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Behind the Scenes at a Gartner Symposium

By Paul Miller | December 13, 2015 | 0 Comments

Did you ever wonder what it’s like to be a Gartner analyst at a Gartner event? As a client who frequently made the annual pilgrimage to Orlando, I’d experienced the attendee side of things: a cornucopia of thought-provoking sessions spread over the Swan and Dolphin and beyond. Bring your walking shoes and marvel at Disney’s ability to feed, house, and move thousands of people smoothly. Leave with a wealth of ideas and a few to put into practice on Monday when you’re back in the office. But what’s it like to be an analyst at Symposium?

I got my first chance at this year’s Orlando Symposium, having joined Gartner earlier this year as a Managing Vice President on the Digital Workplace team in Gartner Research. We help IT organizations develop strategies to bring more consumer-like experiences into their workplace to better engage employees. You can’t hope to build a Digital Business without providing a Digital Workplace for your staff!

While much was as you might expect – long days that fly by because they’re filled with deep engaging conversations with clients – there were a few things that would have made me approach Symposium differently as a client.

Symposiums are the SUPER BOWLs for Gartner Analysts – bring your “A” Game.
Internally, Gartner is a hyper-competitive marketplace of ideas, especially for content for Symposiums. Analysts from all across Gartner make proposals on topics – most end up on the cutting room floor. Only the best of the best see the light of day at a Gartner event.

Events represent one big focus group for Gartner – let your voice be heard.
As an attendee, I never really thought about my badge being scanned or took the time to rate many event sessions. It turns out we very heavily analyze that data (should’ve known – we ARE a firm of analysts after all). Highly attended and well-rated topics get more investment going forward. For you, this means if you strongly like (or don’t like) something you experience, let us know. Each and every comment is read. The feedback absolutely impacts the direction of the research.

Gartner clients represent a rich community of Leaders – take your place.
As an attendee, I primarily approached Symposium like a trip to the doctor (though a lot more pleasant). I brought my top two or three pain points and looked forward to Gartner giving me prescriptions to make it all better. I’d enjoy accidental encounters with other attendees, but that wasn’t my primary objective.

As a Gartner associate at this year’s event, my time was all about engaging with people from outside of Gartner. I never fully appreciated the role Gartner plays as ‘community organizer’ for the leaders of IT organizations around the world. Quality research attracts quality clients which leads to more quality research which attracts more quality clients… it’s quite an amazing virtuous cycle.

For you, that means at your next Gartner event, take full advantage of opportunities to engage with peers as well as your analysts – extend the conversation at through Peer Connect. There’s a treasure trove of experiences to be tapped into.

Having looked at life from both sides now – Gartner client and Gartner analyst – both are pretty darn good. Hoping my sneak peek from the ‘other side’ helps you get the most of your next Gartner event. For analyst and attendee alike, the cardinal rule remains to have fun and ALWAYS bring comfortable shoes!

The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

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