First full disclosure – I worked at Forrester Research from 1998 to 2001, I have also worked with Gartner, Forrester, AMR Research, ARC, Manufacturing Insights, Yankee Group and Aberdeen (when I say worked with, I had commercial relationships with all these firms)
So what do I mean by the small players? I have been doing some research for two projects I am currently engaged in, one is dealing with supply chain vendors not named SAP or Oracle…not even the likes of Manhattan Associates, JDA or Red Prairie. That is to say, smaller vendors, those with between $10 and $75m in revenue. What has struck me is what little information there is to find on Gartner or Forrester, picking on these two since they are the titans of the market research space.
Now if you want to learn about SAP, Oracle, IBM or Microsoft well they have plenty to say! Wonderful. But is this really helping the industry? No. I think that these market research firms are doing a disservice to the space. Why?
Sure, these large vendors spend money, A LOT of money with these market research firms. They also tend to have large marketing organizations that can harass…err…..inform the analysts about what they are doing. So this becomes a vicious loop – analysts hear from the big players all the time, that is what they know, that is what they write, that is all that users think is out there….and so forth. Now I realize this is over simplification. But, the value to me in market research is to get the “ah-ha” to get to some nuggets of information I do not have access to. Understanding that the latest extension of SAP’s APO module is mildly interesting, but learning of 4 interesting vendors addressing specific problems is interesting.
Now we will always need the analyst firms to inform us about the large vendors, they too can be difficult to navigate. In addition it is good for a Gartner or Forrester to be able to hold IBM or SAP’s feet to the fire. But users need to be informed about what is around the corner, which thought leading vendor needs to be on one’s radar….not what the last thing Oracle did with database management.