Ovum hatches plot to fill Meta void

The prospect of Gartner inheriting a monopoly of the end-user analysis market in Australia after cannibalizing the Meta Group has taken a tumble. Ovum, the UK and Europe-based analysis and consultancy is ramping up its local activities to snatch market share.

Ovum, which recently scored significant client wins - including Centrelink and the South Australian government, now appears to be attracting significant attention from worried customers of Meta, many of which need at least two independent analyst opinions to get board sign-off for new projects.

Privately held by a mix of partners and employees, Ovum is best known in the UK for strategic analysis services to public sector and telecommunications clients.

While tight-lipped about customer specifics, Ovum Australia/New Zealand regional manager Carsten Boeckmann confirmed at least 10 federal agencies had now been signed.

"We have agreed not to use the names [as marketing]. We have to respect that," Boeckmann said, adding there was sensitivity in government about analyst consolidation.

"What I can say is that we are going to be very aggressive in the government and telco space. With the enterprise it will be more opportunistic; it will be project by project. Most of our clients need more than one opinion to justify their decisions."

Boeckmann ruled out moves to provide analyst services in the IT vendor community in Australia, stressing Ovum will retain its current, user-centric focus as part of plans to expand.

"There will be no vendor white papers. The vendor just wants to see the good stuff, not the bad. This is not what we are about. Our staff have signed charters of independence," Boeckmann said.

Asked if Ovum would employ Meta walk-outs, Boeckmann declined to comment other than saying Ovum would look at "such opportunities" as they arise, adding the firm plans to increase headcount.

Ovum's move comes at exactly the same time as Gartner starts shedding staff and absorbing Meta contracts with clients.

While neither analyst will comment publicly on negotiations over concurrent customer accounts, a predictable sticking point is the paying for dual accounts.

Two concurrent Gartner and Meta clients, who declined to be named for legal reasons, said they are seeking legal advice over Gartner's position where

"Your Meta Group contract will remain in effect until your renewal date".

One client labelled the offer as "cheeky rubbish" which made him "pay for the same bit of paper from the same people twice".

The other client told Computerworld the merger constituted "an absolute deal-breaker" for her because, "the only positive we saw was being able to consolidate our accounts".

Meanwhile, a number of Meta staff are understood to be seeking legal advice about both payout and retention terms Gartner is offering, particularly when it comes to the payment of bonuses.

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