In a year of suppressed deal activity driven by a range of factors, we have maintained a high level of activity having completed 16 deals to date.
We have remained active across the Global Technology and Consulting Services sector and continue to see strong market appetite for leading businesses providing digital transformation, cloud and data capabilities.
Our busiest sub-sector so far this year has been Legal Technology and Services, having advised on four transactions ranging from Enterprise Software to Consulting/Services business models.
While we anticipate the rest of the year will pose challenges for deal-making, we are starting to see the green shoots of positive activity as we enter into 2024 budgeting season.
Please contact us if you want to hear about any of these deals in greater detail.
Location: The Pierre, New York City Partner: BDO (www.bdo.com)
JEGI CLARITY held its third Executive Leadership Dinner of 2023 on October 19th at the Pierre in New York starting at 6PM with cocktails. These events are structured as roundtable discussions and provide a stimulating evening of great conversation and networking.
This dinner was titled “An Insider’s View of the Rapidly Changing Research & Insights Landscape.” The roundtable discussion was led by Steve Schlesinger, Executive Chairman of Sago, who shared his perspectives on the evolving research and insights industry. The dinner brought together approximately 35 senior executives from a mix of large global corporations and emerging companies. Below is an overview of the discussion from attendee Jillian Gibbs, Founder & CEO of APR.
Steve posed many thought-provoking questions to the group, kicking off with “Given the dynamics in the world right now, geopolitically, socioeconomically and overall client behavior, what should companies be doing today to be successful?” In response, the consensus leaned towards prioritizing customer success and relationship management. The key takeaways included a commitment to excelling in one’s core competencies, fostering close proximity with clients and focusing efforts on overdelivering to solidify existing partnerships. Staying in tune with the evolving needs of clients was highlighted as essential, ensuring that support remains tailored and effective. Leveraging satisfied clients as influential voices to generate new business leads was also encouraged. Finally, the proactive offering of multi-year contracts at a discount emerged as a strategy to cement these crucial relationships, securing a path to long-term success.
The group discussed opportunities, challenges, and trends in the research and insights industry. One significant trend mentioned is the shift of tech companies using consulting as a lead generation strategy to drive their subscription models, which is the opposite of how it was done in prior years. This change underscores the growing importance of consulting services in the tech sector. Additionally, clients are increasingly outsourcing roles such as data and business analysts, a shift that businesses in this space should leverage to expand their services and expertise. Furthermore, it’s crucial to help clients achieve more with less, offering efficiency and cost-effectiveness without compromising the quality of work. This approach will enhance client satisfaction and retention.
Observing the changes from the previous year, there’s a clear trend in clients shifting from annual plans to quarterly plans, reflecting the need for agility in these rapidly changing times. Additionally, AI has become a pivotal tool for data, and it’s essential for businesses to consider how they can incorporate AI into their operations to enhance productivity and services. Lastly, the idea that “flat is the new growth” means that companies that can maintain a stable revenue while improving their EBITDA performance are considered successful in the current environment.
The JEGI CLARITY team had the privilege of co-producing the annual Outsell Signature Event, which recently took place at the Four Seasons Hotel, in Hampshire, UK.
The conference is a seminal event for senior leaders in the data and information industry. It provides a platform for discussing key trends and their implications for the industry, while providing guests with an opportunity to make valuable connections within the sector. Full agenda and speaker list can be found here.
Generative AI for some but not necessarily for all
Throughout the event, there was an acknowledgement that your business model, offering and client base will likely drive what stage you are at in the ‘AI journey’. Some have been using AI for decades, while others are just beginning to explore its potential.
Understanding whether AI will be focused internally in driving efficiencies or speed to market, or focused externally, for example on enhancing product solutions will be a key part of determining the extent to which AI is deployed into your business.
For some businesses, the use of generative AI might be excessive and unnecessary to attain their goals. It’s essential to have a clear understanding of your objectives before determining whether these tools will genuinely contribute to reaching them, and many organizations are grappling with understanding this.
Many leaders in the room cautioned against rapid investment into AI without a framework covering a true understanding of your organization’s data and processes, your clients’ view and use of AI and the AI development approach, including ROI at each stage.
The importance of organizational buy-in
The transition to leveraging AI needs to be led by executive and senior management, but with a measured approach of proof testing, reviewing, evolving, and continually verifying.
Organizational buy-in is viewed as critical even at the testing stage so people and teams across the organization understand what the AI can potentially deliver, and what the aims and benefits are. Without this, it will be very difficult to meaningfully leverage AI.
It was noted that the regulatory framework around AI must catch up with the rapid pace of the technology, inevitability leading to a growing industry of regulations and policies. How the regulatory environment intersects with an individual business, and the organization, will be critical and at the moment, this intersection is unclear.
More than a hype bubble
What was resounding across the two days was the profound impact of AI on the knowledge economy. Attendees were aware that change is coming and fast, and that although there were parameters to establish how the industry integrates AI into it, the opportunities it presents are impossible and dangerous to ignore.
Indeed, the prevailing theme of the event reflected what we are hearing across our industry, and many others: how AI, and specifically the latest wave of generative technologies, can be augmented into businesses. There is a clear recognition, however, that while there are potential benefits, how these can be achieved is a work in progress for many.
Are we ready?
Considerable debate centered on some of the perceived risks as well. IP infringement, plagiarism, erosion of jobs, bias; all areas that need monitoring and care. The importance of clear policies and compliance frameworks both internally and externally underpinned by an understanding of the technology will be crucial for all businesses in the sector and beyond.
The M&A viewpoint
Wilma Jordan, Founder and CEO, North America at JEGI CLARITY presented an insightful overview of the M&A marketplace offering projections for the future in light of economic outlook, high interest rates and pressure on cash and profits.
Describing green shoots appearing from those businesses that have real understanding of the use of data, she also outlined how AI is already driving a wave of investment that will continue to gather pace in the next 12 months.
With 2023 already a record year for investment in generative AI start-ups, with equity funding estimated to have reached $14.1 billion*, there is no doubt that those companies within the AI arena will continue to power this pace.
If you would like to receive a copy of our presentation on the M&A viewpoint, please contact us.
Power of 5: Events Reinvigorated An Industry on the Move
5 Leaders, 5 Questions, 5 Minutes
In our most recent Power of 5 series, JEGI CLARITY Managing Director, Kathleen Thomas and Partner, San Datta asked five questions to five leading executives across the global B2B Information and Events landscape.
This series featured Peter Jones, CEO of Nineteen Group, Lisa Hannant, CEO of Clarion Events, Paul Miller, CEO of Questex, Gareth Bowhill, CEO of CloserStill and Simon Foster, Group CEO of Arc. A big thank you to all the participants for their involvement.
Here we share some of their collective thoughts on the trends and opportunities ahead for the events industry. Please click here if you would like to access the videos.
How have you seen the B2B events market evolve in the last 12-24 months?
The resounding story from the B2B Information and Events sector over the past couple of years has been the successful return of live events.
We’ve seen a ferocious appetite from both exhibitors, sponsors and also delegates to come back to events.
Gareth Bowhill, CEO, CloserStill
Peter Jones of Nineteen Group emphasized the value of live events, suggesting that their true worth became evident only when they were temporarily lost. A sentiment echoed by Gareth Bowhill of CloserStill who stated that their revenues have surged by 15% organically compared to pre-Covid levels. Statistics and attitudes of clients clearly indicate that people wanted live media that they could trust for lead generation opportunities, continued Simon Foster of Arc.
However, as several participants in the Power of 5 identified, the composition of event audiences has undergone significant changes. Lisa Hannant of Clarion observed that there was a trend happening pre-pandemic of people, both in the industry and customers, changing roles, which has accelerated post-pandemic. She noted that industry operators need to adapt as their customer base is predicted to change roles every two-three years, which would continue to drive a shift towards many more first-time attendees to the events.
This change in audience masked a second trend explained by Paul Miller of Questex – the entrance of technology and software into the market. These tools enable data driven strategies that, through smarter customer insights, are resulting in better products and more meaningful relationships.
We see ourselves as a modern media business, bringing communities together 365, 24/7.
Paul Miller, CEO of Questex
Where do you see the key opportunities for your business during the next year?
There was an agreement from all the participants that the future is omnichannel businesses that seamlessly integrate content and live events with strong membership models.
Nineteen Group’s commitment to embracing digital through podcasting and digital events, while retaining a focus on physical events was the main emphasis for the next year according to Peter Jones. Gareth Bowhill of CloserStill outlined their core growth levers being existing events and extensions of these brands, new product launches and engaging in M&A, seeing a landscape that allows them to push forward on all fronts.
We have a comfort in the many different formats that customers want to meet their customers – whether a conference, one to one event, digital or in-between – that allows us to respond in the right way to whatever customer group we are serving.
Lisa Hannant, CEO of Clarion Group
Simon Foster of Arc revealed their future strategy of integrating businesses within their group and leveraging the expertise and knowledge and different elements they have within the business to deliver success to their clients. A commitment to doubling down on the data driven strategy aimed at providing superior products, that had been shaped from intelligence generated through interaction with content on their websites, was stated as a key opportunity for Paul Miller of Questex.
From an M&A perspective what is your criteria and where are you focusing?
Criteria for possible mergers and acquisitions included shared interests with existing organizations – mutual markets, complementary geographies, client synergies – or adjacent industries, companies with talent sets that can help build greater businesses and those with matching cultures and ethos.
Lisa Hannant of Clarion mentioned that they have a clear view of the sectors the Clarion team felt the business was potentially unweighted in and wanted to push harder in. Gareth Bowhill of CloserStill, echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the importance of opportunities of the underlying markets they are already serving.
Paul Miller of Questex stressed the significance of EBITDA thresholds and focusing on businesses with verticals they are already within or adjacencies to the verticals, so they can build buy-sell strategies. Peter Jones of Nineteen Group emphasized their strategy of identifying established, successful events with existing infrastructure and enhancing them to achieve even faster growth.
There were no real limitations when it came to regions for most, although the US, Europe and Asia were of particular focus.
We are looking at businesses that fit with our existing structure and existing markets that can add value as opposed to just driving scale.
Simon Foster, Group CEO, Arc
If you look at the landscape, who of your peers do you admire?
Companies that are not only great to the outside world but are focused on building culture and strength internally while growing was the type of business Simon Foster of Arc admired. While Lisa Hannant of Clarion Group acknowledged how there is so much good work from so many organizations in the sector – from larger companies to smaller, more nimble start-ups. But what she admires most are those companies that are focused, and purpose driven around individual markets. Paul Miller of Questex commended companies that prioritize culture and leadership and are not building just a great business but a strong culture as they grow.
Phil Soar is an absolute genius. He has the ability to see around corners in blizzards.
Peter Jones, CEO of Nineteen Group
All the stakeholders underscored the importance of collaboration within the sector, acknowledging their peers and their organizations as those they admired and respected the most. Clear articulation around company vision, purpose driven business models around individual markets, leading stances on ESG initiatives and those that embedded culture into their leadership were admired by all.
It is evident that these five leaders are at the forefront of driving the Information and Events landscape, with a shared vision for a promising and vibrant future.
AI-volution | The unfolding story Performance Marketing
Authors: Jonathan Davis(Partner, EMEA), Daniel Hart (Vice President, EMEA),Chris Karl (Chief Business Development Officer, US)
Technological advancements in processing vast amounts of data are sparking a revolution for Brands, Agencies, and Tech Partners across the Marketing Services landscape raising the bar yet again on the industry’s unwavering focus on improving performance.
The emergence of Generative AI and data analytics tools is transforming the way marketers harness data to create content and execute advertising campaigns across the addressable landscape; from paid search, and optimize organic SEO to Social and Connected TV (CTV).
As adoption of technologies such as ChatGPT, Bard, Perplexity and a growing list of marketing focused AI tools take center stage, performance marketers are reaping the benefits including better campaign performance predictions, personalization at scale, and improved return on investment.
However, with the rewards come challenges such as brand safety concerns and questions about AI’s ability to produce expert content.
Data and Analytics: Decoding the Power of Insights
At the heart of the performance marketing revolution lies data and analytics. The integration of diverse, unstructured data sources is enabling marketers to glean new insights, providing a holistic understanding of their audience’s behaviors and preferences in advance of executing campaigns. Companies like Personalize, Chalice.ai, Ad Copy, Seven Sense are leveraging First-party data and Generative AI to deliver personalized and responsive experiences, supercharging the marketer’s ability to build stronger connections with their customers.
Interpreting this wealth of data to inform creative, strategy, and campaign optimization has emerged as an invaluable skill in the industry. Analysts who can decipher the data and draw meaningful conclusions are increasingly in high demand. Selecting and parsing through disparate data sources can also be augmented by AI with tools like Narrative I/O’s Rosetta.
In the big advertiser market, there is considerable interest in owning the predictive capabilities currently bundled with Google and Facebook media. Your own ad AI promises more efficiency, less risk.
Adam Heimlich, CEO of Chalice.ai
Content Creation: The Rise of Gen AI in Programmatic Advertising
Automation stands to reshape the content creation landscape, particularly for programmatic advertising aimed at CTV.
With Generative AI tools at their disposal, marketers can now automate content production in ways not before possible. Tools such as Memorable and INK use data-driven insights to inform content creation, facilitating a low-cost, fast-moving approach at scale.
The implications of this transformation are profound. Imagine a world where the actual visual content seen in Ads has been machine curated for you based on real-time data from your recent online activity and behaviors. We are fast approaching that moment.
However, as AI takes over content creation, concerns about brand safety have also surfaced. Striking a balance between mass personalization and maintaining brand integrity is a key challenge that marketers must address.
Paid Search: The Algorithmic Advantage
The world of paid search has seen a seismic shift with the rise of Generative AI and Data Analytics. Smart bidding and responsive ads have become the norm, leveraging AI’s ability to analyze vast amounts of data and optimize campaigns in real-time. Multi-model search algorithms (that can understand the context of connected images and words) have further enhanced search relevance and performance.
Can Paid Search improve even further in its efficacy? Marketers can now achieve more significant results with fewer resources. By capitalizing on AI-driven insights, they can improve return on ad spend, making every advertising dollar count.
Organic SEO: Elevating the Standards
AI-powered tools have refined the way marketers streamline copywriting, introducing mass automation and individualized relevance to create better-performing content. However, while AI copywriting (such as ChatGPT, Jasper and Anyword) has raised the bar, it still falls short in generating expert-level content that requires deep domain knowledge (albeit MarketMuse a research and copywriting tool is taking on this challenge).
As AI tools mature, there is a need to bridge the gap between AI-generated content and the expertise of human writers in order to achieve relevance at scale. The evolving SEO landscape is prompting marketers to reconsider their content strategies and find the right balance between AI-generated content and human expertise.
At our agency, embracing new technologies is not something new. It happened with cloud, with privacy and now with AI. Staying updated is a part of the offering. We need to lead in this space because our clients demand it, and it’s interesting to see the rapid innovation that comes from agencies ensuring they stay competitive and relevant.
Christoffer Lötebo, Group CEO of Precis Digital
Conclusion: Embracing the AI-Powered Future
Generative AI and data analytics are undeniably transforming performance marketing, enabling better predictions, personalized experiences, and improved ROI. The power of data has unlocked new insights and opportunities, empowering marketers to make data-driven decisions that resonate with their audiences.
While AI is revolutionizing content creation and its consequent effect on organic SEO, it is crucial for marketers to acknowledge the limitations and find ways to leverage AI’s strengths. Embracing the AI-powered future requires a delicate balance between automation and human expertise to maintain brand safety and produce high-quality, expert-level content.
As the AI landscape continues to evolve, performance marketers must stay agile and adapt to these transformative technologies.
With the adoption of Generative AI and the pace of change we expect M&A to play a central role as Brands, Agencies and Tech Vendors race to gain a competitive advantage be that in adding consultative expertise or in direct tech. The table below includes AI-related transactions over the last three years, which highlights this trend.
We look forward to continuing the conversation as the AI-story unfolds. If you have any queries or would like to have an in depth discussion on this topic or the broader market please Contact us. Our next AI article delves into the world of Animation & VFX.
Recent breakthroughs, such as the advent of generative AI tools like ChatGPT, herald a new era set to rival the impact that personal computers, the internet, and smartphones had on our lives.
This wave of innovation has the potential to propel industries forward at a pace, promising to revolutionize the way businesses operate. Tasks, once mundane, are being automated, insights are generated with greater precision, and decision-making is reaching new heights of sophistication. At the same time, AI is opening up fresh avenues of growth, sparking product and service innovations, redefining value propositions and driving operational efficiencies.
One fundamental theme, something that has been consistent across all of our research, remains the importance of the human touch. As the story unfolds, AI’s true power lies in its ability to complement and enhance human capabilities, accelerating progress and efficiency, and delivering higher quality end products and experiences. Firms are actively harnessing AI and related capabilities fueling a surge in M&A activity, as they strive to gain an edge in an increasingly digital economy.
With this in mind, we are excited to introduce AI-volution | The unfolding story – a series of articles designed to identify key themes arising from AI developments in select sub-sectors and their subsequent impact on businesses. This series will cover:
Over the coming weeks, we will unveil each of these sector pieces individually, and welcome you to engage in discussions and share your own AI experiences. These insights will culminate in a final report, available for download, encapsulating AI’s potential opportunities and threats and common themes across the selected sectors.
We look forward to continuing the conversation as the story unfolds. In the meantime, if you have any queries or would like to have an in depth discussion on this topic or the broader market contact us.
JEGI CLARITY and Stax held an Executive Leadership Breakfast on October 11th at the Stax offices in New York City. This event was structured as roundtable discussions and provided a stimulating morning of great conversation and networking.
This breakfast was titled “Making the Most of AI, First Party Data and Community.” The roundtable discussion was led by Kathleen Thomas, Managing Director at JEGI CLARITY, and Denzil Rankine, Managing Director at Stax, who shared their perspectives on the role of community and how AI and first party data are impacting the B2B Media and Marketing landscape.