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1 TELL ME NOW Experts in Research & Business Information

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1 1 TELL ME NOW Experts in Research & Business Information

2 2 Business Information and Analysis in Australia Issues in the Work Environment: A view from the coalface. Lecture given to Monash Masters Students in the School of Information Management and Systems: Subject Contemporary issues in Information Management and Systems 13 th May 2003

3 3 Abstract The lecture was a reflection on issues involved in running an independent Business Information and Research Company in Australia. It focused on the following points:  Client Characteristics  Types of requests  Changes in the types of clients from 1998 to 2003  Pros and Cons of operating an Independent Business Information and Research Company in Australia  Reality checklist for prospective players  Trends in the industry –2003/2005 –2003/2008

4 4 Tell Me Now - Background  Cindy Tschernitz—Director –BA, Grad Dip Lib, MLib, Grad Dip Ed (Tert.), Cert IV Assess & Workplace Training  Work Experience –TELL ME NOW commenced operations on the 1st October 1998 –McKinsey & Company—Senior Information Specialist for the Telecommunications, Electronics, Media and Multimedia Practice of Asia Pacific for 4 years. –Western Mining Corporation—Senior Reference Librarian for entire operations –Telstra—Information Specialist based in Melbourne city serving HQ staff. –Lecturer P/T in Library and Information Science. –University Libraries - Various positions - Reference/ Reader Education

5 5  TELL ME NOW commenced operations on the 1st October 1998  1 person and some startup capital  Subscriptions to Profound, Dialog, Dow Jones, Australian Corporate Reporting and International Data Corporation  Website and brochure  List of potential clients  A strong belief that there was a need for value added Research and Information Service that provided more than just data dumps. Tell Me Now - The Company

6 6 Tell Me Now - Clients Government General Business Professional Services Corporate and individual TELL ME NOW’s Clients 1998 - 80% come from Professional Services - 15% from dot.coms - 5% general business TELL ME NOW’s Clients 2003 - 60% come from Professional Services - 35% from general business - 5% from government

7 7 Client Profile of Tell Me Now  Senior Executives, including CEO’s  Other clients come from the following areas: – Marketing – Knowledge Management – Strategy – Information Services – Consulting – Product Development – R&D – M&A

8 8 Client characteristics  Understand the value of information  Prepared to pay  Extremely demanding  They know what they want!  Respect you as an expert  Rely on your expertise to guide them  Will complain if they feel duped  Will be your strongest ally if they are happy and  Are your greatest source of continuing work

9 9 Contents of Requests  50% are multifaceted requests where the information is gathered from a variety of sources. These include undertaking original research, phone interviews and gathering primary documents or products. They also require analysis and a written report based on the clients requirements (5 hours +)  40% are multifaceted requests where the information gathered from a number of sources. The information is edited and presented in a format that the client requires. (2 - 4 hours)  10% are single faceted requests which include: data dumps, quick one figure or one line answers (1 hour)

10 10 Type of the Work  Competitive intelligence – Product – Company – Pricing – People  Analysis –Using secondary and primary information and pulling it together in a coherent document –Comparing apples with apples – telling it ‘like it is’  Sourcing –Hard to get information

11 11 The role of IT and systems  Reliable hardware and IT support is essential  Stable platform is essential  99% email and internet access  CRM system is important  KM system is ‘nice to have’  Subscriptions to online databases are essential  Ability to know where to search is even more vital

12 12 Pros  Interesting work  Clients respect  Be your own boss  Flexible hours  Can dabble in lots of areas  Work from home  Freedom  Can pick your own clients  No bureaucracy  No meetings  Long lunches Why do it? Cons  Impossible questions & deadlines  Clients don’t want to pay  There is no-one else to refer to  On call all the time  Must know how everything works  Never get away from work  Lack of income  Have to take whoever comes to you.  Dealing with other people’s bureaucracy  Lots of meetings that may not lead anywhere  No lunches

13 13 How is my time spent  50 % is spent marketing  20% in providing quotes  5% in doing requests  10% in fixing IT issues  10% in paperwork including billing and paying invoices etc  5% in strategy  Hours (45 to 50 per week)  Monday to Friday 8.00 to 6.00 with 2 x 1/2 breaks  7.30pm to 8.30 pm check final emails and phone messages  Weekend - At least 1/2 day normally 1 day  Holidays - None in the 1st year - 2 weeks leave since but in daily contact  Sick days - 2 days off in 4 years.

14 14 Skills Mary Ellen Bates “To be a successful Information Broker you have to have a strange set of skills:”  Excellent researcher  Able to work alone, self motivate, manage time well etc  Excellent people skills, particularly in managing clients  Ability to market oneself constantly  An entrepreneurial spirit …..that’s a weird set of skills to come together in one person. Source: Swimming not sinking: independent information brokers is Australia by Liz Edols. Online Currents Vol 17, No (4) May 2002

15 15 Tell Me Now – different or not?  We don’t compare Tell Me Now to companies in Australia  Tell Me Now has grown out of a different environment than others.  Concentrate on the ‘big end’ of town.  We are not constrained by bureaucracy  Respond to changing market requirements immediately  Use our networks to undertake projects that are ‘different’  We never say no!  Tell Me Now people are all experienced Business Researchers  The customer is king

16 16 Industry Trends - Australia  2003/2004 –Times will be still be tough as businesses still look inward –Success based on staying power –Diversification of offerings without losing the core business –Industry growth – by those ‘between’ jobs.  2003/2008 –Information blowout with the increased need for filtering to turn data into knowledge –Time poor in business will require more help –Analytical skills as well as effective searching skills are vital –Consolidation across Information Brokerage, Knowledge Management, Competitive Intelligence and Market Research –Greater collaboration between symbiotic companies

17 17 Hints and Realities  Reality is not reality - perception is the new reality.  Don’t be pedantic about systems or procedures, the best system does not equal more client work.  Make sure that what you produce is top quality but don’t get hung up on making it 100% perfect all of the time. The client does not want to pay for perfection.  Talking to someone once, who shows interest does not equal more client work  Clients do forget you - keep in regular contact.  If you build it they will come - not without you telling them constantly.  Clients want a step by step description of what you are going to do and are impressed by your vast knowledge. They don’t care  Anyone can market a service! Yes and anyone can be a doctor as well

18 18 Is it for you? - thoughts  Have you got the necessary capital to set up and pay for ongoing items such as ……phone, website, stationary, IT equipment, software, support & maintenance.  Are you a risk taker who is prepared to take a chance and wing it?  Are you flexible and adaptable and can you think outside the box?  Have you got determination and staying power?  Are you prepared for constant knock backs?  Do you have good networks and are you prepared to use them?  Do you agree with the saying “The customer is always right”?  Can you work on your own or in relative isolation?  Are you doing this for money?  Do you have a supportive home environment?

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