AMR Research: Earning Respect

 
 
By Mel Duvall  |  Posted 2002-12-19
 
 
 

Steve Hammond, vice president of information services at Plasti-Line, views AMR Research as an important ally in achieving his company's business goals.

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When Hammond undertakes a new initiative, such as the deployment of a manufacturing execution system, he asks AMR to evaluate vendors. Not only do the analysts help Hammond translate vendor speak, they also can tell him if he's paying too much. "It's evolved from a technical relationship, where they more or less evaluated solutions for us, to more of a strategic relationship," he says. "It took some time, but they now understand what Plasti-Line is all about."

Plasti-Line, in fact, is about the signage business. It manufactures new or modifies existing signs for some 20,000 businesses a year. Two years ago, when Plasti-Line was looking for a system that could take order forecasts from the company's enterprise planning system and generate production plans for the shop floor, it asked AMR to recommend vendors. Plasti-Line selected SynQuest on AMR's suggestion and its own review. Overall, Hammond is satisfied with AMR's service and the results—enough that he signed an expanded contract with AMR for 2003.

That's a big plus for AMR, particularly in the current economic climate. AMR is a fraction of the size of its main competitor, Gartner Inc., with only 210 employees compared to Gartner's 4,000. But the firm's smaller size, and its expertise in sectors such as supply chain management, appeals to many.

Arquest, a diaper manufacturer, wanted to prepare for changes in collaborative planning, forecasting and replenishment. For a better perspective on technologies needed, Arquest contracted AMR earlier this year as an adviser. "The most important thing for us is to make sure we put the right tools in place," says Wayne Nix, Arquest's information systems manager. It took some time for AMR analysts to get to know Arquest's business, but a number of one-on-one consultations have removed that concern.

Vendors consider AMR as a key influencer of purchasing decisions, and look to the firm for insights into their own product strategies as well as where companies are headed. "They can virtually derail a deal by telling an end-user something negative about your product or company," says Trudy Montgomery, spokeswoman for Business Engine, a project management software developer. "Conversely, they can shorten the sales cycle if they're positive."

Plasti-Line's Hammond says AMR not only translates vendor's pitches, but can help him avoid paying too much for a product.

Reference Checks

Executives listed here are all users of AMR Research's services. Their willingness to talk has been confirmed by Baseline.

ARQUEST
Wayne Nix
MIS Manager
(609) 395-9500
Project: Maker of private-label diapers hired AMR earlier this year to advise it on a supply chain strategy. It wanted advice on what technologies to use to prepare for industry developments in collaborative planning and forecasting.

BUSINESS ENGINE
Trudy Montgomery
Director, Corporate Communications
(415) 616-4000
Project: Developer of project management software uses AMR to help shape its product strategy, and get a better understanding of the needs of potential clients.

FRONTRANGE
Jerry Lumpkin
Senior VP, Marketing
(719) 531-5007
Project: Uses AMR and several other analyst firms to gain insights into market trends as well as to evaluate the company's product strategy. FrontRange provides help desk and contact management software.

GILLETTE
Jim McLaughlin
Director, Supply Chain Process and Systems
(617) 421-7000
Project: Gillette has been an AMR client for about 10 years. Uses the analyst firm to scope out vendors for specific projects, for market research, and for peer networking.

PLASTI-LINE
Steve Hammond
Vice President, Information Services
(865) 938-1511
Project: Supplier of signage systems has used AMR Research for about three years. AMR has advised the company on installing a supply chain management system, a Windows 2000 rollout and a manufacturing execution system.

PINNACLE WEST CAPITAL
Steve Troisi
Information Systems Account Manager
(602) 250-1000
Project: Has used AMR for about two years, primarily for market research. Sees a need to make better use of firm's services.

AMR Research
2 Oliver St.
Boston, MA 02109
(617) 542-6600
www.amrresearch.com

TICKER: PRIVATE COMPANY
EMPLOYEES: 210

TONY FRISCIA
President, CEO
Founded AMR in 1986 following a career in management positions with technology companies and market research firms. He started his career at IBM in the systems communication division in Kingston, N.Y., in 1978. A graduate of Vassar College, he oversees all of AMR's day-to-day operations.

MICHAEL DIPIETRO
Senior VP, Research Advisory Services
Responsible for research analysis, advisory products and service delivery. Previously was managing director of international operations.

FRANK GENS
Senior VP, Strategic Development
Responsible for development and launch of products and operations, including European operations and AMR's Benchmark Analytix service.

Services
Technology market research and advisory services with expertise in customer relationship management, enterprise management, supply chain, manufacturing and energy sectors. Launched Benchmark Analytix this year, providing companies with business performance metrics.