Should Practitioners Pay for Both Gartner and AMR Separately?

There's been quite a lot of chatter lately about whether vendors and services providers should renew separately with both Gartner and AMR Research now that the two firms are one. However, perhaps the more important question to ponder first is how practitioners should approach the same issue. I find this point -- while certainly not without merit as it applies to the procurement and supply chain world -- one that won't come up at the functional level all that often. This is because most analyst and research decisions and budgets rest outside of the business in most organizations, either with the office of the CIO or under an independent research group. That's not to say, however, that our voice should not be heeded -- or at least factored into the renewal equation. It's worth offering up a few quick points to help business (vs. IT) practitioners better assess the value they're getting from Gartner and AMR.

First and foremost, it's important to measure the usefulness of each firm by the actual number of analysts/consultants you've employed, the discussions you've had with them, and the particular importance of each. As most folks who read Spend Matters should know by now, the written analyst word is usually not worth the paper it's printed on. Analyst firms -- including Gartner and AMR -- are careful about what they say in print vs. what they really think, which is why it's critical to speak with a researchers directly. This allows you to gain not only a more accurate picture of things, but also the color behind their thinking. If you're not talking with them, but are just reading their research, it's probably not worth working with both firms unless you're planning a particularly large technology decision.

Second -- latching onto the first point above -- it's important to consider what it is you're buying, and why you're buying it. Both Gartner and AMR do a credible (some might call it a rather broad definition of credibility, mind you, but I think they're both credible) job of covering technology. They're nowhere, however, when it comes to understanding the broader service and outsourcing landscape and value proposition in the procurement and supply chain areas relative to more specialized providers (many of which also don't get the service specifics of our enterprise corner, but that's another story).

If you need technology input, by all means work with one or both, but don't think for a minute that their true expertise extends much beyond this, especially in the case of Gartner (even into the SI ecosystem within procurement and supply chain). Trust me, it doesn't. Need proof? Gartner is the firm that still thinks of "strategic sourcing" as the purchasing and lifecycle management of IT hardware/software and outsourcing solutions only. Seriously, that's how it defines it.

Finally, when making your decision, consider the potential influence of their research on your broader organization. As I said before, analyst firms rarely put into print what they really think about particular providers; however, if their research is useful to your cause, if it helps to influence company peers and stakeholders who put their trust in trusted third-party recommendations and commentary, then it will more than pay for itself. This is especially true when you consider that opportunity cost is often far more expensive that an analyst-research subscription.

Jason Busch

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