Gartner Admits They're No Better Than A Coin Flip

from the and-worse-than-dice dept

As many of you know, Techdirt is the public face of our Techdirt Corporate Intelligence business, providing customized daily news, information and (most importantly) analysis to a bunch of companies. When we're pitching the service, we often get asked how we're different from the big analyst houses like Gartner. The Gartners of the world focus on being "quotable," while we try to be useful. That is, they provide big reports that they want to sell to a bunch of folks that will allow them to talk about how big this or that market is or what companies are in what "quadrants" in their magic quadrant chart -- which is not very helpful for making decisions. It's only useful for telling either the press or investors how big Gartner says your market will be, so that they'll write an article about your company or invest in it. Our focus is less on the big strategic report, but in giving daily analysis that's customized and put in context for that specific customer, so they can actually use it to do their job today. Of course, some people point out that Gartner will also make recommendations on what tech vendor to pick in some cases -- but again, this has always seemed to be more of a "quotable" situation. It allows you to tell your boss that Gartner said to pick this vendor, rather than actually weighing the pros and cons yourself. But, now, according to former Gartner analyst Vinnie Mirchandani, Gartner has admitted that you're probably better off just flipping a coin to choose a vendor. It's nice of them to realize that many companies spend way, way too much time trying to choose a vendor (absolutely true), but it really does say something when they admit they're no better than a coin flip. Of course, it may be even more telling that Gartner's own analysis of the uselessness of their recommendations may be wrong as well. Vinnie goes through the coin flip process... and suggests companies would actually be better off using dice.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Snore, Aug 28th, 2006 @ 10:59am

    Would you like some cheese?

    ...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    dorpus, Aug 28th, 2006 @ 10:59am

    As opposed to...

    Does Techdirt tell its clients to stop investing in anything with intellectual property or the music industry involved? Haha.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Aug 28th, 2006 @ 11:05am

    Re: As opposed to...

    Does Techdirt tell its clients to stop investing in anything with intellectual property or the music industry involved? Haha.

    No surprise, of course, that dorpus has yet to understand most of what we talk about.

    We do advise clients when it comes to intellectual property and the recording industry -- but we do so in a similar manner to what we talk about here. Helping them understand what's happening in the market, and how it impacts their business directly, so they can compete with free and make even more money doing so. So far, we've been quite successful with it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    More Snore, Aug 28th, 2006 @ 11:15am

    So is that a no for some cheese?

    guess so

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2006 @ 11:20am

    Gartner is actually pretty good at telling companies what happened in the past. As for telling them for what they should do in the future, thats a different story.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    DittoBox, Aug 28th, 2006 @ 11:48am

    Toot toot

    Is that TechDirt's horn I hear?

    I think TechDirt the news website is a great example of what free is: a great promotional tool. TechDirt is probably one the best advertisements for a product out there: it's actually useful and enjoyable.

    Keep it up. Maybe some other markets and companies will pick up on the idea.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    JRL, Aug 28th, 2006 @ 11:52am

    Ever try to nail down a Gartner Analyst?

    I once tried to ask Gartner a direct question, something like "Should I purchase X or Y?". They wouldn't even admit that I asked the question, but instead they directed me to their website. Talk about usless.

     

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  8.  
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    John McKean, Aug 28th, 2006 @ 12:26pm

    Re: Would you like some cheese?

    I am not sure how cheese comes into play here but...

    While Gartner can say of themselves that they are not better than a coin toss I would tend to disagree. A coin toss is a random event that occurs without intelligent thought. Any kind of rational analysis is better than randomness.

    Gartner often predicts outcomes in a quickly changing market place where information can get "mouldy" (my cheese reference) pretty quickly.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2006 @ 12:44pm

    ATEST

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    mikey, Aug 28th, 2006 @ 12:58pm

    Sort of like consultants in general...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    ManOnTheMoon?, Aug 28th, 2006 @ 1:40pm

    Re: Re: As opposed to...

    no no no mike... you recognized the name... why did you let him snag you? i'm sure dorpus understands everything that you're writing about. dorpus is half troll half comedic genius. i could picture him like andy kaufman laughing to himself as people are giving in to his absolute randomness with personal attacks towards an essentially fictional character. this wasn't even one of his more "off the wall" comments. i'd probably have joked about the same thing had he not mentioned it first.

     

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  12.  
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    Ken, Aug 28th, 2006 @ 1:46pm

    Coin flip analogy is being used incorrectly.

    They weren't talking about a completely random choice. They said to find the 2 or 3 vendors that meet all of your criteria and match your expectations, and _then_ flip a coin.

    It's not like they couldn't help you choose between Microsoft CRM and "Billy Bob's CRM-like softyware".

    They are just saying, at some point you have to quit analyzing and go for it.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2006 @ 1:50pm

    f tHIS

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Don Gray, Aug 28th, 2006 @ 1:52pm

    I disagree

    As an earlier poster pointed out ANY rational thought is likely to be better than pure randomness.

    What I think Gartner gets right (disclosure: I'm a Gartner Customer), is getting down to that short list.

    From there I think that you need to look at the magic quadrant for the thing you are considering and figure out which part of the quadrant you are willing to consider based primarily on the size of your business and the degree of sophistication you are looking for in a provider.

    Want to go with the "safe bet"? Look more torwards the top and left. Want more of a "sophisticated" or "boutique" solution? Look more to the bottom and right.

    At the end of the day anyone that makes it onto the quadrant is going to provide a decent solution DEPENDING on your expectations.

    Anyone who "flips a coin" better be prepared to explain that analysis to their management and board.

    There is no comparison between that and "I looked at the quadrant, aligned our busines needs with their capabilities, selected the three best matches, and chose the one that was most responsive."

    My two cents...

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Peter Bromberg, Aug 28th, 2006 @ 2:20pm

    RE: Gartner

    The Gurus of Gartner ride again. In the early days of the .NET Platform (Mircrosoft) I challenged a Gartner Guru who had cliaimed .NET was too immature and not "production ready". Now, more Fortune 1000 companies use it for development projects than even JAVA, which is far more mature as a platform. Yarrow Stalks and the I-Ching are more authoritative, and you can read the Confucian commentaries to your bosses.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2006 @ 3:32pm

    Re: Re: Gartner

    .NET was too immature and not production ready? it's frickin microsoft... of course it was (immature and non-production ready)... but again, it IS microsoft so chances are most of it was "developed through research" (ripped off) of other platforms so was good enough for release, and it is, again, microsoft, so people will bought it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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