Recently, a vendor questioned the integrity of a piece of research, claiming that Gartner hired one of the contributing analysts from his competitor. We investigated the issue and didn’t find any evidence of bias, but it is reasonable to ask, “How does Gartner ensure that a new analyst hired from a vendor is not biased?” A related question is “How does Gartner protect the interest of vendors when an analyst leaves Gartner to go to one of their competitors?”
Gartner analysts typically have 10 to 20 years’ experience in their field of expertise so it’s common for Gartner to hire them from a vendor in the space. To ensure that the new analyst is able to deliver objective, balanced advice to Gartner clients, several safeguards are in place:
- Analyst candidates go through an extensive interview process which includes individual interviews with other analysts and Research managers. There is also a grueling group interview where the candidate is required to prepare and defend a position. In the course of these interviews, the Gartner associates are looking for signs that the candidate is able to think broadly, has a balanced view of the marketplace, and can see both sides of an issue. A candidate who rants, derides or disparages vendors is not likely to get an offer.
- New analysts don’t take on a full workload day one. It takes time (some say a year) to do research and gain perspective on current activities and trends in a particular market. New analysts follow a detailed on-boarding roadmap that teaches them about Gartner’s methodologies and processes, and introduces them to analyst activities in a measured, step-wise fashion. The roadmap takes the analyst through the first six months, and during that time the analyst’s manager and select peers help the analyst learn the ropes and become increasingly self-sufficient. So you won’t see a new analyst, freshly hired from a vendor, working on a Magic Quadrant in a substantial way without strong supervision.
- As I covered in an earlier post, Gartner analysts have to abide by a strict set of ethical behavior rules. These prohibit the analyst and the analyst’s family from financial investments in vendors in their coverage area. They also include written acknowledgement that the analyst will not divulge trade-secret or other confidential information that is owned by previous employers.
On the back end, when an analyst leaves to go to a vendor in their coverage area, a specific set of actions takes place immediately, which includes:
- Stopping the analyst from taking client inquiry calls, fulfilling vendor briefings or consulting related activities, or participating in any related e-mail distribution lists;
- Reminding the analyst of client confidentiality obligations; and
- Informing other vendors in the space that the analyst is leaving.
So what? While there’s no doubt that Gartner analysts can have very strong opinions, Gartner’s business processes strive to ensure that those opinions are the result of observation, detailed research, and collaboration — not the result of bias, experiences at a past employer, or some other purely personal interaction.