IT managers use analyst inquiry much differently from vendors

One of the sources of disconnect between vendors’ perception of the advisory analysts (e.g., Forrester and Gartner) and the reality is how very differently vendors and end users (usually enterprise IT managers) make use of the phone-based inquiry that comes with annual subscriptions.

IT managers frequently use analyst inquiry to manage the risk of buying a technology product or service. In addition, IT managers will call upon the analysts to give them intelligence and insights when they are negotiating a contract with a vendor. Often this information and advice is provided over many short phone calls touching on very specific topics, e.g., “Vendor X came to present to the team yesterday and said they could…” or “Vendor Y appears to have better support and should I…..” As a consequence, IT managers see the analysts as allies when it comes to making the best purchasing decisions and paying the right price. In fact, many IT managers think that rather than an expense, a Gartner or Forrester contract is an investment because they end up saving so much on their vendor contracts.

Vendors just do not have the same experience with analysts. First, vendor clients of analysts rarely use inquiry with the same frequency as end users. Furthermore, the typically vendor client never calls an advisory analyst to get advice on how to save money on purchase. So for the vendor executive, the only thing s/he sees is an expensive contract that is rarely used and provides no tangible value. No wonder vendor executives are befuddled by why end users continue to sign up for advisory analyst contracts.

We bring this up because a SageCircle strategist was talking to two senior and savvy vendor executives who normally understand the analysts. The executives were completely amazed to hear about Continue reading

Bill of Rights for industry analyst vendor prospects

SageCircle has addressed the never ending myth that large advisory firms like Gartner and Forrester require vendors to pay in order to be included on research in posts such as You don’t have to be a Gartner client to get a good “dot” on the Magic Quadrant and Analyst integrity issues – the urban legend that won’t die. In addition, Gartner VP and Distinguished Analyst Tom Bittman (bio, blog, Twitter) has addressed the issue in A Rant – My Integrity as an Analyst along with Gartner Client Ombudsman Nancy Erskine who posted It’s Still True: Gartner Opinion is Not for Sale. A final point is that large firms explicitly make it part of their policy to state vendor briefings are not contingent upon being a client. For instance, on Gartner Vendor Briefings page there is the statement in the first paragraph “Gartner analysts schedule briefings at their discretion based purely on an interest in the vendor, its technologies and its marketplace, not because of any fee or contractual relationship.”

So why does this myth still persist? One reason is that there are still “white paper for hire” firms that will generate papers favorable to the client. So these “white paper for hire” firms taint the perception about all analyst firms. In addition, there some unscrupulous sales representatives at major firms like Forrester, Gartner, and so on that have played the research placement card when they desperately needed to close a contract or risked being fired. So part of the problem is that a few rotten apples at the major firms spoil the reputation of the entire firm. Finally, while analysts have policies against pay-to-play on their websites, has anybody ever read them? 

Killing the myth

So what can analyst firms do to drive a stake through the heart of this pernicious perception? They can create a “Bill of Rights for Vendor Prospects” that clearly states the policy and that every firm sales representative is required to give to a new prospect or existing clients working on a contract renewal. By explicitly stating the policy, which would include a provision that the firm would deal harshly with any sales representative that crossed the line, the firms would stand a better chance of stamping out this myth.

 While the focus of this proposal is on vendors who are (or are not) clients of the advisory firms the concept plays well to the end-user clients who are purchasing services.  They expect the advice they are receiving is objective and not tainted by undue influence.  A more public statement of the policy might be of value in selling to those clients as well.

To get the process started, here is an outline of what a “Bill of Continue reading

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