June 1st, 2018 | by Richard Cho, GM for Peer Insights & Peer Connect

Choosing the right software solution for your enterprise is hard. There’s a lot riding on the decision, and if you’re like most of our clients, there’s not nearly enough time to do all the first-hand research you and your team would like. Technology solutions are evolving faster than ever – it can be a full-time job just to keep up.

At Gartner, we’ve been helping our clients with this challenge for decades. Below is our practical guide to help your team make better decisions efficiently1.

1. Start by finding the relevant Gartner market. If you have at least one vendor or product in mind, the easiest way to find the right market is by searching for them here.  Getting to the right market can help answer the practical question, who else should we consider for this? Our 1.3k analysts have regular contact with over 60k senior-level clients across 10k+ unique enterprises and conduct over 250k client inquiries annually to understand how organizations are thinking about their current technology needs. They then organize these needs into distinct markets with specific notable vendors and conduct further deep-dives culminating in written research notes.

2. Once you find the appropriate market, read the relevant independent research that we’ve built our brand on.
a. For markets that are growing, where IT solutions are stable yet competitive, we have Magic Quadrants that graphically give you a wide-angle view of the relative positions of the market’s competitors based on our expert opinion and analysis. In most of our Magic Quadrant markets, we then explore product capabilities against different common use cases with our Critical Capabilities research. For most clients, this use case and capabilities-driven product ranking mirrors their own internal approach, and shaves time off their shortlisting process.
b. For markets that are still emerging, where requirements are in flux, or for more mature markets where the offerings are fairly interchangeable, we write Market Guides to provide buying insight.

It’s important to note that these market definitions evolve over time, as you’d expect them to. Buying needs shift as organizations respond to their changing needs, and vendor’s capabilities. Over time, markets may emerge as Market Guides, mature into Magic Quadrants, or obsolesce into Market Guides. Markets may also split as families of use cases emerge into separate product categories. The Gartner market definition takes all of these factors into account so you don’t have to.

3. After reading our written research, we suggest talking with our analysts directly to deepen your understanding of a given market or vendor, either through inquiries (live conversations) or 1:1’s at our events. We can also help clients review their prospective contracts and improve their negotiating strategy.

4. Take advantage of peer advice at scale by leveraging Gartner Peer Insights and Peer Connect.
We designed Gartner Peer Insights from the ground-up to be an enterprise-grade reviews and ratings platform that is open to everyone (and their teams!) free of charge. We have over 85k+ published reviews (as of June 2018), and more enterprise reviews2 than any other platform. These reviews are all vetted by Gartner before they are published, and allow you to virtually extend your personal network to more than 35k peers.

Gartner Peer Insights can help you complement expert-driven research and your own analysis in a number of ways:

– As a free resource, you or anyone on your team can look up the name of a vendor or product, and find the Gartner market it’s tied to. Simply go to Gartner Peer Insights and type in the name of the relevant product, which will lead to end-user reviews, along with a link at the top left to the accompanying market. For Gartner Research clients, there are also links to the expert analysis in the Magic Quadrant (or Market Guide) as well as the related Critical Capability if it exists.

– Taking advantage of crowdsourcing and continuous publishing, Peer Insights has reviews on many more vendors and products than our research analysts can cover in a given market. This can be useful to get a perspective on niche or emerging vendors that might be relevant for your given circumstance.

– In markets where we have enough content, we’ve created Customers’ Choice distinctions to highlight enterprise vendors that are above average in terms of overall ratings with at least 50 approved reviews in the last year. While analysts look at a number of factors, including customer feedback, to determine vendors’ positions in a Magic Quadrant, the Customers’ Choice provides a complementary perspective based solely on customer feedback, balancing between overall score and number of reviews.

– Using the site’s filters, you can highlight reviews from end-users like yourself (e.g., industry, company size, etc.) to enable checking customer references at scale. These review surveys were designed with our analysts’ feedback to model best practices in getting customer references. One client described them as “getting someone else’s post-mortem report.”  This allows you to get a practitioner’s view to provide real world lessons learned on what worked and what didn’t.

– We’ve added tools that let you easily compare user feedback across products, as well as see which alternatives are typically in consideration before a solution is chosen. We’ve heard this is a common question raised in investment committees.

In addition to the above, we are iterating on creating new content types to help our Gartner Research clients drive additional synthesis based on the review content, both at the overall market level, as well as lessons learned at the vendor level. Stay tuned for more on this.

While we obviously think reviews and ratings are great, it’s important to understand their limitations as well. Because reviews and ratings are based on end-users’ actual experiences, any kind of analysis based solely on these reviews is inherently historical. When purchasing an enterprise platform for millions of dollars affecting tens of thousands of users in your enterprise for the next 3+ years, understanding not just past performance, but likely future direction is critical, and not something that is easily teased from reviews. In addition, any one review is inherently subjective – it’s one person’s opinion. It’s hard to draw conclusions from a small number of data points – but as the sample size increases, if the platform is independent and fair, you can make make more definitive conclusions. That’s why the number of reviews is an important correlator with confidence.

Along with Gartner Peer Insights, which is open to all, we have Gartner Peer Connect, which is a closed discussion forum open only to our end-user Research clients. The community allows you to dig deeper on key questions regarding the vendors you’re considering, in either a group or private 1-1 setting.  Being part of the community means you can extend your network to over 85k senior IT leaders (as of June 2018) around the world and learn from their experiences. The community is managed by Gartner, meaning there’s no vendor sales or marketing bias – just trusted advice from your peers.

5. If your schedule allows for it, attending a Gartner event tailored for your role can provide a great taste of what Gartner has to offer. We have research analyst-led sessions that can help you understand our expert perspective on a market. You can have face-to-face conversations with your peers and 1:1’s with our analysts to get tailored advice. The events also represent a great opportunity to speak directly with a wide range of vendors in our exhibitor showcases.

Choosing the right technology solutions for your enterprise has never been more complex. Leveraging the best of Gartner can help you and your team increase your odds of getting it right. For more information, please reach out to your Gartner service team.


1 The above is written from the perspective of a paying Gartner Research client. If you’re interested in becoming a Research client, please click here for more information.

2 From companies with more than $50mm in revenue or 200 employees.