Aiming to be the Costco of tech research and consulting

Aiming to be the Costco of tech research and consulting

I believe the first time I quoted Gary Rowe in a Network World article – a print one at that – was back in July of 1991, when he was an AT&T email services director and the focus was the very glamorous topic of X.500 directories. Fast forward to 2015, I’m still with Network World and Rowe has moved on to form a new consulting and analysis firm called TechVision Research, and sure enough, when we reconnected recently, we found ourselves talking once again about some of the same themes, including identity management and privacy.

That’s not to say, of course, that the enterprise and broader technology scene hasn’t changed dramatically over the years. Why the Web was just getting off the ground and Google was years away from forming when Rowe and I first met. But one thing that hasn’t changed a lot, claims Rowe, is the market research and consulting business.

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In his view, you still have your high-end firms like Gartner (which bought the Burton Group consultancy, which Rowe led, back in 2010), IDC (a Network World sister site company) and Forrester. He compared these outfits to the Nordstroms and Saks Fifth Avenues of the retail world, providing good quality at a premium price. Then at the other end of the spectrum you have what he equated to garage sale-like consulting and research offerings, where good deals can be found, but you take your chances. What TechVision is shooting for is to be somewhere in the middle, the Costco of this market, offering high quality research at attractive enterprise-wide pricing so that it can be accessed by anyone within a client’s organization (no per-seat pricing). TechVision is targeting Global 2000 companies on the IT user side, though will also serve tech vendors.

Members of Rowe’s team include the likes of Fred Cohen, who came up with the term “computer virus,” Bill Bonney, recently director of information security and compliance at Intuit, and Noreen Kendle, who played key roles in enterprise infrastructure projects at organizations such as Delta Air Lines and The Home Depot. Rowe says TechVision won’t have analysts in ivory towers, but rather, everyone will be hands on.

“We’re addressing a gap in the market partly created by the sale of the Burton Group to Gartner,” he says, and in fact quite a few of TechVision’s 20 or so employees have Burton roots (Rowe is quick to defend Gartner’s acquisition of Burton as well). “We’re not positioning ourselves to replace Gartner at all, that would be business suicide. But we are a viable second source in those areas we cover,” says Rowe, whose team is largely based in the United States, scattered across the country.

Among the firm’s early reports are those on the future of identity management, for which Rowe has interviewed about a dozen industry leaders from the vendor (including Kim Cameron at Microsoft and Eric Sachs at Google) and customer side to get a broad perspective on the topic. ID management has become increasingly complex, he says, as it is hooked into everything from security to mobile networking to the Internet of Things. “How is this going to scale when we from hundreds of thousands or millions of objects in a direction in an IoT world, to billions or even trillions?” he ponders.

TechVision is also exploring new directions in which development is going, including containerization and microservices architectures. “Some of it’s not sexy, but it’s fundamental to where organizations are going,” Rowe says.

Speaking of not sexy, the aforementioned topic of X.500 directories likely won’t be anything TechVision will need to delve into even though Rowe and others on his team are experts on the subject. However, Rowe did mention one big prospect in the energy field that is looking to refresh a 10-year-old identity management architecture and roadmap.

“It’s funny because a lot of problems that existed with data silos, things that drove metadirectories and the standardization of LDAP directories over the years…a lot of those problems still aren’t solved,” Rowe says. “Part of the future is cleaning up some of the stuff that has been there for a long time.”

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