Some years ago I wrote, rather cruelly, about how the relationship between Apple and its customers sometimes resembled the gaoler/captive relationship present in Stockholm Syndrome (where the captive falls for the charms of their gaoler).
It strikes me that the same sort of relationship, in much more dangerous form, also exists between analyst companies and their customers. This idea was sparked by this article on Forbes’ website by a Gartner SVP giving an overview of some research conducted by Gartner that, reading between the lines, concluded that lots of Gartner’s existing and potential customers need lots more of Gartner’s products and services. This is like intellectual drug pushing.
I have two problems with analyst companies: first of all they aren’t transparent in the information that they release (you get the headlines – like the infamous 2017 meme – but you have to pay for the detail); and second that they aren’t held accountable.
Whether it’s the ratings agencies who hold countries to ransom on the basis of their credit scoring (that same scoring system that rated sub prime mortgages as AAA investments), or the constantly re-adjusting sales predictions, or the market-changing pronouncements of the future, analysts are rarely if ever called to account if their predictions are wrong. In fact, in this time poor, information overloaded age of ours, the analysts are rewarded with eyeballs and mindshare if they make outrageous predictions (which of course are far less likely to come true).
When I started using services from the likes of Gartner and Forrester, their product versus product comparison tools were a cost effective way to help validate decision making. That was, of course, in days when information was far harder to source.
Now that the internet provides facts to our fingertips, they have to diversify more into speculation because that’s something that can be uniquely copyrighted. When that speculation becomes increasingly focused on the information needs of their customers, we should start questioning the independent nature of such research.