Highly recommended – Participating in the Gartner Quarterly AR Call on January 7, 2010

The topic we hear analyst relations (AR) professionals and other vendor staff talk the most about is Gartner. There is always something brewing about the Gartnerians’ business model, research methodology, product management and policies that gets under the skin of AR pros around the globe. While there is widespread feeling in the AR community that Gartner does not listen to us, we think that a productive use of an hour is participating in the Gartner Quarterly AR Call and telling the Gartner executives exactly what is on your mind. With a variety of GVPs and VPs participating, we think that AR pros should give these executives the benefit of the doubt that they will listen to well reasoned observations with positive suggestions about how to correct the situation. To register, click here.

This particular AR community will be a little more — and a little less – interesting than most. More interesting because the focus is on the details of how AMR is going to be integrated into Gartner (click here for a round up of SageCircle posts on the AMR acquisition by Gartner). Less interesting if AMR is not relevant to your AR program or if you are not an enterprise research client of AMR.

This particular call should also prove to be interesting to enterprise (aka end user) clients of AMR Research. While the focus is on issues of interest for AR professionals, enterprise clients of AMR should be able to pick up important intelligence about what is happening with their favorite AMR analysts and that could impact contract renewal decisions.

Replay of the webinar “SageCircle Analysis of Gartner’s acquisition of AMR Research” is now available. To receive a link and password to watch a streaming version of the webinar please email “info [at] sagecircle [dot] com”. Please include your job title and company name. Agenda:

  • Basics of the deal
  • SageCircle Analysis of AMR’s and Gartner’s Motivation
  • Highlights from Gartner December 3rd AR Community Call
  • Commentary on Points from Gartner AR Community Call
  • Recommendations for Research Clients
    • Enterprise
    • Vendors
  • Recommendations for Vendor AR Teams

—- Text from Gartner’s email —-

Dear Colleague:As promised during our Continue reading

SageCircle AR Podcast for December 15, 2009

SageCircle AR Podcast ArtworkThe AR podcast is a review of the latest news and trends in the analyst ecosystem along with tips and tricks for analyst relations professionals and analyst research consumers. SageCircle strategists Dave Eckert and Carter Lusher co-host this bi-weekly program. You can find all the SageCircle podcasts on our podcast page.

Visit the podcast page to download the MP3 file or listen to the episodes on your computer.  Click here to subscribe to the podcast within iTunes

SCP 15: Table of contents. Numbers in parentheses refer to minutes:seconds when the article starts within the podcast.

[00:00]  Opening

[01:06]  News – Gartner acquires AMR Research

[09:10]  How likely is it that Gartner will retain AMR analysts and sales representatives

[14:37]  Interview with Datamonitor-Ovum Research Fellow Jonathan Yarmis about his role

[21:06]  How the new Datamonitor-Ovum will encourage collaboration between Continue reading

Analyst departures start at AMR Research

12/10/09 9:35 am PT – Initial post

SageCircle received a credible tip and subsequently confirmed that AMR Research VP Lora Cecere, who managed a team of analysts on how to drive greater value from the supply chain, is leaving AMR. At this point we do not know the circumstances, e.g., whether Lora left voluntarily or was part of a downsizing due to Gartner’s acquisition. SageCircle had received reports that Lora was one of AMR’s top producers. Lora had been at Gartner from 2000-02.

This comes in wake of the Gartner SVP of Research Peter Sondergaard’s announcement that all analysts had been given offer letters to stay with the new AMR. This could be the case of an analyst deciding not to join the new firm or AMR doing some downsizing prior to the official takeover by Gartner to spare the new owners the task of laying off analysts they said they would retain.

If you have tips about analysts who are leaving AMR Research or related research areas at Gartner, please send them to “info [at] sagecircle [dot] com” and we will confirm them before posting them.

Replay of the webinar “SageCircle Analysis of Gartner’s acquisition of AMR Research” is now available. To receive a link Continue reading

What Forrester Research’s acquisition of Strategic Oxygen says about Forrester

logo-forrester.gifOn December 1, 2009, Forrester Research announced the acquisition of Strategic Oxygen from Monitor. Strategic Oxygen provides marketing professionals with data to help target marketing campaigns more effectively. While of interest to Technology Product Management & Marketing Professionals, it will be a separately-priced offering and not included in that RoleView. 

This acquisition is of little interest to analyst relations (AR) teams as Strategic Oxygen does not track IT or telecommunications markets nor does it advise enterprise technology buyers on products from vendors like Accenture, Cisco, IBM, or SAP.

In a case of bad luck from a publicity point-of-view, Forrester announced the acquisition on the same day that Gartner acquired AMR Research. The Gartner acquisition overshadowed the Forrester announcement, but that does not mean that Forrester’s M&A move is less significant. Rather, it provides important insights into Forrester’s strategy.

The first insight is that M&A continues to be an ongoing tool for Forrester even though it has been quiet on that front since the JupiterResearch acquisition in July 2008. Forrester is sitting on approximately a quarter-billion in cash, cash equivalents, and short term investments. It also generates very good cash flow from operations so it definitely has the resources for an aggressive M&A strategy. Forrester simply takes a conservative approach to M&A to ensure a high level of success.

The second insight is that Forrester continues to look beyond the IT organization. Forrester did not have a significant presence in the IT organization prior to closing its acquisition of Giga in early 2003. The Giga acquisition gave it a substantial footprint in the IT organization, likely making it the number two end user advisory firm after Gartner. While Forrester’s end-user clients provide a steady revenue stream, it has done its recent primary investment in expanding its Continue reading

Is there an acquisition coming in the analyst ecosystem?

SageCircle has been picking up signals that there is a potential announcement about the acqusition of an analyst firm by another analyst firm. This announcment could occur as early as today, Thursday, October 8th.

  • 10/8/09 9:07 am PT — Initial post
  • 10/8/09 9:53 am PT — Added section about Forrester CEO’s comments at investor conference
  • 10/8/10:37 am PT – Added section about Gartner
  • 10/8/09 11:43 am PT – Added section about IDC
  • 10/8/09 12:13 pm PT — Added section Ovum

Ovum could use more heft to take on “The Big Two”

Ovum is seriously taking a run at the big two advisory firms, Gartner and Forrester (see  Ovum-Datamonitor Restructuring: Sufficient Critical Mass to Take on the “Big Two”?). However, it still needs more analysts and sales reps to accelerate its growth in the enterprise advisory research space. Acquisitions would be a logical complement to organic hiring to quickly grow.

Don’t discount IDC as a potenial buyer in an M&A event

While IDC has had three layoffs in the last 18 months (see this post), that does not mean it could not pull off a large acquisition. There is a difference between managing costs during a recession and having the financial strength to invest in the future. Remember, IDC acquired Meridien Research in November 2002 during the last recession. IDC could certainly be looking at bulk up one of its Insights companies to compete more effectively in the end user market.

Gartner is sitting on approximately $100 million in cash

Gartner has the financial strength (approximately $100 m cash plus $250 m line of credit), dedicated M&A team and success with acquisitons to make it a logical player in any analyst ecosystem acquisition event. During each quarterly earnings call, CEO Gene Hall makes it a point to discuss M&A strategy and opportunities, though obviously not specific targets.

Could Forrester be ready to pull the trigger on a purchase?

At the William Blair & Co. Emerging Growth Stock Conference on Tuesday, October 6th, Forrester Research Chairman and CEO George F. Colony mentioned several times about Continue reading

Acquisitions of analyst firms are likely, so who would be buyers and targets?

question-mark-graphic.jpgQuestion: A common question SageCircle has been receiving concerns the likelihood that there will be acquisitions of analyst firms during the current recession.

During a recession, companies with strong balance sheets often acquire companies with weaker financials because the purchase price has been cut. Both Gartner (cash at September 30th was $145.2 million) and Forrester (NASDAQ: FORR, cash and marketable securities at September 30th were $254 million) have a history of acquisitions.  They also have dedicated M&A teams and CEOs that assure Wall Street during quarterly earnings calls that acquisitions remain a potential tactic “at the right price.” As a consequence, there is always the possibility that one or more small or mid-sized firms will be acquired by one of the two major public firms. 

Who could be acquired? Almost any firm. Obviously mid-sized firms like AMR Research that have gone through recent job actions could be thought to be shoring up their finances to ride out the recession… or make themselves a more attractive acquisition target by reducing cost structure or eliminating duplicate reearch coverage.

Who could be buyers? While Forrester and Gartner have the requisite strong balance sheets and motivations, they are not the only potential buyers of analyst firms. Companies that have made analyst firm acquisitions over Continue reading

Is Yankee Group being prepared for another sale?

Last week’s severe cutbacks at Yankee Group (see here and here) could be an indicator that the firm is simply refocusing on its prime research opportunity or it could mean it is back on the selling block. This would be the fourth change in ownership in this decade if this turns out to be true. Here is a quick timeline:

  •  1970 – founded by Howard Anderson
  • 1996 August – acquirer Primark ($34m)
  • 2000 May – acquirer Reuters Enterprise ($72.5m)
  • 2004 May – acquirer Decision Matrix Group, formed by Monitor Clipper Partners (undisclosed)
  • 2005 November – acquirer Alta Communications (undisclosed)
  • 2008 September – ?

 A sale by Alta would not be surprising as it – like Monitor Clipper Partners – is a private equity firm that buys and sells companies as Continue reading

Which acquisitions in the analyst industry were winners or duds?

The Forrester announcement about acquiring JupiterResearch got me thinking about which acquistions in the analyst industry worked and which ones did not. I thought I would call on the collective memory of the analyst ecosystem for the answers.

To help jog your memory here is Gartner Acquisition History (note that this is a selective subset and not a comprehensive list). See Forrester Research Timeline, a history, for some of Forrester’s M&A events. I could not find other lists so leave a comment if you know of other sources of analyst firm acquistions.

To get the ball rolling I’ll give you a couple of examples:

Gartner – Real Decisions (December 1993) – Winner as Real Decisions’ IT benchmarking services complimented the end-user advisory research and was an easy sell for Gartner Sales reps. Too easy as Gartner almost killed the Real Decisions analysts with way too many new clients in the first year.

Gartner – G2R, Inc. (February 1999) – Dud as all G2R analysts had bolted within four months and almost no G2R clients renewed their contracts.

Besides the many, many Gartner acquistions, here are a few other acquistions for you to comment on:

Forrester – Fletcher Research (November 1999)

META – SPEX (July 2000)

In-Stat – MicroDesign Resources (? 2000)

IDC – Meridian Continue reading

Forrester acquires JupiterResearch – will the analysts stay or walk?

logo-forrester.gifForrester Research acquired JupiterResearch for $23 million in cash plus assumed liabilities. JupiterResearch joins Forrester’s Marketing & Strategy Client Group. Click here to read the press release and click here to read a blog post by analyst Josh Bernoff.

The key question for any analyst firm merger & acquisition (M&A) activity is whether the acquired analysts – the core intellectual property value – stay with their new employer or leave. For example, in the case of Gartner’s acquisition of META more than 50% of the analysts left voluntarily or through buyouts within a few months.

Our initial impression is that the JupiterResearch acquisition is more of an expansion of Forrester’s services than a consolidation move to eliminate a competitor. This is similar to Forrester’s Giga acquisition, but different from Gartner’s grab of META which was clearly a strategic move to Continue reading

UBM buys Informa who bought Datamonitor who bought Ovum who bought…

In a classic “big fish eating a smaller fish eating a smaller fish” scenario, UK-based UBM announced its plan to acquire Informa. Informa earlier acquired Datatmonitor, which had acquired Ovum and Butler. Ovum, of course, had made three rapid fire acquisitions (i.e., RHK, Summit Strategies, Orbys) of its own before Datamonitor acquired it.

These serial acquisitions are distracting to management and analysts alike so research quality and timeliness could suffer.  Also, some analysts will likely think “that’s it” and start developing a personal exit strategy. Because analysts are the core of any firm, anything that could cause them to walk could dramatically impact the relevance of the firm to your AR strategies and analyst lists. Besides the impact on analysts, this latest merger might be the last straw for sales representatives and client service personnel as well.  As a consequence, AR teams need to be proactive in ascertaining potential pitfalls and opportunities this latest industry M&A move might provide.

SageCircle Technique: Steps* to immediately take:

  • Ascertain whether any of your primary analysts might be affected
  • Schedule inquiries with key analysts to Continue reading
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