Martin Kuppinger, founder, and principal analyst at KuppingerCole Analysts tells us about information security analysis.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Martin Kuppinger: Well. The easiest way to weather that phase is by accepting what you can’t change and sticking to the rules. Make the best out of that time and enjoy the positive side-effects such as spending more time in nature. Even during the pandemic, there are bright sides to life – look at these.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded KuppingerCole Analysts.
Martin Kuppinger: My IT career in fact started back in the 1980s, during studying economics, where I first started giving computer classes and, soon after, writing articles and books. I spend a good decade in that area. Back in 2004, after spending a period in a “new economy” start-up, I founded together with two partners KuppingerCole, which we grew since then.
How does KuppingerCole Analysts innovate?
Martin Kuppinger: Continuous innovation is part of every successful business. But clearly, the pandemic increased pressure for rapid adoption, specifically in our events and advisory business. Virtual events instead of on-site events and remote collaboration instead of workshops at the customer-required changes. This also affects research, which must be even more interwoven with the other areas than before. Innovation is a process that involves everyone in our company. We commonly work in teams of people on the ideas, with someone of these teams taking lead and responsibility. I dare to say that the way we innovate hasn’t changed much during the pandemic, but it became way more intense, with more collaboration amongst teams.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Martin Kuppinger: As aforementioned, not being able to run our flagship event European Identity Conference (EIC) in 2020, but shifting to even more virtual formats has been a consequence of that. We always did virtual events such as webinars, but the type and density of these events changed. We’ve developed new formats and feel that we are spearheading this evolution in events. But we continue with innovation and don’t relax – there are so many good opportunities, and we are working hard on leveraging these.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Martin Kuppinger: I don’t think we’ve had to make difficult choices. We clearly had and have to focus, as always in business. For the lessons learned: My most important is that good audio and video are essential for success in every type of online event. Looking at the market, the fact that we can combine both the ability to run innovative, leading-edge events and that we provide our own content and leadership gives us a strong position you can’t get if you do only the one or the other. You either struggle with the rapid delivery of high-quality content or with the production of high-quality events.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Martin Kuppinger: Given that we had a virtual workstyle in our organization before, tools such as Teams or Zoom or virtual whiteboards haven’t been new to us. The biggest change comes from way more equipment for audio, video, and light, and for producing and delivering content. With respect to management skills, I’d also say that there was no fundamental change, but we continued working the way we did before: Always innovate, work with teams, give the teams and their leaders responsible for delivering results.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Martin Kuppinger: Due to the three pillars of our business, we have three types of competitors. There are other analyst companies. There are event organizers. And there are consultancies. We are a boutique analyst with global visibility, focused on the (IT-related) topics driving Digital Transformation, and continue on strengthening this position by innovative research and addressing the right topics. This is a process of continuous innovation. For events, the mix of hybrid and purely virtual events combined with our own research and thought leadership is the foundation to differentiate from the others. Last not least, in advisory, we benefit from having our own research on vendors, products, or trends on hand. This gives us a competitive advantage. The combination of all three areas, delivering content, creating and supporting communities, and supporting organizations in change – content, community, change – is what benefits from our strengths in all areas, but where specifically our customers benefit from us being able to deliver more than just a report, an event, or an advisory, but broader and integrated perspectives.
Your final thoughts?
Martin Kuppinger: The pandemic will come to an end, the virus is here to stay. But even when returning back to normal, this will be a new normal. More virtual, more driven by continuous innovation. This is where we feel that we are well-positioned and where we will continue to grow.