This not the first time that Gartner has been sued nor will it be the last

Software vendor ZL Technologies has sued Gartner, Inc. about the impact of the firm’s research on its business (see the court documents on its website). Needless to say, this has gotten the attention of twits and bloggers. Here are two example blog posts 

There are legitimate criticisms about any particular firm’s research methodology, whether a standalone piece of research or a recurring research deliverable like IDC’s market share models or Aberdeen Axis. SageCircle, vendors, and others have certainly given Gartner suggestions for improving the Magic Quadrant in private meetings, on blog posts, and in public forums like the Gartner Quarterly AR Call. And to be fair, Gartner has tweaked its methodology a little for the Magic Quadrant over the years, but probably more in response to the Forrester Wave than what they hear from the vendors.

ZLTI v Gartner in logos

There is also the issue that many technology buyers who use the Magic Quadrant as an input to decision making do not know how to […]

You don’t have to be a Gartner client to get a good “dot” on the Magic Quadrant

One of the continuing myths in the IT industry is that Gartner demands payment from vendors for placement on its research. This even came up in a comment – anonymously posted of course – on a blog post written by Gartner VP and Distinguished Analyst Tom Bittman (bio, blog, Twitter) called A Rant – My Integrity as an Analyst.

SageCircle knows this is not the case from personal experience, but also because we get collaborating evidence from our clients. Just last week we were on an inquiry with a client, a small software company, who was included on a Magic Quadrant in the Visionary square months before they even considered signing up for a Gartner contract. The reason for the inquiry with SageCircle? In the draft update of the Magic Quadrant their dot had moved to the left. Yikes. However, the reason for the less favorable position had nothing to do with their client status or the size of their contract. Rather it was because they had not noticed that the lead author on the Magic Quadrant had changed. Once we figured this out, they understood that their problem was that they had never briefed the new analyst.

We also know of large vendors who have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars with Gartner year in and year out only never to get onto a Magic Quadrant on which they wanted to be included.

However, in the past it has also been true that some unscrupulous Gartner sales representatives have played the research placement card when they desperately needed to […]

Don’t bring your CEO to Symposium and expect to brief the analysts (part 2 of 7 about Gartner’s Q3 AR Call)

Gartner’s Analyst Relations team holds a quarterly conference call for the analyst relations (AR) community. SageCircle occasionally will post about the call, but for this particular call there was so much information that we have a seven-part series to highlight details and provide commentary. See below for links to all seven posts.

Logo - Symposium 2009One of the questions at the first of the Gartner Q3 AR Calls was something along the lines of “I am bringing my CEO to Symposium and want to meet with six analysts. In addition, my CEO wants to give an overview presentation. When can I expect confirmation?”

The Gartnerians were incredibly patient and diplomatic in their response. We will be somewhat more frank in our response:

  • There is a snowball’s chance in Hell that you can set up a meeting of this nature with six analysts because schedules are already getting booked
  • It would be a waste of time to do an overview briefing (see part 1 of this series for why)
  • Your CEO would likely be insulted by an analyst’s lack of interest in his overview should you actually corner one to meet with him, for instance during a 1-on-1
  • Not correctly setting the CEO’s expectations about Symposium could be a career-limiting move for the AR manager

First and foremost, vendors need to realize that Gartner Symposium is end-user centric. While vendor ITxpo sponsorships contribute significantly to Symposium’s revenue stream, it is the end users that account for at least 70% of Gartner’s overall annual revenue. So everything that Gartner is doing is focused on maximizing the experience for enterprise CIOs and IT managers. This includes giving end users priority access to […]

Prepping for Gartner Symposium (part 1 of 7 about Gartner Q3 AR Call)

Gartner’s Analyst Relations team holds a quarterly conference call for the analyst relations (AR) community. SageCircle occasionally will post about the call, but for this particular call there was so much information that we have a seven-part series to highlight details and provide commentary. See below for links to all seven posts.

Logo - Symposium 2009In the presentation for the AR call (click here to get a copy of the slides, to be posted by COB 9/21/09), the Gartnerians made a number of very useful suggestions for AR and other vendor staff going to Symposium. Many of the suggestions were the same ones SageCircle have made in the past including during the August 2009 AR Coffee Talk on “Staying Top of Mind for Symposium.” A quick summary of Gartner’s top suggestions with our commentary:

  • Understand the realities of analysts’ life at Symposium – Every minute is scheduled and they are worked to exhaustion.
    • Implication: Do not try to brief or otherwise give analysts information that you want them to remember because they simply will not remember it
    • Best practice: Use Symposium for relationship building and gauging analyst interest in a topic. Then schedule briefings after Symposium on the new information
  • Do: Draw relevance to analysts’ (that you are talking to) published research and know what they’re presenting on
    • Best practice: Do your homework before heading to Symposium
  • Do: Make it a two-way conversation (when talking to analysts at 1-on-1s or side meetings)
    • Implication: Monologues where vendors are talking at analysts are a waste of time
    • Best practice: Ask questions about their research agenda and what they are hearing from […]

Misunderstanding Magic Quadrants, MarketScopes, and More

Source: Gartner analyst blog by Lydia Leong

Source: Gartner analyst blog by Lydia Leong

For years IT and telecommunications vendors have complained about the misuse of Gartner Magic Quadrants by IT buyers.  It appears that three key issues are routinely surfaced: 

1)     The criteria for placing the dots onto the graphic are not transparent and often the dots appear to be randomly placed by the whim of the analyst

2)     Magic Quadrants are not always updated in a timely manner and out-of-date MQ’s seem to stay around forever

3)     Research consumers often look only at the graphic and miss the supporting research note or do not speak directly with the analysts via client inquiry.  This is especially true when free reprints are made available to non-clients by various vendors

Example Gartner disclaimer about the Magic Quadrant

Example Gartner disclaimer about the Magic Quadrant

Part of the problem is that while Gartner has background information about the MQ on its website (click here to read, free registration required) and a perfunctory paragraph to readers in the fine print in the footnote of MQ PDFs (click on graphic on left to enlarge), it does not have a systematically approach to training its clients about how the MQ is to be used. That is one of the reasons why SageCircle wrote IT managers, it’s never, ever only about the upper right dot when it comes to Forrester Waves or Gartner Magic Quadrants. (There is longer, more detailed version of this content in our  SageNote™ “A Consumer’s Guide to using Gartner’s Magic Quadrant”.)

It was therefore refreshing to see a blog post on the Gartner Blog network by Jim Holincheck entitled Misunderstanding Magic Quadrants, MarketScopes, and More where he talks a bit about criteria transparency and the way these reports should be used.  It makes a good read for both vendor clients and IT buyer clients.  This addresses the number one concern above. Perhaps with more discussion the use of these important tools can be improved.

However, there is still a disconnect with issue number three.  Jim states “More importantly though, […]

Saving money on contracts with the Forrester / Gartner duopoly is not simple

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgA common client inquiry we receive is in the context of someone negotiating with Gartner. Our clients want to know why in the midst of a terrible economic downturn, when vendors are cutting budgets left and right, that Gartner does not exhibit greater flexibility (i.e., cut prices) when it comes to contract negotiations. The short answer is that due to its end-user advisory market dominance – we estimate that Gartner has ~70% of the end user contracts – it does not have to be flexible. 

However, this issue is a little more complex than slapping a “monopolist” tag on folks over on Top Gallant Road. The reality is that there is an effective duopoly with tacit partner Forrester which gives them both the flexibility to be inflexible with it comes to negotiations. The last time this market saw pricing and packaging that in anyway favored the buyer was the mid-90’s when Giga and later META used significantly lower prices and “all you can eat” research seats to take market share from Gartner and Forrester. Alas, today there are no such firms that can play that role to counter Gartner and Forrester. As a consequence, the Big Two’s CEOs habitually inform Wall Street that they are maintaining their pricing and discounting discipline.

However, it is possible to reduce spending – notice we did not say “save money” – with the Forrester / Gartner duopoly without damaging the ability to access analysts for influencing purposes. However, it is not as simple as trying to wrangle a better discount from the sales rep. Rather it takes:

  • Knowledge about the firms’ business models
  • Knowledge about the firms’ research methodology and analyst culture
  • Knowledge about the true business value of […]

As we head into Hype Cycle refresh time, pick up a copy of “Mastering the Hype Cycle”

Gartner typically refreshes most Hype Cycles in June and July every year. From a timing point-of-view that means the analysts are starting to think about what they want to change in the Hype Cycle in April. Then in May and June they move into their serious work on their Hype Cycles in order to get them through Editorial by the end of June. Working backward that means that AR programs need to start now to think about how they want to influence the Hype Cycle. 

A valuable resource for AR programs that want to influence the Hype Cycle is the book Mastering the Hype Cycle: How to Choose the Right Innovation at the Right Time (Harvard Business Press, $19.77 + S&H on Amazon) by Hype Cycle creator Jackie Fenn and colleague Mark Raskino. While written for the enterprise client, there are many valuable insights in the book for vendor AR professionals.  Click here for SageCircle’s review of the book.

Related posts:

SageCircle Technique:

  • Add influencing the Hype Cycle to your annual AR Strategic & Tactical Plan
  • Carefully review the list of Hype Cycles to identify relevant targets (while there are 96 Hype Cycles as of July 6, 2008, this task will likely not require a lot of time and effort)
  • Identify which of your company’s leading-edge […]