ARcade » Forrester Research Weblog maintained by Hill+Knowlton Strategies\' global Analyst Relations team. Wed, 30 Nov 2011 02:40:13 +0000 en hourly 1 A step in the right direction – my thoughts on the Forrester Acquisition Tue, 24 May 2011 00:50:39 +0000 nadiahabibcoelho Forrester’s acquisition of Springboard Research comes at an opportune time. The move finally confirms Forrester’s renewed foray into Asia Pacific by acquiring Springboard, a firm that has an established name as well as recognition in the region.

As the lead for Hill & Knowlton’s Analyst Relations offering in APAC, I welcome the news. With clients in the IT, telecommunications and financial services sector, I am constantly on the lookout for more region specific research, particularly on markets like Australia, China and India. While we have other leading analyst firms covering this space, I say the more the merrier! There is still a hunger for insights that showcase an on-the-ground understanding of trends, vendors and customers from Asia Pacific.

No doubt, Forrester has a lot to gain from this acquisition. Springboard will definitely add to the allure of Forrester’s offering here as it has been having conversations with APAC CIOs for a long time.

Springboard has a strong understanding of not only the region, but that of the vital government IT sector as well. What we can expect to see is more than just a focus on numbers but deeper insights from stalwarts like Springboard’s CEO, Dane Anderson and Vice President, John Brand.

With the announcement having recently been made, Forrester has been quick to include joint Springboard research on its site. One that I have already found quite useful is The Asia Pacific IT Market Comes of Age by Tim Sheedy (Forrester) and Dane Anderson (Springboard)*. The report covers how Asian economies are growth engines for IT vendors. It also reaffirms the growth in IT budgets in China and India. A very interesting report and one which I recommend others to read/buy, particularly those who want to get a snapshot into the high growth markets in Asia.

I can only see the best of two worlds being combined under the acquisition, and look forward to seeing more region focused research coming out from Forrester in the coming months.

*The link to the report:

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Grappling with the Cloud – What the Analysts Say (and why their opinion matters) Fri, 05 Mar 2010 09:30:29 +0000 Tris Clark Cloud. It’s the word that won’t go away in IT circles. If you believe the hype it’s a new approach to technology that will redefine the way we deliver and consume IT. If you don’t, cloud is not a new concept, but a rebranding of various technology services, processes, practices and strategies that have been evolving for several decades. 


The top line concept is relatively simple: Exact definitions vary, but Cloud Computing is effectively a metaphor for computing over the Internet. For example, instead of a company hosting their IT on their own PC or sever internally it is managed and delivered by a third party supplier. Effectively their IT is hosted in a virtual ‘cloud’ of external servers.  The IT industry has argued itself silly over various technical definitions, opportunities and problems with the concept of cloud. A lot of communications in the market around cloud has come from the vendors. In quite a few cases we question whether these messages have really contributed to clarifying what these services actually bring to customers.  


Where do analysts fit into this debate?

The topic of cloud computing is ripe for debunking. Analysts have been playing a key role in this – constantly outlining the various technical and strategic options for companies – and contradicting technology vendor’s marketing claims when they break step with reality. Analysts are particularly important to the cloud debate for multiple reasons:


Firstly, they are advising their clients (IT decision makers of every stripe) on IT matters every day – they are intimately familiar with companies day to day challenges, and how they can be solved.


Secondly, they talk with a wide range of technology vendors, and are frequently discussing the various ins and outs of trends. Vendors have a reputation for slinging mud at each other and spreading FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) about each other’s respective offerings. The analyst industry originally grew out of a desire to counter the rising tides of vendor hype. If anyone can tell you the real deal … it should be an analyst.


Lastly, because analysts gain access to technology developments before they even hit the market (and technology adoption rates can take several years to filter through to the mainstream) they are in the know well before the media. Analysts are rightly lauded for their independence – their influence can sometimes make or break a multi-million pound technology deal. Analysts have too much to lose if they become compromised by hype, so you know they will give you an honest answer to a straight question.


Cloud – New or not?

Most analysts have been around for a long time. They have heard it all before. The Application Service Provider (ASP) was the original poster child for ‘IT over the Internet’ back in the early 90s. The technology wasn’t up to scratch, so it never really took off. Prior to cloud many people got hot under the collar over Software as a Service (SaaS) – the same basic concept but delivered on a multi-tenant basis. SaaS has itself now been subsumed within a wider ‘theoretical’ cloud model which also includes hardware, applications and storage.


Much of this is a question of vendor positioning. There is an argument that ‘true’ cloud computing is globally scalable in nature – and requires the kind of resources and reach that only the likes of Microsoft, Google and Yahoo! can provide. Although many smaller, and less scalable, vendors would dispute this in their own cloud definitions. It’s also true (up to a point) that here have been several technological developments – virtualisation and web-orientated architecture for instance – that allow Internet resources to be used much more effectively by enterprises. Cloud is more pervasive than most technology topics because it embraces so many IT touchpoints. For example, a recent Inquiry H&K had with Gartner on virtualisation contained a healthy portion of focus on the topic of cloud – due to the role of virtualisation in supporting private clouds.


The analyst team at Freeform Dynamics have eloquently made the case that cloud is essentially a slightly tweaked IT approach to the old problems that IT has always grappled with – a view I am very sympathetic to. Dale Vile, Research Director at Freeform Dynamics called a spade a spade when he recently wrote in the Register that,while this discussion about styles of IT service delivery might be new to some, it certainly isn’t to anyone who has moved in senior IT and business management circles.”  His colleague Jon Collins, Managing Director and CEO at Freeform, added, “I think some vendors are being taken by surprise by the fact that Cloud just equates to IT done right.”


The good folks at Freeform are certainly not alone within the analyst community in arguing this point, indeed it’s probably fair to say that the majority of analysts arguably support this view. These kind of pragmatic ‘sanity checks’ from analysts are very welcome indeed. Such analytical doses of reality help the IT community to keep its feet firmly planted on the ground – dealing in the world of the possible rather than just focusing on the aspirational promise of tomorrow’s ‘next big thing’.


Cloud Adoption – Where it’s really at

More than ever the waves of FUD need to be countered – cloud particularly needs to be put into context. Although it is topping most of the ‘hottest’ technology lists for 2010, caution is justified. Broadly speaking analysts are advising a wait and see approach to adopting cloud services.


The analyst firm Gartner produces yearly Hype-Cycles, in effect market barometers which track technology adoption and market penetration. Coincidently, the latest Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies places cloud computing at the ‘peak of inflated’ expectations. This indicates that the technology has become as hyped as it’s going to be. Over the next two years the topic will slide into the ‘trough of disillusionment’ as customers begin to discover problems and issues with the implementation of cloud services.  This doesn’t mean the technology has failed; merely that it has reached the most difficult period in its lifecycle. As a general guide Hype-Cycles are a strong, but not infallible, method of tracking technologies and the right time to implement them. I’ve oversimplified the intricacies involved in Hype-Cycles slightly (but that’s a whole other blog post…)


Over the next year or so it will be bumpy ride for cloud computing enthusiasts.  Indeed, the words of caution from analysts have been circling for some time. According to a pan- European and American  survey[i] , conducted by the analyst firm Forrester, 49 percent of respondents recently decided not to implement cloud services due to ongoing security and privacy concerns. More questions are being asked over the ‘pure play’ approach to cloud, this trend will increase.  Such candour is well come as IT decision makers are risk averse at the best of times and rightly want to know their investments are justified (and will pay off).


The Real Future of Cloud

This is the part where I own up to having a vested interest in the debate. Several of my clients are actively involved in a hybrid approach to cloud computing which is known as Software+Services (S+S). The S+S model is championed by Microsoft, and other technology partners such as Mamut (a pan European software provider focused on SMBs). Both of whom – I’m very proud to say – are clients. Their approach is an evolutionary one to cloud.


In a nutshell S+S is a model which embraces both traditional on premise IT and the functionality provided by the cloud – letting the user decide whether they want to use online or on-premise functionality, or a combination of the two. It’s a salient approach as, in reality, most companies will use a mix of traditional IT and cloud services. Over the next few years the wider IT industry will come to acknowledge that cloud is not an ‘all or nothing’ proposition.


Indeed, for many businesses cloud is not an either/or debate – reality is rarely so neat and tidy – and there is a fine line to tread between business agility and retaining resiliency. In most of H&K’s conversations with analysts to date the feedback on S+S has been very positive. Whilst analysts won’t necessarily endorse one IT delivery model over another, many of the analysts the H&K AR team have spoken to agree that the future IT environment will be a heterogeneous beast. In our view, such an environment favours Software+Services. It lets the user pick their flavour of IT at their own pace. And in the end, cloud hype or no, it’s the user’s preference, and the IT facts on the ground, that truly matter.


If you are interested in starting a conversation with analysts or would like to discuss technology trends with the AR team at Hill & Knowlton then please do drop us a line.


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Speaking at Forrester AR CouncilTel on Digital AR This Thursday Tue, 27 Oct 2009 21:00:10 +0000 Ruth Busbee

Technology purchase decisions are impacted through a variety of communication channels—digital, analysts, media, word of mouth and others—and the influence of those channels is merging. We’re going to be discussing why it’s critical to understand the rapidly evolving influence industry analysts have on sales and reputation through digital channels such as blogs, Twitter, social networking, and vendor web sites.


This Thursday morning (October 29 at 8:30 am PT), I’ll be presenting at the October Forrester AR CouncilTel with my boss, and H&K Global Tech Practice lead Josh Reynolds. What questions do you have about Digital AR that we should address?


Looking forward to your questions. I can be found on Twitter @ruthbusbee.


P.S. If you’re not a member of the Forrester AR Council and would like more information about the group, please email



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Latest news from Twitter: Forrester hires a Senior Analyst Fri, 27 Jun 2008 11:32:00 +0000 Dominic Pannell Peter Kim tweets that Forrester Research has filled a vacant position and will soon be announcing an analyst to cover social computing. Who says Twitter is useless?

Carter’s Analyst Twitter Directory currently lists 104 analyst accounts and that doesn’t include the AR folks who also use the medium.

Personally, I find Twitter to be a very useful tool for my work – it allows me to loosely follow several analysts whose work is highly relevant to my clients, thus keeping an eye on their current research interests and allowing me to flag interesting developments. I’m then able to act where necessary using more traditional communications methods (is it correct to refer to the phone and email as ‘traditional’, I wonder?).

Yes, it’s not all serious, yes I admit that I do tweet about rugby matches that I’m watching and yes, I have been known to tell my 81 followers what I’m eating. No, it’s not everybody’s cup of tea.

Nobody’s forcing to anybody to sign up. All I’m saying is that I find it helpful. 

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The Fox and the Hound: Forrester’s AR advisory service Thu, 30 Aug 2007 15:33:00 +0000 Joshua Reynolds Much has already been said about Forrester’s recently launched Analyst Relations advisory service.  Even so, it appears to have generated more buzz internally with Forrester analysts than with tech buyers, as a few analysts have privately expressed concern that such a service “muddies the waters” of client service. (This suggests that perhaps a little more internal communication re: this program is warranted at Forrester.)

Hill & Knowlton’s US and European teams were first briefed on this service and the thinking behind back in May 2007.  It appears to be a well-intentioned service offering primarily designed to help tech vendors increase the ROI from their Forrester research subscriptions.  Services such as best practices for analysts’ preferred communications mediums and protocols are useful, as is the ability to brainstorm some creative ways of collaborating with analysts or getting a glimpse into some common best practices.

But beware: learning AR from an analyst is a little like taking lessons in fox-hunting from a fox.  An analyst firm would be self-interested, certainly, in helping a tech vendor see more value in their subscription.  And the analyst firm would also be self-interested in making sure the vendor engages in AR in a way that’s most beneficial to the analyst firm.

In other words, you probably aren’t going to learn top tips for evangelizing an analyst who’s not in your corner, minimizing the market impact of an analyst who appears to be intractably biased towards your competition, or cost-saving alternatives to an expensive consulting day.  You’re not going to get tips for minimizing your research spend, nor will you get an unbiased view as to which analysts impact your business most (especially when it comes to comparing analysts from other firms).

This is not to pick on Forrester. Other firms have tried similar approaches in the past, with mixed success.  And the logic here applies equally to Gartner and IDC as it does to Forrester.

But to the young, inexperienced AR practitioner, this offer from Forrester might look at first blush like a wonderful tutorial in all things in AR. But it’s more like the first half of the Fox & the Hound story where the two critters play together as youngsters, learn from each other, but eventually have to grow up.  Eventually, an experienced AR practitioner has to learn a few tricks that the fox doesn’t know, or else that hound will never be able to hunt properly.

Last observation: Forrester sales reps should be careful not to position this AR advisory program as a upsell channel or a way for Forrester to make more money.  H&K knows Forrester management does not see this as an additional revenue stream, but some of the marketing material and sales commentary might suggest otherwise.  As any tech marketer worth their salt knows, the minute you start charging extra to teach your customers how to use your product, customers get skeptical–and rightfully so.  And with Forrester’s credibility doing so well these days, it would be a shame to set it back with over-aggressive sales and marketing.

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