Measuring Analyst Impact

18 May 2007


My former Gartner colleague Vinnie Mirchandani has perhaps mischaracterized my comments about Gartner’s earnings, terming it a “rave” about its “growing ‘influence.’”  While I wouldn’t term my comments a “rave,” Vinnie actually raises an interesting question:  where is Gartner’s revenue growth coming from?  He posits that most of the revenue growth is coming from price increases to vendors and newer SME buyers, especially overseas.  I’m not prepared to do a detailed financial analysis, though perhaps I’ll contact Laura Lederman of William Blair, who has covered Gartner from its initial public offering and is the “dean” of stock analysts covering Gartner.  However, my immediate gut reaction is that this segment doesn’t come close to explaining Gartner’s revenue growth and that a considerable portion of it comes from selling more stuff (most notably membership programs) into existing enterprises.

More interesting to me is the issue of measuring “influence.”  <Caveat:  self-serving vendor hype to follow>  We’re just now producing the results of our annual B2B IT decision-makers survey, which has consistently shown both the influence of industry analysts and the impact of Gartner and as soon as we have results to talk about, we’ll discuss them here.  <end hype>  Why don’t the analyst firms do a better job of helping their vendor constituency understand their influence?  You’d think that were they to do so, it might actually help their business.  At its most basic, I can only conclude that the analyst firms either don’t know how to measure it either or, more importantly, that they don’t necessarily believe it will help (or validate) their business.  So who’s responsible for resolving this issue?  Is this market large enough, and is this issue important enough, to drive a solution here?  But since I’ve been working on this side of the street (vendor/agency), I’ve long wondered why the analyst firms don’t do more to help AR professionals.  (And viewing them as a revenue opportunity with AR-based offerings is not the kind of help I’m talking about.)  AR’s pain is often the same of that of the vendors:  how do we get more resources.  If the analyst firms could help AR understand their influence in quantifiable, defensible fashion, there would almost certainly be more money for analyst-related activities, including subscriptions and consulting days for the analyst firms.  I think the analyst firm/analyst relations relationship remains too contentious today.  When are the analyst firms going to wake up and understand that AR is their potential ally?  Forrester, with their wildly successful AR council (bringing AR professionals together in a way that we’ve never been able to do ourselves) is in a great position to bring this relationship to the next level.  But they may feel that as much as it might help them, it would help Gartner as much or more (and I can’t really argue with that concern).  So, Gartner, are you ready to stand up?

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