When IT-Harvest launched in 2015 we had grand plans to reinvent the industry research business. I had had four years of experience as a Gartner analyst and was frustrated at the lack of access to data. Of course Gartner had DataQuest which had been acquired for $80 million from Dun and Bradstreet in 1995. When it came time to generate a Magic Quadrant we would ask for the latest list of vendors and their revenue in a certain space like Firewalls or IDS.
But DataQuest got its numbers by surveying vendors and it has to be acknowledged that vendors are not always completely forthright when it comes to self reporting numbers. At one point DataQuest was telling me that CA had the biggest market share in IDS even though they did not have a product page for IDS and I had never talked to anyone who used CA for IDS.
IT-Harvest was going to change all that. When we got started we hired a developer to create an elaborate data entry tool for recording details about all security vendors. My task was to find them and assign them to a category. Our researchers, primarily located in Salt Lake City, would use the tool to fill in office locations, products, and key executives. Within six months we had compiled a database of 1,200 vendors and offered a subscription to that data for $4,500/year.
We were successful in getting subscribers but a strange thing happened. Not a single person ever logged into the tool we had invested so much in developing. They saw the real value in having access to the analyst–me! So, after a brief hiatus, when I suspended IT-Harvest to be CMO of Fortinet, we abandoned the elaborate tools and subscription model and went with the traditional analyst model of retained access, white paper generation, speaking, and strategic engagements.
But I still need that data. Over the last several months we have repopulated the database. We are already learning a few things. There are now 1,930 vendors in our database and more to add as we discover them. I have developed a methodology for estimating company size that will be used to create market scope reports, which we will sell at a fraction of the $5-9K typically charged by market research firms. Those reports will be created quarterly so we will be able to extract trends from the data.
We will not use surveys at all. I have too many friends in the analyst relations profession to submit them to yet another lengthy spreadsheet to fill out. Besides, my numbers come from outside data so will not be subject to subterfuge like reporting revenue based on list price instead of actual sales.
There are lots of ways to skin the industry analyst cat. There are several attempts to crowd source product and company information. There are subject matter expert dating sites. And of course there are the Gartners, Forrestors, IDCs, and Ovums. IT-Harvest will continue to focus on the IT security industry as it grows at 24% a year. If we can keep pace we will be doing well.