on packetpushers: influence, analysis, and the life

Ethan and Greg over at PacketPushers asked me to come on the podcast to talk about what it's like to be an analyst and grill me on some topics about analyst life and perceptions of the industry. Listen at Show 137 – Gartner Is Not for Sale With @Aneel Lakhani.

With Gartner’s blessing, Aneel came on the show and answered some hard questions frankly – even bluntly. Sure, Aneel doesn’t speak for all of Gartner, but we ended up with a lot of useful insight from him.

  • How does Aneel’s job work? What’s he do all day?
  • Who is a Gartner “customer”?
  • How does an analyst determine what products are interesting while avoiding bias?
  • How technically competent are Gartner analysts?
  • Most Gartner reports seems to represent the current state of affairs, but not look into the future. Why is that?
  • Why is longevity at Gartner something to be proud of?

Some highlights from me:

Most of my time is inquiry with customers. Most of the customers are end users and buyers of technology. As an analyst, I am the product.

Woe to anyone who tries to turn us one way or another [vendor influence] because that goes very badly for them.If I am not factually incorrect and they [vendors] don't like what I've written about their product or marketing or behavior or whatever.. they should just do better.

In dealing with customers, I've found the reason Gartner commands the premium it does is because of the independence.

Like any large firm, Gartner has multiple divisions and business units.. serving different customers, etc. You have to know how to use analyst firms. If you want a deeply technical analyst, you should go get a deeply technical analyst.

It takes a particularly tough personality to survive the process of research and writing and getting through peer review and getting published and wading through all the information you get from vendors... it's way way way more work than I expected by easily and order of magnitude.

We'll see if I get into trouble for anything I said. :)