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Gartner anticipates strong business growth with IDEAS integration

Gartner sees significant opportunity to deepen its penetration of the “technical” side of end-user clients following completion of its acquisition of IDEAS International, with further investment into expanding the Australian firm’s product portfolio anticipated once the integration process has been completed.

Speaking during a visit to Sydney earlier this month to on-board the IDEAS team, Gartner group vice president, IT professionals, Gary Hein, said that the IDEAS products aligned well with the existing Gartner for Technology Professionals (Burton) offerings, but were completely different.

“IDEAS is very different for Gartner. It’s unique – we didn’t have anything like this,” said Hein, who was VP of operations at Burton Group prior to its acquisition by Gartner just under three years ago, and who is managing the integration of the research team. “It’s not like we are buying a customer base or slightly adding to a product, it’s a totally new area for us.”

“We see a lot of the growth on the end-user side. IDEAS has some end-user clients, but what we hope to achieve with the Gartner brand and the Gartner worldwide presence is to really grow the market presence.”

Gartner made a takeover offer for IDEAS in April this year, with completion of the deal taking place in July. The deal was valued at about A20 million, and was strongly supported by the major shareholders who included company founder, John Tulloch; CEO Steven Bowhill; and board members, including former CEO, Ian Birks.

Established in 1986, IDEAS expanded into the UK and the US, increasing its presence with the acquisition of DH Brown in 2004. Primarily focused on providing comparative performance data to server and storage vendors, it broadened its focus to include end-users in more recent years, with the IDEAS Advantage portfolio offering tools for server consolidation, data centre analysis, and server and storage comparison.

IDEAS had been looking for a buyer for several years. Just about every analyst firm of any substance – including Gartner – had looked at the IDEAS portfolio at least once, but had been unable to either agree a price or identify a synergy.

Hein said he wasn’t in a position to comment on what made IDEAS more attractive to Gartner in 2012 than previously, but it’s likely that IDEAS’ inroads into the end-user space provided some encouragement. As well, the successful integration of the Burton business probably created a more logical “home” for the IDEAS portfolio than existed previously.

“It’s the same end-user base that we address (with GTP) – it’s the technologist, it’s the architect, it’s the folks who are responsible for doing implementation, and they need tools like IDEAS brings them to help them do that a lot more quickly and lot more efficiently,” Hein said.

The short-term focus for Gartner is to put the products into the hands of its 1,400 sales reps worldwide – training commenced at the recent Catalyst conference in San Diego – and completing the integration of the IDEAS analyst, sales and support teams.

Gartner has taken on board all of IDEAS’ analysts and staff, and has integrated them into its internal research communities. It has also retained IDEAS’ head office in the northern Sydney suburb of Hornsby, and is looking at the possibility of expanding that to support other local Gartner staff. According to Hein, Gartner has learnt much through the acquisitions of both AMR and Burton in recent years, and is applying the best practices it has developed to the IDEAS integration.

Once things are bedded down, the focus will shift to enhancing the research portfolio by introducing other Gartner data to IDEAS research processes, and possibly applying IDEAS methodologies to other Gartner products.

“There’s always a lot of great ideas (in a small firm) but there’s only so much you can do as a self-funded organisation, so one of the things that Gartner brings is that we can make investments that pay off over many years,” said Hein.

“The growth rate on the product side I think will be very high but Gartner has a lot of other data that we can bring into the IDEAS products. If we are talking about data centre build-out or data centre consolidation, not only can we help the CIO understand the vision, but we can go down to vendor selection, look at the architecture, and we can even print out a parts list for your preferred supplier.”

From an AR perspective, Hein doesn’t believe that the engagement model with IDEAS analysts will change significantly, although AR pros will now have to work through the Gartner vendor briefing process rather than directly with the analysts as they have in the past.

As the reach of both the vendor products (Competitive Profiles) and the end-user services (IDEAS Advantage, now Gartner Technology Planner for Technical Professionals) increases, the importance of vendors providing more comprehensive and accurate technical information will also increase.

“The data which is provided by vendors will be put into the hands of a lot more end-user organisations,” said Hein.





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