Analyst Relations: How to Get the Most Out of Gartner Symposium

Thinkstock Every year Gartner runs its Symposium event in Orlando. Symposium is the key event in the Analyst Relations calendar, due to the sheer number of analysts, vendors and high-level speakers attending. It’s also a great chance to hear Gartner brief the AR community on its latest research methodologies, changes and AR best practices. If you are new to the Symposium experience, here are some topline recommendations on how to get the most out of your time there:

  • Maximize the value of 1:1s – Ensure any 1:1 meetings with analysts are a genuinely good fit with your area of focus or the problem you are looking to solve. There’s nothing worse for either party than a discussion that is light on relevance. Be sure to give them opening context on what you’re hoping to get out of the conversation, especially if they’re not familiar with you, or your challenges. Often analysts are meeting attendees for the first time, so context is king.
  • Plan sessions carefully – As the venue is large and spread across multiple campuses, travel time can be a factor in attending sessions. Be sure to plan enough time between sessions for travel (especially if you’re new to the Symposium experience).  Gartner’s handy agenda builder will help you plan ahead.
  • Talk with CIOs for their reaction to analyst and vendor presentations  It's one thing to hear what analysts and competitors have to say about tech trends. It's quite another to observe how CIOs are reacting to those messages. When are they most engaged? When are they rolling their eyes in disbelief? This event provides a rare opportunity for message testing and trying out new angles. It also gives you a glimpse into where Gartner is - and isn't - hitting its mark with the tech-buying crowd. Take advantage of it!
  • Seek out the unusual – Gartner Symposium sessions cover a wide range of topics. Often there will be novel presentations that look at the tech industry through a fresh lens – Gartner’s Maverick research notes are a great example of out of the box thinking. Gartner is particularly good at approaching topics from a high level, especially when it touches on the intersection of technology and decision maker politics and behaviors.

One great example from last year’s event was Tina Nunno’s session on CIO’s finding their inner Wolf (by learning the lessons of Machiavelli) in order to succeed politically in an organization. It was an excellent example of the political and emotional context of technology decision making. As well as being insightful, it was also very funny, and clearly resonated with the CIOs in attendance.

This year, Gartner’s introducing ‘Espresso’ sessions – quick fire presentations that are deliberately designed to be edgy and provocative. Examples of topics include: ‘Digital Ethics, or How Not to Mess Up With Technology’ and ‘The Next Digital Disruption Will Be the Human Brain: Is Your Organization Ready for Neurobusiness?’ I’m sure they will spur on a good deal of debate among attendees.

  • Intelligent networking – No, I’m not referencing some kind of new IT network delivery system, but Symposium is a great place to network with lots of smart AR folks. The Gartner Analyst Relations Forum is always well worth attending and is a must for anyone who has AR as part of their responsibilities. It provides a great macro update of Gartner’s latest plans, with many AR pros swapping anecdotes and comparing notes over drinks afterwards.

If you have any questions on getting the most out of Symposium, or how to best approach analyst events in general, please do get in touch with me at tclark@blancandotus.com.