Migrated from eDJGroupInc.com. Author: Barry Murphy. Published: 2013-12-01 19:00:00Format, images and links may no longer function correctly. 

It has been quite an evolution over the last four years.  First, Greg Buckles and I started eDiscoveryJournal to be a central resource of information for eDiscovery professionals.  Then, the market asked us for more and more perspective; people wanted to know, “what do you think of this or that?”  The future was not in an online magazine – instead it was in helping our readers understand how the market was evolving and how it impacted their jobs. 

To do that, we transitioned eDiscoveryJournal from an online magazine with advertising support to an independent research and advisory firm doing objective research and consulting.  The Journal became eDJ Group, a boutique analyst firm covering the issues important to eDiscovery and information governance (IG) professionals.  As an analyst firm, we endeavored to cover every solution provider in the industry and to go deeper than any other analysts could. 

A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum, though.  The analyst model, in general, began to break.  With so much information available freely through a simple search of the Internet, there is less willingness to pay for research subscriptions.  In fact, we have heard in conversation that the average age of a Gartner client is over 50.  It seems that a new generation of IT and business professionals are looking beyond the traditional analyst model for expertise.  In addition, two things happened with vendors that made us realize our analyst model would not scale out well:

  1. A portion of the vendors in the market did not want to be covered by an independent research firm; the feeling was that true transparency would not be good for sales (there were actually vendors that told us an educated consumer is not good for them). 
  2. Not every vendor wanted to be covered “objectively.”  The smart vendors could handle constructive criticism and even use it to their advantage.  Sadly, though, we had vendors that would not become clients simply because they were not able to control the message.  These vendors are used to that game with the big analyst firms, but not from a boutique firm like eDJ.

What became clear to us is that survival means changing the model just a bit.  That change to doe not mean losing independence, it simply means shifting from building the research and then trying to sell it to doing what we call research on demand.   Our consulting business has always been humming; if clients need custom research, we will do it as part of a consulting engagement.  And, we’ll always be doing some kind of survey and outreach because doing that is key to providing consulting clients value (e.g. understanding trends and best practices). 

The difference is that we will not be creating a library of research reports that we try to sell later.  Instead, we will do the research that clients want.  If a vendor wants a report on a topic, they can engage with eDJ to conduct the research and write the report.

As of January 1, 2014, eDJ will make most of our research available free on the eDJ Group site to “participating” corporate, law firm, government and other non-provider users.  The “participating” term means that the user is actively engaged with eDJ (this could be as consulting client or simply someone that takes our surveys on a regular basis).  For our provider users (those that offer solutions in the market), the research will be available to those that are consulting retainer clients. 

At its most basic level, this business model shift is really a subtle one away from the broken traditional analyst model to one of market-makers that cover a select number of vendor companies (as opposed to trying to cover all 500+ providers) and work on the ground with consulting clients.  The hope is that this will actually be a more beneficial model in that the research-on-demand element will lead to producing more timely, relevant reports that help our clients do their jobs.

We look forward to your thoughts.

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