Tensions grow between Gartner and vendors

Gartner used the vendor relations meeting here at Symposium to re-emphasize ways in which role-based views aim to improve the usability of its research. This positive message was deflected in the Q&A session, which emphasized vendors’ frustrations with Gartner, as we explain below and in a post to follow. However, even that discussion underplayed the frustrations that technology suppliers feel: that’s a theme that we have explored in the past, repeatedly, and will discuss in the future.

The main news from Gene Hall was the development of more role-based views for vendors, financial services and professional services firms (PSFs) for example. There is one usability feature that I should mention straightway. Each year 235,000 user enquiries are made of Gartner analysts. Gartner is following Forrester’s innovation in ensuring this can now be mined to allow clients to slice and dice that data by user-role and country. Organizational changes are more or less complete at Gartner. Product management has been divided between user services and vendor services (including special arrangements for Professional Services Firms). The research staff has been realigned into role based units to match the product changes. For example, teams now exist for IT architects, security, and a new service has been announced for tech and telecoms companies, which incorporates much of Dataquest.

Peter Sondergaard explained how team managers have changed over the last two months to align the work to the client constituencies. He highlighted foci on IT operations; security; business intelligence; sourcing, vendor management, the business of IT, and so on. These are fully fledged units. Over the summer there has been a similar realignment amongst staff following vendors: they are organized by markets. We can expect the number of special views and technical roles being addressed separately will grow. New content about vendors and markets will be added to the portfolio over a two or three year period, generally emulating what is happening on the end user side. Peter noted that some development in skill sets will be needed, which will certainly cheer Gartner’s analysts.

On the end-user side, Sondergaard also explained that a new stream of content will emerge over the next three or four months: tools to help users to become more productive, principally by taking out replicable work.

The question and answer session discussed both the more recent changes, and their impact. More fine-tuning is expected. The Magic Quadrant is a good example: the major MQ overall in August last year introduced more clarity and transparency, but we and others did not feel it went far enough.

The fine tuning impacts a number of elements of the MQ process. Customer reference processes remain optional, but when MQ analysts feel they are not required Gartner will invite vendors to offer references and Gartner will at least exchange email with reference customers. Other changes include earlier notice of delays in the MQ process and more open on inclusion criteria and weightings. Sondergaard described these changes as “progress towards perfection”.

Gartner will also inform vendors about the reuse of findings from ‘recent’ research, which is published within the preceding 60 days. Vendors will be informed and allowed to offer input which will be reviewed.

The hype cycles have also been reviewed over the last half year and redesigning to make the timings and impacts clearer to the reader. The cycles, and the 1,600 technology definitions used within them, have been decomposed to produce a common taxonomy, to ensure that different technologies are defined in the same way in different hype cycles.

For most vendors, the new HTTP [High Tech & telcom Programs] organisation will be the focus of their interest. The Office of the Ombudsman will separate out more clearly from vendor relations functions, many of which will transfer to HTTP. Ken Davis is now the SVP in charge of this unit. His team will handle quote requests and will acquire the vendor relations page (it will probably be under a new name). Since Davis now looks like the key decision-maker for many AR concerns, his absence from the meeting was unfortunate and surprising.

Vendors at the meeting raised again the need for Gartner to consistently let vendors review analysts’ presentaions at Symposium and conferences. There were also questions about who will be focussing on vendors: suppliers want to speak to the analysts who speak to and influence end-users. One questioner asked if Gartner may obstruct access to them, chanelling vendors towards analysts in the HTTP business. Gartner ducked the question, stressing that it is not reducing effort in end-users. Some analysts in different units will continue involved on many types of clients.

However, end-user and HTTP analysts (RAS and Dataquest are forbidden terms) will continue to be distinguished from each other. Different analysts will aim at different constituencies, using different tools and proceeses.

Vendors are now separated into PSFs and tech providers according to whether they are billed as overhead or variable cost. The distinction is that tech companies have product managers and solutions, and want annual bills, while PSFs are consulting organisations are charging services back to clients. PSFs want to be able to buy seats which they can attribute, and charge back to individual clients, rather than having annualised.

A major concern is that the new content will also mean new pricing. That, however, is a topic large enough for a separate post (especially since trends in pricing are something still being debated at Lighthouse, as you might have pick up from posts by Hugh and myself).

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1 thought on “Tensions grow between Gartner and vendors

  • Alot of confusing acronyms that seem designed to streamline gartner’s business processes and improve its margins.

    What happened to good old fashioned customer service?

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