By Barbara French and Gideon Gartner (@bfr3nch, www.barbarafrench.net, @gideongartner, www.gideongartner.com)

In the first part of this post, we challenged an urban myth that small analyst firms are threatening the Gartner and Forrester Research business models. We as yet see no compelling evidence. What we do see is many small advisory firms performing vital roles in the IT ecosystem, a few experimenting with business models, and many preferring their small businesses to the bureaucratic ways of large organizations. More than 25 analyst entrepreneurs shared insights on their businesses and philosophies, plus a handful of analyst clients shared their views — creating an unparalleled conversation! You can read the discussion here.

We’re picking up with the question, is it possible for small/new firms to shake up the Advisory industry? We think so. We’re not ready to concede the future of the advisory market to the current Gartner and Forrester business models. The question is, how?

In our view, firms wishing to disrupt the Gartner and Forrester models must have two particular attributes. First, they need a significant differentiator. It can be in specialization, the business model, service delivery or other areas. Equally importantly, they must be able to scale. That means substantial funding, an effective sales operation, well-honed M&A skills, or a combination of all three.

One of the potential differentiators getting attention lately is “open source research.” In theory, it follows the open source software model: research is developed openly and collaboratively with a marketplace and published under a Creative Commons license. Benefits include lowering research costs while driving consulting and other revenues. Challenges include quality control and the prerequisite of building a large and engaged community of collaborators that will be equally accessible to competing Advisory firms.

We see several other  possible examples of disruptive behavior. In a recent conversation with Louise Garnett from Outsell, we came up with a short list of firms, past and present, innovating at least one aspect of the Advisory business model. Highlights, in no particular order:

1. Springboard Research: It claims to have a low-cost/high-quality reputation using low-cost research from China and India. Plus, Springboard built leadership in Asia Pacific markets while U.S. firms were reducing international presence. It’s a good example of specialization.

2. Altimeter Group: This small but growing top-rated analyst group seems to some as more a consultancy than an Advisory firm. Its analysts retain personal branding and independence while obtaining generous splits from their loyal clients from past relationships. The tactics are paying off, generating momentum. Founder Charlene Li’s increasing number of innovative ideas have been well recognized but to become a true disruptor to G&F the firm must (and might well) find a way to scale, and to accelerate its introduction of deliverables.

3. GigaOM Pro: Disruptors can emerge from outside the Advisory industry. Om Malik is incubating this research startup within his media network. This means ongoing exposure to 5 million unique visitors each month — far outpacing any Advisory today. It achieves low-cost/high-quality by using a network of on-demand subject matter experts (38 currently, all in emerging tech) and enforcing quality standards, from vetting experts to producing research. The experts negotiate and retain all Advisory fees resulting from participation in GigaOM Pro.

4. Giga Information Group (background): Funded as it grew, Giga’s model included innovations such as a single service priced by the seat and an expert network backing up its strong staff of analysts. It also made significant ongoing investments in building a salesforce and creating a brand. As with Altimeter and GigaOM Pro, it benefited out of the gate from the strong reputation of its founder. All of this resulted in annual revenues of over $70 million in annual contract value in less than 5 years.

5. Spiceworks: Another disruptor from outside the Advisory industry, Spiceworks is a systems and network management software vendor with an active community of 1 million users, all in IT management jobs in small- and medium-sized businesses. Spiceworks gives away its software to qualified users in exchange for real-time insights into their product deployments and participation in the online community. Sponsoring vendors conduct research and communicate directly with the community. Currently, its equivalent of “Advisory” is a simple question/answer service leveraging peer-to-peer and vendor evangelist interactions.

Firms that want to catapult to the top need to use innovation to their best advantage. Say for example, a smaller Advisory wants to specialize and provide research advice which exceeds Forrester’s in quality. The firm needs to find a way to actually demonstrate that it has a higher ratio or a larger magnitude of knowledge/information in at least one very specific market segment  in order to improve its market share in the appropriate space. Invoking the idea that it exceeds Forrester in its specialty areas is one thing, but proving such specialization is something else again.

One example of a way to develop and demonstrate the above thesis qualitatively might be to assume the number of Forrester analysts (excluding consultants, juniors, management, etc.) and remind the reader of some claims that the old 80/20 rule still prevails (80% of analysts providing 20% of the value), perhaps reducing the ratio to 75/25. There’s no reason small competitors cannot focus on recruiting more senior and recently specialized people-power to build a claimable ratio of 70/30 or even 60/40.

Scale is perhaps the greatest challenge facing would-be disruptors. Sound growth strategies and financial management are vital. M&A can play a key role, as proven by Gartner and Forrester. Recent activity among smaller firms runs the gamut, from iSuppli acquiring Screen Digest to Datamonitor expanding its portfolio.

Bottom line however is that incremental change might be “too little too late”. What’s required to succeed (and arguably needed by the industry) is use of an old trick: taking a large clean sheet of paper, and imagining an Advisory model which will clearly represent a breakthrough that will attract investors (because significant capital will likely be required to realistically challenge the current status).

A conceivable alternative might be to consolidate a significant number of strong analysts and/or small firms, with a management team working together to implement what was suggested in the paragraph above. And then the outcome will still hang on the solidity of the financials.

Small firms and new entrants can disrupt the Advisory industry. Note that IBM once virtually controlled the entire computer hardware market, until innovative firms around the edges changed the ground rules, which challenged customer reliance upon Big Blue. But these outlying firms succeeded mainly via new functions and better price/performance ratios. So while there are various degrees of freedom in structuring a hypothetical Advisory firm such that an opportunity arises to emulate what once occurred in IT hardware, this would take imagination, time, and perhaps most important, money. It can be done: Giga Information Group showed that the industry leaders were in fact vulnerable and grew from $zero to $70M contract value (not including consulting and events) in less than 5 years.

Finally, more input from Louise (Outsell): Every segment of the information industry looks the same. In each segment, a few big players represent at least 50% of revenues. Smaller companies make up the rest, carving out various niches. The IT research market follows the norm: it covers many segments, with a few firms dominating each segment and holding those positions for years on end. Successful contenders will understand this market structure before attacking it.

Editor’s Note: This has been cross-posted at Gideon’s blog, www.gideongartner.com. We’ll cross-posts your comments to both blogs.

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By Gideon Gartner (@gideongartner, www.gideongartner.com) and Barbara French (@bfr3nch, www.barbarafrench.net)

There’s a good deal of speculation on whether the research and advisory business is entering a new phase — one in which small Advisory firms may be thriving at the expense of the large firms. David Hatch summed up this point of view in a comment to “Advisory Industry, a future redesign: the ‘Payment’ Model”:

“Independents are growing in number while research firm-employed analysts are shrinking… This shift is likely going to be the genesis of the new business model…”.

Is there in fact a groundswell favoring the smaller firms? Cutting to the chase, we beg to disagree, but we should be able to find hard evidence as well as qualitative assumptions and begin to see possible implications for the analyst business at large.

As David implies, counting heads is one way to measure sea change. But even when cutting its claimed analyst force down, Gartner generally has had a greater than 50:1 edge in research personnel vs. the any of the small Advisories. What is not clear is whether manpower size alone is more important than some combination of factors such as:

  • Depth of coverage in specific areas
  • Average analyst quality
  • Breadth of deliverables (content types, events, etc.)
  • Frequency, depth and and quality of personal interactions
  • Length of contract “lock-in” ( Gartner has been pushing 2- and 3-year contracts)
  • Reputation
  • Broad spread of client seats (difficult to displace)
  • Clients being change-averse to replacing Advisories of long standing
  • Selling to multiple constituencies rather than to vendors only (which improves an Advisory’s understanding of the overall territory)
  • Cornering the CIOs and other senior positions when selling to large non-vendor enterprises

Quantity does not equal quality. Yet, there is no realistic method to measure the average quality of different Advisory firms in their sphere of activity, and it must be acknowledged that G&F both score relatively high on most of the 10 points above.

What about the David vs. Goliath buzz? Private conversations with appropriate contacts follow the usual recessionary story-lines and seem to favor the small firms:

  • Vendors and their analyst relations (AR) departments are doing new advisory deals with small firms and even with individual analysts laid off by IDC, Forrester and Gartner. Those are generally recognized for unique skills and the stand-alone analysts are expected to continue in this role. Even as vendors allocate budget to smaller firms, they are invariably renewing Forrester and Gartner contracts, as usual.
  • Other analysts who have stayed put during the recession may be heard murmuring that they’re ready to jump to something new, indicating they see opportunity in the wings.
  • Several small firms and solo advisors are compensating for the poor economy by doing an excellent job of public relations, thus garnering disproportionate attention and hopefully monetizing their efforts through social media.

There may be some truth above, but insufficient to prove material penetration of the small firms’ client bases. Other initiatives exist, but none seem to offer evidence on the extent to which relative market shares might evolve during the next few years. Only the two large leaders provide solid financials and shareholder discussions, therefore we know that Gartner and Forrester enjoyed good quarters recently which were however influenced by both their publicly divulged future 5%-7% annual price increases (regardless of the economy) and with no more price negotiating going forward. If such reported pricing inflexibility by G&F can be maintained, that might help the strongest of the small competitors to slowly penetrate the fortresses. Then again, G&F’s CEOs are committed to win and if necessary may reverse field on their pricing strategies and hold their own.

Mathematically, even with accelerating business volumes, we’d bet that it would take small Advisories ages to make significant inroads on G&F. Outsell’s Louise Garnett estimates average growth in the overall information industry at around 10% per year. That means small firms need to grow faster than the industry average for 15 to 30 years to reach the size of an AMR Research or Burton Group! Do today’s young analyst companies have to face that long a runway before reaching what might be called “critical mass”? Or are these firms satisfied — even desirous — in remaining small and independent, without needing to worry about large staffs and investors? Either way, G&F likely do not have much to worry about.

That’s not to say that there will be zero competitive inroads against G&F. Opportunities exist to mount significant competitive inroads. We think the most important could emerge from meaningful innovations, preferably true game-changers requiring specific assets which the established competitors have been unable to muster thus far.

We’ll discuss some noteworthy innovators and our ideas on seizing the competitive opportunity in the Advisory Industry in Part 2.

Editor’s Note: This has been cross-posted at Gideon’s blog, www.gideongartner.com. Comments are welcome at both.

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While the wildly successful “Groundswell” book by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff continues winning acclaim — most recently from the American Marketing Association — Josh has announced work in progress on a new book. This time, he’s teamed with Ted Schadler as co-author.

The title is “Harnessing the Groundswell: Drive Your Business With Empowered Employees and Customers”. The authors say this next Groundswell book is not a sequel…

“It focuses on individuals empowered by technology — both employees and customers — and how businesses can efficiently turn them into a force for better performance.” - Josh Bernoff

Look for the book in summer 2010 from Harvard Business Press.

Josh is carrying forward some precedents established with the first Groundswell book project. For example, you can keep up with progress and more at the Groundswell blog.

In case you missed it, Charlene Li started her new book project a few months ago. She’s engaging with the community in full force. You can vote on the title for her book right now — check out this post. I’ll write more once she settles on the title. Hers is due out in May 2010.

Popularity: 7%

Barbara on September 25th, 2009

What’s up this week in influencer relations? Here’s what I’ve been talking about offline when the conversation rolls around to, “So what’s up? Anything I need to know?” This week the gossip has centered around analyst blogs, HP and Dell. Feel free to add your nuggets.

EDS = HP. HP retired the EDS brand this week. Time to update your influencer lists with the HP email and titles.

Perot Systems soon to = Dell. Get your head around what this M&A means if your company relies on referrals and such from Perot Systems.

Who owns blogs - analysts or the analyst house? Are analyst-written blogs more the property of the analyst house or the analyst? Consensus: depends on whether it’s a “company” blog. Some say negotiate social media content rights at the time of employment. Otherwise, personal blogs may be considered company IP at the point of departure.

Top analyst blogs. Jonny Bentwood is preparing to issue his Top 100 analyst league tables. Big backroom buzz is on whether there’s any shakeup at all in the top few. Most gossip is about whether or not Altimeter is an analyst company. I’m thinking the Gartner and Forrester blogs will make a difference, based on the employee base, media reach and Twitter penetration. Usual under-the-breath gripes about RedMonk standings. Stay tuned on that. Not by coincidence, I’m doing a massive Tekrati blog directory update. Buzz me this weekend if you’re feeling compelled.

Enterprise Mobility Matters turns 2. Congrat’s to Philippe Winthrop, today marking the 2-year milestone of his blog.

Phil Fersht soon leaving AMR Research. Carter Lusher broke the news on Twitter. Phil’s uber-smart on outsourcing, offshoring, nearshoring, you name it. Another analyst whose blog has transcended several jobs. I’m not sure there are any top-tier analyst firms that haven’t benefited from his expertise and network. So I’m guessing he’ll jump next to a different kind of gig.

Analysts (and others) on analyst credibility. Must’ve been in the water. Still plenty of time to have your say:
Me
Phil Fersht
Tony Byrne
Michael Krigsman’s take on Tony’s post

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Barbara on September 8th, 2009

Forrester ResearchWhere is analyst relations going? How is it changing? What are the implications for people and programs? What can you do about it?

I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be leading a discussion on these points early next month with the Forrester Research Analyst Relations Council. It will be a lively exchange with practical and worthy ideas.

Special thanks to Trisha Mirel for inviting me!

And please take note:  Drop me a line if you’re not a member of the Council and you’re interested in attending. To be considered for guest entry, you must work in AR in an inhouse position.

Forrester Leadership Boards - Analyst Relations Council Fall Member Meeting
Marriott Magnificent Mile
Chicago, IL

“Looking Ahead: The Future of AR”
Wednesday, Wednesday, October 7 starting at 2:35PM
Where is AR going? How is AR changing to align with the growing phenomenon of so many smaller firms, independent analysts, and emerging influencers joining large firms in the influence mix? Hear one market expert’s opinion about future risks and opportunities for AR and lend your own to the mix.

See you there!

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Barbara on August 21st, 2009

It’s a sure bet that when CIO and IT decision makers gather in groups, tech sales people circle nearby, angling to slip into the crowd. The common wisdom is that every member of these groups is a sales target. Each member is ripe with purchasing potential. That’s certainly a practical way for tech providers to look at IT peer groups. Yet when you view these groups primarily as a source of sales leads you’re leaving their greatest potential untouched.

High-end IT purchase decisions involve many types of influencers, and some of the most credible and trusted are professional peers within the senior IT and CIO community.  We see the signs of this all around us, and we know the truth from our own lives.  Research studies help quantify what our guts are telling us. Case in point, a late 2008 Forrester Research study*:

Forrester Research: Who has most impac on B2B IT Purchase Decisions1

The members of these groups are gathering to share experiences, learn from each other and talk shop. In other words, they are influencing each other.

So, think twice next time you are compelled to drop an IT peer group into your lead funnel. You may be dropping highly valuable influencer networks into your cold calling program. That’s no way to treat an influencer.

* © 2008, Forrester Research. From “Using Buyer Social Behaviour to Boost B2B Social Media Success” by Laura Ramos, Oliver Young, Patrick Tripp.

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Barbara on December 15th, 2008

Forrester Research’s Kevin Lucas raises a good question: what core corporate business value can your analyst relations program deliver? His point is that AR programs shouldn’t commit to delivering sales value unless there’s good reason to do so. As logical as that advice may sound, I don’t agree with it.

Analyst relations programs can be designed to deliver on a wide range of business objectives. There’s no reason to shy away from aligning AR with the customer purchase decision process. In fact, that has been the basis of the analyst business — and analyst relations — since the late 80s.

What you can’t do, is bolt sales performance expectations onto an existing AR program. Objectives are fundamental to how you design, staff, fund and measure an AR program.

A legacy AR program — perhaps focused primarily on what’s said during a conference, or improving where your dot is placed on quadrants — is not going to shorten sales cycles tomorrow because somebody issues an edict today.

The magic wand scenario just doesn’t fly.

That doesn’t mean that an AR program can’t deliver sales value. It means that delivering sales value will take time. It will take intention. It will take planning.

Kevin asks a good question. It’s up to each of us to come up with a good answer.

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Barbara on August 15th, 2005

Gartner, Inc.’s acquisition of META Group has sparked industry discussion about top industry analyst alternatives to Gartner. Tekrati asked seven of the top choices in North America to state their case for technology users and vendors.  In addition, this report highlights two stand-out firms from among the hundreds offering specialized expertise and services.

Top picks include well-known firms — Forrester Research, IDC and AMR Research — and four lesser known firms: Burton Group, Info-Tech Research Group, The 451 Group, and The Advisory Council.

We also highlight two stand-outs among hundreds of firms offering specialized expertise: Nucleus Research and AMI-Partners.

This Tekrati Special Report is divided into several sections. We invite you to comment and trackback at the Tekrati Weblog, using the links at the bottom of each page. To date, two comments have been posted to the Introduction.

  • Special Report: Alternatives to Gartner, Introduction: Overview of the special report and listing of the analyst firm spokespeople who responded to our questions.
  • Special Report: Alternatives to Gartner, Technology User Viewpoint: Tekrati asked seven of the top choices in North America, “What is the primary reason that former META clients, from the end user community, should short-list your company for their industry research and advisory needs?” Here’s how they responded.
  • Special Report: Alternatives to Gartner, Vendor/Provider Viewpoint: Tekrati asked seven of the top choices in North America, “What is the primary reason that former META clients, from the vendor community, should short-list your company for their industry research and advisory needs?” Here’s how they responded.
  • Special Report: Alternatives to Gartner, Differentiators against Gartner: Tekrati asked seven of the top choices in North America, “What are the primary characteristics that differentiate your company from Gartner, Inc.?” Here’s how they responded.
  • Special Report: Alternatives to Gartner, Free-form Comments: Tekrati asked seven of the top choices in North America, “Any related quotes or comments you would like to provide?” Here’s how they responded.
  • Special Report: Alternatives to Gartner, Specialized Expertise Firms: Hundreds of industry analyst firms offer specialized expertise on topics from browsers to globalization to storage to telecommunications. Some serve only technology providers within an industry, some focus on geographical regions, others serve only technology users. Two of the stand-outs in this arena are Nucleus Research and AMI-Partners.

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Barbara on February 7th, 2005

As professional opinion leaders and market experts, industry analysts face three key challenges as bloggers: credibility, relevance and passion. Tekrati explores these challenges and how different analyst groups address them, as we continue this special report on industry analyst blogs. Related stories offer in-depth comments from selected analysts, and a reading list that links directly to analyst commentary on blogs and RSS.

Closing the Credibility Gap
Analysts taking up blogs expose themselves to a vocal and often skeptical audience. Online audiences routinely discuss, debate and refute industry analyst research – and in a few cases, specific industry analysts.

Many bloggers are well-established respected opinion leaders within their virtual communities. A good example is Slashdot, the pioneer of blogging and reader-driven news and commentary. Slashdot delivers 86 million page views per month to 4.3 million unique visitors(1).

Rob Malda, founder and director of Slashdot, says that Slashdot posts often refute analyst research. “There are a lot of issues here, but I think my readers are naturally skeptical of analysts,” said Malda via email. He thinks the general perception among Slashdot readers is that analysts can be paid to produce research that supports any conclusion. It’s seen as a matter of money – which vendors have it to spend, which analyst firms go for it, which individual analysts tow the line and deliver the goods.

Slashdot readers are not unique in their skepticism. For example, Ed Brill, worldwide sales leader for the IBM Lotus Notes/Domino product line, made a post to his personal blog(2) last October seeking reactions to an IBM-funded report by Robert Frances Group. Reader comments ranged from a detailed critique of shortcomings, to general criticisms of vendor-sponsored research, to a Microsoft employee challenging the premise of the report.

Forrester came under mild criticism when Charlene Li, principal analyst, initiated coverage of blogs and started her own blog. The skepticism subsided quickly as it became clear that Li and Forrester were using the blog to elevate the voice of the audience within their research – an analyst version of participative journalism. Li uses it not only as a way to communicate, track and interact with audiences, but also to supplement her research.

Li poses questions to her blog audience. Responses often end up in Forrester’s syndicated research, as well as in the blog itself. “My audience also asks really, really good questions — sometimes through comments, sometimes in private email — which helps sharpen my thinking,” said Li.

Amy Wohl used a similar technique while developing a new quantitative model for measuring open source operating system deployment. She invited open source community ideas and critiques.

JupiterResearch tackled credibility by using a more traditional approach: content selection. They take disagreements in stride, whether among themselves or through reader emails and comments at other blogs.

“Many clients and non-clients have found the information we provide valuable, though not everything our analysts post is universally agreed with of course,” said David Schatsky, senior vice president of research at JupiterResearch.

Obeying the Law of Proximity
Blogs are realtime. The best blogs reflect a strong sense of what’s relevant today, based on what’s happening now. Popular industry analyst bloggers translate their thinking into nuggets that enrich the daily event horizon of news and online conversation.

Excerpts of well-researched reports — while popular with many product and IT managers — rarely succeed as compelling blog fodder. As Malda observes, from a Slashdot point of view, “A lot of analyst reports, when you boil it down, don’t say anything all that interesting. Or, they say it months or years after it’s conventional wisdom.”

Michael Sampson, director of research and consulting at independent Share Spaces in New Zealand, has found that reporting on daily happenings presents minimal opportunity for reader engagement. Instead, he finds that his posts offering a timely position, perspective or opinion offer much greater latitude for feedback. His readers have asked for more.

Several analysts identify the media as a primary component of their blog audience. Shore Communications’ John Blossom strives to keep his blog current with near-realtime insights and opinions. This works particularly well for deadline-driven press, who increasingly leverage his blog for edge-leading insights and interview questions.

Rob Enderle, Tim Bajarin and Richard Doherty all blog primarily for media audiences. Co-locating their blogs at their TechnologyPundits site serves two purposes: providing quotable commentary and positions on a near-realtime basis, and enabling the media to discern which specific topics they are prepared to comment on at any particular point in time. Enderle reports very positive feedback from the media. On the other hand, he said clients are somewhat mixed. Some would prefer more exclusive access to the analysts’ commentary.

Regardless of intended audience, analysts will undergo ever greater pressure to maintain blog currency and relevance. Blackfriars Communications, a research and consulting group that helps businesses market and communicate more effectively, describes the current environment of information overload as “the tyranny of too much”. Carl Howe, a principal at Blackfriars, believes that RSS-enabled readers like Safari will engage more people in RSS-enabled content and then will push blogs onto a “Darwinian path”. Well-edited, frequently updated blogs will thrive; most of the rest will die off. Why?

According to Howe, “As the novelty wears off, most viewers will find they just don’t have time to wade through poorly written and stale content. There used to be an old story that eCommerce was a dangerous way to sell because shoppers would click away to a competitor at the first problem or slow response. The same will be true for blogs: once they are mainstream vehicles, only the best will survive.”

Passion
Perhaps the greatest challenge of the three is finding ways to convey a passion for technology. Malda believes that Slashdot attracts readers because it’s bottom-up: people who read and comment there are into technology for the love of it. They feel the passion, the joy of technology. These are the people most likely to read and comment among themselves. These are the people who want their words to matter.

Time will tell which of the industry analyst blogs offer conversation that matters.

Blogs in Balance
The number of analyst blogs is likely to double over the next year, based on comments from the analysts Tekrati tracks. Analyst blogs will also diversify — David Scott Lewis added podcasting to his blogs last week.

Will blogs have a substantive impact on high tech industry analyst services? Carl Howe, in speaking for himself, summed up the sentiments of many analysts:

“I think we have to recognize that technology can only play a part in providing insight. The highest value exchanges of information will always be in person, whether they be speeches, conversations, or shared dinners.

“I believe Internet technology helps us fill in the gaps between in-person interactions, and continue the conversations they start when we are separated in time and space. But at the end of the day, nothing is going to displace the need to shake someone’s hand, sit across from them at a table, and talk to them in person.”

The Complete Special Report:

Follow the link below for Tekrati’s directory of analyst blogs*.

Editor’s notes:
1. Slashdot media kit, Feb 2005.
2. Disclaimer for www.edbrill.com: “In this blog, my opinions are my own and do not represent those of my employer.” For Ed Brill’s comments as an official IBM spokesperson, see the InsideLotus weblog.

* Effective 11 February 2011, the Tekrati Analyst Blogs Directory and OPML are no longer available.

Reprinted from Tekrati

Popularity: 5%

Barbara on January 21st, 2003

Recent consolidation among industry analyst firms reached a climax today with Forrester Research (Nasdaq: FORR) announcing that it is initiating a tender offer for Giga Information Group (OTCBB: GIGX). Forrester outlined the rationale and anticipated benefits to shareholders and clients during an investor briefing. See bottom of this page for links to other industry analyst consolidation news.

Forrester and Giga Reach Definitive Acquisition Agreement

Forrester announced a definitive agreement with Giga Information Group in which it will initiate a tender offer for Giga Information Group at $4.75 per share, or approximately $60 million in cash. Forrester expects the deal to close during the first quarter. Integration plans are currently in process and will be announced after the deal is completed.

During the Forrester investor conference call, George Colony and Warren Hadley focused on five factors driving Forrester’s M&A move:

  • Coverage: The Giga products widen Forrester’s product line. While Forrester has always sold research on emerging technology to marketing, CIO and direct staff clients, they do not have a deep-research offering for IT professionals who are making key, day-to-day decisions on technology. During the technology recession, this type of research has had high persistence at accounts.
  • Client Accounts: As of the last quarterly report, Giga had approximately 1200 clients, with a renewal rate in the low 70 percent range. Of these, approximately 900 would be new to Forrester. Perhaps half of these are Gartner clients, providing a competitive inroad for Forrester. Looking at market presence, Giga has strong penetration into government and the investor community – areas Forrester has not focused on in the past. On the flipside, Forrester estimates that 900 of its clients do not receive Giga research. Forrester management believes this represents an opportunity to cross-sell.
  • Culture: The companies embrace similar ethics, values and methodologies. Giga has an objective and high quality ethic which is close to Forrester’s. Both firms have a definitive research integrity policy, publicly posted on their websites. Giga’s research tends to be objective and to-the-point, similar to Forrester’s approach. Giga pioneered the no-barriers research model, which is similar to Forrester’s WholeView service model and a competitive differentiator to Gartner’s research packaging strategies. Also, both firms are located in Cambridge, MA, US. Forrester management believes close proximity would be a big help during an integration phase.
  • Consolidation: The deal positions Forrester as one of the top players in the business. Forrester believes this deal would position it as the number 2 player in the industry. This is an important factor as companies cut back their research contracts to the top 2 or 3 providers. Forrester management believes this will help it retain client companies and enrich Forrester contracts.
  • Financials: Forrester believes the deal would increase shareholder value and that the financial engineering works for Forrester and its shareholders. At $4.75 per share, Forrester expects the cost to be approximately $60 million. In addition to gaining new clients in 2003, Forrester sees potential gains in agreement values, increased revenues, and substantial cost rationalization for creating efficiencies and savings. They anticipate the combination of these factors will result in increasing GPS and increased cash flow, driving shareholder value in 2003 and beyond.

Forrester noted that this is the third time they looked at acquiring Giga. Earlier, the price was too high and Giga was loosing money. Robert Weiler, the 3-year Giga CEO and Chairman who stepped down in August 2002, not only turned Giga around but taught the company to adopt a profit mentality.

In their closing comments, Forrester asserted that they believe the acquisition of Giga will make Forrester strong financially. The acquisition would improve Forrester’s performance in these tech recession times and also through future periods of growth. The acquisition gives Forrester more market power, a wider range of clients, a richer portfolio of products.

CBSMarketWatch reported that Giga shares skyrocketed, as Forrester shares fell, following the announcement.

Please note: All information subject to standard safe harbor caveats and restrictions.

Recent Tekrati News on Forrester and Giga

Giga Information Group, Inc. Announces Receipt Of Approval Under The Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act

Forrester Research To Acquire Giga Information Group

Forrester Research Announces Third-Quarter 2002 Financial Results

Forrester Research Names Brian Kardon as New Vice President Of Strategy And Marketing

Giga Information Group’s VP Worldwide Sales and Marketing Steps Down

Gene Raphaelian Joins Giga as VP of Executive Programs

Giga Information Group Names John Andrews as President and Chief Executive Officer

Alan Scott Joins Giga as VP of Global Marketing

Giga Information Group Appoints Judith Hamilton to Its Board of Directors

Giga Information Group Reports Fifth Consecutive Quarter of Profitability

Related Tekrati News on Industry Analyst M&A’s

Outsell 60(sm) Company Monitor Finds Forrester, Gartner, Information Resources, META Group and Others Turning The Corner

IDC Launches New Company, Financial Insights, Following Meridien Research Acquisition

Meridien Research and IDC Merge to Offer Unparalleled Financial Services Research Capability Throughout the World

INT Media Group Name Change to Jupitermedia Finalized

META Group Announces Resignation of Chief Research Officer and Co-Founder, Dale Kutnick

META Group Enters Into Agreement to Increase Majority Ownership of German Subsidiary

PriMetrica, Inc. Announces Formation

Reprinted from Tekrati

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