At ITxpo in Orlando this week, Gartner analyst Yvonne Genovese took on Steve Ballmer of Microsoft.
The exchange started as:
Genovese: "My daughter comes in one day and says, 'Hey Mom, my friend has Vista, and it has these neat little things called gadgets -- I need those.'"
Ballmer: "I love your daughter."
Genovese: "You're not going to like her mom in about two minutes,"
And Genovese kept jabbing as you can read here.
What's striking about this is not just the humor in the exchange, but how unusual it is to see a Gartner analyst publicly go after a large vendor executive. Good for Yvonne for taking a big risk. The Gartner sales person for Microsoft likely cringed and subtly told her she needs to be nicer to Ballmer in future. Microsoft is one of Gartner's single biggest accounts. Who knows, Ballmer may have already expressed his displeasure to Gartner management. I hope not, he is a tough cookie who bravely shows up at just about every ITxpo. Yvonne did not even begin to harp on Microsoft's economics and impact of IT budgets, as I would have.
As I have written here and here and elsewhere, I want my alma mater to go back to its roots where it represented buyers and channeled their questions and concerns. Today, Gartner is like Patty Hearst during her kidnapping. Defensive of vendors, especially larger ones.
The more Gartner frees up Yvonne and other analysts to represent buyers the better. And not just around product questions. Tough economic questions of Hurd, Ellison, Palmisano, Stephenson - not just Ballmer.
During my orientation session at Gartner in 1995, we had a senior analyst, Mike Braude tell our rookie class "Sacred cows make the tastiest hamburger". Gartner should fire up that grill again.