Virtual research firm hits town – from across Tasman

Former Gartner staff set up formal New Zealand branch of IBRS

Global trends in technology are important to both vendors and IT users but they don’t always translate into local requirements.

So when former Gartner man Nick Bowman set up his own research company, IBRS, in Australia four years ago, he decided on a very localised research agenda.

“I’d learned in my ten years in the business that organisations want affordable research and that they are starved of local content. When Gartner bought Meta Group it created a real gap in the market. A lot of CIOs were really annoyed about the Meta purchase because it took away that second opinion.”

Bowman was joined by two former Gartner analysts and today has a team of ten. They include John Hislop, who established Gartner in New Zealand in the 1990s, and Colin Boswell, who also worked for Gartner. Hislop has set up the formal New Zealand branch of IBRS.

“We’ve grown 300% in the past year,” Bowman says. Prominent new customers include National Australia Bank and the New Zealand Racing Board.

“Our analysts get their hands dirty — they’re also consultants. We don’t base our research around theory; it’s a lot more pragmatic than that.”

IBRS is a virtual company, thus reducing overheads by not having city offices. Thus, Bowman works from his home in Sydney’s Blue Mountains. “We’ve tried to stay agile,” he says. “We can turn around an inquiry in two to three days and we have a pro-active analyst programme where customers are called regularly. The customers have direct access to the analysts rather than having to go through a call centre. We’re not data-driven.”

He says the research company’s main strengths are in IT infrastructure, IT management, e-business and outsourcing.

“We’re finding a lot of organisations are going away from the big bang approach when it comes to outsourcing. Rather, there’s a focus on outsourcing specific parts of the business. That’s led to a whole new issue of vendor management practice.”

He identifies the current major issues in Australasia as virtualisation, storage, business continuity, customer relationship management, multi-sourcing and a shortage of skills.

“We’re working hard on how organisations can do more with the skills they have.”

Bowman began his working life as a bank teller, spending some years in banking before moving into IT at the urging of his father.

“I took a huge pay cut to get IT experience.”

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