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A Day in the Life of a Gartner Analyst

by Cindi Howson  |  September 3, 2018  |  Submit a Comment

Someone recently asked me what an industry analyst does all day:  do we think up the latest trends? Debate the impact of AI on the workforce?  We certainly do those things, especially for the Predicts notes, but a lot of our time is also filled with the here and now.

Let’s take a typical day – Friday, my favorite day in many respects because its starts with an MQ call in the morning and ends with a glass of wine in the evening.

7:00 am. Pre- game.  I’m not a morning person, so I need to warm up for work. I usually scan emails for anything urgent while sipping my strong, black coffee from my Swiss coffee mug (back story here). A morning TV news show will be buzzing in the background.  I check Twitter for any headlines using my list of vendors, fellow Gartner analysts, thought leaders, and a few key hashtags. #Data4good has become my new favorite (more in this note), but I also search for #analytics.  Cindi's Swiss coffee mug

8:00 Weekly MQ Call. This is the heart of the Analytics and BI MQ. Gartner is very collaborative, and there are a number of research calls in which analysts compare ideas and research. I’d love to attend several, but really, there are only two that are must-attends for me. When we are not actively writing the MQ, we are defining new criteria, tracking new vendors and updates, and generally figuring out how to make the MQ better in the next update (or is there any way to get people to read beyond the picture?). So right now, it’s about whittling the list of about 60 vendors to the top 21.  It’s an emotional and analytical process, but always, what’s best for customers (not vendors) drives us.

9:30 Quick vendor briefing.  We hope they are on time and we hope they are fascinating because in such a crowded market and on such busy days, it’s disappointing when the vendor is either unprepared or not interesting. In fact, if a new vendor can’t articulate their differentiator in scheduling the call, increasingly, I don’t take briefings from new vendors. It’s a hard decision to make, because maybe I just passed over the NEXT BIG THING (and maybe a cool vendor).

10 to 12:  Client Calls:  Client calls are like mini consulting sessions, sometimes an hour, sometimes 30 minutes. I do like the Gartner set up in which I can share video and presentations in the call. My calls may center on how to modernize a BI portfolio, which vendors should be on the short list, how to organize an analytics center of excellence, or improving maturity and impact.  Some are very detailed like:

  • What are the differences between Power BI and Tableau?
  • Why did one vendor get a score of 4.0 for a capability and another a 3?
  • When should I model data in the ABI tool versus in the database (this one almost always leads to my suggesting a follow up call with someone on the data team? You need to hear both sides, really).
  • What are the differences in natural language/BI search capabilities in the market?
  • Review a contract and let me know if it’s a good deal or what I am missing.

Others may be higher level like:

  • Where do we even start when we don’t know the KPIs that matter?
  • What should IT’s role be in data and analytics?
  • Should we have one tool or several (my answer here)?

12:30 Lunch Break. I need to detech at lunch, so it’s a walk down the driveway to pick up my USA Today and sometimes the WSJ (husband usually steals that one first). It’s archaic, or some may say quaint, but I just need to unwire for a bit.  A friend of mine, a CEO, says he could never work from home because at this point in the day, he’d start to work in the garden or work on household jobs. It is a privilege at Gartner that many analysts can do this, and some are more disciplined than others. Working mainly from home has been my habit for almost 20 years, so the house does not distract me. The house could be burning down and I might not know it. (My son did once come running into my office to tell me lightning was coming out of the microwave as he microwaved a slice of pizza wrapped in foil, but that’s the worst that ever happened).

1 to 4: More Client Calls. Our team does have a lot of calls, because Analytics and BI remains the top CIO priority and has been for about a decade. Also, this market continues to grow double digits – an estimated 30% last year – despite downward pricing pressure and move to subscription (see the market share report).

4-5. Wrap up and Random. Read up on local issues in Mexico or Brazil for upcoming summits.  (Like: did you know that Mexico graduates three times the number of technical degrees per capita than the U.S.?) Answer the emails that have piled up throughout the day (my notifications are always turned off so I don’t get distracted during calls). Review a colleague’s note.

5:30. Quitting Time.  Midweek, I usually have one evening of client calls or may be traveling to clients, summits, or vendor conferences. Blogs, like this one, I usually write on the plane. Or I’ll be out for a jog ruminating on a thorny client issue, or a better way to write a note, or remembering some hotel I forgot to book.

But come Friday that glass of Chardonnay starts whispering my name on a Friday at 5:30.

Think this sounds like your kind of job? We are always hiring!

Happy Labor Day!

Cindi Howson


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Category: business-analytics  business-intelligence  

Cindi Howson
Research VP
1 years at Gartner
25 years IT Industry

Cindi Howson is a Research Vice President at Gartner, where she focuses on business intelligence (BI) and analytics. Her work includes writing about market trends, vendors and best practices and advising organizations on these subjects. Read Full Bio

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