COLONY: Five years ago we were kind of the mini-Gartner in the marketplace. We spent a lot of time that year examining who we were, who our customers were and what our strengths were. And at that point we felt like the decision was to either compete with Gartner on what they do – to be the the Toyota to their GM – or to markedly differentiate from them.
I see Gartner focusing on back end technologies, where we’ve moved into front end technologies and consumer-facing parts of the business. We’ve taken multiple tacks away from Gartner in recent years, and the SiriusDecisions acquisition makes that differentiation even more clear.
So how has that transition to more consumer-facing areas changed your business?
In the future, every company will be a software company. And we definitely plan to be more of an analytics and software company. SiriusDecisions is the first real platform technology we’ve acquired, and we’re developing another platform that will be a customer experience cloud suite.
What we’ve heard from customers is that biannual or quarterly market research and brand surveys are insufficient. Brands don’t want to retrospectively grade customer experience like that, they want real-time monitoring and response capabilities.
What will be in the customer experience cloud service?
Earlier this year we bought FeedbackNow (a manufacturer of physical buttons that offers immediate feedback on a store, venue or restroom – perhaps you’ve seen the red, yellow and green button displays). That’s one real-world data source. We also acquired GlimpzIt this year to be the AI and machine learning technology that powers the cloud solution.
We’ll also embed our software in clients’ apps and sites. All of that gets taken into the cloud, and then can be pushed out through integrations with Oracle’s, Salesforce’s or SAP’s CRM solution.
There’s more competition with the bigger consultancies and with independent media and advertising consultants. How does that crowded field affect Forrester?
It’s interesting because the agencies are acquiring technology companies and the consultancies like Deloitte and Accenture are buying marketing firms. We do see consultancies and agencies competing at times, but I’d call them frenemies. Often those companies, or the companies they’re buying, are customers of ours. So if there’s a war on between those businesses, then we’re selling the howitzers.