R "Ray" Wang recently launched a new analyst firm called Constellation Research. Here Wang talks with CMSWire about the new firm and the landscape of disruptive technology.

Last week news about R “Ray” Wang’s new all-star analyst firm Constellation Research lit up headlines, tweets and chatter at the Enterprise 2.0 Santa Clara conference.

R “Ray” Wang is the blogger of Software Insider and former star analyst with Altimeter Group. He’s now CEO of Constellation -- a firm that features 11 analysts and 5 advisors all of whom have been recognized in their own right.

Constellation Research analysts include Sovos Group’s Sameer Patel and Oliver Marks. The advisory board features CRM and Social CRM superstars Paul Greenberg, Chief Customer Officer for BPT Partners and founder of the 56 Group, in addition Esteban Kolsky, Principal of ThinkJar.

The firm covers eight areas of disruptive technology including: mobile, social, analytics and game theory, unified communications and video, internet of things, legacy optimization and lastly industry specific research in Next Gen Government and Customer Experience for Services Based Industries.

In this interview for CMSWire Wang talks about the challenge with legacy analyst firms, his new firm and the state of disruptive technology.


photo source constellation.org

Blake Landau: What inspired you to create Constellation Research?

R “Ray” Wang: Constellation features a team of solid independent analysts. Before Constellation there was no way for clients to access a portfolio of experts who could provide pragmatic advice on disruptive business problems. The inspiration for the firm came from the experience at Altimeter Group. There is a market for services that provide an alternative model—an open research model focused on consulting.

BL: What counter-intuitive conversations are missing right from the boardroom as it relates to social business?

RW: There is a gap between disruptive technologies and the knowledge and comfort level in the boardroom. Business models today are being destroyed and rewritten every day.

Companies don’t know how to adopt disruptive technologies—how to make them successful and scalable. Look at Facebook in the enterprise—most people didn’t think Facebook had a role in the enterprise space. Now companies are leveraging innovation from the consumer world. Social, mobile, analytics and the cloud are coming together to impact business models.

BL: What do you think about the Facebook announcement this week?

RW: While the Facebook announcement seems significant, it isn’t because the Facebook user doesn’t use only email. Facebook email for the enterprise is not safe or secure. Facebook is still just a platform.

BL: Do you think Facebook is the biggest CRM platform today?

RW: Facebook could be THE biggest CRM database today but if Facebook abuses that they could lose the trust of their users over night.

BL: Do you think Facebook has already lost the trust of its users?

RW: Consumers were tainted but there was no real impact. There are increasingly more information trails. That being said, in the future there will be room for services that conceal a user’s location and identity.

Instead of having one profile and having to mask profiles for different usages—you will manage identities centrally. This is different than consumer behavior. Some people today are just checking into 15 locations at the same time to confuse cell towers.

BL: Let’s focus on analyst firms. How would you describe the old model of technology research?

RW: The old model would take a coverage area, define it and try to put the cheapest research they could to cover the space. Today’s customers are looking for rich practitioner experience and deep industry experiences--people who’ve worked with a client base. More companies today become corporatized--they answer to a different tune.

In general the business model is designed around corporate stability and profits. Constellation differentiates through tailored programs and customer experience.

For buy-side clients we are focusing on quarterly trends and thinking about where customers are in terms of adoption technology. We are focused on pairing change management, vendor selection and customer roadmaps. Another difference is it’s heavily dependent on compartmentalized experts and micro-verticals covering very specific job roles. There is a place for that—but we are not trying to compete in that market.

We are focused on connecting the dots. For example how would a CIO interact with a CMO -- and a CMO with a Product Officer? What do those interactions look like? We are focusing on things such as the impact of the cloud  -- the old world of ERP -- how does the cloud make a difference?

We are looking at other areas in addition to social software. These include the impact of mobile and location based services, social, analytics, game theory, unified communications and video. We want to take clients from an existing state to legacy optimization.

BL: How is Constellation Research different than the old firm model?

RW: Large firms have the opportunity to balance a portfolio of vendors. This includes favoritism. In order to maintain objectivity we should create webinars and thought leadership papers that evangelize concepts or business ideas. The other way to avoid favoritism is to change the mix of clients.

We are shooting for a 60-70 percent end user client list. We deliver better service when we take an end user point of view. This is very much an end user driven model.

BL: You were at Enterprise 2.0 this month--what delighted you about the event regarding the content and the speakers?

RW: Enterprise 2.0 is a great place to talk to practitioners. It helps in understanding what is working for companies. Questions are addressed such as “How is the business going to get adoption to work? How are you selling this? Who is funding what types of projects?” These offer a great point of view on end user business cases and failures.

BL: What kind of broader impact do you hope to have with Constellation Research?

RW: The big impact occurs if we can make a difference with how our clients view disruptive technologies. We want to help them understand when to adopt technology and when not to. In fact knowing when to not adopt is the more strategic piece. People generally have very little bandwidth, time and political capital to make the case for a new technology.

BL: It is widely acknowledged that the social business software space is crowded. Who do you think will thrive five years out and why?

RW: The notion of social business software will go away like ecommerce did--in addition to every other fad. But some elements will remain including connecting different types of users. Eventually the world of b2b and b2c will go away. We will be living in a p2p world. Eventually the individual will play multiple roles within a given company and the software has to understand that. In addition companies have to understand that.

The rules of business have changed. I am writing a book about this called The Rules of Business Beyond Social. The third thing is the fact that consumer technologies have a huge impact on the enterprise. The thinking has shifted. Social is now a way of life--now people assume you are connected. We are in an exciting stage--partly because of the current economic conditions. Businesses need to rethink their role and how they work with customers.

You can follow R Ray Wang on Twitter at Rwang0.