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Why Listen To What Gartner (IT:NYSE) Says?

|Includes: FORR, Gartner Inc. (IT)

As a person who competed with Gartner, whose employer was acquired by Gartner, who worked within Gartner, and who recently left Gartner, I always get a gleam in my eye when a person is quoting official Gartner predictions, recommendations, or facts with either a reverent or dismissive tone.

You have probably read or heard the statements lately, 'Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) will achieve a 27.7% CAGR through 2016', or, 'Refresh Your Integration Strategy to Tackle Cloud-Based Services', or Gartner recognizes WSO2 as a visionary in the comprehensive application infrastructure market.

With every public statement of 'the Gartner position', comments fly as to whether Gartner analysts truly have their finger on the market pulse and direction. The public situation is exasperated by Gartner's closed business model that sequesters Gartner discussion, analysis, and recommendation behind a pay wall. Many who dismiss Gartner's public sound bites do not have exposure to underlying research conversations, research documents, and rationale.

I was fortunate enough to work within Gartner, and have an opportunity to actively engage in the Gartner analyst peer review discussions that shape Gartner's public positions. My team and I not only set the positions; we also validated enterprise end-user interest, challenges, and adoption success. We established long-term relationships with clients and measured the impact of our advice.

Gartner positions are heavily influenced by the hundreds of yearly conversations each analyst conducts with enterprise end-user IT executives, directors, and architects. With Gartner analysts in the position of an 'external advisor', who does not have a vested interest in selling an infrastructure product or implementing the solution, clients convey intimate details on their business goals, adoption challenges, evaluation criteria, and initiative constraints.

While you may not always agree with the Gartner perspective, the perspective synthesizes end-user stories, vendor roadmaps, peer review, and enterprise bias. If you have an opportunity to talk with a Gartner analyst, you will mostly find a pragmatic strategist, an open listener, a change management expert, and a best practice advocate.

I am looking forward to reconnecting with my colleagues and former clients while at Gartner Catalyst this year and engaging in spirited conversation about the direction of Cloud, mobile, API management, big data, and DevOps. If you are at Catalyst, I look forward to talking with you.

How is this article relevant when posted on SeekingAlpha, and investment site?

Gartner's most important assets are their people; analysts promoting the message, client service members connecting an end-user's IT question with an answer, and sales members who promote entrée behind the pay wall. While financial analysts driving buy-side recommendations are focusing on sales team expansion, Gartner's reputation for high quality, action-oriented research that leads to their client success is also an important long-term success variable. A watchful eye on wallet-share expansion can serve as a proxy for Gartner's reputation within client organization and long-term success.

Additionally, Gartner may decide to increase public exposure to their content, and accelerate end-user knowledge of their value. Right now, with most of the content behind the pay wall, Gartner is relying influence marketing rather than content marketing. With Gartner's big brand reputation, yet small penetration into the IT population, maybe a parallel strategy could turbo-charge growth. For example, the reach of my personal blog post greatly exceeds the individual reach of a Gartner report. Though, the monetization rate does still favor Gartner today ;)

Disclosure: I am long IT.

Additional disclosure: My professional affiliations include working for a Gartner competitor, Burton Group, between 2003 and 2009, and leading two IT Professional analyst teams within Gartner between 2010 and 2011. I am currently Vice President of Technology Evangelism at WSO2. WSO2 is a Gartner research client, and WSO2 is sponsoring the Gartner Catalyst conference. I will be speaking at the Gartner Catalyst conference in late July 2013.