I had been at Gartner two years, having moved there from Price Waterhouse. A partner at a Big 5 competitor of PW called “I thought you left PW a while ago” suggesting I was biased towards PW. A year later a PW executive called Gartner to request I not be allowed to review PW offerings. “He knows too much about us compared to what he knows about our competition” To which my manager told me ‘If after 3 years, you still know so much about PW, they must be evolving pretty slowly”. These days, I will periodically get zinged for being too nice to one of the blog sponsors or about a company I write about in my books.
I know people think analysts and bloggers can be snarky. They don’t hear the vendor snark we hear. Many of those comments are made in the heat of battle. A salesperson losing a deal. A marketing person disappointed with positioning on a Magic Quadrant. Like sports fans do, it is easy to blame referees for your team’s performance.
The reality is most referees get benchmarked. MLB uses the Pitch-f/x zone to evaluate each pitch/strike called in every game, and shares audited results with the umpires. The replacement NFL referees last year were benchmarked by a whole bunch of independent observers including the WSJ.
Be nice to see “influencers” benchmarked. At one extreme is Consumer Reports which takes no money from any vendors of products it reviews. At the other is a growing “native advertising” or “sponsored content” like the recent Atlantic advertorial from the Church of Scientology. Forbes offers Brandvoice which many technology vendors avail of.
Most analysts and bloggers fall somewhere in the middle. I have blog sponsors, and I do speaking engagements and occasional consulting projects for vendors. My firm has long had an independence policy, and my vendor clients have been amazingly respectful of my guidelines.
In the 1,150 posts on my two blogs last year, about 150 were about vendors/products with whom my firm has had a revenue relationship, current or past. Similarly, in the 800 pages in my last two books, about a 100 are about such vendors or their products.
Which gives me the confidence when a vendor rep snarks I am too biased to respond
“ My sponsorship and speaking rates are some of the most reasonable in the industry. Why don’t you sign up and see if that helps my coverage of you?”
Most would rather just snark.
I am just glad my firm’s model is much closer to the Consumers Reports one than that of Forbes Brandvoice, and hope fellow analysts and bloggers strive for similar independence.