In my Part One posting, I shared commentary on the changing business model of providing industry analyst services catered to global supply chain process and technology selection needs.

In this posting I will focus on various implications for Gartner’s integration plans involving AMR Research and what they may mean for your firm’s specific supply chain research needs.

 Gartner’s Integration Plans for AMR

Specifics as to how Gartner will ultimately integrate AMR into its existing business model will not be completely clear until the acquisition agreement is consummated.  A Gartner webcast directed to the AR was held this morning and did shed more aspects to Gartner’s intent going forward.  There are many in the blogsphere who are speculating on how the integration model would evolve. I tend to believe Gartner would not be prudent in deciding to phase-out the AMR brand, and that was clearly stated by two of the Gartner senior executives participating in this mornings briefing.

AMR’s greatest asset is its 45 analysts, the actual core of its intellectual capital. Gartner executives will very clear this morning in stating their firm’s greatest respect for the AMR brand and unmatched research directed at supply chain functional audiences.  In my view, they acknowledged that dedicated research advisory services targeting you, the global supply chain community has definite value.  My takeaway is that at least in this point of time, Gartner’s strategic intent is to operate AMR as a separate boutique-like research company operating under the Gartner umbrella of research services.  The acquisition in essence will allow Gartner to leverage the AMR brand through its globally based sales and services platform. What that will mean to the long-term pricing of these services is an obvious open question.  Supply chain professionals should look to those responsible for industry analyst relations to try to assess long-term pricing implications

The notions of integrating research among Gartner’s existing combined ERP and supply chain practice which currently contains approximately 25 analysts, with AMR’s existing ERP and supply chain analysts was also addressed and somewhat put to rest.  Gartner’s senior vive president of research. Peter Sondergaard stated Gartner’s clear intent is to retain all of AMR’s research analysts and to maintain the AMR research as a separate and distinct research organization. Gartner executives also noted that the AMR office in Boston will remain.

Another area of concern would be AMR’s current coverage of supply chain strategy challenges with specific industries, for instance high tech, consumer electronics or life sciences.  That seems to be very unclear at this point, since Gartner’s industry research model is focused more to the IT community.  .

AMR’s other noted value was its high-touch client model, where clients could gain timely access to an individual analyst. My own experiences as a product marketing executive in dealing with Gartner analysts, or attending a Gartner conference along with thousands of other attendees, are that one-on-one analyst contact is a rather difficult challenge, and when you do get that access, the analyst is often under enormous time pressures to get to the next appointment. Gartner acknowledges this as a best practice, and at least at this point is willing to explore this as a continuing aspect of the AMR business model. Gartner executives also acknowledged the value of AMR’s dedicated supply chain conferences, and flatly stated that the AMR 2010 Spring Supply Chain Conference will continue as planned.  There were additional statements noting that there may be discussion to replicate the dedicated supply chain conference model for European and Asian audiences as well.

Gartner’s press release outlining the acquisition specifically notes that one of the attractions of this deal was the opportunity to both upsell AMR clients with broader Gartner services, and cross-sell Gartner’s existing clients with specialized manufacturing and supply chain services.  This obviously implies maintaining the AMR brand, but I wonder how many existing AMR clients, whether sole AMR or already existing Gartner clients, will take kindly to a barrage of up-sell or cross-sell thrusts. I tend to agree with Lighthouse in the notion that some existing Gartner clients who are AMR clients will initially demand AMR services be bundled and not incremental. Exiting AMR clients, who’s contracts expire in December, may have to determine whether renewal to lock-in the 2010 AMR pricing makes business sense, or wait until the acquisition closes to leverage both services.

Acquisitions are also motivated and fueled with the need to garner additional cost and efficiency savings. One can speculate that back office editorial and office services staff will be targeted for consolidation, and AMR analysts will be asked to do more.  The differences in corporate culture are stark, and take it from me, analysts do not take kindly to compromising the quality of their research or access to clients.  If existing AMR analysts later decide to move on, than the depth of the IP for manufacturing and supply chain may well be compromised.  Gartner had better pay close attention to making this integration a win-win for all.

Again, if your firm is an existing AMR client, or both an AMR and Gartner client, insure that your analyst relations or product marketing teams are paying due attention to how this integration is progressing, and who analyst are reacting to the change.

And as always, you can continue to turn to blogs such as Supply Chain Matters for timely information and viewpoint. In our Part Three posting, we will share comments on evolution of new advisory models.

 Bob Ferrari