Chatting with Gartner

05 May 2009

Last week our US-based analyst relations team spent a lively hour with Jenni Lehman, Group VP in Gartner Research, when she visited our offices to talk about the firm’s research structure, social media policies, and whom to call when things turn south.

If you haven’t met Jenni, she is responsible for research operations including the functions of Research Methodology, Research Agenda Management, Primary Research, Secondary Research, Global Editing, Research Engagement Scheduling, Research Events Programs, Research Workforce Development and Research Business Operations.  Jenni explained how Gartner has six other GVPs of research who have oversight of markets including Servers & Storage, IT Operations, Business Intelligence, etc. while she is charged with creating the framework for repeatable and high-quality research. Yes, her plate is a full one. And yes Gartner pays close attention to how research is created and developed. I might have coined a new acronym when I asked her how their recently launched CCA (Critical Capabilities Analysis) methodology was going. After explaining what I meant (I guess nobody other than me refers to them as CCA), Jenni let us know that client response has been strong and that more than 20 are planned for 2009. We’re curious to hear if anyone out there has had any experience working on a CCA (there I said it again!). She also confirmed that Hype Cycles are one of the most-often downloaded research documents at Gartner.com.

While some have rightly criticized Gartner for being slow to have a blogging and Twitter presence, the firm is now embracing digital. Gartner has established a clear set of guidelines for their analysts to follow including avoid inflammatory subjects, don’t post information and advice for which clients pay Gartner, protect and enhance the value of the Gartner brand, and be personable and have fun. The link for their policy can be found here. As a long-time Gartner client we appreciate the fact that they are respecting our rights and not giving away one of our competitive advantages. Gartner has a number of active Twitterers which can be found here. We are encouraged to see Gartner join the conversation on Twitter and in the blogosphere. Jenni mentioned one interesting side effect of social media; analysts sometimes blog about subject areas outside of their core focus. When they do, they need to be careful that what they post does not contradict what Gartner has officially written on the subject. It might be a good best practice to search across the Gartner blog network to see if analysts you don’t normally follow are writing about your company or market. And finally, Jenni confirmed our suspicion that Gartner tracks blog readership to see which analysts are getting the most hits. A little friendly competition amongst the analyst ranks is alive and well.

And finally we talked about the role of Ombudsman, which Jenni referred to as Gartner’s Switzerland. If a vendor has an issue with published research, including blogs and Twitter posts, they are urged to take it up with the Ombudsman to address the issue. The Ombudsman’s main goal is to be responsive to end-user and vendor issues to maintain the company’s integrity, evaluate research for balance and objectivity, and deliver visibility into Gartner’s research process. It’s a lofty goal and our team has experience with the process. We’d be interested in hearing about anyone else’s experience.

Overall it was a great meeting; as an AR professional with a library research background I found it a fascinating look at what goes on behind the scenes at Gartner research. We’re hoping to meet with other folks responsible for research agenda at other leading industry research firms. Stay tuned!

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