Once again Gartner is in the news. Its is being sued and a whole slew of blogs and articles have piled on.
My summer project researching and writing about the SAP economy has allowed me a chance to go back and review 20+ years of market research, articles, blogs and presentations.
Part of me wonders why Gartner did not break so many stories or lead challenging positions when I review
- how many times DSAG has challenged the value of SAP maintenance and price increases especially on behalf of the German Mittelstand – mid sized customers who do not strain SAP support or development much
- how many SAP failure stories Chris Kanaracus of IDG has broken through persistent mining of court filings and SEC and other sites
- how Phil Fersht and his small firm HfS first brought to my attention how massive the SAP economy had become
- how a Mentor like Jim Spath questions why SAP has broken a long established tradition of sharing – what he calls “classic” – SD benchmarks when it comes to HANA performance
But does that mean Gartner is not independent as it used to be or has become a “pay for play” firm?
Three perspectives – again from the lens of my summer research
a) The average Gartner analyst tries hard to be independent
From 1995 to 1999, I was one of the lead analysts on the SAP (and broader ERP) consultant marketplace and I repeatedly warned the market
While acknowledging that R/3 is merely an enabling tool and that their end goal is to help clients develop world-class business environments, few consulting firms have adequately documented process improvements around R/3 projects. Similarly, few could show examples of business cases or return-on-investment (ROI) analysis to justify the large investments their clients are making around R/3. Finally, a number of firms, afraid of being viewed as negative on SAP, are not objective enough when advising their clients in the evaluation, contract negotiation, and "gap analysis" phases of the projects.”
It is time to revisit the impact of consultant travel on implementation projects. Through limitations and incentives in SI contracts, creative use of telecommunication technologies and changes in attitudes, users should actively manage project team travel. Once accepted as a necessary evil, it is becoming clearer that the large amount of travel in today's consulting market is significantly impacting project economics and productivity
and and and
My alma mater, PwC asked Gartner I should not be allowed to cover them, because I knew them “too well”. And this was 3 years after I had been gone! A partner at another firm sarcastically told me “I thought you were gone from PwC” suggesting I was too nice to PwC. Needless to say, such complaints would lead to detailed reviews and audits of my research. And earned me badges of honor from my analyst colleagues.
I have a hard time believing the average Gartner analyst of today does not try just as hard to be as independent. I meet them at industry events and they remind me of younger me . Passionate, smart, may be a bit more diplomatic than I was, certainly with fuller head of hair
b) the average Gartner analyst has so much more to cover
When we first issued a detailed review of SAP SIs in 1996, we had profiles of 20 vendors. Now with the SAP services market ten times as large, Gartner still only profiles in detail 20 of the biggest firms (IDC and Forrester profile even smaller numbers).
The marketplace has changed dramatically. There are hosting firms, offshore application management firms, telcos, regional firms around world that did not have an SAP practice when I was covering the market. Many did not even exist. In turn, many of these firms have digital agencies, BPO offerings, mobile development and countless other practices.
The matrix of coverage at Gartner has grown exponentially. Gartner looks at SAP in many different “Magic Quadrants” – ERP, Sales Force Automation, Strategic Sourcing, Horizontal Portals, Master Data Management, Mobile Application Development Platform, Implementation Service Providers, Data Warehouse and many others. They cover some segments well, others not so well.
c) The average Gartner analyst is just one small market watcher
I will have a section in the book on SAP Market Watchers. It looks at how regulators, media, analysts, bloggers, user groups and academics have watched over the SAP economy. My model shows it is at a run rate of $ 220 billion a year, larger than the GDP of Ireland so clearly deserves a fair amount of attention
Such a massive SAP economy and yet, such fragmented coverage. Way too much coverage goes to SAP itself, and there much to the gossipy executive revolving door and to nationalistic stereotypes. In the meantime, gross inefficiencies in the data centers, networks, armies of talent running SAP get little attention. It reminds you of the fable of the blind men around the elephant – one who touched a leg thought it was a pillar, the one who touched the tail called it a rope and so on.
So, yes Gartner deserves scrutiny because it is the biggest analyst firm. But it is just a small and often misunderstood element of the marketwatcher community.