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Ovum’s three-pronged strategy to increase its relevance in Asia/Pacific

Ovum is planning to up its commitment to the Asia/Pacific region with a three-pronged strategy – translating current research into Chinese; increasing the level of primary research conducted at a country level; and selective recruitment of analysts and support staff.

Speaking during a visit to Australia last week, the global firm’s managing director, Brett Azuma, acknowledged that Ovum had not met the needs of clients in China and other parts of the region by only delivering its research in English, and so was now focusing on providing services and support in other languages.

Best known for its focus on telecommunications, Ovum also has solid coverage of enterprise IT – primarily software & services. In APJ, its major concentrations of analysts are in Australia and India, with other analysts and consultants scattered throughout the region. In Australia, it has a strong analyst roster focused on telco, IT services & cloud, public sector and financial services, while its Indian analysts are primarily focused on telco and enterprise solutions.

Azuma said that Ovum had hired a marketing assistant in China to initiate the translation project, which will involve machine translation of reports and summaries, with manual verification. Its marketing website, Ovum.com, will also be translated into Chinese.

“We’re planning a Chinese language version of the Knowledge Centre. Although not every report will be translated, there will be the ability to request reports in Chinese. By making translated report summaries available, our non-English reading audience will be able to identify reports of interest to them. We also produce a great deal of quantitative research which requires considerably less translation to make it useable for our clients,” he said.

“If we’re serious about making an impact in China, then we realise that considerable investment will be needed, and we’re 100% committed to make this happen.”

While there is plenty of technology research available in Chinese, most of it is produced in China for local consumption, or to assist multinational vendors with China market entry. Ovum’s decision to deliver global research into China in local language is an unusual one – and a fairly bold one – which will differentiate it from its key competitors.

Azuma said that Ovum was actively recruiting in China, but didn’t talk about specific roles or numbers. However, he did say that language skills are important and it will play a major factor in the recruitment process globally.

“Vertical expertise is country or at least regionally -specific, so we will have country/regional experts based in the AP region, he said.  Beyond the focus on China, Ovum is also increasing the volume of primary demand-side research it conducts across the region – and around the world. It uses its own survey platform and designs the questionnaires, but outsources the data collection & consolidation.

“AP was the first region in which we conducted a vast array of country-specific primary research, which we packaged up as CIO Executive Insights. This has been highly successful and now serves as an excellent template to roll out to the rest of the world,” Azuma said.

The firm is also looking to deepen its engagement with vendors and service providers through a focus on sales enablement with its lead generation product, ICT Sales Prospector.

“This is part of a long-term trend towards diversifying our product set, which helps our vendor clients sell more effectively, and allows our enterprise customers to buy more effectively,” Azuma said.

Taken individually, each of these tactics is interesting, but hardly a game-changer. Collectively, though, they have the potential to increase the relevance of Ovum in many countries across a region which remains under-penetrated and under-supported.

As always, the challenge lies in the execution. From a headcount perspective, Ovum has roughly the same number of analysts in APJ as Forrester, with both of them a long way below IDC, Gartner and Frost & Sullivan.

Finding the people with the right skillsets to increase that number will not be easy, nor will breaking into markets such as China, where insight & advice from external consultants is not valued as highly as it is in western countries. But if the analyst business in the APJ region is to continue to grow, then it’s a worthy goal.

What do you think? Will Ovum’s strategy work? What other challenges will they face? Join the discussion below.

Cheers,

Dave

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