Gartner’s Research in 2016: Three Trends Communications Teams Need to Have On Their Radar

Earlier this year Gartner’s Peter Sondergaard announced some very interesting changes to Gartner’s research structure. Simply put, the firm has reorganized its research structure along the following lines:

CIO Research, led by Val Sribar

IT Leaders Research, led by Mike Harris

Technical Professional Research, led by Gary Hein

Technology & Service Provider Research, led by Joe Baylock

Supply Chain Leaders Research, led by Jane Barrett

Marketing Leaders Research, led by Yvonne Genovese

Digital Markets Content, led by Anthony Bradley

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My colleague Jay Andersen previously wrote about the danger of over focusing on Gartner at the expense of other analyst firms (Jay’s right, don’t bet everything on one horse!) However, we should still take a deeper look at what Gartner’s up to because it will have a clear impact industry discussions and end users decisions. There are several things highlights that communications and marketing teams should note when dealing with Gartner’s research re-org in 2016:

Gartner’s Next Big Growth Market – Non Traditional IT: Gartner continues to prioritize expanding to new audiences. The firm has had its eyes set on CMOs, Chief Digital Officers and marketing leaders for the past few years, but is now targeting CEOs as well. Gartner clearly doesn’t want to be pigeonholed as just an IT shop, but a business transformation partner for the whole C-Suite. Much of its own research on bi-modal IT is about how IT teams need to evolve to survive. Gartner clearly isn’t ignoring that the bulk of its client base – senior IT decision makers like Chief Information Officers, Data Center Directors and Network Managers – are facing their own existential challenges. Gartner needs a backup plan in case traditional IT fails to evolve quickly enough to secure funding. Enter the new Gartner audiences – CEOs, digital innovators and line-of-business executives.

 Gartner’s Getting Really Serious about Peer Driven Insights: Gartner’s peer reviews tool seems to be an increasingly big deal for Gartner (and AR pros). Gartner’s adding 20 new categories this year. Net result – communications teams need to have this Gartner service on their radar.

IoT Is The New Mobile: Internet of Things (IoT) coverage is expanding rapidly. In Sondergaard’s words: “We are also looking at expanding our IoT coverage with a dedicated group of analysts who will analyze the implications of IoT at all levels — hardware, software and business, under the leadership of John Barber.” It’s probably fair to say that IoT is the new mobile for Enterprise IT i.e. it’s one of those big revenue technologies that is disruptive because it has the potential to impact both the front and back ends of the business. And traditional IT is often playing catch up with rogue IoT projects. It’s no coincidence that many mobile focused analysts are increasingly focusing on IoT. The fact that line of business and CEO budget holders are investing in IoT probably isn’t lost on Gartner either.

Beyond Digital Business? The greater focus on IoT shouldn’t come as a surprise. Gartner recently replaced its previous ‘Nexus of Forces’ narrative with a new one – The digital mesh. The intention seems to be to plot a course from cloud, mobile and analytics based digital business transformation (where many Gartner clients are focusing their efforts today) to accommodate emerging technologies like IoT, software defined architectures, machine learning and 3D printers. It appears that Gartner sees the mesh as the next step in evolving digital business models. In short, it doesn’t look like Gartner’s going to switch from talking about digital business anytime soon, even if some in the industry are experiencing digital transformation fatigue! It will also be interesting to see how much the new mesh concept resonates with the industry.

But what’s your take on Gartner’s current research direction? How do you plan to change your marketing or analyst relations strategy in response? In my follow up post I’ll dig deeper into some of the implications for communications teams.