[GUEST POST] Analysts’ Dirty Little Secrets

The Gartner Godfather, illustration from the 1972 movie for a blog post by Jonathon Gordon / EMI on Gartner on the IIAR websiteNetScout is crying foul against Gartner. The NetScout lawsuit against Gartner has raised the ‘pay-for-play’ specter once again. Whether this is a case of a vendor just peeved at their spot on the GMQ or they have a legitimate grievance, I am not in a position to judge Whether NetScout will be successful with their legal foray is for the lawyers and judges to say.

However, the latest outcry against Gartner should ring warning bells for the mega-analyst firm and others too. The fact that ‘pay-for-play’ has once again raised its ugly head is symptomatic of the lack of regulation and transparency in the Industry Analyst Business.

The lawsuit calls for ‘structural reforms’ similar to those imposed on the financial system in order to ‘remove the conflicts of interest and unfair and deceptive business practices’. Incidentally, this is a topic that has been discussed on this blog before.

What’s the BIG Deal?

As long as Gartner and the rest of the industry refrain from implementing some kind of industry-wide ethics or practice code, this will continue to be an issue. I believe that regulation is in the industry’s best interests. After all, if there aren’t really any secrets, what does everyone have to hide?

To start, I would suggest that each firm is required to make public their client list including the nature of that relationship. Of course, analysts will have relationships with all players in the industries that they cover. Knowing who their paid clients are should afford some transparency. This transparency will enable businesses to beware of a possible conflict of interest before undertaking any interaction with the analyst firm (paid or otherwise). Secondly, best practices for separation of church and state (analyst services/sales) should be implemented (granted this will be more difficult in the smaller firms). Analyst companies must make a concerted effort to weed out improper sales practices that may lead to misunderstandings (or lawsuits).

Need for change!

Regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit, Gartner being the industry leader (with no one else even close in the quadrant) must adopt these practices for the sake of the industry if not their own image. It’s time for Gartner and the industry to do away with the smoke and mirrors. It’s high time to pull the curtains back and get a good look at what’s going on behind. Only then can we move past these discussions and focus on delivering credible research.

One thing is for certain, the lawyers are pay-for-play!


By Jonathon Gordon / Directing Analyst, Expert Market Insight (LinkedIn, @Jonathon_Gordon), originally posted on his LinkedIn page on the 24/8/14. Opinions expressed in this guest post are not an IIAR position and may not reflect IIAR members individual opinions. Note that the legal proceedings referred in the post were dismissed, see links below.


IIAR Code of Ethics

Related IIAR posts


Other links on Gartner vs. Netscout


Other posts on the Gartner Magic Quadrant

Other posts by Jonathon

3 thoughts on “[GUEST POST] Analysts’ Dirty Little Secrets”

  1. Jonathan’s article is four years too late. This court case is an embarrassment to Netscout and it is trying to move past it. Here’s my note from when the court date was set in 2016: http://www.influencerrelations.com/4712/netscout-continues-unwise-gartner-suit

    There’s no way that we’ll end up with government regulation of analyst firms. It’s a totally unrealistic idea, especially considering the reduction of financial-sector regulation. It’s not like FIFA: http://www.influencerrelations.com/3855/gartner-isnt-fifa-why-congress-wont-regulate-analysts

    The bleating of losers like the Netscout management is well laid out in the extensive documentation uncovered in the discovery process from their mistaken court case. The idea that their MQ placement was influenced by their commercial relationship is also mistaken.

  2. As Duncan has already clarified, this article is years out of date. The case was settled out of court.

    How can dredging up old, out of date posts (this was first posted on May 7, 2018 and then backdated today) help the IIAR’s mission, which is to “enhance the awareness, image and practice of the analyst relations profession globally”?

  3. Interesting comments. The article is dated indeed. The trigger has petered out. Yet, some of the salient points are interesting still.

    Personally, I don’t think we’ll see regulation, except maybe if some player become over-dominant and abuse their position -a real possibility. However, more transparency would be welcome.

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