Published April 18, 2006
Volume 14, Number 4

Javelin Strategy & Research Aiming High and Succeeding
Financial Industry Customers Find Data Makes the Difference

Javelin's Bruce Cundiff, Tracy Hoover, James Van Dyke and
Mary Monahan meet to discuss the office's latest project.

By Scott Eldredge
Special to NETWORK

Javelin Strategy & Research, a 12-person company entering only its fourth year of business, is competing successfully with corporations hundreds of times its size. Javelin, located at 4309 Hacienda Drive, is an independent research and strategy consulting firm focused on the financial services and payments industries. James Van Dyke founded the company in 2002 with a goal of redefining the standard for quality research, which he felt was lacking in the corporate world.

"Our strategy is to have better primary research data than any other organization in the industry, coupled with highly-experienced industry analysts," says Van Dyke. "This is a huge goal for a company in its fourth year, one that puts us up against behemoth public research companies. Yet we are succeeding, and now count all of the nation's leading financial institutions and payments firms as customers."

Javelin offers research services and also provides research reports through subscription. Quality data is a key ingredient in all of its offerings and something the company believes sets it apart from the competition. Javelin is willing to consider multiple sources of data and to invest the extra effort and sometimes money required to obtain and analyze what it considers to be data with superior relevance and accuracy.

Most research companies obtain data from only one source at a time, such as consumers. However, the financial services and payments process involves complex interdependencies that include merchants, technology providers, transaction processors, card issuers, and banks, as well as consumers. Javelin considers and compares data from all sources, allowing it to discover "market disconnects." For example, consumers may assign a low priority to a feature card issuers think they value highly.

Superior data and analysis would not appear to be a differentiator among firms specializing in research, but Van Dyke maintains it is.

"Many research companies skimp on the data, which is akin to a high-end restaurant skimping on the quality of the food or experience of the cooks," he explains. "One of our biggest competitors surveys people about identity fraud only via the Internet. Well, a big question today is to what degree is the Internet causing or not causing identity fraud? If you survey people only on the Internet, you can't compare them to people who aren't on the Internet. Including these people in a survey may cost five times as much."

It is not always possible to know in advance if spending more will produce useful results, but it is something Javelin is willing to do. Van Dyke considers it part of building a reputation for producing useful research based on rigorous data and expert analysis. He feels they've succeeded in this area; the next challenge is to let the market know how Javelin is truly different.

For something as complicated as research data, this is not always easy to do. Even among knowledgeable companies, it can be difficult to explain why longitudinal, rigorous data interpreted by analysts with decades of experience produces findings that yield more profits.

One company protested what it felt was Javelin's negative portrayal of their services in a report that was made public. After Javelin demonstrated the accuracy of the conclusions, the company recognized that it was internally out of touch with itself and became a Javelin client.

Sometimes the data speaks for itself, when interpreted by experts.


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