphones, wearables, extended reality products, smart home devices and more.
2. What’s your typical day like?
The day starts with a visit to my coffee machine and then a quick check of my inbox, social media feeds (especially Twitter and LinkedIn) and the major news sites. My favourite is the Financial Times as I think it provides some excellent tech coverage and also a broad range of relevant news across all topics.
If I’m heading to our offices in London, I take the train and then cycle from Paddington to Kings Cross. However, these days there is a lot more time spent working from home – and a lot of time spent in Teams meetings with colleagues and clients.
I typically try to take a walk with our dog Beano at lunch time to clear my head but also to catch up on the numerous podcasts I follow. The rest of the day is back to my desk reviewing research, doing more calls or keeping abreast of industry developments. The great thing is that every day is different.
3. Now, c’mon, tell me an AR horror story?
One that sticks in my memory is the ill-fated launch of the Nokia N97 in December 2008. Nokia was having a rough time, its market share was starting to get battered and its Symbian operating system was imploding. The N97 was supposed to be the “next big thing” but as the evaluation units were distributed to eager analysts it soon became apparent something was very wrong. Numerous analysts fired up faulty units, and even though Nokia had spares they were quickly exhausted, and a few people left the event empty handed. I really felt for the AR folks who thought it was going to be a wonderful end to the year. The reality was that it turned into a complete nightmare.
4. What is your research methodology, in 255 characters or less? (primary research, F2F or phone, secondary only, etc…)
As with many firms, we use a blended approach to research combining deep industry relationships, regularly conducted primary research and plenty of secondary desk work too.
5. Any favourite AR professional you’d like to mention? Any why?
Always tough to select particular individuals, but I’d like to mention the team at Harvard (who we also use at CCS Insight to manage our media relations), Kate Stevens at Axicom for her down-to-earth and often humorous take on analyst relations world, and finally Howard Jones at Vodafone (previously at BT) for his superb commitment and deep understanding of how to support the analyst community.
6. Tell us about one good AR practice you’ve experienced or one good AR event you’ve attended.
The team at Amazon (based in Seattle) are a pleasure to deal with. They are quick to provide answers to questions, are excellent at facilitating access to key executives and always seem to hugely value the insights industry analysts can offer.
In all honesty, it is so long since I attended a face-to-face AR event it is quite hard to remember the stand-out sessions – but Huawei was certainly excellent in its heyday and more recently Samsung has offered some tremendous briefings and hands-on sessions.
7. What are your offerings and key deliverables?
At CCS Insight we offer a wide range of products and services covering all areas of the connected world. Our research is available to clients through our CCS Insight Connect research portal. We deliver detailed forecasts, pithy analysis via our “Instant Insights” covering breaking news or major announcements, on-going primary research for both enterprise and consumer domains and more. We also pride ourselves on providing a superb enquiry service to clients combined with engaging and impactful presentations.
8. Any hobbies you’d like to share?
My secret passion project, beyond my day job in the industry analyst world, is the Mobile Phone Museum. It officially launched in 2021 but is something I’ve been working on for over a decade. It is as charity I have set up with a group of friends to safeguard a vast collection of mobile phones and also be a vehicle to share the story of mobile phones with the engineers and designers of the future by visiting schools and providing educational resources.
9. What is your biggest challenges for the upcoming 6 months? And for the next 30 mn?
The biggest challenge in the next six months remains the on-going impact of the pandemic. The inability to spend quality face-to-face time with colleagues, customers and industry contacts is taking its toll. I really hope we can get back on track in 2022 and some of the big set-piece events like MWC start to recover. As for the next 30 mins – just keeping my inbox at a manageable level.
10. Is there another analyst (a peer in your firm or with another firm) whose work you rate highly?
I’m going to be greedy and select two: my CCS Insight colleagues Angela Ashenden and Kester Mann. Both Angela and Kester are super diligent, highly knowledgeable analysts who consistently deliver great research and excellent customer service to our vast array of clients. I always enjoy working with them and I know our customers massively value the contribution they deliver in every engagement.
Beyond CCS Insight, a shout out to Matt Howett at Assembly Research who is a highly respected analyst who has taken the brave step to set up his own business. I know how hard that journey can be and it’s great to see him making a real success of things.