A Spotlight On S&P: Global Market Intelligence 451 Research

by Krista Isaksen

April 22, 2024

AR Industry | Interview Blog Post Series |

A Spotlight On S&P: Global Market Intelligence 451 Research

Well-known for tracking enterprise innovation, now enabled by a global financial and industry data platform powerhouse.

Brian Partridge, Head of 451 Research/Kagan, S&P Global Market Intelligence.

As an IT analyst firm, 451 Research has made a name for itself by covering all phases of enterprise technology innovation through multiple research methods. With its acquisition by S&P Global in 2020, 451 Research’s expertise is now amplified with extensive data-driven resources. Brian Partridge, Head of 451 Research/Kagan, S&P Global Market Intelligence shares more on the firm’s history, exciting developments, and his take on a generative AI-enabled future.

I arrived in 2020 when 451 Research was acquired by S&P Global. This combination was about bringing the 451 IT industry expertise, data, and business model into S&P Global, alongside an already strong media and telecom practice (SNL Kagan) and deep industry expertise with digital agendas in segments including energy transition, supply chain, and commodities. S&P saw natural expansion potential as 451 was a unique entity given its focus on serving capital markets clients and tech corporates. They liked that we knew how to serve these personas effectively with our M&A data, private-company insights, and focus on innovation.

I started my career at Yankee Group as a telecom infrastructure analyst after several years as a research customer working on the vendor side in marketing and AR. I’ve always loved the analyst role, helping clients via research, inquiry, and advisory projects. The need for continual learning meant I was never bored! At S&P, we get to work with a smart, fun team. My role as head of research is a mix of strategic and tactical responsibilities spanning product development, research, sales, marketing, and HR.

The firm was founded in 2000 by a team of UK IT journalists. “451” is a nod to the Ray Bradbury novel, which explored the power of knowledge and the dangers of censorship. 451 Research grew from humble beginnings to become a top-five global tech-industry analyst firm, behind only names like Gartner, Forrester, and IDC in terms of client count, revenue, and market influence. Over the years, 451 assembled the team and data assets powering the company today primarily via M&A deals. One of those was the 2013 acquisition of Yankee Group, which is how I came in. 

A consistent 451 focus had been building differentiated data and unparalleled client relationships and experience. S&P saw additive potential and alignment with its mission of powering global markets. Three of the 451 Research co-founders remain with the company today in key research roles.

Why does 451 Research matter in the current landscape of IT research firms? What sets you apart?

It starts with the right mix of expertise and data to meet the challenges our clients face today. Where is demand going? Who should I acquire? How do I compare with my peers? We think our analysts and data can answer these questions more effectively than other firms. We serve many client personas at every stage of the product solution journey.

Our research methodology is unique. We never focused on vendor comparison, and we don’t remain siloed in our worldview around any technology. Our analysts collaborate widely outside their primary practice areas, allowing them to explore tangential synergies and opportunities. Our advisory practice is a massive value accelerator, adding customized solutions spanning strategic planning and market opportunity analysis to our tactical go-to-market and thought leadership offerings.

Ultimately, it’s about building strategic relationships via earned trust and high-impact engagement, data, and advisory services. We have built proprietary survey panels — the 451 Alliance — for our “Voice of the Enterprise” IT survey work. Our market sizing and forecast products take a rigorous bottom-up approach. Our Cloud Price Index, M&A Database, Datacenter Knowledgebase, and Tech Demand Indicator are all examples of highly differentiated intellectual property that our clients rely on.

What’s changed at 451 Research since being acquired by S&P Global?

A lot has changed since 2020. Aside from the pandemic, S&P Global executed a $44B acquisition of IHS Markit! But I think we’ve done very well retaining the elements that made 451 unique when we were independent. We’ve held onto our key talent, and deployed new practices, and our business model remains flexible. Not surprisingly, there can be some integration challenges when it comes to any kind of large merger, but generally, S&P has brought incredible enhancements to the 451 mission.

The S&P organization is teeming with industry expertise and data, driving extensive collaboration and ongoing thought leadership. For example, S&P Global’s CERAWeek, the largest global energy and climate conference, is supported by 451 Research. One of the main topics this year was AI’s impact on datacenter demand and, in turn, energy demand and sustainability. 451 brings deep expertise in the datacenter and AI segments, while S&P has incredible data and expertise on global energy infrastructure. We have similar collaborations between the 451 IoT practice and S&P’s supply chain and automotive business units and between S&P Global Ratings and 451 metaverse experts. S&P Global’s data and insight leadership capital markets opens accelerated expansion opportunities for 451 Research practices in areas like Fintech, GenAI, and M&A.

How is Generative AI going to change the analyst business? What will this industry look like in 5 years?

I don’t believe GenAI will replace the work analysts do. I think it will completely change how insights are created, communicated, and consumed by clients. Our AI research team has been cranking out reports and data addressing the impact and opportunity afforded by GenAI. Our industry analysis and the ability to contextualize market signals to enable better decision-making and outcomes will remain a premium service going forward.

In five years, analysts won’t spend hours creating charts and graphs to organize data and build a narrative. A digital assistant will handle this, freeing us up for more strategic analysis, model building, and client discussions. Clients will use natural language interfaces to query our industry data and find answers in near-real-time. Having GenAI empowering front-end interfaces will be table-stakes in five years. Insight providers will differentiate on the quality of the foundational model and training data, which lines up well for 451 as part of S&P Global.

That’s something we’re working on. Branding can be complicated with entities the size of S&P Global and IHS Markit coming together. But it’s also a big opportunity as we can leverage these powerful names that are highly reputable and well-known in the marketplace. After a few test-and-learn and speaking with our core customers, we decided to go with “451 Research is a technology research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence.”

We have an outsized influence relative to our scale. Our PR mentions have risen every year since joining S&P. We also empower analysts to build their personal brands via sharing content on social networks and high-impact external speaking. Our research teams deliver thought leadership via hundreds of webinars, videos, and other content marketing. We are directly involved in due diligence impacting billions of dollars of M&A every year, given the exposure and reach we have in capital markets. Our research is now regularly available on S&P’s Capital IQ Pro platform, which has over 300,000 daily users, and is consumed by the 451 Alliance, our proprietary panel of IT decision-makers, including representatives from 80% of the 500 largest public companies.

A great mix of expertise and data, and a client-friendly approach. We are constantly working to enhance our client experience. Our digital infrastructure assets and data are unmatched, especially in emerging areas of innovation like fintech, GenAI, and cloud. Our demand-side surveys are of the highest quality and impact. S&P Global adds extensive financial, private-company, and industry data to an already potent mix.

Interested in learning more about how to get more value out of existing AR work? Contact our team to learn more about getting started today.

We’re excited to announce 451 as an official Sponsor of the 2024 AR Summit. Interested in joining? Register today