Friday, August 29, 2014

A novel approach from analyst Charles Brett

I was really interested to hear that one of the analysts I regularly work with, Charles Brett, (currently at Freeform Dynamics and previously with Forrester and Constellation Research) has written his first novel.

I've not had the chance to read it yet but Charles tells me that The HolyPhone Confessional Crisis brings together business, church and technology. 

It's launching next week, on Wednesday 3rd September.

The back cover blurb describes it:

“The HolyPhone Confessional Crisis is a technology, crime and church thriller. The Vatican introduces HolyPhones (based on smartphones) into confessionals in Europe and the Americas. These connect those who wish to confess to the Vatican Confessional Call Centre, in part to improve the workload of priests but as much to generate new income for the Church.

"An alliance - of an American lady whose father runs a southern fundamentalist church, an Israeli pro-Settler technology genius, an ex-banker (and past lover of the American lady) now turned priest and a lady member of Opus Dei - conspire, for their own very different reasons, to cream off part of the HolyPhone’s confessional revenues.

"The Brazilian cardinal responsible has suspicions and brings in the half Spanish/half English conceiver of the HolyPhone, an Irish policeman and an Australian lady computer crime expert to find out if there is a problem and, if there is, to try to solve it.

"More than the church’s credibility is at stake.

The novel is set in Rome, Israel and Spain.”

Perhaps more entertaining is Forrester analyst John Rymer’s Amazon review:

Po Bronson meets Dan Brown ... but with the wit, charm. and international flair that only Charles Brett can bring. This book was a surprise. A very clever plot feeds a fun mystery of financial process, conflicting political and personal agenda, tangled and shifting alliances, and some good Catholic politics and dogma. Toss into the mix a female technology wiz (!), an Israeli villain (or was it that Chicagoian?), an improbable affair (hot!), and the loveable "analyst" we all aspire to be (Davide is just so cool), and this was one fun read. Next time, Mr. Brett, add a murder if you please. Please give us the sequel! Davide must "ride again."”

The book is now available on Amazon (paperback and for Kindle), iTunes Store and Google Play: it can be found by searching for ‘HolyPhone’.

More information is also available at www.holyphone.net or follow on Twitter at: #HolyPhone

Monday, May 19, 2014

Learn what the new Ovum is up to: webinar with CEO Steve Hotham

The new CEO at Ovum, Steve Hotham, is hosting a webinar on Thursday this week (22nd May 2014) at 4.00pm UK time.

It's open to all AR professionals and users of the current Ovum and Informa Telecoms & Media (ITM) research services.

According to Claire Booty, PR manager for Ovum, Steve will use the webinar to explain the rationale behind the merger of Ovum and ITM, highlight its new products, research agenda, and introduce key staff appointments.

If you want to attend, just email Claire with the names, job roles and contact details of those who wish to attend. She'll send you all the details.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Forrester announces reduction in workforce

Last week, Forrester Research filed a statement with the SEC announcing that it's reducing its workforce by approximately 1%.  That suggests about 12 or 13 people are affected - and I understand some of these are analysts.

There's more information and a good discussion going on in the KCG Connects LinkedIn group.  This is a closed group only open to AR professionals but if you're not already a member it's worth asking Stephen England or Bill Hopkins from KCG if you can join. 

The full statement, which can be found on the Forrester website under SEC Filings said:

"On April 9, 2014, the Company announced a reduction in its workforce of approximately 1% of its employees across various geographies and functions. This action was approved by the Company on March 31, 2014. Notification to affected persons commenced on April 9, 2014 and is expected to be completed by April 25, 2014. The Company expects to incur pre-tax expenses of $1.4 million to $1.7 million in the first and second quarters of 2014 related principally to cash severance and related benefit costs for terminated employees."

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Ovum merges with Informa Telecoms & Media; interview with CEO

Informa plc announced yesterday that it’s merging Ovum and the Informa Telecoms & Media research business (ITM) to create a new IT, telecoms and media analyst firm.

Steve Hotham, currently MD of Ovum, has been appointed as CEO of the new company.   He was kind enough to talk me through what’s happening.

A new company but an established brand

“The first thing is that the new merged company is to retain the Ovum name.   We talked it through internally at Ovum and ITM and decided it’s better to use the Ovum name because it’s a stronger and more unique brand in the market than ITM. It also means we’ve avoided any confusion between us and the parent company which might have happened if we’d used the Informa name in the brand,” said Steve

As a result, the ITM research brand is being retired immediately (although Ovum is still part of the Informa Telecoms & Media group within Informa plc). 

The new Ovum has two divisions:  Telecoms & Media and IT.  It employs 180 analysts, out of a total staff of 275, and has 23 offices worldwide – in the UK, mainland Europe, Africa, Asia, Australasia, the US and Latin America.

Among its research and consulting clients, it counts 90% of the top tier telcos, 15 of the top 20 media companies, 25 of the top 30 tech vendors and nine of the top 10 management consultancies.   

Strength in-depth across IT, telecoms and media
  
Steve said: “The group is investing in us so we can come to market as a brand new company.  This isn’t just about adding Ovum to ITM or vice versa.  We’ve gone back to basics. We’ve analysed the markets we serve.  We’ve improved every single telecoms and media service we sell, as well as many IT services, and we're designing new products to meet market needs.”

It’s obvious that Steve and his team see the new company being a much more powerful force in the market than either of the old individual Ovum or ITM businesses.

Steve explains:  “This merger has been driven by a vision. Combining Ovum and ITM enables us to offer the most comprehensive and in-depth telecoms research service available worldwide.” 

In fact, with 90 analysts, Ovum now claims to have more people in its telecoms team than any other analyst firm.  

But it’s not just about telecoms and media.  “We have spent a lot of time getting to the bottom of what’s unique about us.  It’s that we connect IT, media and telecoms in a way that no-one else can,” says Steve.

“We are now one of a handful of analyst companies, if not the only one, that researches all three markets in-depth.  We can advise on each market individually but more than this, we are also very well placed to advise companies on the convergence of these three markets.”

A telecoms powerhouse

Richard Mahony, who was director of telecoms research and analysis at the old Ovum, and is now becoming telecoms research director for the new Ovum joined Steve on the call last week. 

Both of them wanted to make it clear that the merger of the Ovum and ITM telecoms teams makes good business sense, describing the two as complementary rather than competitive.

Richard said: “If you overlaid Ovum’s areas of strength on those of ITM, it was a good fit with very little overlap. 

“Ovum’s strength was in providing strategic qualitative information while ITM’s specialism was quantitative information.  Put them together and it’s a powerful package that only a few other analyst firms can offer.”

Richard was also quick to point out “Some companies used research from both companies but they bought different types of services so there’s little risk of sales cannibalisation.  In fact, there’s now a strong opportunity for us to cross-sell services between our unique customer sets.”

IT is a core Ovum service

We talked about the IT business too.  Steve wanted to squash one story that's been circulating: “The rumour that we’re selling Ovum’s IT business is untrue.  We’re continuing to grow in this area.   Don’t forget, we see our USP as connecting IT, media and telecoms in a way that no other research firm can.  We are not interested in selling either of the IT or the Telecoms & Media businesses.”

This was reinforced when I spoke with Ian Charlesworth, MD for the new IT business (and previously director of IT research and analysis at the old Ovum).

“The convergence of IT and telecoms gives us a great opportunity.  For example, telcos are looking at how they can become IT service providers and we’re seeing enterprise software companies providing technology solutions which were previously the domain of specialist telco software firms. From the buy-side, there’s no longer any separation between enterprise IT and telecommunication. Enterprise IT managers simply need to manage their technology portfolio of infrastructure, applications, and data.

“To provide complete research on this converging world, you need to understand the two sectors from both dimensions. For us, there’s real synergy and a significant competitive differentiator to have strong teams covering both sectors.  Our IT team couldn’t do such a good job without our telco team and vice versa.”

Ian explained that the IT and telco teams are already working together on some topics which sit across both markets.  “Think of subjects like the Internet of Things, BYOD and cloud computing. We’re bringing the IT and telco teams together to collaborate so we go out to customers with a single, comprehensive product.  It’s hard work but the results are stronger and it differentiates us from other analyst firms.”

Steve is also clear that he and Ian have spent a lot of time re-evaluating the IT business and understanding its key strengths:  “We have refocused and are positioning ourselves around those strengths.  We have a lot of expertise in certain emerging technology segments and intend to be seen as leaders in those areas.” 

Ian picked up the same thread:  “There are four main areas where we want to focus on being market leader and we’ve been focused on these areas since the second half of last year.”

These are:
  • Customer Engagement (including contact centre, customer data management, customer analytics, social media and digital marketing) 
  • Information Management (including big data, analytics and business intelligence, and data visualisation)
  • Enterprise Mobility and Productivity (a range of workplace technologies including BYOD, mobile device management, collaboration tools, and BPM)
  • Infrastructure Modernization (covers everything that IT departments use to manage their IT estate, e.g. provisioning of IT services, cloud services, application development, IT security)


Ian continued:  “This helps with our vertical perspective as well. We’re able to take this horizontal expertise and look at how these technologies are being applied in our target vertical industries – e.g. retail banking, education, public sector, oil and gas, and of course telecoms.  It’s another example of differentiation though intelligent collaboration.”

Investment from Informa

Evaluation and planning of the merger has been underway for one year and the integration of Ovum and ITM is almost complete.  The companies are expected to be fully merged by the end of May. 

The last thing to happen will be the launch of a new Knowledge Centre, the primary way in which clients will access Ovum’s research online.

All research products are being carried over to the new knowledge centre with new ones also being introduced. 

These include World View, a new service which brings together telecoms and media data sets such as WCIS (World Cellular Information Service), WBIS (World Broadband Information Service) and WTVIS (World Television Information Service).   In telecoms, Ovum now provides the most in-depth KPIs available for 200 countries and has detailed forecast coverage available for 67 countries.

New products will also cover Enterprise Services Technology, aimed at telcos looking at the IT services market, as well as digital media and digital music.

Two new divisions

The Telecoms & Media division, led by Martin Hill (who was MD of ITM), employs 108 analysts.  90 of these work in telecoms and 18 in media. 

Richard Mahony (from Ovum) is research director for telecoms and Rob Gallagher is research director for media and entertainment.  Mark Newman is chief research officer and Nick Jotischky is consulting director.  The latter three are all from ITM.

There are 72 analysts in the IT division, led by Ian Charlesworth (who was director of IT research and analysis for Ovum). His leadership team all come from Ovum, which is unsurprising as ITM didn’t cover the IT market.

Tim Jennings is chief research officer. Maxine Holt is research director for software, Nicole Engelbert is research director for industries, John Madden is research director for services and Adrian Drury is consulting director. 

Steve didn’t deny there had been some redundancies but wouldn't go into detail. He explained: “Naturally, when you bring companies together there’s some duplication of roles. However in such cases, we are trying to redeploy people and make sure any redundancies are minimal.  Plus we’ve also been hiring new people in our fastest growth areas such as media and entertainment. Overall, the staffing numbers in the new company are not significantly changing from the old Ovum and ITM businesses combined.”

A global boutique

Ian Charlesworth gets the last word:  “We have the strengths of the specialist – our focus on customers, our flexibility, our agility. Combined with these, we have all the advantages of a large provider - global scale, certified and consistent research methodologies, in-depth data assets and insights.

“Think of Ovum IT as a global boutique. No one else combines the advantages of a large provider with the focus of a specialist. That’s what our customers told us they wanted so that’s what we've done.”




Footnote:
The Informa Telecoms & Media research business (ITM) referred to in my blog is separate from the Informa Telecoms & Media Group, even though they share the same name.

Both ITM and Ovum were part of the Informa Telecoms & Media Group, which is run by Ian Hemming.  The new Ovum company now sits in this group, and Steve reports to Ian. 

Personal note:
It was generous of Steve, Richard and Ian to make time to speak to me about the merger.  My thanks to them.  Thanks also to Ovum’s PR manager Claire Booty who arranged the calls.


This is the first of two blogs that I’m working on this week about the Ovum and ITM merger.  The second will be published in a few days and will contain more of my views and analysis.
  

Thursday, April 03, 2014

New analyst firm specialising in Internet of Things and M2M

I might be slightly late to the party on this one but it's great to see Steve Hilton has set up his own analyst firm, MachNation.

It specialises in covering the "future of the Internet of things (IoT), Internet of Everything (IoE), connected device and machine-to-machine (M2M) ecosystems."

Steve used to be at Analysys Mason where he led its enterprise and SMB research team and started its coverage of the M2M / IoT space.

Setting up your own business is never easy, so well done to Steve for giving it a go and all the best with the new venture.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Analysys Mason hires new analyst to cover Internet of Things and M2M

Analysys Mason has hired a new analyst to cover the M2M and Internet of Things (IoT) market. 

Michele Mackenzie will be working alongside Morgan Mullooly.

They are part of Chris Nicoll's team which covers Networks, Enterprise and IoT/M2M.

Prior to joining Analysys Mason, Michele was working as a freelance analyst for M2M specialists Machina Research and  Point Topic. Before this she spent 12 years with Ovum.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

So what to social media?

The question of how AR professionals should use social media keeps cropping up.

Even though social is a part of our daily lives, I am still asked whether it’s okay to use Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to contact analysts – never mind apps like WhatsApp, Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat. And I'm not alone.

There has been no shortage of social media gurus who happily told us that social media would radically transform the world of AR.

Yet my colleagues at the IIAR and I found ourselves continually asking the same thing. Has that transformation actually happened?

No-one would dispute that social media has had some impact. Still, has it really changed the fundamental way in which an AR professional needs to be work if they're to be successful and effective?

Look at blogging for instance. This changed the analyst world. Suddenly it provided a quick and easy means to publish short research notes and get instant feedback. Some analyst firms, notably Redmonk, used blogging as a foundation to build a new style of analyst firm. Go back 15 years and compare the way analyst firms have to work today. It is significantly different. Blogging was a big driver of those changes.

Have Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and the others managed the same thing?

We decided that we needed to ask some experts. But, with one exception, we didn't look for social media folk. Instead, we turned to the analysts and a couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of chairing a vigorous and lively discussion on how analysts use social media to:
  • Promote their capabilities to the world
  • Build relationship with existing customers, and
  • Work with the analyst relations community.
Some analysts couldn't make the discussion but contributed thoughts beforehand. On the evening itself, we had James Governor from Redmonk (@monkchipsLinkedIn), Gareth Lodge from Celent (@Gareth_LodgeLinkedIn) and Clive Longbottom from Quocirca (@clivel_98LinkedIn). They were joined by Robin Hamman (TwitterblogLinkedIn) social business lead from FleischmanHillard to mix things up a bit. (He was remarkably pragmatic).

My key takeaways were:
  • Analysts use social media a lot - but they don't use it for AR. They use it to build their own profiles, track market developments, reach their core customers and make connections in their sector
  • Social media isn't considered to be a tool for formal communication with AR people.  One analyst described it as being P2P (person to person) not B2B. It's a helpful 'nice to have' but not something which AR people should rely on.  Social media is a useful way of enhancing a personal relationship but even then it doesn't compare with a quick catch-up call or grabbing a beer
  • Stick to phone and email (or corporate AR portals) for official communication. One panellist commented that email is as dead as the mainframe (to avoid any doubt, both are still going strong and will carry on doing so for years to come)  
  • Analysts, even those who love it, view social media as a tool, a means to an end and not an end in its own right
  •  Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook dominate   
A couple of basic messages came through time and time again.
  • Get the communication right. That's more important than the channel. A bad pitch is a bad pitch, whether it's done by email or LinkedIn.
  • Know your analyst and what they prefer. Facebook is generally more social.  Some analysts are happy to connect to AR people they know but for others, it's strictly "friends and family". LinkedIn is typically more business-oriented.  And one analyst pointed out that we shouldn't forget IM. It's a valuable channel for trusted AR contacts 
And two things to think about in future:
  • Look at using hangouts on Google +
  • Pinterest can be really effective if you've got a large amount of graphical or visual information you need to communicate on a regular basis
There was a lot more but I'm limited in what I can share in this post. I need to respect the fact that this was a closed session, only open to IIAR members and guests. IIAR members can listen to a recording of the panel discussion free of charge (there's a copy on Huddle).

Thanks to all the panellists who took part on the day as well as those analysts who contributed beforehand.

Thanks also to Yash Khanna (Twitter,Linkedin) from TCS who hosted the event at his offices and everyone from the IIAR (@IIAR,LinkedIn) who came along to ask questions and share their experiences.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Ex Celent chief joins Novarica to cover UK and Europe insurance tech


Congratulations to Catherine Stagg-Macey who has just been appointed as associate research director for UK and European insurance at Novarica, a research and advisory firm focused on insurance technology strategy.

She tells me she will be focused initially on the London market covering trends and vendors in that space. 

Alongside her role as analyst, Catherine continues to works to build her own business in executive and leadership coaching in the tech sector. She founded Belgrave Street in 2013 which focuses on developing leadership capabilities through coaching and bespoke team workshops.

If you're interested in this side of her work, you should take a look at Catherine's blog. It makes for interesting reading.

Catherine's probably best known for her role at Celent where she established herself as one of Europe's foremost analysts covering insurance technology.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Great Telco Debate is coming to London

In June, London is going to see a great gathering of well-known and highly-respected independent telecoms experts.

They are coming together for The Great Telco Debate, which is bringing together a unique mixture of industry analysts, financial analysts, consultants, trade associations and bloggers.

The debate is the brainchild of Chris Lewis from Lewis Insight and Graham Wilde of BWCS.

Chris explained: "We think the Great Telco Debate is unique in two respects. The primary idea behind it is to give senior level people in the industry a chance to participate in a forum with respected independent analysts. Obviously, Gartner and IDC have annual events, but this idea was borne out of the realisation that there's no forum where you can hear from independent thinkers in the industry. So we're not trying to pedal a universal view of the world, because each one of our analysts has their own opinion. And as a group, we're also not tied down with conflicts of interest - we're not evaluating our customers' technology, for example, or dealing in our customers' shares.

"The second unique element is the format. We thought let's make this a traditional debate - you know, this House believes the telco is dead and buried, or not, as the case may be. The great thing about the debate format is that everyone who attends gets to have their say, and ultimately vote. A debate is a great vehicle for boiling things down to some critical issues and examining the evidence on both sides of the argument, and also for getting some incisive insight from the floor.

"And this is an important area for telecoms. I heard someone the other day describe telecoms as a 'sunset industry'. The implications of that are quite scary, but is it really true? What are telcos supposed to make of things like WhatsApp, or Salesforce.com or GoToMeeting? Are they supposed to just shut up and carry the bits? There's no consensus but the Great Telco Debate will certainly provide senior execs with more insight and analysis on both sides of the argument."

Priming the debate is an intriguing and entertaining list of speakers. As well as Chris and Graham, this includes Richard Kramer (Arete Research), Keith Willetts (TM Forum), Dean Bubley (Disruptive Analysis), Richard Windsor (ex Normua and now blogging at Radio Free Mobile), Benoit Felten (Diffraction Analysis), Caroline Gabriel (Maravedis-Rethink), and Pim Bilderbeek (ex IDC and now with The METISfiles).

They will be discussing all the hot topics in the industry including:




  • The view of telecoms and the telcos from the end user perspective. Do CIOs or any users care about connectivity any more apart from when it doesn't work? What will drive consumer margins - sport? What about WiFi? How about convergence? 



  • Can telcos transform their organisations, networks and operations to reflect the end user demand of the future? Or are the global OTT players, apps and content providers going to be the kings of the digital future? What is the telcos' core business anyway? And what will it be tomorrow? 



  • Do suppliers really have the first clue about the telco business? Who is best placed to help the telcos succeed in the future - the traditional on-network equipment players, the IT crowd, or a new-breed of vendors who are free from legacy thinking and business models? Prepare to be inspired. Or dismayed. Or both. 



  • What do telco finances really look like today - warts and all. How might they look tomorrow? Feast or famine? 


  • The Great Telco Debate is taking place on 26th June 2014 in central London. Visit the website for more information on the agenda, the speakers and how to get a ticket.

    Alternatively, watch Chris and Graham go 'head to head' (the Alas Smith & Jones of the telco industry?) in a series of videos on YouTube.

    Tuesday, March 11, 2014

    Mobile expert Pete Cunningham leaves Canalys

    One of the most familiar faces in the mobile device analyst world is moving on.

    Pete Cunningham, who was principal analyst for mobile devices at Canalys, has got himself a new gig.

    He's returning to his roots and becoming a senior product manager for the Bullitt Group.

    The company designs, manufactures, markets and sells mobile phones and consumer electronics products in partnership with global brands. Its customers include Caterpillar, Ted Baker and JCB.