I spent two days this week in New York City meeting with Gartner clients who are market analysts at investment companies that follow security companies. Thousands of years ago (well, in the 1970′s), Gartner’s founder (Gideon Gartner) was one of the top technology analysts on Wall Street, and thought the techniques he used to analyse technology stocks could be adapted to help businesses choose the best products and vendors as they began to use computers to gain business advantage. Adapted is the keyword -there really is an enormous difference between picking a good stock and picking a good vendor. It is sort of like the difference between choosing a rental car on a business trip and choosing your family car.
I get reminded of this every time I spend time with Wall Street analysts, many of whom are really, really smart at what they do. The good ones are amazingly well plugged-in to vendor plans and industry gossip, and obviously they have great insight into funding and plans to go public. Seems like there is definitely a run on security vendors putting together filings for IPOs – a sign (along with the fact that a number of Gartner analysts have been hired away by vendors…) of strength in the vendor economy.
But, they are largely disconnected from the people who buy security products. I guess that’s what they use Gartner for – we spend the majority of our time advising enterprise clients how to make the best technology decisions to meet business needs, keep the bad guys out, etc. – very different world. Its always an interesting reality check when I talk to Wall Street analysts – I give them pushback on what the vendors have told them, and they give me pushback based on what the financial numbers are actually showing.
Most of them are focused on fairly short term factors: which publicly traded vendor will have an upside/downside surprise next quarter, or which privately held vendor will get bought at a high price, or will actually IPO and “pop” not “thud.” But some are value or long term investors and I tend to talk to them about which vendors have the happiest customers, which appear to be heading in the direction where they will be ready to meet their customer’s changing security needs just before the rest of the market realizes it, etc. Basically, with those types of investors I’m talking Ability to Execute and Vision: Magic Quadrant criteria.
Of course, this past Wednesday I did that all day and then came out of a Manhattan skyscraper right into the middle of the St. Patrick’s Day parade madness in Manhattan. I had a Vision of making my train back to the DC area, which required an Ability to Shove drunk green people out of my way as I ran down 7th Avenue…
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