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Constellation links with ITR to enter Japanese research market

Constellation Research has continued its foray into the APJ region with the signing of a research partnership with highly-regarded Japanese end-user advisory firm, ITR, which recently dissolved its long-standing association with Forrester Research.

Under the agreement, ITR will have access to Constellation’s full portfolio of research, which focuses on innovation & disruptive technologies, including digital marketing transformation, the future of work, consumerisation of IT, big data & analytics, and matrix commerce.

R Wang_0According to Constellation CEO & principal analyst, R “Ray” Wang, ITR will highlight Constellation’s Research in translated Japanese-language summaries for its monthly report ITR Review. From there,“we will work with them to provide the right package and access for the market,” he said.

Joint research projects are not out of the question, although Wang declined to provide details at this stage, saying only that they would “align with Constellation’s research themes.”

The choice of ITR as a Japanese partner is an interesting, but unsurprising choice.

Established in 1994, ITR has a long history of partnering with global research firms. Six months after incorporation, it entered into an agreement with Gartner, acting as its Japan research centre. This relationship lasted until December 1997, when the principals decided to revert to independent status, focused on research & consulting for the Japanese market.

A year later, ITR entered into a sales & research agreement with META Group, but this ended a few months after META was acquired by Gartner in December 2004 (perhaps not surprising). In June 2005, ITR developed a business relationship with Forrester, which largely revolved around translating & repackaging Forrester content for its local clients, as Forrester also had its own sales office in the country.

Initially, the Constellation arrangement looks quite similar, though it is likely that the relationship will evolve further.

ITR is an interesting firm because it has always operated as a buy-side advisory firm in a market where external advice is not always valued. It has a comparatively small roster of analysts (relative to Gartner & IDC in Japan), but they are generally considered knowledgeable, experienced & solid. Its penetration of end-user accounts is pretty much blue-chip in Japanese terms, and preceded Gartner’s more recent deeper engagement outside the technology manufacturing sector in Japan.

“ITR has a history of pioneering the IT research space.  We are honored to be their partner in Japan. Constellation’s focus on how to apply disruptive technologies to new business models and ITR’s sterling reputation, give clients an opportunity to collaborate on how new technologies will transform business models. We look forward to working with ITR to create new opportunities for companies in Japan to take advantage of disruptive technologies and business models,” said Wang in the firm’s press release.

The alliance is the latest in a series of forays outside Constellation’s US base, with the establishment of a market presence in India in 2012 and the appointment of an Australian analyst, Gavin Heaton, to lead the firm’s digital marketing transformation research only a few months ago. Wang said Constellation would continue to look for opportunities in the APJ region, as well as expanding into Latin America this year.

Like the previous moves, this announcement is not hugely significant in of itself. Rather, it is another indication of the subtle changes occurring in the analyst business, and plays to two key trends we’ve highlighted in previous posts – the huge opportunity that still exists in the APJ market, and the shift to focus on non-traditional IT buyers, as highlighted by Forrester’s push into APJ with its marketing & strategy programs.

One of Constellation’s key differentiators – which has both supporters and detractors – is its strong focus on engagement via social media, and it is unlikely that will translate well into a non-English market where social media usage patterns are starkly different. It will be interesting to watch how Constellation & ITR adapt these new business models in a mature IT market which still has a fairly conservative approach to analyst research.

Cheers,

Dave

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