Office of the Ombudsman

Our Assurance of Impartiality

Gartner Client Status is Irrelevant to Research Positioning

April 14th, 2009 · 6 Comments

Yesterday a vendor tweeted, “New Question, how many Software Vendors in the Wave and Quadrant are not clients of Gartner and Forrester?”

We can’t speak for anyone else, but Gartner’s answer is that usually most, but not all, vendors in Magic Quadrants are Gartner clients in one way or another – such as exhibiting at our events or accessing analysts for advice to help them run a more successful business. But client status (or even the amount a client spends) is not a factor in determining inclusion or positioning in research reports. Research analysts cover vendors that, based on end-user requirements, are significant players in the product and service sectors we cover. Gartner analysts determine if vendors are relevant to the clients in their area of coverage; the vendors don’t decide if they want to be covered or not. All Gartner analysts are strictly governed by our Code of Ethics¬†to ensure our research is independent and objective, and it’s my job to enforce it.

Do some vendors buy Gartner services expecting to be included in Gartner research or to improve their position in Magic Quadrants or Marketscopes? If they do, they quickly find that becoming a client doesn’t guarantee either of these. The main reason vendors buy Gartner services is to get access to our analysts – to bounce ideas off them, learn from what they see happening in the market, or get specific reactions to potential product or service plans. While any vendor can brief our analysts on new products or services, regardless of whether or not they are a client, the key missing ingredient is feedback, which only clients get.¬†

A related question vendors sometimes ask is, “Why doesn’t Gartner disclose which vendors are clients in Magic Quadrants or Marketscopes?” The answer is doing so would violate the confidentiality that Gartner affords its clients.

So what? It’s obvious from the fact that Gartner even has an Office of the Ombudsman that we take integrity and independence very seriously. The Office was put in place to help ensure that Gartner associates play by the rules – but also are able to act free of undue influence.

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6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Stiennon // Apr 14, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    For what it is worth I can corroborate these statements. In my time at Gartner I never felt influenced by customer relationships with vendors. Many times I was unaware of a vendor’s status all together. It was irrelevant to creating MQs.


  • 2 Christopher M Dancy // Apr 15, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Great information. I see so many vendors that have great products and have worked with so many, It struck me the other day, Why do some make it and some not. As someone who recommends great ITSM software, I felt it was a good question. Your office has done an amazing job of answering this question. Thanks!

    p.s. I hope it’s not a bad sign that my captcha is “be blood”

  • 3 john quincy // Apr 16, 2009 at 2:10 am

    at least Gartner is not Frost & Sullivan

    their “awards” are based entirely on a company’s ability to pay for that award – check out their industry categories and awards – they only time they award a winner in a category two years in a row is if a company actually pays them to research that category two years in a row

    F&S is a sham

    Gartner is suspect, too, as is any analyst firm (look at S&P and the other bond rating agencies), however, at least Garter covers major markets that customers care about every year, not just when companies pay them to

  • 4 Evan Quinn // Apr 24, 2009 at 11:21 am

    I can vouch for Gartner here: Gartner has rather strict and straightforard criteria for different markets to determine which vendors to include in MQ, not sure about Marketscope, and as a vendor if you don’t meet the criteria you don’t get in, period. You cannot buy your way in. And if you barely make the cut and would rather be left out of the MQ (c’mon, who likes being in lower left, despite Gartner’s protestations), well, you get in regardless. You cannot buy your way out. I’ve been an AR person on both sides of the cut lines, and Gartner acted with total integrity.

    That said, I have seen some obvious vendors left out of MQs who managed to slip by Gartner notice, but that was back in the 90s when there were so many vendors. Unlikely to happen now that the industry has consolidated so much.

  • 5 James // Jul 24, 2009 at 7:25 am

    Has there ever been a time where non-commercial open source has ever appeared in the leader’s quadrant?

  • 6 Nancy Erskine // Jul 24, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    Hi James, I didn’t know the answer to your question so I asked analyst Mark Driver for his thoughts. Here’s what he said:

    “I know that JBoss has been a leader in the app server quadrant but the issue of OSS and vendor is orthagonal many OSS projects are supported by vendors JBoss for exmaple in owned by Redhat.

    “Overall however OSS products are largely under represented in most Gartner MQs because MQs are vendor centric.”