Gideon Gartner: no-one knows if analysts give value for money

Thanks to a contact at Ovum (ex Butler Group) for sending me this link.

As part of the launch sequence for the newly rebranded Ovum family of services, Ovum have a series of videos out and one of them is a “fireside chat” with the patriarch of the insight services industry, Gideon Gartner (who I met a number of years ago when he was still at the helm of his second company, Giga, later acquired by Forrester Research). The IIAR have posted the video on their blog, or you can see it in one go from Ovum themselves.

The conversation between Gartner, Jonathan Yarmis of Ovum, and David Rossiter of the IIAR centred on the future of the insight services sector. It’s a rare chance to see Gideon Gartner in the (recorded) flesh, and worth watching just for that.

About five minutes in to the second part of this video (it’s split in two on the IIAR site) the talk turns to value-for-money. Gartner points to the fact that fees have risen at a steeper rate than the market has grown.

He reckons eighty or more companies are paying Gartner (Inc.) a million dollars or more a year, and says simply: “No-one knows if they are getting value for their money”.

Gideon Gartner’s solution is an alternative model: a form of payment by results where the clients use every firm there is; and vote retrospectively how to apportion their fees, based on perceived value delivered.

Apparently it works for Wall Street financial analysts. But remember that most of most insight firms’ income is from vendors not enterprise users, and I guess that’s where most of those $1M spenders come from. I can’t see Gartner (Inc.) being willing to work that way. Or most of their competitors. It seems a highly subjective process, and one that would be open to challenge in many ways.

What I can envisage, and InformationSpan knows how to deliver, is measurement of the usage, quality and perceived value of services among the enterprise user community. End users – the IT team members who actually use the research to define their strategy and shape their decisions – have an instinctive feel for value, and there are a fistful of questions that can be systematically asked to turn this into more objective metrics. And if you truly know how the service is performing then you can drive usage and shape your buying decisions directly.

Gartner (Gideon) is of course right that few clients understand what they mean by “value” from an insight service, and even fewer know how to measure it. If you want to know more: ask us!

• WORLD EXCLUSIVE: Gideon Gartner on the IIAR Blog! Institute of Industry Analyst Relations, 4 Dec 2009
• Gidon Gartner at Collaborative Intelligence launch event, Ovum, Sept 2009 in London (reviewed above); there was a repeat in New York with Carter Lusher in place of David Rossiter
• InformationSpan for enterprise IT

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