Should you Renew Now With Both Gartner and AMR Research?

At SAP's Influencer Summit last week, I had the chance to trade thoughts and notes with a number of colleagues -- including fellow bloggers/former analysts as well as current analysts -- about whether it made sense for companies that currently find themselves in the renewal phrase of a contract with Gartner and AMR to pull the trigger or wait until more firm integration plans develop. Now, it's possible to have a bit of fun and write about this subject satirically. But it's also important to take the issue seriously, since many organizations, both vendors and practitioners, are currently wondering how best to allocate their funds for 2010 with an incomplete set of information to make a fully informed decision.

In my view, I've been telling my own clients and colleagues in the procurement sector that renewing with AMR is a no-brainer given that Mickey North Rizza and other key analysts have signed NDAs which prohibit them from joining competitive analyst firms (and which suggest that they will be going over to Gartner, and plan to continue to develop their practices there). But the renewal that I'm not so sure that I'd sign at the moment is, surprisingly, with Gartner. While I suspect that Gartner will continue to dedicate significant analyst research and effort to this area, I have not yet seen a research-integration plan that highlights the differences between what Gartner and AMR will cover, and how the two will integrate their research efforts.

Because Gartner acquired AMR specifically for its supply-chain experience, approach, and client list, I think it is a riskier proposition for both vendors and practitioners to sign contracts on the Gartner side, given that Gartner's practice in this area in 2010 could very well rely more heavily on AMR resources than Gartner resources. In the past couple of weeks since the announcement, numerous vendors and practitioners -- on the procurement, not IT, side of the house -- have told me that they value AMR's voice in this sector significantly more than Gartner's current one. And only one vendor came out in support of Gartner's approach and coverage over AMR. Perhaps this will not end up being an either/or thing with one practice taking over the other, but I personally don't see Gartner backing off from putting AMR talent front and center in this area given that it was one of the major rationales for the deal in the first place.

For this reason, I would exercise caution with Gartner renewals in the procurement and supply-chain area specifically unless there are other reasons (e.g., other IT/research areas) playing a role in a broader decision. If it were my budget, I would wait and see what happens in the first quarter next year. As someone who used to run an analyst-relations effort on the vendor side as well as a budget for buying marketing and vendor research when I was advising practitioners, I do not make this recommendation lightly. But I also don't see a reason to toss good money after bad before the dust and analysts themselves settle.

Jason Busch

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