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Constellation Research: what can users expect? 15 Nov 2010

Posted by Tony Law in Insight services, ITasITis, Technorati.
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Followers may have noted that R “Ray” Wang, who left Forrester a year ago to join Charlene Li’s Altimeter Group, has moved on again. He follows Michael Gartenberg, who also left Altimeter after a short stay.

Ray’s new venture is to create a constellation of stellar analysts, with high profiles matching his own, and become a one-stop-shop intermediary. Stephen England in his KCG blog report seems surprised that “they are focused on building an end-user business, NOT just a vendor business”. For myself, coming from the user side of the insight marketplace, I can’t see that a business like this would focus anywhere but on the users of insight.

What can a venture like this offer? Well, great analysts aren’t necessarily great business managers – Dale Kutnick, in his META Group days, was wise enough to recognise this and let his senior figures do what they were good at. Those who have joined have, I’d guess, jumped at the chance to let someone else do at least some of the marketing.

The team, so far, includes Ray Wang himself: doyen of supply chain analysts, formerly of Forrester and now also formerly of Altimeter Group; Phil Fersht: one of the senior AMR analysts who didn’t stay with Gartner; Maribel Lopez (formerly Vice President in the tech industry strategies group at Forrester); and Jill Dyché, an information management expert whose current roles include work with the TDWI/MDM team and conference. Vinnie Mirchandani has been a Gartner analyst too. The remaining half dozen individuals have pedigrees including the major league consultancy firms and technology consulting.

*** UPDATE *** News the next day, 15 Nov, is that Liz Herrell of Forrester has joined the group. See the press release on the Constellation website.

KCG suggests that the new venture may suffer from a clash of egos among the team. For myself, I don’t think that’s the main problem. In the insight market, this group is clearly going to be intent on developing the individuals’ profiles and marketing them on that basis. For those who have recent senior analyst backgrounds with the major firms, or in the conference circuit, that’s not a problem. But for those from consulting backgrounds, it may be: their former employers will be better known to the potential client base than themselves as individuals.

Duncan Chapple, at Lighthouse AR, has a different take from KCG. He doesn’t see the model as necessarily disruptive (and neither do I). He looks at the implications for Altimeter too: are they achieving the business success they hoped? And in Constellation: there’s strong overlap between these individuals’ coverage areas. Constellation’s online presence is designed to look more like an insight firm than a broker but, as Duncan comments, one thing Constellation won’t (presumably) do is to intervene and manage these areas of coverage. It’s certainly going to be interesting to see how the marketing of “stellar” individuals stacks up against the intention to offer trend reports and subscription relationships, from which users (enterprise or vendor) want coherent ongoing analysis and common, familiar, style.

As referenced by Duncan, Barbara French in Tekrati focusses on Altimeter rather than the new group. And it’s worth reading her take on how Altimeter (which doesn’t offer syndicated research, and does aim to bring together different perspectives for a client’s benefit) genuinely differs from the established model. Analysts, Barbara says, “have as much trouble coping with innovation as anyone else”. Watch this space!

Links:
• Wang leaves Altimeter to launch Constellation, KCG AR blog, 10 Nov 2010
• Ray Wang departs Altimeter Group, Altimeter Group, 9 Nov 2010
Constellation Research is a wise move, but not a disruptive one, Analyst Equity (Lighthouse AR), 11 Nov 2010
Altimeter Group Reveals Challenges of Disrupting the Analyst Business, Tekrati, 9 Nov 2010
Constellation Research

Comments»

1. Duncan - 18 Nov 2010

Thanks for the mention! By the way, Barbara’s last name is spelt ‘French’.

2. InformationSpan - 18 Nov 2010

Thanks Duncan, oops sorry Barbara :-( now corrected!


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