Q&A with Rob Bamforth, Principal Analyst at Quocirca

December 7, 2010

Q.  Tell us a bit about you:

I’ve been working as a communications (mainly, but not exclusively mobile) analyst for around 8 years, but my background prior to that is around 20 years in IT, starting as a user, then a developer, into sales, then marketing and management. I’m fascinated by what makes some things fly and others flop, irrespective of how good the technology is.

Q – Tell us a little bit about the analyst firm you work for and their interest in mobile technology:

Quocirca is a business oriented technology industry analyst house that runs primary research projects and publishes reports that it makes freely and publicly available – there is no charge for downloading, reading or sharing Quocirca reports. Mobile is not viewed by a particular technology type – eg cellular, wi-fi, handsets etc – but as an enabler to business.

Q – What’s hot in mobiles and telecoms this year?

Capacity and coverage.  The growth from both business and consume (which has bled into business) mobile data, through smartphones and to a lesser extent, laptops with dongles, has had a huge effect on the networks – they’re swamped. This could be viewed as a constraint, but it’s also an opportunity for new services and also the exploration of new business models.

Applications.  No longer just ‘iTat’, but genuine business applications. As well as mobile workers of all collar shades (blue collar task workers, white collar knowledge workers and pink collar execs – buying shirts in Thomas Pinks), there is a growing interest in Machine to Machine – steel collar. The volumes of devices might be high, but the data rates and margins low, and these might be critical aplications requiring some serious integration. Mobile comms, welcome to the world of IT.

Q – How many events do you attend each year?

Only a handful, and mainly smaller ones which are less frenetic and briefing time is more quality than quantity

Q – How many MWCs have you been to? Is you are not there this year but will want to know what’s happening. Any top tips for ARs or Companies planning to engage with you?

Sadly (or happily?) none. I’m not a big fan of attending big events anymore, having done them for years when in IT. But I always want to know what’s happening.

Tips? Plenty of advance warning, especially if you think there will be strong media announcements, as it’s always good as an analyst to have a heads-up before a journalist gets in touch. Oh, and incremental new revs of products, while interesting to the vendor, might not be as earth shattering to everyone else, so try to pitch the value appropriately, don’t over pitch what are really only minor announcements or improvements – they may still be important, but sorting the levels of wheat from chaff is already hard enough.

Q – Which event are you most looking forward to?

Hmm, I’d tend to look forward to going home afterwards rather than an event.

Q. -What types of companies are likely to attract your attention this year?

Those who addressing user complexity and quality of experience.

Q. How many interviews do you do per week?

Hour+ long briefings with vendors, probably half a dozen to a dozen, plus a handful of interviews with journalists

Q – What’s the best way to pitch a company to you? Email? Phone? Twitter? By mail?

Email and phone – twitter is too easy to miss as they pass by.  Email and phone calls both hit the mobile and are stored, so best bets.

Q. – Who is worth listening to?

End customers are great, but usually I like to hear from vendors’ CMOs or CEOs – salesfolk can be ok, as long as they remember not to try to sell to the analyst as if they were a customer – you’d be surprised how often this mistake is made…

Q. – What’s your favourite blog?

Stephanie Flanders on the BBC – I like reading the comments to see how many strange people there are around. Technology blogs are not something I diligently follow, but tend to skip across as many as possible.

Q – What is your favourite piece of technology?

As a recent convert to Apple, probably my iMac desktop, but I used to love the Sun Sunray super-thin client and the fact that the entire session would move with you as you took a smart card out and into the next Sunray – seamless and invisible is the best tech.

Q -What do you think is the most important development in mobiles and telecoms to date?

High def colour screens like the ones on the latest iPhone – the quality is good enough for me to use without putting my reading glasses on – a first in the last 2 years.

However I think we need to do a lot more in the power area – battery life still sucks.

Q – What is the best piece of advice for companies pitching stories?

Define real benefits that mean something to a customer, not advantages or features.

Q – What was the best press trip you’ve ever been on? Worst? Why?

Actually NetEvents have probably run the bet events I’ve been on.  They are well targeted, you get good interaction in the discussions and quality time with the vendor representatives.

Q –  What’s your favourite restaurant?

No specific favourites for business meetings, just comfortable, unfussy and unpretentious

Q – Are you a social media lover? Which ones are you on? FB? LinkedIn? Twitter?

LinkedIn and Twitter mainly – not sure I’d use the term ‘lover’, but I’m a pessimistic opportunist – willing to try things even if I’m not confident they’re worth it

Q- Tell us something no-one knows about you? Do you have any unusual or unexpected hobbies/interests? Do you have a claim to fame?

Claim to fame? I wore the Java ‘Duke’ character suit at the first JavaOne.  The company said whoever went from Sun had to work during the event, and my local Californian colleagues thought it would be fun to have me help that way.  It was the IT equivalent of being Mickey in DisneyWorld, I had to stand and be photographed next to geeks while wearing a heavy hot costume in a 5000+ attendee event – phew!



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