Acquisitions continue to remake the analyst landscape – Looking ahead to 2010

icon-crystal-ball.jpgThis post is one in a series where SageCircle pulls out the crystal ball and looks ahead to what happens in the analyst ecosystem in 2010. See below for links to all posts in this series.

It does not take a magical crystal ball to predict that there will be acquisitions in the analyst market. Acquisitions have always been a business tool of analyst firms. However, there are some potentially interesting developments on the acquisition front for 2010 and beyond.

Roll ups to take on Gartner and Forrester – One of the ways that Gartner was able to achieve its market dominance was 60+ acquisitions in the 1990s under the leadership of then CEO Manny Fernandez.  Since then there has been only one serious attempt to use a roll up strategy to develop a competitor to Gartner and Forrester. That was by Monitor Clipper Partners in 2004, who attempted to buy META Group to combine with the earlier acquisition of Yankee Group to form the core of a new broad-based major analyst firm. This plan was derailed by Gartner CEO Gene Hall’s smart and strategic grab of META. In stark contrast to the last ten years, 2010 could see three firms use a roll up strategy: Corporate Executive Board, IDC (for Insights units) and Ovum-Datamonitor.

Mid-sized firms get gobbled up – As Gartner’s acquisition of AMR Research demonstrates, being a mid-sized firm with a price tag in the tens of millions dollars does not deter determined acquirers. There are a number of potential acquiring firms with the financial resources to buy a mid-sized firm. One firm likely being wooed by potential acquirers is the Burton Group, which has a solid reputation, desirable research coverage, a sales force, and a client base that includes enterprises and government agencies.

Forrester continues adding resources for marketing professionals – Forrester continued its push deeper into research and services relevant to marketing professionals with its recent acquisition of Strategic Oxygen. In 2010, Forrester is likely to continue adding assets for its Marketing and Strategy Professionals Client Group. While this strategy is certainly reasonable because it helps Forrester stay out of the path of Gartner, it risks diluting its Continue reading

Gartner surprised by new competitors that steal enterprise clients – Looking ahead to 2010

icon-crystal-ball.jpgThis post is one in a series where SageCircle pulls out the crystal ball and looks ahead to what happens in the analyst ecosystem in 2010. See below for links to all posts in this series.

 Gartner is the dominant player in the analyst market with more than a 40% market share according to information market research firm Outsell, Inc. When it comes to the enterprise technology product and services buyer market (typically IT managers), Gartner extends this dominance to approximately 70% to 75% according to SageCircle estimates. If Gartner continues to execute as it has the last four years it will see its market share grow, even as the total market grows as well.

Gartner has achieved this dominance through both hard work and dumb luck. Hard work as represented by making more than 70 acquisitions since 1994, doubling the sales force since 2004 to nearly 1,000 representatives, and creating mindshare with recurring research deliverables like the Magic Quadrant, Hype Cycle, and Gartner Symposium. The dumb luck comes in the form of competitors that focus on vendors rather than end users, fail to build sales and marketing functions, and/or are complacent to the point of being Gartner’s implicit junior partner even though they have the resources to invest in more effective competition.

While there are no signs that Gartner is going to get lazy or stupid next year, 2010 might see its luck run out when it comes to ineffectual or complacent competition. SageCircle sees firms that bring attitude, business attributes, and wiliness to invest to the game unlike others in the past decade. Some examples include:

  • Altimeter Group – While still tiny, with only four analyst/consultants, Altimeter Group has tremendous enterprise visibility and mindshare due to its principals’ exquisite exploitation of social media, conventional speaking opportunities, press quotes, and client contacts from their Forrester tenures. This market awareness should prove to be a significant lead generator that other more established analyst boutiques can only envy. It has made an important investment by starting to build a sales organization. Its current Achilles’ heel is that it is perceived as mostly a 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

Ovum ups the ante in campaign to recruit AMR analysts and sales representatives

Tip o’ the hat to the tipsters who sent in information about this Ovum news

Updated 12/16/09 1:32 pm PT – Added photo of truck outside Gartner’s HQ

Here is the Ovum truck making the rounds around Gartner main offices on Top Gallant Road in Stamford, CT (click on the picture to enlarge). Carter’s office use to be on the second floor nearest Top Gallant Road. Carter says that this truck would be quite visible from any of the window offices.

Please read the comments below. A Guerilla Billboards staffer mentions that a member of Gartner’s legal team came out and told the driver to get lost. Interesting.

As SageCircle reported in Special offers for AMR Research’s clients, sales professionals and analysts Ovum is one of the firms that is making a play for AMR’s sales and analyst staff. This is a common tactic by competing firms immediately after the announcement of a sizeable acquisition. However, offers like these do not necessarily result in the pickup of key staff because there is little effort put into the campaign. Usually there is just an announcement on the poaching firms’ websites and maybe a few phone calls to staff at the targeted firm.

Ovum has demonstrated that it is willing to increase the stakes by actually investing in getting the attention of the staff at the targeted firm. SageCircle has received reports about the rolling billboard that Ovum put on the streets of Boston to circle the Gartner and AMR Research offices (see picture). While this technique is likely a modest expense it does demonstrate that Ovum is serious about expanding its presence in the US market where it has a relatively small presence. In addition, it is a nifty publicity stunt sure to get some notice.

This development could work to the advantage of enterprises and vendors looking to wrap up contracts before Continue reading

Special offers for AMR Research’s clients, sales professionals and analysts

Not surprisingly, the acquisition of AMR Research by Gartner is inspiring other analyst firms to launch campaigns to capture AMR clients, sales team members, and even analysts. 

Two firms that have already announced client switch campaigns include Ovum (see here) and Ventana Research (click here). For research consumers who are looking for market and product/services insights and advice, rather than access to a firm for influencing purposes, this could be an opportunity to purchase access to analysts at a very competitive rate. At a minimum, enterprises and vendors with AMR contracts coming up for renewal should talk to Ovum and Ventana, if these firms have research relevant to you.

Ovum is also interested in talking with AMR analysts and sales representatives. For more information, please contact Rosemary Masterson (email).

Any analyst firm with special deals for AMR or Gartner clients, sales representatives, or analysts should notify SageCircle at Continue reading

SageCircle AR Podcast for December 1, 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 14: Table of contents. Numbers in parentheses refer to minutes:seconds when the article starts within the podcast.

[00:00]  Opening

[01:06]  News – hiring up in analyst ecosystem

[02:54]  Interview with Datamonitor-Ovum Research Fellow Jonathan Yarmis on the new strategy for Datamonitor-Ovum

[12:22]  Analysis by SageCircle of the new Datamonitor-Ovum strategy

[22:43]  Upcoming Continue reading

Panelists at the Ovum-Datamonitor Launch Event

From left to right,

  • Jonathan Yarmis, Research Fellow, Datamonitor-Ovum
  • Gideon Gartner, CEO-founder, Gartner Group and Giga Information Systems
  • Carter Lusher, Strategist, SageCircle

The panel was on the future of the analyst industry. It was an honor for Carter to be included on such an august panel. The event was the formal launch of the new Datamonitor-Ovum.

Ovum-Datamonitor Restructuring: Sufficient Critical Mass to Take on the “Big Two”?

On August 11th Datamonitor announced a major restructuring of its various analyst brands into a cleaner, more focused framework.

 First a quick recap – Early in 2005 Datamonitor acquired the Butler Group. In parallel, Ovum had started on the M&A path with the acquisition of RHK in mid-2005 followed by Summit Strategies and Orbys after its early 2006 IPO. Then Datamonitor acquired Ovum in December 2006. That was followed by Informa acquiring Datamonitor in May 2007. Informa itself was the target of a failed, hostile takeover by UBM in June 2008. Finally, Datamonitor acquired the Brown-Wilson Group in April 2009. Complex enough for you?

 Datamonitor and Ovum kept all the acquired brands pretty much untouched for the last two and a half years with research overlap, separate sales force, unfocused marketing, and so on. This created a jumble of brands that that did not seem to have any synergy or heft to compete effectively with Forrester and Gartner. In contrast, Forrester (Giga, JupiterResearch) and Gartner (META Group) both absorbed their major acquisitions of this decade relatively quickly and effectively.

 SageCircle was given a background briefing in mid-June by the Datamonitor CEO and Ovum Managing Director Mark Meek and this week by David Mitchell, Ovum’s SVP, IT Research. While still a bit of a work in progress, the reorganization shows real promise to shake up the analyst market.

 The new lineup is going to have three brands – Datamonitor, Ovum and Orbys. Each will have a much more focused client base and research portfolio. Datamonitor will focus on business information, Ovum on enterprise IT and telecommunications, and Orbys on sourcing. This will permit each of the new units to develop sufficient critical mass to be more competitive and attractive to potential clients whether enterprises or vendors. The Butler Group brand will continue for a short period in association with certain conferences much as GigaWorld continued after Forrester retired the Giga brand.

Datamonitor - Ovum Restructuring

Sales & Marketing

However, it is not just bringing the analysts together and rationalizing the research ownership that makes this an interesting move. Part of the problem Datamonitor, Ovum, and the other brands have had in the last Continue reading

Ovum awarded Analyst Firm of the Year by Communications Day

Logo - OvumOvum, the analyst and consulting firm, has been awarded the Asia-Pacific Telecom Analyst Firm of the Year by Communications Day.

Grahame Lynch, Director of CommsDay, said “The CommsDay Asia-Pacific Awards are the only awards in the region that are directly voted by Asia- Pacific telecom executives. They are, thus, a substantial peer review of excellence.” Lynch said “Ovum beat out tough competition from Gartner, the Economist Intelligence Group and Buddecomm to win the award”.

Antonio Bartolome, Ovum’s Asia-Pacific Managing Director, said, “Asia-Pacific plays a key role in Ovum’s global operations. Presence in Asia-Pacific enables us to better understand the key growth issues in one of the fastest growing technology markets – exactly where Ovum wants to be’.

“This award is a reflection of Ovum’s strong commitment to the Asian region and our local presence” said David Kennedy, Research Director at Ovum. CW Cheung, Consulting Director, received the award on behalf of the Ovum team.

The CommsDay Award winners were voted by the 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

Forrester buying Jupiter – smart, but not a big deal

There has been commentary in the blogosphere about the larger meaning of Forrester’s acquisition of JupiterResearch. Typically this commentary has focused on points like the analyst industry is consolidating and that major firms are losing relevance and influence in the age of blogs and other social media. It is our opinion that this commentary is wrong and that the acquisition of Jupiter by Forrester does not portend some deep consolidation of the analyst industry due to the rise of the blogosphere, rather it is business as usual. 

To get some perspective, let’s look at a little history of the analyst industry.

Analyst firms have long used acquisitions to fill gaps in coverage and geography or pick up client bases. For example, in the last 15 years since Gartner went public for the second time, it has made over 70 acquisitions to pick up expertise in specialized coverage, get into new markets (e.g., learning software), and to broaden its footprint in 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

Right firms – Search out alternative services providers that better match your needs for a better price [Purchasing Analyst Services, Part 4]

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgOne method for avoiding the price increases that Forrester and Gartner are initiating on a regular basis is to diversify your sources of analyst research and advice. The one usual negotiating trick of playing one vendor off another probably won’t work with Gartner as CEO Gene Hall has been quite emphatic in his quarterly earnings conference calls that discounting by sales reps has been and will continue to be sharply curtailed.  This means you may be better off looking to “boutique” firms for some services. There are hundreds of analyst firms in the market, many with very smart analysts and interesting research. Besides a lower price, there are other potential benefits to going with other firms including: flexibility in service delivery, better customer service, and unique insights.

The difficulty of purchasing from a smaller firm is discovering them in the first place. Forrester and Gartner (as well as the vendor-centric IDC) have tremendous mindshare from tens of thousands press quotes and growing sales forces that drive their brand equity. Very few firms outside of the Big 3 invest in marketing and sales that would give them the market visibility to become a regular addition to buyer short lists.

The next issue is finding alternative firms that can deliver services that meet your needs. Many analyst firms specialize in advising 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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