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There’s still plenty of upside for the analyst business in Asia/Pacific…

At first glance, the technology analyst business in Asia/Pacific looks pretty mature – the first global firms established their beachheads in the late 1970s, there are many analysts now who can measure their tenure in decades rather than years, and there has been an ongoing process of consolidation which is typical of maturing industries.

But when you look more closely, it seems that the analyst business in this part of the world is still under-penetrated. And by a fair degree….

The Asia/Pacific region is all about growth – everybody knows that. Not just for technology, but for everything – consumer goods, manufacturing, professional and personal services, airlines, you name it… Due to their sheer population size and rate of growth, China and India attract most of the attention, but there are plenty of smaller economies in Asia which are belting along while the US and Europe try to figure out whether they can pay their bills.

All this growth creates an appetite for technology, which is why so many global vendors have a strong focus on APJ. Many of them get their best growth figures from this region, quarter after quarter, and they don’t see that changing – Symantec’s regional senior VP, Bernard Kwok, was quoted today as saying that the company would double its business in the next five years.

Some big vendors aren’t even really here yet! Analysts tweeting out of Dreamforce today quoted Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff as saying that the company hadn’t entered China yet (although its website lists offices in Shanghai and Beijing). However you look at it, though, that vendor has hardly scratched the surface in APJ.

And then there are the local vendors…. Software and services suppliers from India, communications equipment vendors from China, the established hardware manufacturers from Japan and South Korea, and lots of start-ups right across the region developing applications, tools and solutions for their local markets.

Every analyst firm I talk to in this part of the world says business is good – they’re sharing in this growth, but not at the same levels as their clients. And when you break down the numbers around the analyst business in APJ, you get the feeling that there’s still plenty of upside, and those firms that ratchet up their level of investment are going to reap the benefits.

So let’s look at the numbers.

I’ve consolidated these from analyst firm websites and my own databases, and I regard them as good estimates, but they may not be 100% accurate. Indeed, the total analyst workforce numbers quoted on the firm websites appear to be “rounded” and may in fact understate the case, and some of them use vague terminology so it’s difficult to make exact comparisons.

IDC

There’s no doubt that IDC is the biggest technology analyst firm in APJ. It employs approximately 230 analysts who are located in 14 countries, accounting for something like 23 per cent of the “more than 1,000 analysts” that its website says it employs worldwide. Interestingly, IDC employs the same number of analysts in China – 45 – as it does in its Singapore regional headquarters, with Japan the next largest office, followed by Malaysia, then India.

 Gartner

Gartner established its first Asia/Pacific office in Australia in the late 1970s, just after IDC, and expanded progressively across the region. It added significant headcount with the acquisition of Dataquest in 1995, and the majority of its analyst hires more recently have been in China and India. Gartner employs approximately 120 analysts in APJ – out of a global total of 800, or 15 per cent – in offices in 10 countries. Japan is its largest office by analyst numbers, followed by Australia and India, with China still relatively small.

Forrester

Until its acquisition of Singapore-based Springboard Research in May last year, Forrester had very little presence in APJ – a couple of analysts in Australia, and one in Japan. There are now about 40 analysts & researchers employed by the firm in APJ, the majority of them in India, although it also has reasonable presence in Singapore, Australia and China. But this figure is just 9 per cent of its worldwide headcount of 450 “research professionals.”

 Ovum

Ovum employs the largest percentage of its analysts in APJ – just over one-quarter – but as a European firm, it doesn’t have a large number of analysts in North America. Its website says it employs 140 analysts and consultants worldwide, and about 36 are in APJ – primarily in India and Australia.

Frost & Sullivan

Frost’s website says it employs 1,800 analysts and consultants worldwide, but getting any insight on how many of those actually focus on technology – as opposed to the other industries Frost also researches – is pretty hard. In APJ, Frost’s technology focus is primarily on telecommunications, contact centre and some other specific segments such as information security, but the regional organisational structure is a little complex, and in some countries, analysts don’t specialise in a single industry or topic. I’d estimate about 70 fulltime technology analysts in APJ, but the number could be higher.

Apart from those five global firms, there are probably another 30 or so firms with some sort of analyst presence in APJ. As well as US and European firms which employ a handful of analysts in the region, this group includes advisory firms in Australia such as IBRS and Longhaus; Japanese “numbers houses” such as Yano and MIC; and the intriguing Chinese players such as CCID and Analysys International.

According to my friends at KCG, there are about 350 “real” analyst firms worldwide, which means that just 10 per cent of them have some sort of analyst presence in APJ. Granted, many of those firms are quite small, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t or shouldn’t be investing in the real growth opportunities that exist in this region.

There are plenty of gaps in the research portfolios of the larger firms too. For example, deep focus on technology in specific industries is limited, and very little attention is paid to non-traditional purchasers of technology. There are huge provincial markets in China for which there is very little good market intelligence, while coverage of emerging markets such as Vietnam has barely scratched the surface.

APJ is one of the major growth engines of the global economy for the foreseeable future, so you would think the analyst firms would be throwing resources at this region to cash in. That doesn’t seem to be the case, but maybe that will change – after all, it’s all upside.

Cheers,

Dave

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Andrew Milroy #

    Hi Dave

    Great blog. Your estimate of the number of full time APAC technology focused analysts at F&S is pretty accurate. In addition, we do have ‘pools’ of consultants that we sometimes use to support analyst activity.

    The view that we are telco-oriented is driven by the emphasis which we place on local business. This means that we focus heavily on engagements with telcos across the region as they have substantial local budgets. In many APAC countries, these are the only technology vendors with the resources to work with analyst firms. As you probably know, telcos demand research outside traditional voice and data. Indeed, we supply a lot of cloud and datacenter research to telcos across the region. In Japan and Korea, however, where there are many local technology firms, we do a lot of business with non telcos. Of course, we do work with US-based MNCs, but our focus is on targeting local, APAC, budgets which are often relatively small.

    Consequently, our coverage needs to be highly localized to meet very specific needs, which, in turn, means having analysts ‘on the ground’ in countries like Indonesia and Thailand.

    You have mentioned some of our key focus areas. I must add that our cloud and datacenter research has grown substantially and we are the leading provider of information in this area to numerous Asia headquartered organizations.

    I hope to catch up with you again soon.

    Andrew

    September 20, 2012
    • Dave Noble #

      Thanks Andrew,
      Glad I was in the ballpark!
      You’re right, I should have included the cloud/datacentre focus, because I’m aware of the increased number of analysts covering this is in the past couple of years. Thanks also for the additional insight around your business model – I didn’t have enough space to go into this in detail, but you’ve done a much better job than I would have in putting this into context 🙂
      cheers,
      Dave

      September 20, 2012

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