New and old players target AP opportunity

While many observers expected a rush of new entrants and expansion of existing players to fill the vacuum left after Gartner’s April acquisition of Meta, the reality in the Asia/Pacific region – where Meta had a reasonable market presence – has been a resounding silence.

It is only now, as the non-competes of former Meta analysts expire and other players finally get their strategic plans polished up, that we are starting to see the emergence of heightened levels of activity in the Asia/Pacific analyst business. While this activity is not going to change the market dominance of Gartner and IDC, it does provide some diversity of opinion and additional choices which will be welcomed by users and vendors alike.

Most notable of the moves is the planned October 10 announcement of Hydrasight, a new analyst firm established by former Meta analysts Michael Warrilow and John Brand, which will target clients in Australia and parts of Asia. The founders claim the customer-centric business model is intended to make technology and business analysis more accessible to clients, and will offer their services on a per-enquiry basis as well as seeking larger engagements.

Hydrasight wants to engage actively with clients while avoiding being driven by a publishing business model on one hand, or by long consulting assignments on the other – a delicate balancing act indeed. As well as Warrilow’s expertise in information security, infrastructure management and governance and Brand’s deep domain knowledge of content & collaboration and digital rights management, Hydrasight will draw on the internet commerce and SMB strategy experience of former JB Were executive, Tim O’Brien, and specialist insight from other independent analysts.

“We’re not out to become another publishing-driven research house – there’s enough written research out there,” said Warrilow. “The challenge is to find those decision criteria which make a difference for the client – I think we’re doing what analysts were always supposed to do, which is knowing their market, knowing the demand side as well as the supply side.”

Only time will tell what impact Hydrasight has on users’ research budgets, but one thing for certain is that they won’t be the only ones knocking on IT department doors.

Forrester, which in the past has taken a very low-key approach to the Asia/Pacific market, now has 19 people in its extended regional team. It has been progressively adding sales resources over the past few months, has hired its first analyst, and will have two more analysts on staff in Australia by January, according to Australia/New Zealand country manager, Peter Carr (another former Meta employee). The primary focus of the firm will be on IT, the banking and finance sector and the digital home/consumer electronics market.

Forrester also recently completed surveying of 750 Asia/Pacific user organisations, including 250 in ANZ, with fieldwork outsourced to a third party research firm.

Homegrown research firm, Ideas International, is also expanding its activities to include end-user surveys, and plans to deploy all of its DH Brown demand-side research in Asia/Pacific and Europe in 2006, as well as the US, according to CEO, Ian Birks.

Ideas now has a dedicated salesperson for Australia and South Asia, and has signed memoranda of understanding with distributors in Japan and Korea, which are expected to be finalised by the end of this month. The goal, said Birks, is to drive 2006 Asia/Pacific revenues to double their admittedly low 2004 levels, as well as continue to build the US and European business.

To aid the Asia/Pacific expansion, Ideas earlier this year appointed former Gartner Asia/Pacific managing director, Rob McKelvey, to its board, and is also utilising the skills of former Meta Asia/Pacific research director, Kevin McIsaac, on a range of consulting projects. McIsaac, who is continuing to operate as an independent, is also affiliated with Nick Bowman’s Intelligent Business Research Services, a research portal which draws on a group of independent consultants to provide written research, enquiry, and longer consulting engagements for Australian users.

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