Most of the companies which are generally referred to as “management consultants” have their roots in accounting or numbers.
In recent years, however, these management consultants have had to deal with numbers of a different sort, albeit at a high level.
The most important new numbers are zero and one because they are the two components that make up the language of computers, which is at the heart of virtually all technology today. And, as a consequence, accountants who became managements have now become technology consultants, or tech analysts.
In today’s bewildering world making sense of technology – what it is and how it can best be applied to a particular enterprise – can be a complex and time-consuming job.
Generally a tech analyst will not only understand technology, they will be able to explain it in simple terms and describe how it applies to a particular business, perhaps a client. Larger tech analyst firms can go even further and implement tech solutions, building software and hardware solutions along the way to making everything work.
Below is the EM360º list of the top 10 tech analyst firms according to their revenues and tech capabilities. The list also considers the power of the company’s brand name, its events and networking offerings, as well as the influence its more well-known analysts wield.
We have not included the supermassive management consultancies such as Deloitte and PwC because they don’t specialise as much in technology, although that’s not to say it’s absent from their services.
1. IHS Markit
Information Handling Services and Markit were two very well-regarded consultancies which agreed a “merger of equals” back in 2016.
The combined IHS Markit generated almost $4 billion a year and has about 13,000 employees worldwide.
The reason why we’ve placed IHS Markit at the top is that, while it does provide traditional consultancy services, it has a huge range of software on offer, and can build custom applications for clients.
Even though the underlying business is full of complexity, its presentation makes accessing its services seem simple and immediately useful.
Gartner would probably top most consultancy lists simply on the basis of brand recognition, the company is so well known. It is said to wield enormous influence on buying decision in tech and in other sectors.
Generating $3.3 billion a year with 15,000 employees, the US company says it has more than 12,000 customers or “partner” organisations in more than 100 countries.
Technology features heavily in the many conferences it organises, and regularly publishes analyses of broad tech trends.
Compared to the top two in our list, Forrester Research is small in terms of revenue, although $300 million a year is obviously not exactly a small amount.
It also has far fewer staff, at around 1,350. In terms of revenue per employee, it probably compares favourably to the top two.
Forrester emphasises depth of analysis using vast amounts of data, which is probably why it appears to be confident about predictions about the future – something it does frequently.
The company calls 2018 “a year of reckoning”, a time when companies will be required to deal with the transition to digital companies while maintaining corporate identities.
International Data Corporation, better known as IDC, is a smaller company than those higher on this list, but its tech history is probably the most relevant.
Right from the outset, when it was established in the 1960s, it created a database using IBM resources. It then charged other companies for the use of that database.
It’s a business model that is in use today more than ever, but back then not many companies were developing it with as much clarity as IDC.
Today, the company is rather private, and not much is public about its finances and operations. It has anywhere between 1,000 and 5,000 employees and operates in all major markets worldwide.
5. HfS Research
Another small and nimble tech analyst, HfS highly regarded in the industry and has recently won many plaudits and awards.
In recent months it’s been monitoring the developing blockchain, among other technologies such as automation, artificial intelligence, digital business models and smart analytics.
HfS also has what looks to be a unique or at least unusual approach in the way it packages its services, through offerings such as “ “As-a-Service Economy” and “OneOffice”, which it has actually trademarked.
It also has what it calls a “ThinkTank” model of collaboration, and takes particular interest in data products on the future of operations and IT services across industries.
Everest has such a high profile – no pun intended – that you probably wouldn’t think it has just around 150 employees, which is far less that most of the companies on this list.
But, like IDC, its history is very technology-oriented, having started out as a software company.
The company specialises in “making better use of data” by digitising clients’ businesses and controlling their costs.
It publishes regular insights into a variety of sectors, including technology.
As its name suggests, Digital Clarity aims to make digital business clear to its customers, and tackles some of the perplexing questions of the day.
Among them are the many questions around the General Data Protection Regulation, the EU directive which is causing so much upheaval in the economy now.
It also deals with subjects that are perhaps less widely discussed, such as direct-to-consumer commerce in the manufacturing sector.
Understanding digital technologies will be essential if more manufacturers are to reach their end customers directly, without any “middlemen”.
Parks Associates has been established since 1986, but it has seen strong growth in the past couple of years.
One of the reasons for this growth is its concentration on digital technologies for the home – whether it’s smart televisions, smart speakers, smart doorbells, or any other smart home device or appliance.
Some tech observers say that household items will become more and more “intelligent”, in that they will integrate more chips and sensors, and, inevitably, they will collect more data – about the machine itself as well as its environment.
This places Parks in the position of monitoring a massive and growing market.
With almost 2,000 employees around the world, Frost & Sullivan is larger than some companies but not as big as the leaders.
Its strengths include its fast response to market trends. So it’s a keen observer of the industrial sector where many changes have been taking place, particularly in relation the industrial internet of things.
Frost started out as a company which conducted research into new technologies and provided insights to make sense of them, which it still does.
Lately, it’s been interested in the convergence of technologies and how to use it to benefit its clients.
ISG probably deserves to be higher up this list since this is EM360º and we publish articles about technology and the digital enterprise.
ISG is steeped in technology and is particularly interested in advanced technology such as automation, robotics and autonomous transport systems.
Augmented and virtual reality also gets a lot of attention at ISG.
In summary, ISG, like all of the consultancies on this list – and the many we have not mentioned – is preoccupied with digital transformation, moving from the old world into the new.
What many may be wondering is whether moving to the new world required severing our connections with the old world, or whether the two can be bridged, and if so, which areas of the old economy will remain?