Thursday, November 17, 2005

Yankee Swap: Seeking Value from Today's I.T. Research

The Boston Globe reports that the Yankee Group has a new owner, the fourth new owner in less than a decade. (Primark acquired Yankee in 1996, then in May 2000 Yankee was sold to Reuters, then Decision Matrix bought Yankee from Reuters 18 months ago, and now Alta Communications and Emily Green have acquired Yankee.) The Globe article mentions the decline in the value of publishing white papers. I wouldn't classify the reports from the Yankee Group as white papers, since they include substantive industry forecasts. But, whether the reports be company white papers or true industry market studies, the research/consulting segment is affected by the same dynamics that have hit the publishing industry. Static print (or PDF equivalent) reports that provide useful, but not customized, reviews of new technologies and companies are no longer valued at a premium.

Instead, models like that of TechTarget, which is poised for an IPO, where the tech vendors subsidize the publishing side of the business through advertising and event sponsorship are gaining steam. Although TechTarget currently resembles a trade publishing network more than a research/consulting firm, one can already see that TechTarget and other web-savvy IT trade publishers are picking up business at the expense of the former high-flying IT research firms. Plus, TechTarget has been very adept at leveraging the growth in online advertising.

Nonetheless, it would be premature to report the impending death of the IT research/consulting firms. Forrester, for example, is adapting well by leveraging its brand into a broader range of events, webcasts, weblogs, and use of other media to promote and package its products and services. It will be interesting to see if the new owners of the Yankee Group with Emily Green--a former Forrester analyst--at the helm can steer Yankee toward a more vibrant and nimble model that leverages its knowledge and expertise, as well as its relationships with clients and vendors, via a wider range of research products, services, and events. To extract a premium in the current environment, research/consulting firms have to provide clients with information customized for the client in a form and format that matches the specific needs of each client. Broad industry forecasts may garner news headlines, but they are not very helpful to clients that are formulating strategies to compete with the handful of companies that constitute their primary competitors, nor do they help identify emerging competitors from adjacent segments.
Post a Comment