Can a New Analyst Firm Take Down Gartner?
For more than 30 years, Gartner has dominated the IT analyst market. CIO.com columnist Rob Enderle sees Ombud, a new analyst firm focusing on social CRM and pulling member profiles from LinkedIn, as a viable challenge to a firm founded before there were even PCs.
Fri, May 11, 2012
CIO — Gartner is a major power in the IT advisory firm space. There is constant contention between Gartner and the vendors who think, right or wrong, that the company charges them way too much for positive reviews. IT buyers often complain that Gartner, like any large company serving lots of people, doesn't get down to their unique needs and often sends them analysts who are inexperienced. Furthermore, there has always been a concern with every vendor-funded firm in the segment that the difference between reviews and marketing collateral is negligible. With Gartner, the issue isn't corruption but, rather, timeliness and relevance.
But while there have been several attempts to take out Gartner since it was founded as the Gartner Group in 1979—first by IDC, then by the Gideon Gartner-founded Giga Information Group (which, in the interest of full disclosure, I helped found as well), and finally by Forrester Research—Gartner remains the power in the market.
However, the market has changed dramatically since the founding of these firms. Increasingly, the IT department, the audience we all target, is no longer the owner of the technology budget. Rather, this budget is controlled by line management, which doesn't listen to Gartner and, for that matter, often doesn't listen to IT either.
One of the biggest IT complaints at the moment is the massive number of transactions employees are putting on credit cards to buy some online service. This is on top of the massive wave of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) requests that IT must deal with. Employees, often with the support of their managers, are purchasing a tablet (most likely an iPad), cool laptop or other device and asking IT to put it on the network.
Drawing on End Users, Experts for Purchasing Advice
This all came up over drinks the other night when I was presented with the latest—and there is little doubt there will be more—on the list of products and services aimed at killing Gartner.
This latest service is called Ombud, and it's presented as a social CRM (customer relationship management) service. This fascinated me, since the model for most of today's analyst firms came from Gideon Gartner's perceptions of the industry. Remember, Gartner Group was conceived well before social networking, at a time when there not only was no Internet but no PCs. It seemed that it wouldn't be long before someone would figure out how to blend experts, practitioners and vendors into a service that would be cheaper, more current and more focused on the unique needs of an individual company, thus providing more real value (regardless of price) than the older model.