A subtle, but decisive, shift took place in the sourcing advisory landscape today, as Alsbridge’s announced the acquisition of leading telecoms/networking sourcing advisor, Telwares.
This move firmly places Alsbridge as the main contender to ISG at the helm of the independent boutique advisor market, and follows Alsbridge’s acquisition of telecoms procurement outfit TAG, in early 2010, to place the Dallas-based firm as the lead advisor in telecoms and networking sourcing.
This dovetails nicely with Albridge’s strengths in IT infrastructure sourcing consultancy and its overall competency in price-benchmarking. As CEO Ben Trowbridge told us yesterday, “Transforming the network is right at the guts of Cloud computing. This is where we intend to develop our expertise with the addition of Telwares”.
Why this matters
Loads of data. Ben Trowbridge claims he now has 385,000 datapoints for networking procurement by adding Telwares to his existing data.
Decouples the RFP process from pricing support. If you ask a legacy advisor to run a telecom deal for you, their only likely solution would be to issue an RFP to the likes of AT&T and Verizon and play them off to get you some price-points. Firstly, this will likely set you back a few hundred grand – and take weeks to complete. Secondly, the pricing is often hard to standardize and can come in all sorts of funky formats. If advisors can pull/model this data from their existing datapools, they are going to save clients a ton of time and money.
Caters for the wizening client. Most IT and procurement leads are more accustomed and becoming increasingly proficient at running more of the sourcing process themselves. They do not want to “crack a walnut with a sledgehammer” each time they need some data or advice. Advisors such as Alsbridge are adapting and catering for their changing market, which is why they have continued to grow during the tough environment of recent years, while many of their competitors have dwindled, or disappeared altogether.
Positions Alsbridge as a mid-size consulting organization, ahead of the pack of minnows. Telwares adds a further 60 consultants to the Alsbridge family, making it 175 in total, with sizeable revenues. The firm can now set itself apart from the other boutiques in the space (all of whom are struggling to break $10m in annual revenues) and can stand up aggressively to ISG in bake-offs for enterprise business – especially in the IT infrastructure and telecoms/networking domains.
Where next for Alsbridge
You only need to take a quick glance at ISG’s stock price, which recently slumped by 20% to barely a dollar a share, to understand sourcing advisory is a commodotizing business. The only way forward is to move beyond mere “RFP administration” and provide organizations with realtime data that is affordable, and does not take weeks to gather upon request. In addition, it’s about helping clients move beyond their myopic obsession with cost to understand more about the business outcomes and realistic forms of innovation they can accomplish when sourcing their business and IT processes.
Ben Trowbridge and his primary business partner, Mort Meyerson, have clearly realized that acquisition is going to provide much of their future growth in the consulting space, and have benefited well from picking up ProBenchmark, TAG, and Everest’s Outsourcing Center in recent years. Telwares represents their largest venture yet. The firm now has considerable scale and depth in the IT and telecoms domains – surely its next move has to be to bolster its presence in the process and business transformation strategy areas.
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Is it coincidental that ISG’s stock has hit an all-time-low today? It may be below a buck before the day is out…