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Insider Knowledge - Mark Newman

Mark Newman, Chief Research Officer of Informa Telecoms and Media talks with Kay Phelps, Informa Group media relations

Informa Telecoms and Media is perhaps one of Informa's most famous brands. Continuous coverage in the media means its analysts are renowned experts. If Apple, Vodafone or Google, for instance, make a market move, ITM analysts' know why.

Mark Newman, Chief Research Officer, has supported ITM through a dramatic evolution. "We've been leading the curve, because we've had to.
"We saw sales shrinking because of market changes and essentially we've gone where customers asked us to go. What makes us feel secure now is our relationships with customers. When I look back 10 years ago, we often didn't know why we had a good business. People bought stuff. Now, we're constantly questioning ourselves, keeping our wits. We are acutely aware of what customers think and nothing surprises us."

What does ITM do?

We deliver strategic insight, market data and forecasts in both the telecoms and media markets – with 65 analysts in 9 different research offices. Simply put, we help our customers – or global research partners - make better decisions. To do this, we deeply connect with both the markets we work in and our partners' business goals.
Our analysts often resolve a customer issue in a 5 minute phone call. If you can handle one simple request really well, that has as much value to a partner as reading a long report. Our business is to solve partner problems.

Where is ITM now? What is its history?

Until 3 years ago, 9 out of 10 employees worked in London. It would have been difficult to set up overseas. Now, for instance, we have people in Dubai, Johannesburg, Sao Paulo, Beijing and Singapore, using existing Informa offices. Most growth has come from emerging markets because Europe and North America are mature.
Our legacy was editorial - books and newsletters. But the bottom fell out of the market; the internet took value away from basic news provision and customers became more demanding as they needed to know what changes meant to them individually.
We had thousands of people buying low value products, now we have relatively few buying extremely high value products.

Is trust an issue?
Trust is hugely important. The way we work has changed. It used to be that someone told us something and we wrote an article for publication. These days, we have to be very careful what we do with information gained. We fiercely protect our independence, but also treat some information with great confidence. We are trusted advisers, it's all about relationships.

How do analysts impact the market?
Thought leadership is what we do. Lots of our work is about delivering strategy sessions to leaders in companies across the world. We give companies strategic direction and help solve basic issues. So if Company X has come into a market, what should our client be doing? We help them navigate.

How do the analysts impact the media?
It's probably best to ask how the media use us; they request our forecasts, data and thought leadership.
They may want to quote our data and get our views on trends or companies. So we may get asked whether telecoms can grow top line revenues. Or what is going to happen to SMS if people use WhatsApp, Twitter or Facebook? Or what is the relationship between internet and telecoms; is it harmonious or competitive?

So where is ITM heading now?

The biggest opportunities are in the emerging markets. Growth, to us, is about hiring more people. A person becomes a product, in a sense. If you have a fantastic analyst in Brazil, they become their own Profit and Loss, in effect.

How does ITM interact with other Informa businesses?

Informa runs about 100 telecoms event. With the events most aligned to us, we run analyst workshops, presentations or chair panel sessions. It's pure profile.
We have a research practice, 'enterprise verticals', where we produce research on Telecoms for consumers and business. Telecoms want to have dedicated services for healthcare, transportation or energy businesses, for instance. So, we are surveying customers from Lloyd's List, Scrip, potentially Agra, to research issues relating to ICT. It'll be a win win as we can each use the data.