Are AR Teams Overly Obsessed with Gartner?

One consistent discussion in AR circles is the concept of putting the lion’s share of their AR budget and focus on Gartner in 2016. In its latest earnings announcement, the research firm reported more than 10,000 enterprise customers, an 8% year-over-year increase. Combine that growing end-user influence and the sheer number of Gartner analysts you might brief, along with many AR team’s finite resources, and I understand the logic of considering putting all (or most) of your eggs in one basket. Eggs

While Gartner has significant influence on end-user purchasing decisions, media discussions and investor sentiment, its influence is not so strong that other firms don’t shape perceptions and have influence especially in specific niches, verticals and audience groups. As a result, it’s important to be strategic and selective when scoping an AR program. Many other firms bring distinct influence, deliverables and insight to the table. So let’s run through what some of those scenarios might be:

  • Investor Influence: If you’re a public company hoping to influence ‘the Street’, IDC with its respected marketing-sizing and forecast data is a key tool for many buy-side analysts. And if you’re a startup looking to get noticed by investors, then 451 Research is a firm that should be on your list.
  • Lab Testing: If you’re looking to benchmark your latest gear against the competition you will be well served by working with Enterprise Strategy Group’s testing labs. Also, don’t be afraid to think about non-analyst firms and associations that also test products.
  • Media Influence: If media presence is your top priority, work with the Enderle Group, Moor Insights or Jackdaw Research, as they are skilled at contextualizing trends for journalists and can also provide independent third-party perspective for reporters. Again, if you’re targeting Europe or Asia, then the optimal firm and analyst may well change. For example, many boutique analyst firms in the U.K., France and Germany have high visibility in their local markets.
  • Verticals: If you are looking to break into new vertical markets you should work with boutique firms that specialize in those segments, such as Aite and TowerGroup for financial services or KLAS for healthcare.

 Finally, Gartner does not have the monopoly on smart thinking – there are many super smart analysts at other firms. In addition, many Gartner end-user clients tend to be on the conservative side of technology adoption. Other firms have more forward-leaning clients who are adopting bleeding-edge tech more aggressively. Ultimately, Gartner’s competitors are not rolling over or sitting still.

Personally, I’ve been impressed with 451 Research and the impressive amount of research it produces and its smart hires (e.g., Henry Balthazar [storage] and Nancy Gohring [app and infrastructure performance]). IDC is focusing more on end-user customers and has already done a notable job redesigning its research deliverable. Despite some recent prominent departures, Forrester continues to have specific strengths when it comes to in marketing technology and customer experience.

Many have also noted the strong performance in recent years of smaller and some might say more nimble players who have done a good job leveraging social media and/or open-source business models to raise their profile including Constellation Research, Horses for Sources, Redmonk and Digital Clarity Group.

There is no denying in today’s research market that Gartner is at the top of the food-chain, has wide-reaching deal-flow influence and has developed a deep bench of some of the most insightful analysts. That being said, AR teams will miss out if they place a disproportionate focus on Gartner. It’s never been more important to be sure you’ve got the right analysts on your target list. And when it is time to reach out to your analysts it is equally important to engage the right subset based on your objectives … but that’s a topic for another blog post!

Which firms have impressed you most so far in 2016? Which firms are you putting at the top of your list and why? Not sure how to gauge which analysts can move the needle for your business? Drop me an email at and let’s take a look at which analysts will make the most positive impact for your business.

Jay Andersen