An interesting subject that has been discussed here in the past.  Information Week talks to the "big guns" of the analyst world: IDC, Gartner, Forrester.  There is a smattering of discussion about boutique analyst firms, but there are so many that it would be tough ground to cover.

It's an interesting article, but I think it is difficult to apply a single lens to all analyst firms.  Burton Group, for example, doesn't do vendor-sponsored work, as Peter O'Kelly notes on his blog.  Other analysts exclusively do so, so-called "white paper for hire" analysts.  This class of analyst doesn't get much attention in the Information Week article, yet I think it's more relevant for readers to be aware of.

Predicting tech trends is notoriously difficult, and no research firm is perfect in its advice. But their motives must be beyond reproach. Gartner VP Larry Perlstein tackled the pay-for-play question on the company's blog. "Aside from the occasional comment on a blog or backroom chatter, we have not had any vendors complain to the office of the ombudsman directly since the office opened in September 2004," Perlstein wrote. "So my message is, if anyone believes that they know of a legitimate issue, please step forward regardless of your client status."
The article also doesn't really tackle this subject -- track record.  The article quotes a reader saying that some analysts erroenously (and egotistically) see their role as "market makers" rather than trend watchers -- I agree completely.  It would be very interesting for those analysts that have been around a long time to self-publish a scorecard, and one that is somehow indepedently auditable.  I know that, for example, I still think about Tom Austin/Gartner's "Great Train Wreck" report on the messaging market in 1996 -- which was remarkably prescient for the time.  Can't say that I have seen the same from certain others.

Link: Information Week: Credibility Of Analysts >

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