Friday, January 16, 2009

Catching up with Bathwick

Bathwick is not a firm that I have come across very often in recent years, so it was good to catch up with Katy Ring a little while ago and find out more about it.

Her decision last year to join Bathwick after leaving NelsonHall came as a surprise to many of us in the analyst relations community who watch the IT services and outsourcing analysts.

With her experience and reputation in the market (before NelsonHall, Katy headed up Ovum's European IT outsourcing practice), we expected that she'd turn up at a big firm. Her move to a small company with no reputation in the services market came as a real surprise.

Set up in 1997 by Jonathan Steel, Bathwick says it “researches how businesses actually buy and apply IT to their business, how they innovate using technology, and how IT is supporting changes in market and organizational models.”

The company splits the world into four main domains - green, open, smart (including CRM and business intelligence) and dynamic (including services). These are all attributes that Bathwick says users need to achieve in today's world, and therefore vendors must be able to address.

Rather than provide traditional research subscriptions, Bathwick instead offers research-based consulting and co-branded research-led whitepapers (which - although vendor-funded and branded - are independent, according to Katy). To facilitate its primary research, Bathwick has established a partnership with CNET and surveys the IT professionals that regularly use its websites. Bathwick is also involved in benchmarking and publishing.

The company's biggest client is rumoured to be IBM. While Katy doesn't deny this, she is adamant that Bathwick is not just an IBM shop and works with plenty of other vendors as well.

According to the website, over the past three years, clients have included Accenture, BT, Cisco, Ernst & Young, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, Orange, Sun Microsystems, TCS and Unisys.

What's also interesting – but not mentioned as much – is the high regard in which Jonathan is held by many of his peers. His ability to attract both Katy and her former Ovum colleague Gary Barnett adds further testament to his standing in the analysis and research world.

Going back to Katy's story, she joined Bathwick to set up the IT services group. A quick hire was Kate Hanaghan from Ovum. Together the two are now busy building up the business. The most public of their efforts is the quarterly Bathwick Services Index (BSI) which surveys the 20 leading IT services vendors that together shape the IT services market in Western Europe. The first Index (on Industrialisation) came out in November.

We're going to watch progress with interest. Katy and Kate are both very good but let's not fool ourselves. The market will be tough this year and there is a lot of established competition out there.

However, we are firm believers that a small group of well respected individuals can do very well, provided they are able to deliver the right type of high-quality service at a reasonable price (think Freeform Dynamics and CCS Insight for example).

And, let's be honest, some of Bathwick's rivals are not so great and do seem to be living off their reputation as much as the value they provide.

Interesting and exciting times...

Friday, January 09, 2009

Redundancies made by big analyst firms

SageCircle has posted on its blog that Gartner and AMR are laying off staff.

Via Twitter, Carter also comments on the situation at IDC (a small round of layoffs in December) and Forrester (nothing there).

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Ovum reborn in IT services?

It's been interesting and encouraging to watch the revival of Ovum's IT services practice over recent months. Under the leadership of Eamonn Kennedy, the company is slowly but surely re-establishing its reputation as a tier one player in the market.

The IT services team looks stronger than it has done for the past few years. Luring Eamonn back from NelsonHall was a real coup for Ovum. He's a world-class analyst.

With David Mitchell's support and encouragement, Eamonn has been busy since his return, building out the team, strengthening the skill base and expanding its geographic coverage.

Hiring Alexander Simkin from Clarendon was an inspired choice, given that his previous experience as an analyst was in software rather than services. He is already impressing with his thorough, research-driven approach to analysis.

Alexander's recruitment should help Ovum sharpen the intellectual rigour of its research, something that Eamonn is keen to do. In a world where some analyst firms are blurring the lines between analysis and journalism, Eamonn recognises that high quality analysis will help Ovum stand out in the future and add real value to its clients.

Eamonn also has global ambitions. As well as the five analysts in Europe (Ian Brown, Samad Masood and John O’Brien are the others), his team now includes John Madden who has responsibility for North America while Jens Butler was hired back in November specifically to look after Asia-Pacific.

Starting to position Ovum as a worldwide IT services analyst firm makes sense. If the old cliché of 'get big, get niche or get out' holds true for the analyst market, then this is the only route available to the company.

Datamonitor, which owns Ovum, is ambitious. It won’t be content for Ovum to remain a niche UK and EMEA specialist. There is a much bigger IT services market out there and Eamonn wants his team to reflect this.

It doesn’t mean that Ovum will stop covering the UK market - but we expect growth outside of the UK to remain a priority for Eamonn.

Then there's Orbys. Purchased by Ovum several years ago, this advisory firm works with firms looking to procure IT outsourcing services. It could give Ovum a real competitive edge over most of its rivals. Apart from Gartner, how many analyst firms are there covering the IT services market that can bring together qualitative research (Ovum), quantitative research (Datamonitor) and the first hand experience of working with buyers (Orbys)? The resulting research and analysis could really sing.

We think that David and Eamonn have made a good start to re-establishing Ovum as a tier 1 player in the IT services market. High quality, fact-based research and analysis are sometimes hard to find in this sector (which is surprising given the number of players out there). It looks like this is what Ovum wants to deliver so we wish Eamonn well in his efforts.

Hopefully, John Leigh – the newly appointed research and analysis director – will support Eamonn as he continues on the journey. Great progress has been made so far - but Eamonn is the first to say that there's plenty of work still to be done.