Users fight back against industry researchers

Like most CIOs, Bruce Barnes at the US financial and insurance services provider Nationwide corporation used to buy off-the-shelf information technology research from all the big players -- Forrester Research, Gartner Group and Meta Group, to name a few. It was like the milkman who says, "here's what I'm selling today. How much are you going to take?" Barnes recalled. "In many ways, they all sell the same stuff, so they overlap like crazy".

Not anymore.

Under what one analyst described as "an absolutely unique" deal, Barnes now requires that the research companies work together to provide a comprehensive package of services customised exclusively for Nationwide. So far, the one-off deal, which marks its first anniversary this month, has cut the company's annual IT research subscription bill by 40 per cent, to less than $US600,000.

Research companies in Australia watch out!

Rust-e-Research

The market for data communications equipment in the Asia/Pacific region will grow at 23 per cent a year over the next five years to reach a value of $US9 billion by 2004, according to a report from International Data Corporation (IDC). The growth is being driven by continuing regional economic resurgence, renewed investments by companies and governments, telecommunications industry deregulation, and the rapid increase in Internet usage.

IDC's research showed that wide area networking switches will make up the fastest-growing market sector with 37 per cent annual growth leading to a $US2 billion market by 2004. The local area network market, including network interface cards, hubs, switches and routers, is expected to grow 18 per cent a year to be worth $US5.8 billion by 2004.

The remote access market will quadruple over the five-year period, from $US300 million in 1999 to $US1.4 billion in 2004, driven by a trend to voice and data convergence in the region, IDC forecast.

Australia and Korea will continue to be the main regional markets due to their sophisticated telecommunication and Internet sectors. China will present a major growth opportunity for vendors, and India will be the fastest-growing large market in the region as the Internet becomes more popular, increasing awareness of and demand for leading-edge technologies.

Internet encroaches on job ads

The number of job advertisements in Australia's major metropolitan newspapers fell by 4.6 per cent in June to an average of 29,223 job advertisements per week (seasonally adjusted), more than reversing May's 3.9 per cent increase. The level of newspaper job advertising in June was the lowest since January and was only 5.5 per cent higher than that of June last year according to the ANZ Banking Group.

Six leading Internet sites carried an average of 98,489 job advertisements per week during June, 8.9 per cent more than in May.

Saul Eslake, ANZ's chief economist, noted that the relatively large decline in newspaper job advertising in June should be seen in the context of the similarly large increase in May and the continued growth in job advertising on the Internet. It is possible that employers may have brought forward some hiring decisions and the associated advertising, into May, so as to enable more time during June to be devoted to preparations for the introduction of the new tax system, Eslake said.

Web sites must speak in tongues

For US companies, multilingual Web sites are no longer optional. According to a new report from Forrester Research, companies must build a centralised palette of software to gain leverage, consistency, and speed while letting local offices choose which components to implement. In-country teams will then be able to customise applications to meet local needs, using transactions to keep content ethnocentric.

Since 50 per cent of all online sales will be made outside the US by 2004, building a multilingual site has become critical -- particularly to companies that are serious about winning in the Internet economy. When offered in multiple languages, customer service features like product data sheets and technical FAQs provide differentiation, build brand loyalty, and cut support costs, Forrester found.

By 2003, a set of globalisation software and services will emerge as Web-based localisation ascends and legacy translation agencies diminish, Forrester believes. In addition, e-business applications that today offer random multilingual capabilities will evolve into more language-agnostic products by the end of 2001. Finally, although qualified third-party assistance for multilingual sites is currently scarce, e-commerce integrators will increase globalisation efforts.

Men surf more and longer

Nielson//NetRatings has reported May data for Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom, showing that the demographic split in surfing outside the US remains heavily weighted towards males, creating significant opportunities for marketers targeting females.

In contrast, the US Internet audience is slightly weighted toward females, who represented 50.8 per cent of the May activity, versus males, who represented 49.2 per cent of the overall audience. The widest split was seen in the UK, where 60.9 per cent of the May audience was male and 39.1 per cent was female, and in Singapore, where 57.6 per cent of the audience was male and 42.4 per cent was female. Males across all markets also spent between two and three hours longer than females surfing in May.

Regional datacoms growth to continue

With continuing economic resurgence, renewed investments by both the government sector and enterprises, telecommunication industry liberalisation, and substantial increases in Internet usage, the deployment of data communications networks in the Asia/Pacific, excluding Japan, is expected to remain strong throughout the next five years, according to forecasts issued by IDC.

Given the resiliency witnessed between 1998 and 1999, IDC expects the overall data communications market (including NICs, hubs, switches, routers, remote access servers and WAN switches) in the region to reach $US9 billion by 2004, a cumulative annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23 per centAided by the strong growth in switches and routers, regained consumer confidence and stronger business sentiment, the LAN market (which includes NIC, hub, switch and router) for the region is likely to see robust growth of 18 per cent over the forecast period to reach $US5.8 billion by 2004. In terms of products, switches will continue to remain the fastest growing segment at a CAGR of 22 per cent to reach a figure of $US3.3 billion by the end of the forecast period.

Online ads maintain momentum

Online advertising in Australia generated revenue worth more than $A22 million dollars in the second quarter of this year, according to the Admonitor reports released by www.consult.com. The company found that revenue growth has been very strong for the past three months with June revenue at $A8.5million dollars reaching more than the total of $A6.6 million for the entire second quarter of1999.

The figures indicate that online publishers and agencies are delivering value to their clients, www.consult concluded. The key advertising categories driving online spending are banking and financial services, retail, classifieds, technology and media.

The aggregated data shows that in the five months to May, 10 advertisers had been consistently spending more than $A100,000 a month on their online advertising. www.consult noted that another indication of strong growth in the industry is that more than 70 advertisers are spending up to $A20,000 in online advertising each month, and that is three times as many as were spending up big at the same time last year.

Working together makes the big time

The collaborative applications market -- which consists of solutions for integrated collaborative environments (ICE), team collaborative applications (TCA), standalone enterprise e-mail, standalone service provider e-mail, real-time data conferencing, and group calendaring/scheduling -- is expected to hit $US3.1 billion in software revenues worldwide this year, according to IDC.

Analysts from IDC showed examples of how market factors may yield very different growth results from one application segment to the next, such as:

Segments are at different phases of development ranging from introduction (real-time data conferencing) to decline (standalone service provider email)The negative impact of ICE solutions' integration of broad collaborative functionality on standalone solutions ranges from limited (TCA) to fatal (standalone enterprise email).

The emergence of hosted application services will boost demand for certain applications (standalone service provider email) and sustain growth for other enterprise saturated markets (ICE).

The fastest-growing segments of the market in terms of revenues will be team collaborative applications, followed by standalone service provider email and real-time conferencing software, IDC believes

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