Gartner to buy Corporate Executive Board

A press release today announces that Gartner is to acquire CEB (Corporate Executive Board) for US$2.6 billion (in cash and stock). I’ll let others who are, these days, more in the swim than I am speculate on why that might be good value – or not!

What’s interesting is that CEB was, and is, about much more than IT. It offers insight for finance professionals; sales; legal; and so on. It was our CFO, not his IT support lead, who subscribed to the Finance channel though I advised IT colleagues supporting corporate finance to keep their eyes on it. IT was well represented, through the CIO Executive Board, the Applications Executive Council, and more. Gartner still presents as a technology insight company although it also has its industry channels. The match, for those with wide experience of both organisations, is perhaps closer than you might think; but likely Gartner is looking to extend its industry-sector, as opposed to IT, coverage.

The CEB delivery model used to be different. It was and is still almost impossible to directly view CEB research reports as a non-client. But the creation model for CEB’s reports was not analyst-led; it was a moderated cooperative one, assembling insights from client experience and then using CEB’s own experts to shape a report which brought these together. So there might be a tool, or a methodology, from a named blue-chip client shared across the client base. I can’t see how far this is still the case, but CEB online still highlights inter-peer interaction as a key feature. Existing clients might be able to add to this.

More when I’ve had a chance to listen to the replay of today’s short notice conference call. But this is a major acquisition, bringing together two insight providers with different delivery models; a key question is how far the culture of CEB will be allowed to develop Gartner’s model and how far, on the other hand, it will disappear. CEB has been near-unique among the major insight providers. If its approach disappears, the market will lose valuable diversity.

• Gartner to Acquire CEB for $2.6 Billion in Cash and Stock, Gartner press release, 5 Jan 2017 (also on CEB website as a link to Business Wire)
• CEB Inc

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