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Gartner and Burton Group: webinar report available 29 Jan 2010

Posted by Tony Law in Impact of IT, Insight services, ITasITis, Managing IT.
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The report from the InformationSpan/Lighthouse AR webinar, discussing Gartner’s acquisition of Burton Group, is now available through InformationSpan.com. Please click the link below for a free download.

This report discusses the reasons for the move; its impact on the marketplace; and action points for clients of both Gartner and Burton Group. We are very grateful to Ashley Bassett, an experienced sales executive with wide and relevant experience, for joining us on the call and contributing significantly to the report.

We’ve also had an email from Enterprise Management Associates, who are offering clients with verifiable current Burton subscriptions a special deal for a limited time. Their coverage overlaps many of the areas of the legacy Burton service.

Incidentally, Burton analysts are still blogging. AMR seems to have gone quiet in this department.

Final (important) note: either InformationSpan or Lighthouse will be delighted to help clients work out in more detail the implications in their own particular situations.

Links:
• InformationSpan Reports (for link to download this report)
• Lighthouse Analyst Relations
• Enterprise Management Associates (Burton clients wanting information about the offer should email sales@enterprisemanagement.com)
There is a roundup of early links related to the acquisition on Newstin

Can Web 2.0 run your Business? 28 Jan 2010

Posted by Tony Law in Consumerization, Impact of IT, ITasITis, Managing IT, Social media, Tech Watch.
3 comments

No, this isn’t another posting about the iPad. I’ll wait and see on that one. But a lightweight, accessible device with Apple’s great connectivity and bigger screen capabilities than the iPhone (and its competitors) might well facilitate what this note is actually about!

I presented a session recently at the British Computer Society’s group of independent consultants, with the same title as this post. Everyone knows there are a wide range of Internet-based services out there, from hardware (think Amazon’s EC2 or S3) to presentation platforms like Dimdim to sophisticated business software like salesforce.com. Most of it’s available inexpensively or for free.

And the same’s true of information sources. You don’t have to rely on news services which often just relay the press release. There’s accessible content from the major insight firms like Gartner and Forrester, and many others, which you don’t have to pay for (think blogs and podcasts, but also some of their significant reports).

InformationSpan specialises in these two areas, and the aim of the session was twofold. First, to get people thinking about the way that web services can help small players like us to match capabilities with the enterprises that we would like to be our clients. But secondly, to think about things you have to look out for – the small print of the terms and conditions which, in the web world, are take-it-or-leave-it, the mix of services you may end up with, and so on.

Take a look at the presentation, which is now available on the InformationSpan website and includes links to all the services mentioned. The conversation at the session will also feed into a more formal report; watch this space.

Oh, and by the way. Euan Semple, who’s been mentioned in this column more than once, is launching a series of three training seminars in February and March targetted at enterprises trying to figure out the same questions. If you’re in that space, well worth the money I’m sure. This is an unsolicited plug!

Links:
• Can Web 2.0 run my business, InformationSpan presentation, BCS Consultancy Group, 12 Jan 2010
• Training Workshops 2010, Online Information and Euan Semple (this is at the top of the page as posted now, but in due course you might need to page down)
• BCS Consultancy Specialist Group (CONSIG)

Guest post: To Gartner, Burton is better off dead 14 Jan 2010

Posted by Tony Law in Impact of IT, Insight services, ITasITis, Managing IT.
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Dan Mahoney was the North American GM for Dataquest when Gartner bought them. When I first met Dan he was the SVP of Research, under Gideon Gartner, for Giga Information Group: a post he held for a number of years before Forrester bought them. He was then responsible for integrating those two companies, ending up as the Chief Research Officer for Forrester. Like Burton in this deal, Giga were the technical people in the integration with Forrester.

Dan participated in our webinar yesterday on the Gartner/Burton deal, and sent us these comments.

To Gartner, Burton is just better off dead. Not as much from the research that Burton published than from the “enterprise-wide” model. That is a real impact on the way that Gartner, and a lot of others, do business. Gideon revolutionized things when he implemented that type of pricing at Giga, and I have had a number of conversations with other CEOs since then that they were really hurt by it. Some of them saying that “he almost killed the industry with that”.

Here are my thoughts:

  • Burton is going to lose analysts simply based on the Gartner model of having multiple analysts covering one area. The Burton analysts are used to being the Big Dog in their area and now they will have competition. The top ones may well be able to negotiate a good deal to stay on but, over the next year, some key people will leave.
  • Gartner will be gaining some key coverage areas. That’s a key to the purchase. They also will be gaining salespeople who have good relations with certain clients who Gartner has not been able to penetrate. Those sales people will be safe, but the others, where there is overlap, will be at risk over 2010.
  • Gartner needs to say that it is “business as usual” because there are Burton clients who have bought annual contracts. That will all change by September. Forrester had said that it would keep the Giga product lines and analyst groups separate through the year, and ended up merging everything by September [ITasITis note: Gartner did the same with META Group's valued Enterprise Architecture service when they bought META in 2005]
  • The cultural impact on the Burton people will be big and may very well be too high a hurdle for some key people. Gartner is the purchaser and is much more set in its ways than Burton. The Burton team, by the end of 2010 will be integrated into the Gartner methodologies.
  • I really don’t believe that Gartner will go “enterprise-wide” with their contracts. What they are now acquiring are additional clients within existing customers of theirs, or potentially addition customer accounts that they can sell their additional value into. “Enterprise-wide” (where one payment gives everyone in an organisation access to the firm’s research) is a dilution of their entire financial model. Gideon Gartner tried to do that with Giga and was successful there, but financially it doesn’t make sense for Gartner to change any of their financial models right now.
  • I think that the “second opinion” right now may fall on the “Google” syndrome – or social networks, rather than another analyst firm.
  • I too am disappointed that Forrester has not jumped sooner on some other firms, although their focus for growth seems now to be much more the marketing professional, and so you may see some acquisitions in that area rather than the IT area, and may be why we’re not hearing much about it.

Your clients should:

  • get very close to their favorite Burton analysts and watch what they are doing and where they are going. If they leave, then follow them. In many cases, it is the analyst that people put their trust in and good analysts will land somewhere where they can get the support to do their jobs well.
  • Heed your advice about contracts and lock in as much as they can right now. Things will change over 2010 and be totally different in 2011.

This post is also available at Analyst Equity

We will shortly publish a report of the call: unfortunately a recording is not available

Aggregation on Gartner/Burton 8 Jan 2010

Posted by Tony Law in Insight services, ITasITis, Technorati.
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For an aggregate of coverage on the Gartner/Burton deal (and a few links to the AMR deal and related topics) go to Newstin:

http://www.newstin.com/rel/us/en-010-021504472

Gartner-Burton webinar: register now 8 Jan 2010

Posted by Tony Law in Uncategorized.
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Registration is open for the Lighthouse/InformationSpan webinar providing action plans for clients of both Gartner and Burton.

DATE: Wednesday 13 January
TIME: 16.00 UK time (that’s 17.00 Europe, 11 a.m. EST, 8 a.m. PST)
Click here to register; joining instructions will be sent out the day before.

For more information, see the previous post


Gartner update on Burton and AMR 7 Jan 2010

Posted by Tony Law in Impact of IT, Insight services, ITasITis, Managing IT, Technorati.
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Gartner’s AR Community call, with an update on both the Burton and AMR acquisitions, has just closed.

From the point of view of an enterprise user client: the position is still maintained that AMR and Burton will operate as separate brands within the Gartner umbrella. You will need separate subscriptions. And from the point of view of integration, the two acquisitions are at much the same stage since the AMR deal was pre-announced; both deals completed in the last couple of weeks of the old year.

But crossover has started:

  • the head of the Burton research team, within Gartner and reporting to Peter Sondegaard (SVP Research), will be a Gartner person (the AMR team will be headed by Kevin O’Marah of AMR) [correction: I misunderstood; but there will be a "senior Gartner research manager" moved across to the Burton management team. See the comments below]
  • two Gartner analysts, Dwight Klappich and Tim Payne, will “move” from Gartner’s ERP/Supply Chain team into the AMR team. They will, though, continue to publish through the Gartner side as well as through AMR
  • AMR’s (small) Enterprise Applications team will move into the Gartner Enterprise Applications group but will still publish to the AMR side
  • users should expect to see “some co-authoring” between the legacy Gartner and the acquired teams
  • Gartner’s research community meetings will expand to include both acquired teams with a view to “managing the research positions”
  • part of the “welcome meeting” happening next week for AMR will be to “align agendas”, despite Gartner’s earlier insistence that the AMR agenda for 2010 is already decided and will be delivered as-is
  • some “small moves” between the analyst groups will also happen to encourage alignment; the Klappich/Payne transfer is the first

What’s not said, but logically must be a consequence of all these moves, is that content will converge. Burton is clearly going to be more strongly “Gartnerised” than AMR initially, but the internal moves of two senior analysts mean that AMR’s offering will converge too. Therefore the “second opinion” functions of these teams must dilute over time.

Gartner identify significant commonality between the Burton and Gartner client bases, and both are IT-oriented. This differs, in Gartner’s view, from the situation with AMR which is said to target “a different buying community”. Where there are two (or, potentially, three) account executives then the impression given is that, over the next few months, one of these will be designated as “lead”; it sounded as if Gartner will trump Burton but may not trump AMR. For smaller accounts, Gartner will consolidate the relationship onto one individual. They have committed to consult with clients about changes: hold them to this!

The teams will move towards common back-office support and delivery platforms, and a new unified web presence should emerge “within months”.

A key point, though, is that Gartner are looking to expand the reach of Burton outside North America. Burton have always had a presence here (and have one analyst based in Ireland), their Catalyst conference used to take place in Europe as well as the US, and there’s Europe-oriented coverage. But the presence has been limited although Burton have been endeavouring to raise their profile. Gartner’s sales teams are already in place and with the integration completed prior to announcement they will be able to sell Burton products as soon as they’re trained.

So the shape of the deals is becoming clearer; but don’t drop your guard just yet!

Join our Gartner-Burton webinar [UPDATED] 7 Jan 2010

Posted by Tony Law in Insight services, ITasITis, Managing IT, Technorati.
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Lighthouse Analyst Relations and InformationSpan are once again scheduling a free webcast to explore the implications of Gartner’s acquisition of Burton Group. There will be actions for enterprise IT users who either (a) are Burton clients, and need to work out what’s going to happen to their service; or (b) are Gartner clients and may find some new options opening up.

DATE: Wednesday 13 January
TIME: 16.00 UK time (that’s 17.00 Europe, 11 a.m. EST, 8 a.m. PST)
Click here to register

Leading the call will be Duncan Chapple, of Lighthouse, and myself, and we hope to be joined by an ex Burton Group account executive. This webinar will have the edge!

Date and time: Wednesday 13th January at 16.00 UK time, 11 a.m US East Coast, 17:00 European time, 8 a.m US Pacific. Registration and connection details to follow; watch this space.

Whew … here we go again 6 Jan 2010

Posted by Tony Law in Insight services, ITasITis, Managing IT.
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Who expected Gartner to be back on the acquisition trail so soon? But today’s announcement that they’ve acquired Burton Group, when the ink on the AMR acquisition is still drying, changes the picture. It’s a done deal; this isn’t “to be completed”.

What I said then:

“Most importantly and most clearly, Gartner have decided they needed to acquire expertise in supply chain research where AMR are an acknowledged leader. This doesn’t look like a deal to buy up the competition, as the META Group acquisition was late in 2005.”

And this deal is out of the same stable. When Gartner bought META, one of the best things they acquired was the Enterprise Architecture Service with analysts of the calibre of Brian Burke. It melded into Gartner’s own architecture offering, after a year or so, and lost the edge that the META service had had. And what are Burton? By origin an Architecture specialist.

As it’s turned out, Gartner have emphasised that AMR will remain quasi-independent – for the time being, at least. Will they do this with Burton too, or is it too close to a core element of their IT service that they must attempt to integrate more fully? Well, as it happens, Gartner have an AR call tomorrow (Jan 7th). I was already booked. We’ll report back.

Clients – look at my AMR posting (link below) and begin to work on your action plan. Watch this space!

Links:
• Gartner Acquires Burton Group, Gartner press release, 5 Jan 2010
• AMR clients: action needed!, ITasITis, 1 Dec 2009
• Burton Group (their own announcement is currently in the home page)
You might like to compare the phrasing of AMR’s announcement (which has moved: the link in my December posting no longer works)

‘s no joke … 6 Jan 2010

Posted by Tony Law in Uncategorized.
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Friends from overseas may realise the UK is in the grip of its severest winter for something like thirty years. Not much by some of your standards, even so. But for us these are perhaps twice-in-a-lifetime events, so there’s little sense in investing in lots of heavyweight equipment just for it to stand idle and deteriorate before it’s ever used in anger. There’s the awful warning of the rail network, last time round, which invested in a snowblower and found it wasn’t the right equipment for our rather wet brand of snow.

Well, this is an IT column and I want to share that I’ve discovered for real, today, how easy it is for the wheels to drop off the ICT-enabled bandwagon. We had a power cut around 6 a.m. with nothing back till mid-day. Here’s a list of some things I couldn’t do.

  • Make phone calls from my desk phone (no power-off fallback capability)
  • Receive voicemails on my desk phone (requires power for the answering machine)
  • Use my main computer
  • Connect my laptop to the internet (it had a full charge, but the broadband modem and WiFi station requires power)
  • Connect my laptop to the internet (I have the modem, and the phone line was ok, but the dial-up numbers which I haven’t used for years were trapped on a file in a desktop machine I couldn’t power on. They’re on the laptop now!!)
  • See my work schedule for the day (it’s on the desktop hard disk, though my appointments were ok, see below)
  • Read email (see: Connect my laptop to the internet)
  • Work on any of my projects (all files are on the desktop machine, and Apple’s Time Machine may be brilliant but the backup drive requires power,  so having a working laptop didn’t help)

Here’s a few things I could do:

  • Make calls on my mobile phone (until the battery ran out) – my whole address book is on there so that’s ok
  • Make and receive calls on the home landline (once I’d reconnected the spare un-powered old-fashioned non-answering-machine phone)
  • Check my calendar (which is replicated onto my mobile)
  • Update my Facebook status (I set up the text-message link only yesterday!)
  • File a few papers
  • Catch up some backlog reading (but on a dull day the light wasn’t really adequate)
  • Remember it’s Twelfth Night, and take down the Christmas decorations.

Guess which of these things I actually did? Best wishes for 2010.

Gartner for hunters and farmers 4 Jan 2010

Posted by Tony Law in Insight services, Managing IT, Technorati.
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One reasonably easy prediction for 2010 is that user enterprises will start to see Gartner making increasing reference to their new “Market Clock” tool, announced in September last year. Like the Hype Cycle, Gartner are promoting the Market Clock as a methodology to support IT investment and, in this case, disinvestment* decisions.

* Side note: Gartner use the word “divestment” but that’s a mistake on their part. Divestment means selling something off to someone who values it more than you do. Disinvestment means withdrawing funding, in this case of an IT asset or service.

The Market Clock is frankly acknowledged to be a statement of something which CFOs have known for a long time: that a business investment has a finite life and that managers need to know when to get out, as well as when to buy in. What Gartner have done is to provide a framework through which this philosophy can be explicitly and systematically applied to IT. A statement of the obvious it may be, but Gartner are skilled at stating the obvious in a way that stimulates IT management to apply it – and that’s far from being a negative criticism!

The Market Clock, then, attempts to represent the market life of an IT asset in four stages which Gartner call (a) customised, (b) mass-customised, (c) commoditised and (d) disfavoured. The names aren’t all that clear, but the stages are a useful analysis framework. They represent (a) investment with recognised risk where intensive in-house resourcing may be required; (b) selection from a developing market where there is differentiation between options with increasing standardisation; (c) an established market where there is little differentiation between competitors except on price, and costs can be driven down; and (d) obsolescence, where the cost of supporting outdated technology begins to rise so that it overtakes the cost penalty of replacement and/or the business benefit delivered.

It’s not a new concept; my CIO in a large pharmaceutical company provided a representation of the same concept in a strategic briefing ten years ago. And I think his chart was clearer. I don’t find the clock concept convincing, because what goes round doesn’t necessarily come round. As business evolves, things do fall off the end; discontinue is always an alternative to supersede.

And Gartner paint themselves into something of a corner by using a clockface. They need to represent the time-to-next-stage (that is, when do I next need to review?) and they do this with symbols as in the Hype Cycle. But, as assets move round the clock, their level of commoditisation (that is, how easily can they be replaced?) is represented by distance from the centre: so, assets positioned near the circumference can be more easily replaced. Polar coordinates (r, θ for the cognoscenti) of this kind are not nearly so intuitive as their Cartesian (x, y) cousins.

Nor is understanding helped by the fact that the labels on the quadrants on the clockface (Advantage, Choice, Commoditisation, Replacement) aren’t the ones outlined in Gartner’s own description and reviewed above. Then there are (in Hype Cycle style) further snazzy names on the dial at midnight, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock. To my mind this doesn’t add clarity but then I prefer clarity to marketing.

What do users need to do to make use of this tool?

First: be clear what the segments are really about. Develop your own understanding alongside the framework. What’s your attitude to early stage technology investment? Equally, what’s the attitude to retiring stuff? I remember a BCS talk some years ago from a Chief Architect of a major UK company, who told us that one thing the company’s investment policy made it difficult to do was close down obsolescent services. No-one would invest in replacement or retirement when there was no new functionality, irrespective of cost arguments. “Cheaper” gave way when “better” or “simpler” were not demonstrated.

Second: understand that the process represented by the Market Clock is not, in fact, a cycle. Not all early-stage technologies become part of the mainstream; the business advantage may fade or never materialise. Replacement, as a label for the fourth stage, is particularly unfortunate. Not all services are replaced when they are obsolete: they may simply be retired, because a replacement would not deliver enough benefit to the business to be worth it.

But, third: use this framework, or some other, to review established services and watch for the crossover point when the cost of ongoing maintenance exceeds the cost of replacement and changeover. The Market Clock suggests criteria: the level of standardisation (read: ease of switching vendors) and the level of commoditisation (read: outsource and expect to reduce costs).

Then, fourth: look at the other tools in your armoury. If you’re an established Gartner client, learn how to use the new tool alongside the Hype Cycle: Gartner suggest that the Hype Cycle is for technology hunters, and the Market Clock for farmers. But also have a look back at Forrester’s TechRadar, introduced in April 2008, which has always been a whole lifecycle tool.

The Market Clock suggests criteria to create a roadmap for moving assets from initial acquisition to retirement or replacement. If this isn’t part of your asset management strategy already, then this may stimulate you to create one. If, as is perhaps more likely, you already do this then here is a tool that may help to formalise or (equally important) effectively present your plans. But – like the technologies it helps you manage – the watchword is: use with care!

Links:
• Introducing the IT Market Clock, Gartner, 17 Sept 2009 (open access; if this link doesn’t work then go to Gartner.com and search for “Market Clock”
• Forrester get TechRadar on the road [updated], ITasITis, 25 Apr 2008 (and references therein)

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