Aberdeen Group Reinvents Its CRM Strategy

Research outfit Aberdeen Group and upstart Reservoir Partners have agreed to merge, a move Aberdeen hopes will reinforce its market credibility and confidence, while testing Reservoir's unique strategy with a larger, broader audience. The move ends a two-year independent run by CRM industry veteran Chris Selland, general partner of Reservoir Partners, who was formerly with The Yankee Group and eSupportNow. After leaving eSupportNow, Selland formed Reservoir Partners in early 2002. "I immediately decided I wasn't going to try to start a venture-funded technology company, but I wanted what I considered a next-generation consultant and research company," Selland says. Although housed (via entrepreneurial residence) by Yankee Group founder Howard Anderson's YankeeTek Ventures firm, Selland was the sole owner of Reservoir. YankeeTek has no affiliation with The Yankee Group, which is owned by Reuters. With Reservoir Selland sought to build a blend between the research and consulting disciplines. "The problem with what a lot of analysts do is that it's very hands-off and passive. You write white papers, pontificate, tell people to read your brilliant prose. Consulting companies come live with you for a year learning your business," he says. "I wanted to create a research-driven consultancy that would have that foundation in market research, but have a hands-on delivery model." The merger with Reservoir Partners is another step in Aberdeen's reinvention after high-profile analyst defections and credibility claims buffeted the firm. New Aberdeen CEO Jamie Bedard's strategy has aimed the company away from technology vendor-driven research. The merger grew from a conversation between Bedard, Selland, and Aberdeen Vice President Chris Jones. "The three of us got to talking and it made sense to join forces," says Selland. "They had the same goals as me, felt that the old analyst model was broken, and that writing white papers and drawing magic quadrants was not going to work anymore." As Aberdeen's vice president of sell-side research, Selland plans to continue working in the Reservoir Partners mold, focusing on client-side strategies for sales, marketing, and customer service, rather than focusing on specific technologies. "In this market, if you're going to be helping larger companies, they want to speak to scale," he says. "I was going to have to take Reservoir to the next level, but that was going to require substantial investment." Casting his lot with Aberdeen provides overnight market presence. Aberdeen has yet to announce what will become of other Reservoir Partners assets, including the name and staff other than Selland.
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