Andrew Smith is speading the news that Gartner vice-president Frank Buytendijk has joined Hyperion as vice president of Corporate Strategy, based in The Netherlands. He will report directly to Hyperion’s Chief Strategy Officer, Howard Dresner. Dresner was also a vice president at Gartner.
Regular readers of Analyst Equity will know that we heard the news on Valentine’s Day, and posted about it here. Back then no-one would confirm or deny that Buytendijk was moving. The refusal to deny is usually confirmation enough. But to make sure we got the message, we got an amazing self-destruct email to confirm the rumour: the self-destruct aspect reminds us more of Inspector Gadget than Mission: Impossible.
Comedy aside, this remains an ethical issue for analyst firms. Our opinion is that Gartner is one of the best in terms of notifying clients when analysts are being hired by their competitors. That allows vendors to control the flow of information to analysts, and to help their spokespeople appreciate the seriousness with which analysts take their responsibilities.
Across the analyst industry, firms are still not clear enough about these policies. Only yesterday, a client mentioned to me that they updated an analyst less than one week before he left the analyst firm to join their competitor. We do not doubt that this analyst will honour confidentiality, but only the paranoid survive.
Analyst firms unnecessarily force their analysts and their corporate reputations into both real and perceived conflicts of interests when they do not tell clients as soon as possible that analysts are leaving the firm. Increased honesty would, in fact, set vendors at greater ease.
Analyst firms have a range of choices. At one extreme, departing analysts are worked into the ground, and are told to finish their entire work pipeline before they go. Some analyst firms over-react by enforcing what we British call gardening leave, in which most of the notice period is not worked. For senior analysts, the right choice should be in the middle: departing analysts should be used to transfer their knowledge to colleagues and clients.
When Frank and Howard join major clients of Gartner, it should be taken as good news for them and for the industry as a whole. In fact, the lack of transparency on such moves — even from Gartner, which is one of the best — means that it simply increases anxiety, frustration and skepticism about analysts’ independence.