Don’t Panic if your Competitor Hires Your Gartner Analyst

Gartner’s French Caldwell retired last month; this week he joins MetricStream, one of the GRC vendors he followed for Gartner. Folk are often surprised when top analysts move over to the supplier side. Howard Dresner, one of the best known analysts in any field, surprised  a lot of people when he left Gartner to join Hyperion. While it’s only human to be worried, there’s no cause for panic. Former META Group SVP Christian Byrnes (@cbyrnes), now Managing Vice President at Gartner, said in an email to me and my peers:

Every employee of Gartner is subject to our Confidentiality Agreement. And, in the case of analysts, we are very aware of the trust given to us by vendor clients during inquiries, SAS and briefings. As such, analysts are trained in the proper handling of such information. When an analyst leaves Gartner, they are reminded of that fact and they must acknowledge that they understand that their responsibility concerning confidentiality goes with them. This even includes when analysts retire. I realize that this is a very sensitive issue for any client who has entrusted Gartner with its strategic plans. You should know that this is something that we take very seriously at the highest levels of the company.

Analysts often cross over onto the vendor side, especially because firms like Gartner are enthusiastic about non-competitive clauses in its employment contracts.  They prevent employees from continuing to work as an analyst for a period if they leave Gartner. Someone like Richard Stiennon, formerly a top Gartner security analyst, for example, is possibly worth more to another analyst firm than to a vendor. However, he could only take employment on the vendor side for a certain period of time.

But this forces Gartner’s analysts into a difficult position: to leave ethically, how can they start flagging up to their clients and colleagues that they intend to leave, without the risk that some vendors will stop talking to them, and thus make it impossible to work during their notice period?

What Gartner does, where possible, is to start that process several months in advance. In Dresner’s case they were able to tell people about the intended move.  Several months is a long time, during which things could change a lot, either in an analyst house, in a vendor, or in an analyst’s life. Both the analyst and the analyst house have to accept a substantial downside in the analyst’s ability to gather knowledge and advise clients during that period if they announce where the analyst is going. The alternative is to restructure the research without flagging up the analyst’s departure, but using the restructure as a way of bothering the information that the outgoing analyst has in a more systematic way. Although it did not know Caldwell’s plans, Gartner started that process in February, by announcing a total overhaul of GRC coverage project managed by Candace Hugdahl. It replaced Caldwell’s MQ with other reports delivered by a team of analysts. That allowed vendors to get weaned off French, and comfortable with the new team.

Clearly, from Gartner’s point of view, the down-side of reorganisation and the calls from anxious clients that Candace might be getting today are not only in their clients’ objective interests, but are also worth much less than the risk of allowing its competitors to offer a home to analysts who want to move on and up in the analyst industry.

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  • I did go through your old post on influencerrelations and I do agree with the perspective on information available in open source. However, as AR professionals, it is imperative that we track these changes. How should vendor organizations track such departures? Any thoughts?

  • Hi Shirvani. I think every AR manager will have a top tier of analysts that they will be in regular contact with, so they will discover changes in the regular course of their work. But for the long tail you need a specialist tool. Our friends at AR Insights have an excellent database, and we work with them to bring a tool called ARchitect Express to our clients. As far as I know, Kea Company are the only people selling ARchitect Express. Give us a call if you’d like a demonstration with my colleague Samyr.

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