ICT Industry Analysts – what are their recommendations really worth? 

This week saw the public announcement of an ICT vendor taking legal action against Gartner, arguably the leading ICT industry analyst, over its “unfavourable” treatment in a recent Magic Quadrant analysis. This is not the first time such drastic action has occurred – Gartner was previously unsuccessfully sued by another smaller ICT vendor in 2009.

Gartner analysis is very influential in shaping and validating ICT thinking in the enterprise, particularly in North America and Europe, but with a considerable impact in the Asia Pacific and local Australian market as well. The Magic Quadrant in particular has become a tool of choice for many senior ICT executives in assessing the relative merit of technology providers across a range of solution areas.

There are significant market impacts on ICT vendors – particularly those in the mid-tier and emerging sectors – of being included in a Magic Quadrant, whether as “market leaders”, “market challengers”, “visionaries” or “niche players”.

Prominent ICT industry analysts, e.g. Gartner, Forrester, IDC, have openly published criteria and processes for the way in which they assess technology sectors and vendors’ solution offerings. Mid-tier and smaller analysts are often not as transparent. Regardless, as an enterprise ICT buyer, it is important to realise that there are significant limitations to the use of any particular industry analyst’s work.

Key Challenges

In particular in Australia, we see the key challenges facing the customers of ICT industry analysts as:

  • Having a clear understanding of how analysts cover vendors – and where the levers are for vendors to increase their chances of inclusion and favourable treatment, and what an analyst scoring or recommendation really says about a vendor.
  • Seeing relevance to the local market – while ICT is a global enterprise capability and global industry, the market trends in the enterprise and mid-market progress at different rates in different regions and countries, and there are particular trends and affects which are not global but are critical to local buyers.
  • Breadth and depth of coverage – while the major ICT vendors have a strong presence in Australia, many of the mid-tier and emerging vendors do not. Equally, many regional or local vendors with strong capabilities and innovative solutions are not covered (either by accident or design).

 

At GWI, we see many mid-market ICT buyers in both public and private sectors struggling to make sense of ICT industry analysts’ recommendations and connecting them to their local needs.

Our experience suggests that there is value to be gained from the opinions of ICT industry analysts, but this is greatly enhanced when there is a strong understanding of a customer’s own business needs and aligned ICT strategies, and ability to balance out international analysis with factors relevant to the local market.

Baden Hughes

Associate Consulting Director