Gartner buying AMR Research in $64 million deal

The move will boost Gartner's hand in supply-chain expertise

Gartner announced Monday that it is buying AMR Research for US$64 million, in the latest acquisition by the giant IT research firm. The deal is expected to be completed this month.

AMR is known for its emphasis on supply chain management. It has roughly 40 analysts and 45 sales representatives, and is on track to gross $40 million this year, according to Gartner.

Publicly traded Gartner dwarfs AMR in size, reporting $1.28 billion in revenue in 2008. Part of Gartner's growth came through acquisitions, such as its 2004 purchase of META Group for $162 million.

Even though AMR is being swallowed into a much larger organization, its customers will see no disruptions as a result of the acquisition, AMR Chief Research Officer Bruce Richardson said in a blog post Monday.

"Your research, client services, and sales contacts will remain the same. All are being retained by Gartner," he wrote. No changes will be made to AMR's research agenda or current schedule of events, he added.

There are many positive aspects to the acquisition for AMR, including the chance to address a larger audience and provide clients with truly global support, as AMR has operations in just the U.S. and UK, compared to Gartner's worldwide reach, he said.

AMR will also be able to expand the number of verticals it covers, Richardson said.

Analysts from smaller firms offered mixed perspectives on the news Monday.

"This transaction essentially makes one big guy bigger, and removes a second from the marketplace, so it certainly changes the analyst landscape in general," said Stephen O'Grady, co-founder of Redmonk.

"That said, we're pretty highly differentiated from both, in that our research focus, our audience and to a certain extent, our customer base, is distinct from either Gartner or AMR's. As a result, I don't imagine we'll shift strategies."

Major analyst firms like Gartner, IDC and Forrester tend to speak to CIOs and other top IT executives, O'Grady said. "Our view is that [technology] adoption is increasingly driven bottom-up rather than top-down. ... As a result, we're most concerned with developers, which means that we tend to be more ahead of the curve than the big guys."

The deal foretells a wave of change in the IT analyst market, according to Jason Busch of Spend Matters, which provides information and services to buyers and vendors of supply chain and procurement software.

"Consolidation will create fewer voices from existing and even new players that continue to adhere to legacy business models. This will in turn open up the industry to new approaches," he wrote in a blog post.

"The market for non-customized paid technology content will continue to decline unless the research is highly focused around a specific vertical or category."

"With the rise of blogs and expert, in-depth downloadable content, I believe that in-depth analysis that's paid for by those looking for leads will continue to gain favor relative to per-report or research subscription research models," he added.

It's also likely that more individual analysts will become brand names, versus firms, he said.

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