Meta fires up research market competition

Claiming the IT research market has become "commoditised and ordinary", Meta Group is today launching a global campaign to take on the bigger players such as Gartner which it claims has become a "mega" consultancy.

Acknowledging Meta is still a relatively small player in its field, the group's Asia Pacific managing director Paul Ventura says it is time for the industry to return to its research grass roots.

He said Meta will remain focused on the high end, but pitch itself as a more business-led, trusted advisor as part of a "Meta versus Mega" campaign.

While Meta will continue providing its core bottom-line guidance for IT and business transformation, the focus will be on solving business problems through more strategic research, tactical advice and closer client contact – embodying these qualities in a new tagline: “return on intelligence”.

Meta will boost its business consulting services in growth areas such as outsourcing management and also in vertical industries like energy, telecommunications and government.

Ventura said high-growth areas for the company this year are enterprise architecture in the both the public and commercial sector, portfolio management and benchmarking, with more organisations reassessing their holistic outsourcing strategies and on the business consulting side, business process re-engineering and organisational change.

The IT downturn and dotcom implosion, which has slowed the technology industry over the last 24 months, has driven the research segment into consolidation and left smaller firms on shaky ground.

Such instability served as a wake-up call of sorts for Meta Group, which over the last six months has contemplated ways to reposition itself to meet the changing needs of the market, and also survive competition from Meta’s “worthy rival” and the analyst industry’s “eight hundred pound gorilla, Gartner", Ventura said.

"There is a clear indication in the market of a split between the research players and also between the degree of [quality] of high-level research offerings. For example, Forrester and Giga both merged with other entities and Jupiter has disappeared.

"In the Asia Pacific there are only two major players left, us and Gartner."

Ventura said Meta can differentiate because its research is not commoditised.

“The delivery of written research through packaged services has certainly become a commodity and we’ve seen a tendency for that to drive down the [quality] of the research sector through this approach,” he said.

Moreover, Ventura argued the value of analyst research is compromised when firms fail to explain its relevance to a client’s specific situation because research "is not just a piece of paper".

“Taking our generic research and applying that to an organisation’s business [problem] can’t be relegated to a telemarketer or a sales rep. They can’t interpret the general trends. It’s best expressed in a face-to-face conversation [with the analyst]," he said.

"Our value proposition is that because we’re smaller and highly localised, we’ve got to have customer intimacy continually." Meta's Australia general manager Peter Carr said the client base has become more critical and discerning.

Carr said customers want a higher value proposition; this is demonstrated in increased demand in a difficult economy for high-level mentoring. As a result Meta has boosted its executive directions consulting to CXOs by appointing a senior member of the local research team, Dr Kevin McIsaac to head that service.

Carr claims Meta is experiencing an 80 per cent business renewal rate against a 60 per cent industry average worldwide. He said the firm has not laid off a single person in the region since the downturn hit and has recently opened offices in Perth, Korea, China, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia.

Meta will announce details of new business advisory offerings in coming weeks as part of its international re-branding campaign.

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