Omdia Q&A: Consolidation Brings Wider, Deeper Coverage

Earlier this year, Informa Tech announced it was consolidating its research arm—made up of Ovum, Heavy Reading, IHS Markit Technology and Tractica—under the Omdia brand. Since then, the Omdia team has been broadening its coverage through the formation of new coverage areas and filling key roles from both inside the company and out. We caught up with Evan Kirchheimer, head of Omdia’s Service Provider business unit, to talk about the converged firm and where it’s focusing its coverage going forward.

How did Omdia come about? What was the impetus behind it?

Ovum had been around since the 1980s, and through the years, has been acquired and done the acquiring. At the beginning of 2019, the research arm moved to a new business unit called Informa Tech, which was focused on the Telecoms, Media and Technology (TMT) industries. But the TMT group wasn’t just research—it also included media such as Light Reading and Dark Reading, as well as Informa events such as IoT World, BlackHat, AfricaCom, Enterprise Connect, Big 5G, 5G World, and several others. By combining TMT-oriented research and media, events and training, we became a vertically integrated business unit called Informa Tech.

As part of that process, we realized our research division was proportionally smaller than our media and digital properties. We wanted to rebalance and that meant investing in more research—and that came with the acquisition of IHS Markit last year. With all of these platforms in place, we rebranded as Omdia.

We now have 400 analysts and consultants—top tier in terms of the sheer size of the organization. Some research areas were very distinctive with no overlap. Where there was some overlap, we looked at ways we could go deeper with the research. For example, in Service Providers, there was some degree of overlap because IHS acquired Infonetics, which had a large audience for its vendor research. We’ve relaunched the combined Infonetics and Ovum Service Provider Technology offerings into a converged Service Provider Networks offering which goes deeper in areas like service provider transformation and service provider AI, and that’s how we’re handling the vendor side of it.

What were the company’s goals when you got started?

I’ll answer this for both Omdia as a whole, and for the Service Provider group. On the whole for Omdia, the first principle is that we are uniquely positioned to give insight on the entirety of the tech value chain, from components and semiconductors all the way through to subscribers of services.

We have coverage from the perspective of what sensor would go where, what modules they’re in, what platform they’re in, what network infrastructure they’re a part of, and of course, how to make those work with businesses and consumers in terms of turning into monetizable services.

Another principle was breadth of coverage—not just geographic, but also coverage in industry, such as service provider, consumer and media, enterprise IT, industrials, semis, displays and others. These are the verticals we wanted to focus on.

The promise is not just to provide insight, but to also show companies how to turn that insight into real money by helping them market more efficiently with our media and digital platforms. We can help customers shape that message and take them to market.  Not just ‘Here’s what you should do,” but also ‘here’s how we can help you do it.’

And what about the Service Provider team—what are their goals?

If I think about the Service Provider team, I believe we are the biggest service provider-oriented analyst house globally. We have more experienced, senior teams, all ready to provide actionable advice. We have access to some tremendous platforms to help them, including our events team. We use our platforms like IoT World, Broadband World Forum, Interop, Enterprise Connect, Black Hat and others to help clients actually improve their success rate in their various endeavors.

When we started, we had a number of objectives to achieve:

  • Be the absolute definitive source of data on service provider markets and opportunities. We have an industry-leading tool called World Information Series. One of my main objectives is to make the tool more agile and make sure we are providing more frequent updates on service provider performance in our 200 markets.
  • The second primary objective is to ensure we are the definitive leader in network infrastructure. We have a number of opportunities in service provider infrastructure. We can provide much deeper coverage in terms of components because we doubled up IHS resources with the Ovum resources. We’re also investing heavily in analysis of Service Provider digital transformation.
  • Our regional goal is to invest more in the Asia markets to grow our coverage there. You’ll see some recruitment activity there in the next few months.

How is the Service Provider and Communications group organized?

We have five major teams:

  1. Service Provider Strategy and Regulation—what will telco of the future look like, and how will regulation and market forces impact that
  2. Service Provider Markets team—More than 20 analysts to track service provider and market activity in 200 markets globally
  3. Service Provider Network team—This is legacy Infonetics and legacy Ovum’s converged service provider networks offering
  4. Service Provider Consumer team—This group focuses on the consumer services opportunity for telco. Our goal is to help service providers expand beyond the core to increase their share of wallet of consumer spend
  5. Enterprise and Wholesale—Here we cover enterprise networks (managed WAN, LAN, wholesale), workspace services (UC, mobility, private networks) and digital enterprise services, which is all about the services providers selling into large enterprises and SMBs.

What about geographically?

The team is 40% EMEA, 30% Americas, 30% Asia Pac. We have hubs within each of these regions.  A large proportion of the analysts are in the U.S., in Canada, UK, Korea, Taiwan, China, Singapore, Australia, India and Malaysia. We have teams in the Gulf, in Africa and in South America as well. Everyone is working from home now. The transition for us was quite smooth, because before the pandemic I’d estimate only 25%-30% of my team worked from one of our formal offices regularly anyway. Even without the pandemic, many of the analysts would work on the road or at home.

Tell us more about some new coverage areas for Omdia.

Here are a few examples:

  • Alexandra Rehak has moved to be Chief Analyst for our new Digital Consumer Operator Strategies service. This is a new research area dedicated to exploring opportunities in B2C ‘beyond connectivity’ for telcos. This includes sizing and segmenting the share of wallet of telcos in consumer services, then advising on the best strategies to secure increased share based on operator case studies and Omdia research with consumers and the broader ecosystem (OTTs, cloud providers, etc).
  • Dario Talmesio moved from the head of our Europe research to team lead our new dedicated Strategy & Regulation services. Focusing on the former for the time being, we will track the evolution of telcos and focus on what the service provider of the future will look like through coverage of all phases of service development: design, build, sell and run. Research will cover 5G monetization, ecosystem/partnerships (SPs and webscalers), evolving telco relationships with vendors, service provider adoption of AI and the evolution of the retail channel.
  • We are starting up a new Private Network service (predominantly focused on LTE and 5G). This is led by Pablo Tomasi (moving from his previous IoT coverage) and Camille Mendler, who is now our Chief Analyst for Enterprise Services.

What has surprised you most about the direction the market is going?

The resiliency of the telcos. We’ve analyzed the Q1 data and are starting to get in Q2 data, and one of our initial discoveries is that telco service revenues have been robust. We are – so far – mostly talking about deferred growth rather than a prolonged period of absolute decline. The question remains how quickly they can accelerate their digital transformation in terms of offering—and monetizing—new services.

What’s next for Omdia?

If I think more broadly than just our Service Provider offering, Omdia is looking to “connect the dots.” No industry exists in isolation – Covid has certainly demonstrated that. So for us, connecting the dots means deepening our insight through a true understanding of the entirety of the tech value chain. As we get closer to 2021, look out for new products including a fresh take on vendor benchmarking and significant expansions of coverage in areas such as Security and AI, technologies which will have a transformative impact on service providers, enterprises, consumers and industrials alike.

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