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IIAR Analyst of the Year 2009 (Part 2)

IIAR Analyst of the Year logo

Honesty, integrity, knowledge, curiosity, insight, passion, respect and influence

These characteristics were repeatedly highlighted when AR Pro’s were asked to identify the analyst house and individual who they wanted to recognise as being the best in the industry. This second post in the “analyst of the year” series aims to highlight individuals and firms who are seen as the best in the industry regardless of their speciality sector. See here for the first post.

At a time when vendors are having to evaluate carefully where they should invest their limited funds, it is refreshing to see best-of-class analysts receiving recognition for the value they deliver. Now, more than ever before, analysts have to prove their tangible worth and those that provide independence, integrity, flexibility and deep industry knowledge of their specific areas are being recognised as true partners for vendors and IT buyers.

Without further ado, here are the results:

 

Global Analyst of the Year

1st Ray Wang, Forrester
2nd Jon Collins, Freeform Dynamics
3rd David Mitchell, Ovum
4th James Governor, RedMonk
5th Steve Blood, Gartner

This is an incredible coup for Ray having been named the analyst of the year in 2008. Some people have argued whether his influence will diminish now that he has left Forrester but in my opinion, when we get to the cream of the analysts, companies seeking to work with analyst houses tend to invest in the individual rather than the firm they work for. Ray has of course now left Forrester and joined Charlene Li as a Partner at Altimeter Group looking at bridging today’s world of enterprise apps with the E2.0 world of connected business platforms. Commenting on this award, he explained:

It’s a great honor to be recognized by the IIAR, especially in a year where clients challenge analysts to provide more actionable and personalized advice.   As we rely more on social media tools to improve client delivery and outreach, I’m often reminded not to forget the other part of the equation – building strong relationships.  In fact the best AR pro’s I work with master the art of fostering strong relationships and understand that art often trumps science when dealing with people.

I mentioned this last point in the previous post but believe it is worth reiterating as to why so many European analysts tend to feature so well. At first analysis, I was immediately concerned over the relatively high number of awards that have gone to EMEA-based analysts and firms thinking that this was due to the physical location of the voters.

However, 72% of all respondents were based in the US or Canada.

My personal view is that whereas a great deal of syndicated research tends to get created and published from the US, the European analysts have to rely on their revenue stream coming from their local market knowledge, deep messaging insights and customer focus. To put it bluntly, they need to prove value otherwise they will be out of a job. This point may well be the most contentious and I am happy to discuss this point further.

 

Global Analyst House of the Year

1st Gartner
2nd Forrester
3rd IDC
4th Ovum
5th AMR

 

This year has seen the larger, global firms dominate the awards when it comes to sector importance. It is of little surprise therefore that when it came to picking an individual firm who represented the highest value, Gartner came top. Their success should not be underestimated. In a time when many firms are cutting back on their analyst expenditure, the fact that the Gartner remains so highly recommended (even though they are far from cheap) is tantamount to the calibre of people they have working for them as well as their relevance and influence they bring to the table. Peter Sondergaard, SVP & Global Head of Research, Gartner was delighted at Gartner’s recognition and explained:

We really value this feedback from the analyst relations community as we are fully committed to constantly improving the quality of our products and the service we provide to all our clients worldwide.

I am especially pleased to see that Ovum and AMR can be recognised after they both missed winning ‘importance’ awards by sector by coming in fourth place. As an aside, and similar the UK premier league, it is always refreshing and healthy for there to be a highly competitive market where the larger firms cannot rest on their laurels and must continue to innovate or be overtaken by the competition.

 

 

EMEA Analyst of the Year

1st Jon Collins, Freeform Dynamics
2nd David Mitchell, Ovum
3rd James Governor, RedMonk
4th Steve Blood, Gartner
5th Neil Rickard, Gartner

It has been a great year in Europe for boutiques. These firms, more than any, have had to challenge traditional analyst business models and the boundaries in which they operate such that the art of defining what an analyst is and does has had to change. Nevertheless, a few firms with considerably fewer analysts have seen their share of voice rise disproportionately – within the market they are recognised by AR Pros as being able to contribute a level of service that is exemplary. Jon Collins, who has recently taken over the role as MD at Freeform Dynamics explained upon receiving his award:

I’m delighted to be called out, I see this as a vote of confidence not just for me but the whole Freeform Dynamics team, not to mention its collaborative philosophy and approach, which keeps us all grounded in the real world of mainstream IT usage and makes this job such a pleasure to do.

 

EMEA Analyst House of the Year

1st Gartner
2nd Freeform Dynamics
3rd Forrester
4th RedMonk
5th Quocirca

Gartner once again steal the show. With a solid presence of industry experts, they are recognised as being the best in the region. However, a significant number of ‘boutiques’ also make the top 5 – edging out likely candidates such as IDC and Ovum. In the previous post I explained that it is of little surprise that firms are cutting back and focusing on the analyst houses that have the greatest global reach. However, it is somewhat refreshing that other houses have managed to carve out their own niches – notably: Verdantix and Quocirca in the green IT space and RedMonk and MWD in the developer/ IT Pro sector. It is in these smaller, areas where ‘boutique’ firms have managed to push their own USP and become sector leaders.

 

Comparing important analysts and ‘analyst of the year’

it’s quite an interesting dichotomy between the analysts who were voted as most important by their coverage areas (as it highlights perceived expertise) compared to the analyst of the year overall ranking. The characteristics that stand-out amongst this crowd are difficult to combine but necessary to be a good analyst:

  • Social/Relationship (ease to deal with)
  • Domain Expertise
  • Influence/Presentation skills

 

Final thoughts

My congratulations go to all the firms and individuals who have been recognised with awards. The third and final post to be published in a couple of weeks will look at which firms provide the greatest offering for bespoke research, consulting/inquiry and reports. It will also identify which firms have increased in relevance the most over the past year and the key reasons why people tend to work with analysts in the first place.

As I complete this second post, a statement that Vinnie Mirchandani made to me when I was discussing the definition of an industry analyst sticks to my mind:

“analysts” are just a small subset of a 1000 points of influence

Regardless of the debate regarding ‘who is an analyst?’ – a clear point remains. We work in a time where those that can influence buying decisions are in high demand. If analysts wish to remain a significant player within this, they must continue to offer the level of service and value that the firms and individuals who have been recognised by the IIAR in these awards provide.

 

Methodology

1) Entrants:

This survey was open to anyone who works in analyst relations in any country, either in-house or at an agency/consultancy. In order for someone’s entry to be validated, they had to submit their email address and company name to verify they not an impostor trying to distort the results. This personal information will not be distributed or used beyond sending copies of the results to all participant. The survey was open for specific period of time and IP addresses were taken to ensure that someone could not vote twice. A total of 137 AR Pros completed this survey.

2) Questions:

The survey specifically focused on an individual’s perception of the analyst world. A full list of every analyst house was made available for respondents to select their preference.

3) Segmentation:

Respondents were asked to specify their submissions based upon geography and segment. Based upon these criteria further analysis could be made of the results to identify specific regional or segment champions.

If you have any questions or comments about this survey please contact me (@jonnybentwood)

 

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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 (http://iiar.wordpress.com/2009/03/12/dont-forget-analysts-have-a-unique-vantage-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?
I
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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Around David Mitchell / Ovum in 10 questions

We have the pleasure today of  welcoming David Mitchell, Senior Vice President, IT Research, Ovum and Research Fellow, Datamonitor Group. David has his own blog on IT issues in Asian and other emerging economies: Geosophical Technologies.

  1. What are your coverage areas?

    Very wide. I’ve published about a range of things. In terms of industry verticals I’ve written about telecoms, government, financial services, professional services, retail and construction. In terms of technologies and services I’ve written about BPO, databases, application development, high performance computing, grid computing, software-as-a-service, cloud computing, HCM applications, ERP applications, collaboration technology, Web 2.0, operating systems, IT-Telecoms convergence, eLearining, incentive compensation, the productization of services, and globalization…. to name but a few. There are two areas where I work on consulting projects for customers most often: enterprise applications and commercial deal negotiation.

  2. What are your opinions of the IT Analysis Marketplace and where do you see it going?

    Just like the IT vendor market the analyst market is also experiencing consolidation. My view is that were looking at a consolidation into around 4-5 global powerhouses, with a number of small regional niche providers still making a decent business – even though it won’t generate massive revenues for them. The consolidation of the global players is only likely to continue, with more of the niche firms being acquired but this will not stop a stream of new firms starting up and growing quite well.  Scale
    or specialization are the most important criteria going forwards. Specialization can be by geography, technology or business theme but it needs to be resonate with a focused buying audience. Small and generalist is not a good place to be.


  3. What’s your typical day like?

    Typical day… no such thing, as I travel so much and spend as much time away from the office as I spend in it. When I’m in the office the day day normally starts about 6.30 a.m. with catch-up calls with Asia Pacific staff and clients. Middle part of the day is focused on meetings with UK clients and staff, and research briefings -both formal and informal. The day tails off about 7 p.m. with US calls with clients and staff, before getting home about 8.30 p.m. I rarely do less than a 60 hour week.

  4. Now, c’mon, tell me an AR horror story?
    Not a horror story but a dislike. I will do everything possible to avoid events held in Las Vegas. It’s a city that I dislike a great deal and that I can see no redeeming qualities in.

  5. How do you position your firm? What is your business model? (where are your revenues coming from, mix between users and vendors?)

    Ovum’s revenue is primarily focused on our syndicated client base, with the majority of our revenue coming from this source. Consulting and ad hoc revenue comes from the analyst teams and our consulting teams, including the Orbys sourcing advisory business that Ovum acquired post-IPO. Revenue is well balanced between vendors and enterprise buyers, something that we believe is important for the integrity of the advice that we provide but also gives greater revenue predictability than a reliance on either community would. We also have a good geographic revenue balance across EMEA, US and APAC markets.

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

    Most of my research is done face-to-face or in phone interviews with vendors and enterprises. I’m a firm believer that a detailed dialogue, probably only loosely structured, gives a much greater insight that questionnaire driven methods alone. Across the firm we use the entire range of research methods from large-scale quantitative surveys, small group sessions, secondary research and every other technique that you’d expect. We’ve got one or two interesting research methods that we think offer us competitive advantage but you wouldn’t expect me to share those in a way that competitors could
    copy.


  7. Any favourite AR professional you’d like to mention? Any why?

    Too many to single out any individual. Among the talented people that I’ve worked with are Peggy O’Neil, Carter Lusher, Evan Quinn, Naomi Higgins, Paula Schmidt… They’ve all got one thing in common… they invest time in building relationships between the vendor and the analyst.

  8. What are your offerings and key deliverables?

    From the Ovum software team the most important deliverables are the product evaluations that customers to help them make selection decisions. The equivalent from the IT Services team are the Ovum Navigators. Our country profiles that look at opportunities in emerging markets, not just BRIC, are becoming more important for our vendor clients – looking to expand into new markets. Our
    detailed UK market coverage continues to be popular, as does our government research.


  9. Any hobbies or favourite restaurant / food that you’d like to share?

    I’ve recently invested in an aquarium and have started to keep marine fish. It takes a lot of time and patience but it’s also quite relaxing. Genealogy is another one of my hobbies; delving back into the history of our family.

    Favourite restaurants… Le Manoir  aux Quat’Saisons in Great Milton, The Peat Inn near St. Andrews, Bobo’s in San Francisco, Doyles at the Quay in Sydney, Hutong in Hong Kong, Monte’s Trattoria on MacDougal in New York, Vivat Bacchus near our London office, and Locanda Locatelli in the West End of London.

  10. What is your biggest challenges for the upcoming 6 months? And for the next 30 mn?

    Fatigue. The next six months already looks incredibly busy. Bookings for client projects are looking extremely strong and there engagements that will take me on at least a dozen long haul trips in
    the next 6 months. On top of client engagements are a range of research projects that involve clients from around the world. The second biggest challenge is to continue to expand the Ovum IT research team, something that we’ve spent a lot of the past 6 months investing in.
  11. Is there another analyst (a peer in your firm or with another firm) whose work  you rate highly?

    Steve Hodgkinson in our Melbourne office. As well as being an extremely creative and visionary analyst he also has a great practical touch, useful when advising the CIO client base that he works
    with across Asia-Pacific.

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