Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Making the most of analysts

Jon Collins of MWD has posted a comment on an older post of mine. It refers to an article that deserves a higher profile.

On his site here, you can find the piece by Jon which is "about making the most of analysts...It was based on the downturn but it's still pretty valid now."

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Why AR accreditation might now matter

I discovered a draft post last night on AR accreditation. It was a debate* I'd followed with some interest.

In short, my draft said that:

- I’m a big believer in the value of training but I’m more skeptical about certification and accreditation.

- Accreditation only really becomes important when people are hired because they have it - and, as importantly, when they aren't hired because they don't (think lawyers and accountants).

- A good course is a good course. Whether it results in 'certification' or 'accreditation' is irrelevant.

So, I was wondering whether to still post it when – lo and behold – what did I come across but this:

CSC is looking to hire an AR professional in the US. The job description is very clear: “IAR Professional Certification preferred. If not, the candidate will be required to obtain certification after employment starts.”

(Hat tip to Duncan).

So, with a wry smile, I have to change my conclusion.

Given what CSC is saying, AR accreditation could now really start to mean something.

Certainly if you want to work for the IT services giant, achieving professional certification has taken on a new degree of importance.

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* James Governor started the debate here, commenting skeptically about its merits. Catherine Helzerman agreed (see her post here). ARmadgeddon (here) has also joined in. The concensus view is "training good, accreditation - so what?"

It's a view I used to agree with!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Do analysts charge for press release quotes?

Tom Foremski of SiliconValleyWatcher said in a recent post that:

"Gartner and IDC and Forrester analysts usually provide such quotes and they are always paid by the company issuing the press release(!)"

I was mildly surprised. On occasion, I've asked analysts to provide quotes for press releases. None of them has ever charged me. Neither have they even suggested payment would be appropriate.

(It didn't seem to matter whether or not my client had a commercial agreement in place with the analyst firm. Some did, some didn't).

So I put it down to being a US practice.

Then I thought about it some more. And actually, I'd love to know whether it really is just a North American thing? Perhaps I've simply been lucky all these years.

You see, I think that it's completely inappropriate for an analyst firm to ask for payment to provide a quote. I also think it's out of order for analyst companies to only provide quotes to their clients.

Either way, the analyst firm is at risk of being seen as endorsing a company in return for money. They're potentially allowing vendors to believe they can buy influence.

Now, I appreciate the big analyst firms must be inundated with requests and it would be impractical, perhaps even impossible, to meet the demand. So where to draw the line?

To me, the answer's simple. Either don't provide quotes at all or provide them purely on merit. Straightforward and it eliminates all the possible “analyst for hire” accusations.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Ovum announces float

Just got this through on email. Ovum finally announces its IPO. A bit busy today so thoughts / analysis / comments will follow later.

----------------------------

Not for publication, distribution or release in or into the United States, Canada, Australia, the Republic of Ireland, Japan or the Republic of South Africa.

Monday 13 February 2006

Ovum announces intention to float on AIM

Ovum plc ("Ovum" or the "Company"), the international Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) research, advisory and consulting group, today announces its intention to seek admission to trading on AIM, a market operated by the London Stock Exchange.

Bridgewell Securities has been appointed as sole Nominated Adviser and broker to Ovum.

The flotation, which is expected to take place in March, will be effected through a placing of new and existing shares to institutional investors in the UK. The Company is seeking to raise new funds to help finance its continued expansion through new product development and the acquisition of complementary businesses or research teams.

Founded in 1985, Ovum has grown organically and by acquisition to become a well established and respected international business, focused on the ICT market sectors. It employs around 200 people, of which over 110 are analysts or consultants, and operates through a network of offices in the UK, Continental Europe, North America and Asia Pacific.

In the nine months to December 2005, Ovum recorded a 25 per cent increase (12% organic) in revenues of £13.4m and EBITDA for the nine months of £1m was more than double the EBITDA level recorded for the whole of the previous year.

The Directors believe that Ovum is one of the few ICT research businesses with the infrastructure, sales and marketing channels and operational systems capable of supporting a growing global customer base.

The Company's primary activity is providing value-added advisory services to retained and project clients, acting as a well respected and trusted source of industry data, knowledge and expertise on the commercial impact of technology, regulatory and market changes. Ovum engages in continuous research and industry analysis to determine market dynamics in its specialist sectors. This data is packaged and sold online through a range of bespoke and tailored products.

Ovum has developed long-standing relationships with many of its corporate clients, which include major international blue-chip companies such as: Alcatel, AT&T, BT, Cable & Wireless, Cisco Systems, Deutsche Telecom, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft, Telstra and Vodafone. Approximately 65 per cent of revenues are generated in renewable contract form, with a historic 85% renewal rate. A majority of tailored projects are sold to the same contracted client base, providing significant revenue visibility.

The Directors believe that Ovum has strong growth prospects both organically, through the launch of new research products, advisory services, consulting propositions and through acquisition. The ICT research market was estimated to be worth approximately $2.2bn in 2004. The sector can be divided into a small number of global IT and telecoms research/consultancy businesses, of which Ovum is one, and a large number of smaller, more niche businesses. The Directors believe that this latter group offers opportunities for further consolidation.

Commenting on the intention to float, Chris Dines, Chief Executive of Ovum said:

"We are very pleased to announce the planned flotation of Ovum, which marks an important step in the continued development of the business. Since 2001, we have been focused on moving the business from its research publishing base into higher value, more predictable revenue streams from advisory services and related consulting. This transition has been highly successful and today Ovum is one of the few global advisory businesses offering expertise across a broad range of the ICT market.

"Admission to AIM will enable us to continue to build the business and to expand our product offering and expertise, both organically and by the acquisition of complementary businesses. It will also help us to attract and retain high-quality analysts and consultants and enable them and other investors to share in the continued success of the Company."

-ends-

Enquiries:

Ovum 020 7551 9238 Chris Dines, Chief Executive

Bridgewell Limited 020 7003 3000 Shaun Dobson / Nick Lovering

Hogarth Partnership 020 7357 9477 James Longfield / Barnaby Fry / Georgina Briscoe

Notes to Editors:

History of Ovum

Ovum was founded in 1985 as a UK focused technology research business. It made its first overseas move in 1994, opening an office in Melbourne, Australia, to serve the Asia Pacific region and opened its first US office in 1996. Ovum enjoyed strong growth over the next four years and in 2000 acquired Richard Holway Ltd a leading UK IT services research business. The company's founder, Richard Holway, joined the Ovum Board as a non-executive. Ovum survived the technology downturn of 2001 and returned to expansion mode in 2003 with offices opening in France and Germany in 2004. In 2005 Ovum opened an office in Hong Kong and also acquired the telecoms research and advisory business of RHK Research.

The products and services currently offered by the Company are grouped as follows:

Advisory services: These are subscription-based packages of bespoke advisory services and specialist research products, featuring contact and enquiry time with key industry analysts. Ovum has developed a number of research products (for example, industry models and forecasts, regular reports and research publications) to support these advisory activities.

Consulting services: Focused on the telecommunications, technology, software and IT services industries. Ovum enters into consultancy projects, leveraging the business' research base. Currently around 60% of Consulting business is derived from the existing Advisory client base.

Analyst engagements: An important part of the Ovum offering is the use of its analysts to provide advice in product and strategy reviews, workshops, roundtables, boardroom meetings and for presentations at conferences and other industry events. Most of these engagements come from existing Advisory clients.

Direct research product sales: Ovum generates a stable revenue stream from the sale of research products from its website, http://www.ovum.com/

Board of Directors

Chris Dines (43), Chief Executive: Chris joined the Company as Finance Director, being promoted to Chief Executive in January 2001. He is a qualified chartered accountant and has a degree from Durham University in Economics and Economic History, much of his career was with Coopers & Lybrand (now pricewaterhousecoopers), where he specialised in business advice, M&A activity and stock exchange guidance for mid-corporate clients.

Tom Carless (37), Group Finance Director: Tom joined Ovum in 2001 as Finance Controller and has recently been promoted to Group Finance Director. To provided financial guidance and leadership during the restructuring of the company and has continued to lead the finance function as Ovum has grown in recent years. Tom has 15 years experience as a finance professional, many of them gained in senior roles within blue-chip companies. Prior to joining Ovum, he worked for Citigroup as Financial Controller for the European IT operations.

Fash Darabi (48), Corporate Development Director: Fash joined Ovum in 1991 as a senior consultant. Since then he has held various positions including principal analysts, managing consultant, sales and marketing director, product development director and managing director of Ovum's telecoms advisory business. HE is also in charge of Ovum's M&A activity and is currently managing the integration of RHK. Prior to Ovum, Fash was at Nortel, where he played a leading role in the development of network management solutions for optical access networks.

Fiona Glennon (37), Business Development Director: Fiona joined Ovum in 2003. She has 10 years of sales and sales management experience, with five years spent in the research and advisory industry. She currently has responsibility for developing the existing Advisory services business. Before joining Ovum, she worked for Datamonitor (New York) and Reuters Business Insight, and prior to that worked for five years in the training and development industry.

Stephen Dawson (59), Non-executive Chairman: Stephen has been a non-executive director of Ovum since 1987 and was appointed non-executive Chairman in 1997. His early career was in IT-related companies Logica and Reuters, followed by 25 years in the venture capital industry, mainly at ECI (specializing in mid-market buyouts) where he was managing director and remains non-executive Chairman. He was also a director of the IT division of BTG (formerly National Enterprise Board). Most recently he was a non-executive director of Guardian IT, ECI'S most successful investment, which became a FTSE 250 company and was sold to SunGard Data Systems in 2002.

Frank Jones (59), Non-executive Director: Frank has been a non-executive board member of Ovum since 1999. He is currently the Non-executive Director of Xafinity and Non-executive Chairman of Inforsense, having previously been Chairman of Schlumberger plc, a position to which he was appointed following the acquisition of Sema plc by Schlumberger Limited in 2001. He has over 30 years of board experience in companies varying in size from £2m to £1.4bn. and extensive experience in mergers and acquisitions and pensions.

Richard Holway (59), Non-executive Director: Richard started in computing in 1966 as a programmer and progressed to join the board of Hoskyns (now Cap Gemini) as Group Marketing Director. He founded Richard Holway Limited in 1986 and became the leading authority on the financial performance of the UK software and IT services market and its constituent companies. In November 2000 Richard Holway Limited was acquired by Ovum. Currently, Mr Holway also serves as a non-executive director of Microgen, an Advisory Board member and partner of Elderstreet Capital Partners and an adviser to several ICT companies.

The Company accepts responsibility for the information contained in this announcement. To the best of the knowledge and belief of the Company (who has taken all reasonable care to ensure that such is the case) the information contained in this announcement is in accordance with the facts and does not omit anything likely to affect the import of such information.

Bridgewell Securities Limited, which is authorised and regulated in the United Kingdom by the Financial Services Authority, is acting exclusively for Ovum in connection with the flotation and no-one else. Bridgewell Securities Limited will not be responsible for providing advice to any person in relation to the flotation and/or the associated share offer, the contents of this announcement or any other matter referred to herein.

The ordinary shares which are proposed to be offered (the "Ordinary Shares") have not been, nor will they be, registered under the United States Securities Act of 1933 (as amended) (the "Securities Act") and may not be offered or sold, directly or indirectly, in or into the United States absent registration or an exemption from registration. There will be no public offer of securities in the United States.

This announcement does not constitute an offer of, or the solicitation of any offer to subscribe for or buy, any of the Ordinary Shares to any person in any jurisdiction to whom or in which such offer or solicitation is unlawful. The distribution of this announcement in certain jurisdictions may be restricted by law and therefore persons into whose possession this announcement comes should inform themselves about and observe any such restrictions. Any failure to comply with these restrictions may constitute a violation of the securities laws of such jurisdiction. The value of shares can go down as well as up. Past performance is not a guide to future performance. Potential investors should consult a professional adviser as to the suitability of an investment in the shares of Ovum for the individual concerned.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Fran Howarth moves to Hurwitz

Fran Howarth has left Bloor Research to join Hurwitz.

Her job title on the web site is ‘partner’ and Kim Horner of CustomerClix says that Fran will be director of European operations.

Monday, February 06, 2006

CAP Ventures brand goes

InfoTrends/CAP Ventures is retiring the CAPV name. From now on, the firm
will be known simply as InfoTrends.

The press release is here.

Friday, February 03, 2006

More on Redmonk and Freeform Dynamics partnership

I've been speaking to Dale and James about the new partnership between Redmonk and Freeform Dynamics.

There are three main elements to the agreement. Here's what they have to say:

"a) We will be exchanging intelligence and insights on the market on a routine basis. Freeform Dynamics will be making its research available to RedMonk to enhance its public domain advice and commentary. RedMonk will in turn feed back ideas and insights to Freeform Dynamics to help with the interpretation of market intelligence.

"b) Freeform Dynamics will make its primary research "engine" available for incorporation into RedMonk's services on a sub-contract basis. Conversely, Freeform Dynamics will sub-contract consulting activities to RedMonk from time to time.

"c) On a more proactive level, RedMonk and Freeform Dynamics will work together on joint business development and collaborative delivery, seeking out opportunities to provide enhanced services to vendors who require a combination of research and consulting within the same engagement."

Initial thoughts

Like this week's announcement from MWD, this seems to make sense. If Redmonk and Freeform Dynamics can make their partnership work in practice, it can only be good news.

They are bringing in different skills. Their respective clients should benefit from a more rounded service. There's more choice for the people who buy analyst services.

And with James and Dale both being bloggers, it'll be interesting for us to see over time if there are any changes in the type of post they make...

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Bloor rumours put to bed

Macehiter Ward-Dutton (aka MWD or "the two Neils and Jon") has joined the band of independent analyst firms publishing their research on IT-Analysis.

I also saw that Justin Speake, CEO of Bloor, has firmly denied rumours that the company is up for sale.

He's in the comments section over here at ARmadgeddon making it very clear: "No sell out planned by the Justin gang."

Update:
MWD has been a member of IT-Analysis all along. Whoops. Sorry folks.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Macehiter Ward-Dutton reveals expansion plans; hires Jon Collins and signs partners

Business seems to be going well at Macehiter Ward-Dutton, the analyst firm set up last year by the two Neils from Ovum.

Jon Collins is joining as principal analyst, covering IT service management, systems management and security. He previously worked with Quocirca and Bloor. Most recently, he took a short break from IT to co-write a book.

Neil W-D is delighted to have Jon joining MWD: “He’s a very well recognised and respected analyst, and his talents will help us continue to meet the demands of our rapidly growing customer base.”

Jon is similarly upbeat: “MWD has an excellent reputation for its understanding of the real, practical issues of IT-business alignment…I am very much looking forward to helping MWD as it continues to grow in influence and reach.”

New partners too

And more growth, it seems, is likely.

MWD has signed partnership agreements with analyst / research company Freeform Dynamics (set up by Dale and Helen Vile) and Influencer50, a marketing consultancy specialising in the IT sector.

“Our business model is founded on the principle of openness,” explained Neil M. “This goes beyond the free publishing of our research library, and recognises that both our company, and our customers, will see the best possible results if we embrace partners which can complement our skills. Freeform Dynamics and Influencer50 are both innovative, fast-growing companies which provide high-quality service, and we have already uncovered a number of significant opportunities where we can work together to provide unique insights to our IT vendor clients.”

Dale described Freeform Dynamics as specialising “in gathering intelligence on the practicalities of applying IT to create business value. This dovetails perfectly with MWD’s consulting and advisory services in the area of IT-business alignment.”

For Influencer50, director of consultancy Mark Stevenson (a rare breed who has worked as an analyst, a PR consultant, a marketing manager and a journalist) said: “MWD’s remit of harmonising IT and business strategy echoes our own focus of marketing – corporate strategy alignment. We can help vendor organisations communicate their capabilities in the most authoritative manner possible using our model of influencer marketing.”

Initial thoughts

It’s good to see MWD succeeding. It helps prove that success in the analyst market is based as much on the quality of the team as it is on the size.

And it’s good to have Jon back. He’s another analyst who always leaves my clients with something to think about.

The partnerships seem logical too and should mean that MWD is able to offer more value to its customers.

With this announcement by MWD and the news that Freeform is also linking up with Redmonk, it looks like we’re starting to see some of the smaller analyst firms come together and establish a band of ‘trusted advisors’.

Finding firms that deliver the goods is sometimes a bit hit and miss in the analyst world so - if they can make this work in practice - it should prove to be of immense value to the buyers of analyst research and consulting services.

Over the past 12 month, I’ve worked with MWD, Freeform Dynamics and Mark Stevenson. All of them have impressed me in different ways. Of course, the only real measure of success will be to see how things go for real but for now let’s be optimistic…

Update:

ARmadgeddon's analysis is here.

Duncan has also posted the news, with some commentary on MWD's decision to go "open-source" with its research.

And two of the participants have blogged about the news too. Here's Jon and Dale.