I Love Equity Analysts

Research reports by investment banking are by far my favorite source of background research on companies and industries.  Thomson Research (formerly Investext) is the standard-bearer in this area, and I’ve made voracious use of it when I’ve had (highly expensive) access.  Finding a good “initiating coverage” report makes my day, for better or worse.

What makes them so good?

First, they’re much more in-depth than typical market research reports (DataMonitor, I’m looking at you).  When reading market research reports, I get the impression the analysts are filling out a template as quickly as possible.  The inevitable SWOT section tends to be extremely generic, to the point of uselessness.  Equity analysts, in contrast, do their homework.  They do channel and customer checks, even with difficult to reach constituencies like medical specialists.  They attend (and even organize) industry conferences.  They typically cover multiple leading companies in an industry segment and draw relevant comparisons between them. Continue reading I Love Equity Analysts


Why Is Good Business Information So Scarce?

I recently came across this O’Reilly post about CrunchBase, the open database of information on startup companies, asking whether CrunchBase will remain free in the long term.  While the post itself is interesting, the part that puzzles me is why there is so little business-oriented information freely available out there.  Data as a service has been generating a lot of excitement recently, and I think it’s well warranted.  However, the only prominent sources of open business information are the SEC’s Edgar database, LinkedIn, and CrunchBase.  After that, the field gets very thin.  Considering how much effort companies put into business intelligence and competitive intelligence, it seems like there should be a great profit motive for someone to provide a deeper business information layer.  So I don’t really understand why we’re in this situation, but it does seem like a big opportunity. Continue reading Why Is Good Business Information So Scarce?


Disruptive Innovation in Healthcare

Many of you have probably heard of Clayton Christensen, author of The Innovator’s Dilemma and a number of other outstanding books on technology innovation  and disruptive business models.  It’s one of the best business books I’ve read because it insightfully explores a business theory rather than throwing out a bunch of personal stories that are supposed to coalesce into a whole.

Christensen also wrote a book called The Innovator’s Prescription, applying the framework of disruptive innovation to the healthcare system.  MIT World has an good presentation video where Christensen walks through many of the ideas in the book.  It’s definitely worth watching for anyone involved in the healthcare system. Continue reading Disruptive Innovation in Healthcare


The Problems with Market Research Reports

Have you ever looked at the table of contents for a $4,000 market research report?  It looks so enticing, like all of your questions about the market or competitors will be answered.  Market size, growth rate, competitive landscape, customer dynamics, etc. – it’s like 300 pages of candy for someone trying to write a business plan or get data on an industry.

Unfortunately, research reports almost never live up to the hype, for a number of reasons. Continue reading The Problems with Market Research Reports


Drilling Down on Search Results

In my last two posts, I shared some tips for where you should start your research process (probably not a search engine) and how to get the most out of search engines.  Now let’s talk about working with your search results once you have them.

The main point is to avoid focusing only on the results themselves.  Instead, look for good industry, company, or topic-related sites.  For example, CafePharma has a lot of good information on pharmaceutical and medical device sales forces, ChannelWeb is a good resource for computer hardware and software distribution channels, and Construction Equipment Guide is pretty self-explanatory.  Trade sources are one of the best places to get in-depth information.  Some general business sites like Knowledge at Wharton and the McKinsey Quarterly can also be very useful.  Don’t be satisfied with just the listings from these sites that happen to come up on the search results.  Dig in.

First, narrow the search to the specific site in question by using the search engine “site:” operator or the advanced search page, depending on whether you prefer typing into the search box or using a form.  The search box is usually faster, but for complex queries, it can be easier to keep your thoughts straight when you have dedicated fields for different terms and operators on the advanced search page. Continue reading Drilling Down on Search Results