Deltek's FedSources deal opens new chapter in market research

The combination of Input and FedSources is seen as inevitable by some but could open opportunities for other market research firms.

Deltek’s $26 million acquisition of FedSources raised few eyebrows in the government community, with most observers speculating about what will come next from the joining of the two leading government market research firms.

The acquisition follows by just five months Deltek’s purchase of FedSources’ chief competitor, Input.

“This was something that was kind of inevitable once Deltek bought Input,” said Larry Allen, a former executive with FedSources and its affiliate the Washington Management Group. Allen also was the president of the Coalition for Government Procurement, a nonprofit that advocated for procurement issues.

Input and FedSources customers often treated the market research firms as commodities so people would switch back and forth every few years, he said.

“There wasn’t much brand loyalty, so you’d get into pricing wars and that didn’t help either company,” he said.

Allen agreed with the assessment by Deltek CEO Kevin Parker that the differences between the two databases will bring more value to customers because of the combination.

“If they do it right, they can have a real whiz-bang system,” Allen said.

Ray Bjorklund, FedSources' senior vice president and chief knowledge officer, echoed that sentiment.

“It is going to be better when you consider we will be part of a much bigger enterprise and one that invests in research and new product development,” he said.

FedSources is bringing plenty of ideas of new things to do. “We can make a much richer resource for our clientele as they face a much tougher market,” Bjorklund said.

Bjorklund said he’d like to focus on richer defense opportunity research, particularly in the intelligence market. He also like to dive deeper into the architecture and engineering marketplace, which Parker also mentioned in his interview with Washington Technology.

“A and E is a very different kind of world,” Bjorklund said. “I’d really like to spend some time to understand the nuances and pull in the information and data sources.”

Although Deltek eliminated one competitor, it could open up opportunities for other companies, said Scott Lewis, a market consultant who helps technology vendors connect with systems integrators.

“A lot of small and midsized companies benefited from the competition between Input and FedSources for buying their services,” Lewis said.

Other market research firms such as Centurion Research Solutions, ePipeline and Onvia may see a boost to their business, he said.

“They aren’t as well known, but this might be an opportunity for them,” Lewis said.

Of course, the next biggest competitor is Bloomberg Government which launched this year. It acquired Eagle Eye Publishing last year and has hired several analysts and reporters since then to build its market research and news organization.

Allen and marketing consultant Mark Amtower downplayed Bloomberg as a motivation for Deltek’s FedSources deal.

“Deltek showed that they are extremely serious about being in a dominant role in the market,” Amtower said. “And Bloomberg doesn’t understand that this is a relationship market.”

Bloomberg also doesn’t have the same quality data as FedSources and Input. “What they offer in market intelligence and the database is more like double-A ball compared to FedSources and Input,” Allen said.

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