Strategy, vertical industry research prompts extended service

Industry analyst Gartner has launched the Asia-Pacific arm of its newest service GartnerG2, to deliver business analysis and strategies on vertical industries.

Richard Harris, GartnerG2 Asia Pacific vice president, said the project, kept quiet from the industry for a year, arose out of its traditional IT client base's need for a different type of high-level analysis - one which would address more strategy-focused questions.

Focusing on three main research perspectives - companies, markets and external forces - the project includes services to help clients build market share, adapt technology to meet changes in the business environment, and identify new business models and opportunities that will drive growth.

"When it comes to the AP region, companies in many major industries are battening down the hatches," Harris said.

"Most are using this period of economic uncertainty to get their business in order, while waiting for prosperity to return sometime later in the year."

Specifically, he said, the telecommunications, airline and banking industry sectors were doing the most hand-sitting, "waiting for something to turn them around later in the year".

Meanwhile, Michael Fleisher, Gartner president and chief executive, claims that 70 per cent of companies worldwide will fail to meet their business goals, falling for common growth traps that GartnerG2 identified in its Growth Strategy Report this year.

Gartner described these typical dangers as innovation stagnation, 'Webnesia,' (where companies need to recognise that new Internet tools could either be used as weapons for or against them), 'Lone Wolf' syndrome (operating as a solo act and risking a quick and lonely death), reactive addiction (reacting to market forces rather than acting on them) and competitive denial.

"The only true defence is recognition, thoughtful strategic reasoning and consistent execution," Fleisher said.

GartnerG2's Asia-Pacific team will cover Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and India with some analysts drawn from Gartner Asia-Pacific's traditional IT research service, Harris said.

Harris will lead the regional group, comprised of senior analyst Guy Cranswick, analyst Phil Harpur and client support analyst Andrew Lewin in Australia; research director Lane Leskela and senior analyst Mark Cochrane in Hong Kong, Dickson Tang in Singapore and Kingshuk Hazra in India.

Harris would only indicate that G2's first set of Australian clients were from "major" industry sectors like banking and financial services and mainstream media.

About 140 analysts - one-fifth of Gartner's 700 analysts - will focus on the new service. They will work on cross-functional teams in Australia, Asia, Europe and the US.

However, the service may not be appropriate for everyone.

"Gartner's brand is still built on IT-related services," which may make it difficult to reach business users, said Scott Cebula, vice president of information services at MemorialCare in California.

"In many industries, IT and business strategy are like second cousins," he said. "Relations are friendly, but a bit distant."

Gartner's foray into the new service comes just two months after the firm decided to sell TechRepublic, an online community for IT professionals, to San Francisco-based CNet Networks. After posting a second-quarter loss of $US1 million, the company also announced in April that it plans to reduce worldwide staff of 4700 employees by about 6 per cent in an effort to contain costs.

And contrary to information from local Gartner sources in April that three employees from the Asia-Pacific subsidiary were retrenched under the cost-cutting program, Robert McKelvey, GartnerG2 Asia Pacific senior vice president, maintained that no local employees were or would be affected.

McKelvey and Harris were reluctant to make regional revenue projections for G2 for the next year, emphasising that Gartner as a corporation was doing "very nicely" across all its research divisions.

-- Julekha Dash contributed to this article.

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