Archive | IT Analysis Firms

IDG to merge IDC with Gartner?

We have heard today (from three sources) that IDG, the parent of IDC, intends to buy Silver Lake Partners’ share in Gartner and the holdings of CEO Eugene Hall. As part of the deal Neil Bradford, former head of Forrester Americas, and Anthony Parslow, until recently head of Datamonitor, will replace Gene Hall as co-CEOs. Bradford will direct the US business; Parslow (who serves on IDG’s board) will head Gartner’s troubled operations outside the Americas. This is obviously news that will shape the industry – you have seen it first here!

Generally speaking, this isn’t a surprise.

– Silver Lake was, for a long time, the largest shareholder in Gartner. As the firm’s stock price rose it aimed to cash in its gains. Despite a large share buy-back by Gartner, the value of the shares has now fallen. Silver Lake is looking for opportunities to exit. IDG will pay a 7% premium over the current Gartner stock price.

– IDG has a strategic orientation towards expanding its share of the analyst industry. It narrowly lost out to Gartner in bidding for META Group. It sees the possibility for a roll-up spanning different price points across the value chain. IDC’s end-user Insights businesses could gain from the custom-consulting and mid-market work that Gartner cannot do economically. The businesses could also benefit from common base data, as the Datamonitor companies do.

– Gene Hall has revolutionised Gartner, and taken it to a new level. It’s a good time for him to cash in and move on.

However, we are skeptical of claims that IDG will merge IDC and Gartner. There are two strong brands with different positions. The main opportunity in the closer co-operation is for IDG’s non-IDC services to reuse and promote Gartner research, and to use IDG’s events business to rebuild Gartner’s now-sold vision events business.

To see a copy of IDG’s statement, please click here:

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Around Robin Bloor from Hurwitz & Associates in 12 questions

robinbloorhimself.jpgIn the second of our series of ‘email interviews’, we open up the IIAR blog to Robin Bloor (@robinbloor) of Hurwitz & Associates (and yes, the founder of Bloor Research) to share his views on the industry.

1.What are your coverage areas?
All technology except business applications such as SAP ERP or Oracle’s PeopleSoft.

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Around Clive Longbottom from Quocirca in 10 questions

Clive Longbottom / QuocircaThis ’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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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…
  5. 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.
  6. 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!)
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

  10. 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.
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How do we decide that analysts are important?

A recent piece by Lighthouse Analyst Relations on “bloggers vs. analysts” raises some interesting questions about whether and how firms should target their limited AR resources.

One argument says that AR professionals should focus their efforts only on those analysts who have the most direct influence on sales by advising end users, and that because of the demands that they make, it is hard to maintain meaningful relationships with a broad constituency of analysts.

A counter argument is that there are some very smart and influential analysts working within the vendor-facing analyst firms and smaller, more specialised consultancies and an AR programme will be the poorer for ignoring them. Proponents of the latter approach also point to the indirect influence that analysts can have on a firm’s brand awareness and sales, for example through quotes in the media and blog posts.

At the core of this discussion is the understanding of analyst influence. Why are industry analysts such an important audience? 

Let’s be clear.  In our view, there’s no doubt about the influence of the industry analyst community as a whole on purchasing decisions by technology buyers. In a report by a team of analysts (including Ellen Carney and Kevin Lucas), Forrester Research recently published the results of a survey of 1,143 IT decision makers in North America and Europe which showed that independent IT research firms came a close fourth in a list of information sources relied upon when researching and comparing IT products and services (see Figure 1).*

Forrester Graphic_Cropped

Knowledge Capital Group, Lighthouse AR, Hill & Knowlton and Freeform Dynamics (to name a few) have all done something similar so this Forrester study is just the latest piece of research that shows the direct importance of the analyst to the technology buyer. 

It also shows that the media is an important source of information to the buyer.  So should we target analysts that get themselves quoted in the business media? Vendor web sites come top so perhaps we also need to talk analysts who can provide us a quote for the website – or will write a report that we can then post up as marketing collaterial? 

The way that analyst influence works is complex and multi-facted.  It changes depending upon where a buyer is in the sales cycle.  It varies depending on the buyer’s industry and country.

The bottom-line is that, as AR professionals, we all know analysts are important to our business and influential on our buyers.  The bigger question is how that influence works and how we can best tap into it. 

We’d love to hear your views.

* Source: Mastering the First Analyst Briefing Tour by Forrester Research, Inc., February 26, 2008. Reprinted with Forrester’s kind authorisation.

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A dream for a collaborative AR platform

Gartner Inc. (NYSE:IT) came around yesterday for the IIAR forum at CA’s offices (thanks to Geoff Dorrington for hosting). So, thank you Aaron Yaverski (GVP High Tech Provider Product Management) and Andrew Rosenblatt (from Product Development). They presented some of the roadmap for the “Gartner for AR” offering and this got me thinking…The first thing they spoke about was the progress they made on the granularity and refresh cycle of the inquiry mining service. This is great news for vendors as it means they can now have an idea of what sort of things IT users are asking Gartner analysts. Of course, for confidentiality reasons we can’t access the details but it’s fantastic to have some insights on the conversations Gartner analysts are having with their end-user clients. IMHO, this is really the value of Gartner, not the actual research notes they produce.And as David Taylor commented, having a deeper understanding of how Gartner’s Influences the sales cycle, could a great step forward in solving the “Holy Grail” of measurement.

About that research, another point of importance is that the five star rankings are now available to IT vendors, but we can’t rank them let alone comment on them – like we can do on Forrester’s. While I understand there may be some sensitivities around this, it would be great to see Gartner opening the kimono and harness the community around itself.

Then we went in to “pie in the sky mode” as Gartner asked what we’d like. It was very encouraging to see Aaron and Andrew proactively soliciting views and opinions from the European AR community on what we would like to see in the future.

For me, we need a paradigm shift: Gartner needs to move from being a super Google, from presenting us information in the best way they can (and they’re doing a good job at that) towards a partnership approach. I’d like to be more like Facebook and less like my online banking site: of course it’s great to be able to check which bank transactions I’ve made but it would be way better if I could use the site to work with the analyst.

My Gartner-Facebook site would look like this:

  • I could check the analysts availability and that would help solving one of the biggest headache AR people have: scheduling briefings for busy execs and busy analysts who have more chance to meet in the airport lounge than in my customer visit centre. Oh, and by the way, if that Australian analyst that I deal with all the time is planning to visit London, I’d like to know please. It would be both a best use of analysts time as their travels would be optimised and save vendors money collectively.
  • Andrew showed us a “my activity” box which displayed the latest searches any given user has made. But hang on, that’s NOT my activity with Gartner. What I’d like is a report of all my inquiries, all my briefings and all my SAS days, etc.. This would help solving my second problem: reporting back to my boss my interactions with Gartner.
  • Next is the collaborative aspect. We spend a lot of time PDF’ing, zipping and sending Powerpoints (because we like our 50+ slides decks with lots of customer logo pages and our email systems don’t like anything over 10MB), receiving draft research notes and sending them back with our comments. I’d like to be able to post them on the “analyst wall”, check she/he’s got access to the latest version of our deck because otherwise he’ll be advising customers using old information. And also, make it available to his/her colleagues –or not if it’s under NDA.
  • For SAS days, the GartnerFacebook site would have a project page with a checklist and attachments: first scoping call, presentation abstract and title if it’s a speaking gig (that’s important for our marketing teams to send invites), briefing material, agenda of the day, logistics, etc…
  • The list could go on and on, but I guess by now you understand what I’m up to: I’d like a workflow extranet to interact with analysts. Some of the pieces are there already: at the IIAR we use Google Docs to share and peer review documents, I use Google Calendar to discover that I can’t attend the Forrester drinks because it clashes with the School Bingo Night, we have an extranet to post content, etc…

So, in short, what I’d like is a tool that reflects what we do together with the analysts, rather than something were I can just consume research. Gartner for AR is going in the right direction with providing us better insight into our clients and prospects’ mind, but it’s still a one-way street.

PS: From what Aaron and Andrew said, there are going to be many more discussions in the next few weeks and months. I’d encourage you to share your views and thoughts with Gartner – either by commenting on this blog or talking to Gartner directly. It looks like there are going to be some good and interesting developments happening later in the year. Now is our chance to make sure our voices are being heard.

PPS: thanks to Hannah Kirkmann, Marius Jost, David Taylor and David Rossiter for their input and for reviewing this post.

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this blog post are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle or other members of the IIAR. While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and compliance with copyright laws, we can’t be held liable for any unintentional misrepresentation on this post but are happy to correct any wrongs quickly.

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IIAR members feel Forrester rise, Bloor falls

Horizontal is external influence (external of the vendors). The vertical percentage is the nett of (percentage of respondents who think the firm is rising in influence - those who think it's falling).

At Thursday’s IIAR forum in London I presented results from a recent survey of vendor-side Analyst Relations managers. It asked how influential they rated certain analyst firms as being, and then whether they are rising of falling in influence.

Credit for the survey belongs to Jonny Bentwood and the others on the IIAR’s survey working party, who selected the firms listed.

The chart above shows the results, after the ‘falling’ percentage’ (for each analyst firm, the percentage of IIAR members surveyed who felt that its influence had fallen) has been subtracted from the rising percentage (thanks to Ludovic for working out how to embed the chart in this post).

For those in the know, the results are not too surprising: Forrester is the big riser, with IDC, Ovum and Yankee all doing well. The big losers are no surprise either: Bloor, Frost and Butler.

But what interests me is the trend line: generally, AR managers fell that the smaller and less influential firms are falling in influence, while the larger firms are generally rising in influence.

This really reinforces my opinion about the smaller analyst firms that trade on free research and internet profile. While their research is certainly worth reading, some vendors’ inflated expectations of 2006 now seem to be turning into sober judgement about where the real influence is building up.

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