On Wednesday, January 10, 2018, AOTMP entered into an agreement to purchase Blue Hill Research and all of its assets, including existing employees: https://aotmp.com/aotmp-acquires-blue-hill-research. This is an interesting acquisition as AOTMP historically has been 100% focused on the Telecom Expense Management industry practitioners. In contrast, Blue Hill Research has a much wider focus on additional markets and the vendor community. The firm’s coverage includes areas beyond Telecom Expense Management, such as the Internet of Things, Mobility, Enterprise Analytics, Financial Operations, Governance Risk & Compliance, and Legal Technologies; Blue Hill Research clearly has a wider industry focus. Along with this wider industrial focus, Blue Hill Research also has a strong focus on marketers within the vendor community as a key buyer with a product set to match in areas like marketing content, infographics, Pod and Webcast.
Where Blue Hill Research has a strong vendor focus, AOTMP has a focus on industry practitioners (end-users). There are several ways that AOTMP can approach this acquisition as they merge the two organizations. As an example, over the years, the Telecom Expense Management industry has seen drastic changes and a push to move beyond data & telecommunications expense management. Telecom Expense Management originally started when organizations needed to get a grip on the rising cost of their overall landline communications expenses; they later shifted into data, wireless, and then wireless management. However, massive industry consolidation and fierce competition has essentially commoditized the market, and forced industry players to find the next frontier of industry growth. As part of this dynamic change, some have gone deeper into management, oversight, and procurement of mobile devices. Others have ventured into expanding deeper into IT departments looking to manage overall network assets and expense. As an example, the major industry organization TEMIA recently changed their names from “Telecom” Expense Management Industry Association to “Technology” Expense Management Industry Association. However, the jury is still out on whether this is the right direction or not for the industry as a whole. Some have even questioned the viability of the industry in future years for growth. With all of that said, the Blue Hill Research acquisition now gives AOTMP the flexibility to grow beyond the Telecom Expense Management industry into higher demand, faster paced industries.
Beyond the question of industry, the next area of focus is where to now draw their attention and business model. Again, AOTMP has historically had a focus on educating practitioners, where Blue Hill has been focusing on the vendor community with emphasis on marketers educating around the changing decision-making process in technology. In 2009, the IT industry went through a dramatic change in the way they purchased technology. Before the economic downturn of 2009, most IT departments were given their budget, and they made the decisions on what they thought was best for the overall organization. However, since then, power has shifted to the office of the CFO to make the final overall decisions, forcing the need for stronger ROI and business use-cases as part of the sales process. With this change, even with better business cases, you still ended up with financial decision-makers making decisions on items they have limited knowledge on. Furthermore, line of business who previously were not part of the decision process are now coming to the table with solutions of their own, bringing in IT to the decision-making process last minute. With this now complicated purchasing process, technology providers are struggling with this new buying process, and it’s leading to increased decision-making times and a growing list of lost opportunities. Blue Hill Research directed its attention on creating a research methodology focusing on these key decision-making groups, and helping to educate on the overall technological and financial benefits of a solution, along with guidance on the decision-making process. Integrating Blue Hill’s research methodology gives AOTMP a key advantage to move beyond the practitioners and further into vendor communities. They can do this while widening their focus to issues around the technology decision-making process—an area where traditional research firms seem to struggle in.
In summary, with the Telecom Expense Management industry struggling, the acquisition of Blue Hill Research may prove to be timely. This will ultimately allow AOTMP to expand beyond TEM, while widening its research portfolio and incorporating Blue Hill’s vendor and decision-making education methodology. The question is: what will they really do with the acquired assets?