Research 2.0 Turns to Blog as Research Distribution Platform

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New York – Research 2.0, a research firm that focuses on emerging technologies, recently announced some interesting changes to the way they would be distributing research. Some of the highlights of these changes are excerpted below:

The R2 blog will become our primary publishing and client management platform: In the past the blog was a secondary platform for us and considered part of our “downstream” information flow. Over the years the power and flexibility of the open-source WordPress blog platform has simply outstripped the capabilities of all the expensive proprietary systems. [We wrote about this in the February 2007 R2 Monthly.] Our blog and email is now integrated so you may be reading this via an RSS reader or email and it’s all pushed from one place. We will still be supporting the old distribution platforms but they will now be “downstream.”

We’re also likely to launch an “inside R2″ collaboration platform for our clientsto be better connected and able to support a more natural flow of information exchange. This effort will start with a small beta of about a dozen clients in Q1 and expand to a larger, but still tightly controlled, community in Q2 based on what we learn.

The firm also announced plans to provide more dynamic content, more specialized research “micro-brands” focusing on specific topics, and plans to publish company sponsored research.

We find Tuttle’s comments about distribution platforms quite interesting:

The research “business” has started shifting online in earnest. We noticed it back in August when the number of online followers of our work started to really grow. It’s hard to nail down the exact cause but it may have something to do with the iPhone/iPad/Facebook phenomenon. These three are now wildly popular, especially with the crowd we generally write for. But they are also technologically at odds with older proprietary systems like FactSet, Bloomberg, FirstCall, CapitalIQ, etc.

To be sure, the demographics of the online readership are more varied but it’s clear that many “institutional” readers are actively moving to open online sources for their information and research content. The old platforms will no doubt be around for a long time to come but will be eclipsed by these new channels. Interestingly, there are quite a few rules and regulations, which means that most of the traditional equity research providers will not be able to participate in what we call the “open professional” model of research. Time to get ready for the future.

It seems unlikely to us that FactSet or Bloomberg will lose their dominant position anytime soon. Tuttle points to RedMonk, an IT industry analysis firm, as an example. RedMonk, however, is primarily focused on serving developers and the IT community, which is not dependent on the proprietary distribution platforms cited by Tuttle. When dealing with an institutional investor base that is receiving research from multiple sources, research providers will always face pressure to be on the platforms that their clients are on, rather than expecting their clients to come to their platform. Nevertheless, the low cost of technology makes it extremely viable for small research firms to build their own platform independently. In particular, the idea of an online collaboration platform for clients to better connect to outside analysts sounds very interesting.

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