Are AR Teams Overly Obsessed with Gartner?

One consistent discussion in AR circles is the concept of putting the lion’s share of their AR budget and focus on Gartner in 2016. In its latest earnings announcement, the research firm reported more than 10,000 enterprise customers, an 8% year-over-year increase. Combine that growing end-user influence and the sheer number of Gartner analysts you might brief, along with many AR team’s finite resources, and I understand the logic of considering putting all (or most) of your eggs in one basket.


While Gartner has significant influence on end-user purchasing decisions, media discussions and investor sentiment, its influence is not so strong that other firms don’t shape perceptions and have influence especially in specific niches, verticals and audience groups. As a result, it’s important to be strategic and selective when scoping an AR program. Many other firms bring distinct influence, deliverables and insight to the table. So let’s run through what some of those scenarios might be:

  • Investor Influence: If you’re a public company hoping to influence ‘the Street’, IDC with its respected marketing-sizing and forecast data is a key tool for many buy-side analysts. And if you’re a startup looking to get noticed by investors, then 451 Research is a firm that should be on your list.
  • Lab Testing: If you’re looking to benchmark your latest gear against the competition you will be well served by working with Enterprise Strategy Group’s testing labs. Also, don’t be afraid to think about non-analyst firms and associations that also test products.
  • Media Influence: If media presence is your top priority, work with the Enderle Group, Moor Insights or Jackdaw Research, as they are skilled at contextualizing trends for journalists and can also provide independent third-party perspective for reporters. Again, if you’re targeting Europe or Asia, then the optimal firm and analyst may well change. For example, many boutique analyst firms in the U.K., France and Germany have high visibility in their local markets.
  • Verticals: If you are looking to break into new vertical markets you should work with boutique firms that specialize in those segments, such as Aite and TowerGroup for financial services or KLAS for healthcare.

 Finally, Gartner does not have the monopoly on smart thinking – there are many super smart analysts at other firms. In addition, many Gartner end-user clients tend to be on the conservative side of technology adoption. Other firms have more forward-leaning clients who are adopting bleeding-edge tech more aggressively. Ultimately, Gartner’s competitors are not rolling over or sitting still.

Personally, I’ve been impressed with 451 Research and the impressive amount of research it produces and its smart hires (e.g., Henry Balthazar [storage] and Nancy Gohring [app and infrastructure performance]). IDC is focusing more on end-user customers and has already done a notable job redesigning its research deliverable. Despite some recent prominent departures, Forrester continues to have specific strengths when it comes to in marketing technology and customer experience.

Many have also noted the strong performance in recent years of smaller and some might say more nimble players who have done a good job leveraging social media and/or open-source business models to raise their profile including Constellation Research, Horses for Sources, Redmonk and Digital Clarity Group.

There is no denying in today’s research market that Gartner is at the top of the food-chain, has wide-reaching deal-flow influence and has developed a deep bench of some of the most insightful analysts. That being said, AR teams will miss out if they place a disproportionate focus on Gartner. It’s never been more important to be sure you’ve got the right analysts on your target list. And when it is time to reach out to your analysts it is equally important to engage the right subset based on your objectives … but that’s a topic for another blog post!

Which firms have impressed you most so far in 2016? Which firms are you putting at the top of your list and why? Not sure how to gauge which analysts can move the needle for your business? Drop me an email at and let’s take a look at which analysts will make the most positive impact for your business.

IDC 2015 Predictions – Navigating the Digital Opportunity: A Bridge CIOs Must Cross


Research firm IDC recently ran a webinar explaining its CIO agenda for 2015. The call discussed long-term industry trends that have been reshaping the role of CIO and IT shops around the world. I was impressed with both the high percentages that IDC called out as well as the relative immediacy of the predictions – 2016 is not that far off in the future. Some of the more intriguing IDC predictions included:

  • By 2017, 80% of the CIO’s time will be focused on analytics, cybersecurity and creating new revenue streams through digital services.
  • By 2016, 65% of global competitive strategies will require real-time 3rd Platform IT-as-a–Service (ITaaS).
  • By 2016, security will be among the top 3 business priorities for 70% of global enterprise CEOs.
  • By 2016, 80% of CIOs will deliver a new architectural framework that enables innovation and improved business decision-making.
  • By 2015, 60% of CIOs will use DevOps as their primary tool to address the speed and sprawl of mobile, cloud, and open source applications.

IDC framed the discussion around three overarching drivers that are impacting the enterprise, namely Business, Social and Technology:

  • Business: It’s clear that CIOs and their IT shops need to shift from the maintenance and operations model to become brokers of services in support of business objectives. Agility is the order of the day, and the shift to a service model will empower businesses to spin up new offerings in response to customer needs.
  • Social: The workplace has become elastic, in both a temporal and physical sense. CIOs need to support workers throughout the day and night. This is forcing IT to move from a “fortress” or “lockdown” view on security to one that protects assets and individuals. The choice is stark between having a proactive and reactive security plan.
  • Technology: The proliferation of connected ‘things’ is going to create a deluge of data and opportunities for CIOs to place themselves at the center of business conversations. Smart and active analytics will replace what IDC cleverly calls ‘passive analysis and interrogation.’ Also, the ‘everything-as-a-service’ model will oblige IT to restructure ‘everything.’ The pending rate of change cannot be sustained without robust architecture.

Like the other big research firms, IDC sees digital transformation as key for businesses, including the disruptive influence of cloud computing and Big Data (data analytics, social computing, and the ubiquity of smart mobile devices). IDC describes this phenomenon as the 3rd Platform, while Gartner refers to it as the Digital Business Advantage brought about by the Nexus of Forces, and Forrester calls it Digital Business. What is consistent across all of these views is how disruptive this digitalization of business will be in the coming century. Gartner predicts that “By 2020, 75% of businesses will be a digital business or will be preparing to become one.”

The opportunity to re-invent ourselves is breathtaking, and I’m reminded of the Chinese proverb, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” If you haven’t already broken ground on your digital transformation, there is no better time than now.

In a digital world things move even faster, so keeping ahead of your competitors is critical. And market intelligencehas never been more central to staying competitive.

  • Analyst relations professionals should be pulling all the levers possible on their inbound AR toolkit, constantly distilling insights from running inquiries, strategy days and events to support market intelligence efforts.
  • Product management teams should be constantly listening to analyst feedback on what customers are prioritizing when it comes to digital. Digital requires a different approach and analyst opinions on what clients are struggling with can be a great source of insight when it comes to refining roadmaps.
  • Public relations teams have a perfect opportunity to leverage digital transformation as the heart and blood of their story. Industries are transforming themselves overnight and PR is the perfect discipline through which to communicate the benefits and disruptive power that this entails.

How are you changing your business model and communications approach to take advantage of the digital opportunity? We’d love to hear your perspective. Please feel free to contact me at: