James Governor's Monkchips

How Gartner competes with IBM. we all do?

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This blog from Armadgeddon got me thinking.

It seems to me Gartner will increasingly be competitive with major vendors when it comes to industry mindshare and account control, benchmarking and best practices. It is also going to be hit by open source analysis.

Define the language used to speak about technology deployment and you are on the way to defining the market and its purchasing patterns. There are some signs Microsoft, for one, is becoming less willing to play Gartner’s bucket game, if recent public disavowals around ESB and SOA are anything to go by, which is interesting.

The language game is also changing. The industry perhaps doesn’t need a central language authority in same way it used to. We have new Internet driven modes of establishing language, more bottom up that top down. “AJAX” is a good example. “Blogs” is another.

To drive home the point note that my pointers to definitions above cite Wikipedia, a place where communities create and manage definitions.

Gartner has not only has new, incredibly well capitalised competitors willing to play the role of educator, but also faces the same challenges as other centralised media companies. Information is being commoditised. Analyst companies make people pay for their libraries of reports. Publishers are in uproar about Google’s plans to index and serve every book written. Even if Google were to lose a copyright court case it seems like the genie is out of the bottle. Gartner might get Napstered. It might get Wikipediad. Or it might get iTuned. Or all three. How about Apple to sell reports by individual independent analysts, with a community rating system for credibility and quality, as ebooks for the new Apple iPaper?…I cite Apple to make a rhetorical point but is it really so off the wall?- if you had gone to record companies five years ago and said Apple will have you squeaking within 5 years they probably would have laughed in your face.

If Gartner is going to compete with vendors, why can’t vendors compete with Gartner? It won’t be Apple, but if you want information about the future of healthcare IT why not ask IBM? The Healthnex blog, for example, is quality. Here is an excerpt:

A new study from RAND, published in the prestigious healthcare journal Health Affairs, finds that adoption of interoperable electronic medical records (EMRs) could yield efficiency and safety savings totaling about $81 billion annually for the U.S. healthcare industry.  The RAND study contends that although widespread deployment (90% adoption rate) of EMRs will be costly — $98 billion investment for hospitals and $17.2 billion investment for physicians — the costs are easily offset by savings resulting from higher productivity and reduced medical costs, among other benefits.

But some are skeptical.  In the same issue of Health Affairs, two Harvard Medical School professors and practicing physicians argue that RAND’s EMR savings estimates are overblown.  “The RAND analysis … continues the tradition of EMR hope and hype,” they say, claiming RAND under-estimates the difficulty of migrating from paper medical records to EMRs.  They also note the RAND study was sponsored by vendors and say EMRs have never lived up to expectations.

That’s analysis by Doug O’Boyle,  Global Market Intelligence Analyst, IBM Sales & Distribution. I see.

Where would you look for insights about the computer game industry? Isn’t that Forrester territory?

Oh good it looks like IBM is competing with RedMonk too. [you mean collaborating, right? Ed] heh. Step forward Carol Jones, who blogs on  Social networking and massive amateur integration.

“Massive amateur integration” – how RedMonk does THAT sound? Tell me more Carol; this is the subject I am working on:

 Li-Te Cheng explains the origin of the phrase this way:

The term derives from “mass amateurization”, which appears to have originated from Clay Shirky’s essay about blogging versus publishing (see http://www.shirky.com/writings/weblogs_publishing.html). Mass amateurization then was pointed at everything else – see http://radio.weblogs.com/0126951/2004/09/20.html … As the author of the previous blog mentions, the notion isn’t really that new (mentioning the WSJ article, http://andykessler.com/wsj_hack_this_please.html , and past ACM research in end-user / DIY development).

What is new is that it is a lot easier now for end-users ( aka “amateurs” ) to assemble things by googling/open-source + copy + paste little pieces together very quickly thanks to architectures of participation, viral adoption, etc as mentioned in the paper. Also what’s different is these efforts are done by much more people than before from diverse backgrounds, across the whole internet. Hence “massive” – even if only 10% of this works out, it’s still okay (this argument was also pointed at the quality of open source software projects, the effectiveness of del.icio.us, etc).

Since this mostly involves putting stuff together in new and different ways, hence the addition of “integration” in the paper.

Now that is what I am talking about. Clay Shirky, one of RedMonk’s touchstone thinkers. Excellent. Tim O’Reilly’s Architecture of Participation. Chris Anderson’s Long Tail. The sharpest analyst in the business is surely Jon Udell, the walking dialectic polymath, who works for Infoworld, a magazine, not an analyst firm. What if enterprises start publishing information about technology deployment choices as open metadata, like a tech industry market share attention trust? Why not measure what platforms are getting architect’s attention?

Don’t even get me started on Google as a measurement company.

Categories are breaking down like tundra. That is why you have to go with the flow. Can the major analyst firms afford to do that, though? RedMonk can. Macehiter Ward Dutton can. Quocirca can. If you work for an independent analyst firm and agree with any of this why don’t you leave a comment.

Have a great weekend.


  1. A Wiki community producing quality analysis… Wow! What an amazing thought. Wikipedia polices itself on neutrality, but how would that work if the product is analysis? Isn’t the value of good analysis inherent in the fact that in the end it takes a position that isn’t neutral? Could an open community do that without tearing itself apart?

  2. Has the world only just woken up to the fact that Gartner (et al) are the embodiment of tech whoring? I had a conversation with a client yesterday where they’ve got some really cool compliance stuff. Gartner saw it for the first time, albeit they’d been briefed (sic) in general in prior sessions. When they saw the product there was a sharp intake of breath. The Gartner wonk said something along the lines of: “Oh, this is much better than anything we’ve seen and covers stuff we’ve not thought about.” How typical is that? How many times has Gartner hijacked an idea as it seeks to create a TLA?

    IDC, when it gets complaints about numbers merely shuffles the prior year figures in the vain hope no-one will notice. The numbers are a fudge anyway so…

    But is the model you’re suggesting any better? Just as a lot of talent has gone out the door in the analyst community, the same’s true in the print and the online worlds. A recent reading of the freelance tea leaves (in the UK at least) suggests a tough road ahead for those still in the game. But then it isn’t helped when VNU seems to have a clever ploy – pimp sales of TypePad (branded of course) and then trawl the content for it’s online pubs? Free? New guys come up for hire? Who knows?

    Authority – as we both know Jim – comes from a combination of domain expertise, experience and the ability to communicate that accumulated ‘knowledge’ in fresh and interesting ways. Is there really enough of that about, ready to come out into this medium and go for it? I’m not convinced but if you see an inflection point then great. Maybe the Gartner thing is a tipping point instead and the walls will really ocme tumbling down. I’ll cross post to this over the weekend.

  3. Hi James. I just wanted to leave a quick note to tell you that I enjoy reading your analysis on analyst firms as much as your actually analysis on technology. As a developer, that may seem weird but analyst firms have so much impact on the direction of (large) technology companies that I can’t seem to get enough of this stuff.

    Keep it coming, brother.

  4. “Wagner”? It’s Anderson

  5. I agree with Ryan — MonkChips seems to me at least as valuable as metaanalysis as it is at tech.

    On Richard Schwartz’ point — Analysis isn’t neutral, no, but it is (supposed to be) objective. Those two terms mean the same thing when you’re describing the world, like Wikipedia does, but they’re different in the world of analysis: Analysis takes descriptions of the world, and then assigns relative value to different parts of it (and its description). I think that the transparency and openness of wikis pose an interesting challenge for analysis, in that astroturfing is easier on a wiki but also easier to detect.

  6. @Chris: he must have confused the “Long Tail” for the “Long Ears”, which made him think of “Kill The Wabbit, Kill The Wabbit, Kill The Wabbit!”, which made him thing of Wagner 🙂

  7. thanks ryan, will do. not sure your comments say much for my tech analysis, but they are welcome all the same… 🙂

    sorry chris – my bad.

  8. James:

    I’m delighted that you’ve discovered HealthNex. And I think your observation is dead on: the most interesting thing about the blog phenomenon is how it tears down walls and labels.

    In fact, that is precisely why my colleagues wanted to start HealthNex, to generate the kind of interaction and exchange that would actually catalyze change in healthcare….quite literally to speed up the reaction that will be necessary to create the kind of interconnected healthcare that we so sorely need.

    Jack Mason
    IBM Strategic Communications & HealthNex Producer

  9. Hello all – Gartner in general tends to paint vendors as “pure evil” (to quote a line from the movie ‘Time Bandits’) – they’re trying to sell you something, therefore they can’t be trusted. They also tend to lag behind the curve, as they want markets to mature (specifically, for their customers to raise questions/concerns often enough that they will pay attention), rather than track down frivolous technologies or business concerns.

    Don’t get me wrong, it can frequently be the case that vendors are trying to sell rocks painted gold, or that a technology/issue has the half-life of a fruit fly, but certainly not always.

    Opinions/analysis also do not have to come from the ivory tower of academia (or analysts) to be valid – the solid gold chunks that emerge from these communities of participation such as blogs, wikis, newsgroups, listservs, etc. can certainly equal or more than equal the quality coming out of professional firms (note: I am an analyst, but am quite sure that both formal and informal systems have their points, and are susceptible to corruption, inaccuracy, hype, etc.).

    Regardless of the source of information/discourse however, it’s how well/easily it can be filtered so that the overwhelming noise of information overload doesn’t blow away the usefulness of your personal or organizational information resources.

    Glad I happened to stumble over to redmonk from an IBM blog (Carol Jones to be specific) – serendipity is a wonderful thing, eh?

    Ah, and on wikipedia – neutrality is unevenly distributed on wikipedia. On topic to this post, if there is potentially no difference between Gartner and IBM commenting/advising (vs. the ‘blogosphere’), is there a difference between a class at an academic entity (university perhaps) and a commercial entity, offering education of a similar nature? Is one more or less credible than the other? I’m not talking about handing out degrees, masters, doctorates, but in raw education in and of itself, should there be any base difference by it’s nature? I have certainly experienced my share of horrible university classes AND corporate seminars, conferences, etc.. To me, the quality and relevance is completely abstracted from the vessel/organization that contains it, other than the quality implied behind the organization.

    Wikipedia editors however, feel a tad differently. I agree with Rich Schwartz on this – can’t be neutral with an opinion, and real opinions are what allow people and organizations to make fully informed decisions.


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