There are a lot of things you can say about Gartner. One of them is that Gartner is a successful company, and it is unreasonable to say otherwise. The stock price continues to grow – revenue has doubled since 2015. But beyond the objective fact that Gartner’s financial performance is strong, opinions vary tremendously around the quality and inherent bias in their research products.
Gartner has been a key player throughout my career… Gartner was a competitor for me in prior research industry roles, and is now a gatekeeper (and potential accelerator/inhibitor) for my tech startups. And I grew up in an IT research firm family – my dad worked for several IT research firms over the course of his career, the last of which was eventually bought by Gartner, so Gartner has been a household name for me since the day I was born.
Overall, I believe the majority of Gartner’s work is solid, and specifically useful/productive for its clients. But there is also a certain amount of bias towards those who pay tribute, this is tough to deny.
A former colleague of mine shared the following article with me, which is an interesting review of Gartner and its practices. I would take this with a grain of salt, since it is written by a guy who clearly hates Gartner, and aims to compete with Gartner… but some of the analysis is compelling. This article itself is a jumping off point to scores of other articles on the same site that tear Gartner down. Given the length and scope of some of these articles, I can only imagine how this man developed such a deep animosity for Gartner, it’s almost comical.
Here is the article I started with, and again, this guy’s site is just full of these tomes. Below are two of the quotes I found most interesting:
“Investors can be confident that right or wrong, Gartner’s opinions will be considered definitive by a large segment of the people that can have a powerful effect on a vendor’s future condition… investors can be confident that the product will be included in the shortlists of many software selections, so perception in effect becomes reality. Strangely, while Gartner’s research seems skewed towards investors, according to Gartner investors only represent roughly five percent of all business…”
“Vendors literally don’t have a way of getting out of the Gartner system of tribute. If vendors do not pay, Gartner will retaliate against those vendors by lowering their rankings… SAP, Oracle, IBM, and Microsoft are able to outspend (in time and money) smaller vendors and get higher ratings that are especially valuable for marginal or immature products. For instance, any new product that SAP comes out with, no matter how buggy, will be rated decently simply because of SAP’s size. Microsoft SharePoint, the worst content management system I have ever seen but one which I am forced to use because it is installed at every one of my clients is actually well-rated by Gartner.”
Again, should all be taken with a grain of salt, and always remember: don’t hate the player, hate the game.