Is the influence of Gartner, IDC and Forrester waning?

The diminishing role of analyst firms in helping CIOs

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‘Pay to play’ was the accusation from network software vendor NetScout of analyst house Gartner back in 2014.

The tech company believed that its low placement in Gartner’s magic quadrant in March 2014 had proven that Gartner was “not independent, objective or unbiased” and that “its business model was extortionate by its very nature”. Essentially, it alleged that the three companies that received better placements in the quadrant were substantial spenders with Gartner.  

The case took a number of years in pre-trial processes, with Netscout claiming that the Magic Quadrant placing harmed its enterprise sales. Then in September this year, Gartner’s request to dismiss the case was granted in its entirety.

In a stern statement, the company said it wasn’t “pay for play”.

“Influence over research content or the amount of research coverage focused on any vendor, sector or topic is not, and has never been, for sale by Gartner. Period,” Gartner said.

Similarly, Matthew Guarini, VP, research director at rival analyst firm Forrester tells IDG Connect that his company “follows a strict and transparent process that reflects the decision criteria typically used by our clients” and that analyst objectivity is one of Forrester’s “core corporate values”.

But there’s no doubt that despite the case being dropped, analyst firms have had their reputations tarnished.

Even now, CIOs have some scepticism about analyst processes.

“I’ve heard in the past that you can buy your way into Gartner’s Magic Quadrant,” says Claudette Jones, CIO of the University of West Scotland (UWS).

Even moving away from this ‘pay to play’ notion, there is a common consensus among many CIOs that analyst firms’ influence has waned in the last decade when it comes to IT procurement.

“Ten years ago, I relied on analyst firms almost exclusively and if I was about to take on a new project or look at a vendor I would go to an analyst – so I relied on Gartner and worked with IDC quite frequently,” suggests Graeme Hackland, CIO at Williams F1 Team.

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