Could Industry Analysts Survive Total Transparency?

A former client of ours recently contacted me, mourning their lower-than-usual placement on the Gartner Magic Quadrant report for their industry. The marketer had spent bazillions of dollars with GartnerGroup (GG) over the years, because they felt, as too many clients do, that being a paying client might ensure — if not a better placement — then at least a fair hearing. They ran out of luck, this year (and I predict that this ranking fiasco will torpedo the company’s "analyst relations" budget for 2007).

I wrote about the infamous Quadrant reports way-back-when (apologies for the formatting, if you’re brave enough to click the link). Nothing’s changed, when it comes to these reports’ influence.

But I wonder if it will start to change in the dawning PR 2.0 era, as marketers get savvy about fighting back vs. "lower-left quadrant" results.

For example, I suggested to this former client that they might consider:

  • Blogging about the report, and where they think the GG analysts got it wrong. Follow-on posts might also offer up notes, PowerPoint slides, etc., from meetings that the former client had had with the analysts, i.e., give readers an insider’s view of the "sucking-up" process.
  • Buy a URL like or and invite other "slighted" companies to air their dirty laundry re: Gartner’s processes in an open forum. I can only imagine the firestorm that this might whip up! The combined voices of all those jilted "Lower Lefters" might actually wield some power — by asking legitimate questions and/or by identifying troublesome trends…
  • Issue a formal response to Gartner’s opinion on the company website. Then, pour some money into Google keyword buys for phrases like "magic quadrant", "Gartner", etc., so anyone who did a search would see an ad from a disgruntled GG client that could link to the company’s formal grievances. That’s not the kind of linklove that GG would appreciate…but this former client has nothing left to lose.

You’re certainly free to argue that these ideas are whiney and unprofessional. Maybe so. But I can’t help but think that these total-transparency approaches are ultimately good for the industry.

In the PR 1.0 era, those who wielded influence were able to bully others into quiescence. In the new period now dawning, the democratization of media not only empowers the li’l guy, it also disenfranchises the powerful. For mainstream media & industry analysts to sustain their power, they will need to be able to thrive in a world continuously disinfected by the sunlight of the blogosphere.

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Posted on: August 21, 2006 at 12:57 am By Todd Defren
3 Responses to “Could Industry Analysts Survive Total Transparency?”


  • Without questioning the advice you give, Todd, it is all reactive – the horse has bolted…

    Most tech companies do not engage pro-actively with Gartner or the other analyst firms that write benchmarking reports (e.g. Forrester Wave) – at best they pay the firms some money for their services and toddle along to brief analysts from time to time. In actual fact there is much more that can be done before the report is published.

    Too late this time for your former client, but they should be looking to the next report and implementing a plan of action, starting right now.

    Alternatively, they could busy themselves with securing the stable door.

  • A Canadian firm that acts as an auditor for a company can’t provide other consulting services to that company. It’s a matter of maintaining the integrity of the auditor relationship.

    One would think there should be a similar firewall between analysts’ reports and consulting or other fees. Until there is, the credibility of the reports is tainted by real or perceived conflict of interest.

    Nice post.

  • Jen McClure says:

    Will things start to change?
    Yes! In fact, I would submit they already have. Many industry analysts are now blogging, podcasting, enagaging in more conversations and debates, and those who don’t engage in this way will be left out the loop and eventualy become less influential.

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