"Gartner is like a mainframe in 1979. Ripe for deconstruction." So says Redmonk analyst James Governor in his post about transparency and the analyst business. Notice that he said "deconstruction," not "destruction." With nearly $900 million (FY 2004) in revenue and about 4,000 employees, including 650 analysts and 550 consultants, Gartner is the big gorilla in the analyst space. It's not going under any time soon, but its margins and credibility could come under increasing pressure.
In reality, Gartner is actually more like the IBM of today than a 1979 IBM mainframe. IBM sells its consulting services and products to customers, taking revenue from both ends of the funnel. It maintains a significant amount of proprietary sauce but has also adapted to the open source world. Gartner gets paid by companies and vendors to consult and also issues analyst reports rating the vendors. Not exactly the same, but both work in an environment in which they have perceived and real conflicts.
James rightly contends that Gartner and other analyst firms (including his own) should simply disclose what firms are paying for services as well as the methodologies that underlie analyses. He argues that customers don't want to foot the bill to support the so-called proprietary analyst firms, and that a shared model for market research and analysis will emerge. Bringing some of the virtues of an open source ecosystem to the analyst world will result in more innovation and better decision making, he said.
"What if you could base your best practices on peer experience, rather than someone else's tablets of stone, brought down from the mountain?," James spouts. "Wouldn't it be nice to think that one day in the not too distant future enterprises had access to, and could contribute to, their own platform quadrants. No magic required, just aggregated decision-making."
Enterprises would like that kind of collaboration, transparency and standardization to develop best practices, but to 'encourage' Gartner to lift its veil will take more than James Governor throwing stones. The vendors and the enterprises paying Gartner will have to demand the same level of transparency that their customers are beginning to expect from them in doing business.