As a UK-based analyst it’s always interesting to observe how US software companies attempt to break into the European market. Revolution Analytics—the commercial open source R software and service provider and one of the vendors I track (read my recent On the Radar profile here)—is currently trying to do just that. The company has recently announced it’s opening up a UK office in London that will become a hub for sales, business and technical services for both UK and European clients. It is one of two offices the company has outside of North America (the other one being in Singapore).
Building an international presence is typically a good sign for a vendor since its points to positive growth and global expansion. Whilst the majority of Revolution’s commercial customers—around 250—are based in North America, the UK and Europe provides a rich picking ground since it brings with it the opportunity to piggy back on the growth of R open source adoption across both academic as well as enterprise institutions. As outlined in this blog, open source adoption in Europe is generally perceived to be ahead of the US, especially in cases where a vendor can take advantage of the communities built around it and where it can utilise government subsidies. While we’re not saying it’s impossible to build a European presence from the US, having a local and regional presence is the most obvious and optimal way of accomplishing this.
Of course Revolution Analytics isn’t the first US software company to look to Europe as part of its growth plans; many before it have tried—some more successfully than others. Most target the UK as an obvious launch pad for seeding the market particularly in Germany, France and Scandinavia. However, in doing so Revolution must also be careful not to fall into the trap of others who tend to think of and treat Europe as one homogeneous region. Being successful involves adapting to not only language and cultural differences, but also needs to take into consideration differences in sales models and channels—Germany has a higher predilection for channel partners compared with other countries, for example. Equally, having the right people in place to direct and oversee this expansion is another key element, and it’s no doubt that the company’s recent strategic hires are part of this overall plan. How successful Revolution will be in taking its Enterprise R platform to a commercial European audience is unknown at this stage, although these seem like logical and sensible first steps.