Personal Log: Reflections On Constellation Research's First Year

How It All Began (One Humble Analyst's POV)
Time flies when you are having fun.  One year ago, we launched at the E20 Conference in Santa Clara.  Our mission - focus on the disruptive technologies of social, mobile, cloud, unified communications, and Government 2.0.
It does seem like just a few months ago, I was planning an exit from Altimeter Group.  It was a critical point in time for Altimeter as there were some differing opinions on the direction of the firm and four of the original partners sought new pastures.   During that change of management, I realized I didn't want to build the next great social media consulting firm based on open research.  So, I went back to the post I wrote on July 24th, 2010 about the 7 tenets of the next generation research firm.  I reached out to other industry analysts, bloggers, and influencers to see who'd be interested.  I was hoping to find other like-minded folks who hoped to disrupt the industry analyst business.
As luck would have it, a number of fine folks were set to show up at Oracle Open World 2010 in September.  At Moscone Center, Paul Greenberg, Dennis Howlett, Esteban Kolsky, Maribel Lopez, Oliver Marks, Vinnie Mirchandani, Sameer Patel, Frank Scavo, Alan Silberberg, Brian Sommer, and I discussed the idea of starting a new analyst firm.  The conversations were intense and valuable in shaping the original structure of Constellation.  In fact, many of the ideas were battle tested from the experience of the Enterprise Irregulars and many other great independent firms before us including RedMonk and HFS Research.
After six weeks of planning, engaging in heated debates, and agonizing over the details, we went from concept to company with six analysts: Maribel Lopez, Oliver Marks, Sameer Patel, Frank Scavo, Alan Silberberg, and myself.   Staff wise, our former Executive Admin - Elaine Chan and our former VP of Sales - David Stanley, joined us.  On the board of advisors, we were fortunate to have Paul Greenberg, Dennis Howlett, Erin Kinkin, and Esteban Kolsky on the team.  Zoli Erdos has been helping us w/ curation on the Constellation website.  A few days later we added our 13th member, Elizabeth Herrell, who had retired from Forrester/GigaGroup.  Along the way, we've added some great team members and have added to our alumni ranks as well.
What We've Accomplished

Overall, it's been a busy, exciting, and productive year. We've got a lot to be thankful for including:

  • 100 buy-side and sell-side clients around the globe
  • 31 team members including 13 research analysts and futurists, 5 sales professionals, 6 professional staff, and 7 industry recognized board of advisors (see Figure 1.)
  • 735 Open Research insightful blog posts, 25 premium research reports, 15 webinars
  • A website receiving 2.4 million page views per year. Q4 page views per day have averaged above 10,000.
  • Recognition by the Institute of Industry Analyst Relations (IIAR) as the New Analyst Firm of the Year in 2011.
  • Creation of the Constellation Supernova Awards – the industry’s first and largest recognition of innovators, pioneers, and teams who apply emerging and disruptive technology to drive business value
  • Production of Constellation Connected Enterprise – an innovation summit and best practices knowledge sharing retreat for business leaders with 102 attendees and 25 wonderful sponsors

Figure 1. The Constellation Research Team At Connected Enterprise 2011 In Scottsdale, AZ

(Photo: Ken Yeung)

Lots Of Great People To Thank.
We wouldn't be here without great clients. We're here for them and we are quite grateful for the clients who believed in us in the beginning and have been with us through the year.  We appreciate their expectations for a new way of thinking, a new approach to research, and a more innovative way to approach research insights.   Their interaction and participation in the Constellation community has been valuable for everyone.
Equally important, we have to thank the pioneering individuals who saw the vision of Constellation and joined us.  From board of advisors, to client staff, to research analysts, we've been blessed to be associated with many great people.  Start-ups are never easy.  Some estimates show that 70% of new businesses do not make it past the first year.  Our team's commitment, passion, and sacrifices have helped build a great organization that clients can appreciate, that the team can be proud of.
What We're Doing Next
As we've built out the brand this year, we noticed a shift in how our customers have been dealing with new technologies and change. We have made the decision to also shift to better address our clients needs by taking a business focus. How?
Well in today's business environment, the rate of change is not only constant, but also rapidly escalating.  New business models by upstarts disrupt competitors with increasing frequency in all industries and markets.  In just 10 years, even 5 years, or dare say 24 months, many established companies have been left vulnerable, beaten down, and toppled by new upstarts.
How come?  Business leaders have been too slow to react to their customers and the changes happening in the societal, technological, environmental, economic, and political fronts.  In business models, products are now excuses to sell services. Product innovation cycles have shortened from years to months to weeks. On the work front, five generations in the workforce disagree on where to work, how to work, when to work, and why to work. Add the current trend of consumerization of IT to the pace of change and business leaders must strategically determine which new technologies should be considered.
Unfortunately, the legacy research analyst firms and advisory firms continue to fail their clients when faced with these new challenges. Why? Their myopic focus on an IT centric point of view ignores the realities of the market.  In fact, Constellation estimates that the average IT budget is down 5% year over year and at best up 2% among the most innovative companies.  However, tech spending is up on average 18 to 22% at the most innovative firms.  What's happened? The buying power has shifted and business leaders increasingly take control of how they are applying technologies to their business while whittling down the corporate IT budget for operational efficiencies.
Next Stage: Designed For Business Leaders Seeking Business Value From Disruptive Technologies
We're moving to a business leader and business value focused approach. Consequently, Constellation now differentiates itself in the market in two ways by:

  1. Focusing on the board room and C-suite point of view. Constellation's research addresses the needs of boards, CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, CMOs, CHROs, CPOs, CSCOs, and COOs.
  2. Addressing the business problem first. Research starts by addressing business value and then applying where disruptive and emerging technologies may play a role.

The result - Constellation serves as a coach and advisor to senior business leaders working on tough business problems including:

  • The future of work
  • Next generation customer experience
  • Cross channel commerce across the supply and demand chain
  • Digital marketing transformation
  • New organizational models including People-to People Networks
  • The new C-suite
  • Big data, decision systems, and information management
  • Business value frameworks and metrics for success
  • Energy management and green tech
  • Legacy technology optimization

Your POV.
How else can we deliver value for you? What do you wish your current research firm would do? How can we improve? Add your comments to the blog or reach me via email: R (at) ConstellationRG (dot) com or R (at) SoftwareInsider (dot) com.
Although we work closely with many mega software vendors, we want you to trust us. For the full disclosure policy, stay tuned for the full client list on the Constellation Research website.
Copyright © 2011 R Wang and Insider Associates, LLC All rights reserved.