As mentioned in my last blog, I (Peter O'Neill) was at the Distree EMEA event last week and met with many executives from tech industry vendors and distributors. I also swapped impressions about market trends with colleagues in other research organizations, such as Context, GfK, IDC, and Regent. 

The most discussed section of my keynote presentation was “Apple takes a bite at B2B business,” where I quoted research from my illustrious colleague Frank E. Gillett. I said that Apple had an 8% share of new “corporate PCs” in 2011, which we predict will grow to 13% in 2013. Apparently, many vendors and distributors haven’t noticed this: They aren’t getting the same message from their usual research providers. Later in the week, I listened to such a presentation in which it was reported that “the PC market slowed in 2011 but will pick up again in 2012.” Another researcher made a similar observation in his presentation. No mentioned of any new vendors or devices: “Not significant” was the tenor.

Standing up front and moderating the session in which these presentations were made. I couldn’t resist shaking my head in disbelief, which isn’t good manners, I admit. Sorry, colleagues.  But I also had plenty of eye-contact agreement with many conference attendees, including another speaker, Dr.Michael Peterson of Booz & Company.  who had already presented a visionary speech about the trend of “digitalization” and its impact on business and society.

The thing is that many research companies still define the PC market as “Windows-based computers” (including Windows on ARM processors, it seems). Their data sources are the PC vendors and PC channel players. As they said, other devices are only significant to the market analysis if they “cannibalize PC sales.” So, given that background, these people were right.

However, these statements won’t help vendors or channel players understand what is really happening in their market. The iPad IS making significant inroads into the corporate environment because employees are buying them out of their own pocket; more and more enterprises are running bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies; and businesses are investing in innovative projects like sales force automation projects with iPads. It is highly likely that the standard PC market research processes will fail to track these projects and device sales — the sales enablement consultants doing many large-scale iPad projects are not your standard PC resellers. OK, these projects may not be cannibalizing PC sales, but they are taking away budget, which is then unavailable for PC refresh projects.

So: If you work in market research or use market research data, make sure that your research sources demonstrate that they are able to think outside their box. Make sure you understand the context of their point of view, and look elsewhere for other things to enhance the research base. Otherwise, somebody else will be eating your dog food before you know it.

Agree? Disagree? Need more details? As always, I’d love to hear from you on this and other topics.

Always keeping you informed! Peter