Tuesday, 28 February 2006

Gartner limits vendor briefings to 30 minutes

In a mass distribution e-mail today, Gartner announced a new policy effective March 31st that vendor briefings would be limited to 30 minutes.

9 comments:

Vinnie Mirchandani said...

I knew of a CIO who had a parking meter on his desk. He gave eevry vendor 15 minutes, and if that made sense he would put another quarter and gave them another 15 minutes.

This shoudl focus vendor messages. What is different from when you last presnted to Gartner. What makes you different. I for one applaud their move.

Now if they could themselves present on a sector in 10 slides and 30 minutes...

Jon Collins said...

Kind of blows out the 3 hours I spent one on one with IBM yesterday... I learned a great deal. How great it must be to know it all already. Admittedly, we didn't spend very long talking about the "vendor messages" - the background, delivery approach, roadmap and impact were far more interesting!

Dean Bubley said...

I do 30 minute briefings occasionally, but find they usually have very low value.

Essentially this means that I don't get to ask all the specific questions I've prepared for the call, or talk through what I see is happening & gauge the vendor's reaction - I just have to listen to the vendor pitch. I tend to treat a 1-hr call as a two-way conversation where both parties come away enlightened - ideally with mutual "ah-hah!" moments.

30 mins might work better if I was a very "siloed" analyst, just needing the details on a particular product range, or if it was a simple update call.

Vinnie Mirchandani said...

another unintended consequence. Fewer vendor, PR etc folks involved in a presentation. I think my record when I was at Gartner was 15 PwC execs came to present for a 2 hour slot. We ran over and still some of the egos were bruised as we never got to their slides...

Dean and Jon make good points and I am sure Gartner would agree to extend if the request was justified. Just like the CIO I cited above - he went for 15 min to 30.

BTW - smaller vendors should practice with their VCs before they present to analysts. Those guys can cut to the chase in less than 5 minutes...

Anonymous said...

I think this will just reinforce the "buy from the mega-vendor" point of view at Gartner. It takes longer than 30 minutes for a vendor (and not just small) to get a point across to most analysts, especially if the product intersect multiple areas of coverage (because maybe they're doing it better than the silo vendors).

I have a funny story about VC's and how much they know. We bought a company (for ~$15M) and I met on of the investors at an associated party. I said "so do you think it will work?" and the guy said "I really don't know much about it", so I said "so you must really like Mr X (the CEO of the acquired comp.) and he said "i really don't know him- he's a friend of a friend(another investor)" This first guy I was talking to had put $1M into the company!!

Gartner acts like vendors have herpes for the most part. They will be surprised when they stop paying $50K (starting) for all those booths

Anonymous said...

I personally think that this new policy is well meaning and could have some salutary effects by concentrating minds on the real issues. Heavens know that vendors sometimes come in with 43 slide, 115 build PowerPoints that could not be gotten through in a day much less an hour. ;-> However, there are many topics that cannot be covered in 30 minutes unless one speed talks the content with no dialog with the analysts.

In fact, it is not always the vendors that take so much time, but the analysts asking drill down questions. I did a briefing last week with three Gartner analysts that was set up for a 60 minutes, but I expected it to last, oh, 40 to 45 minutes. The only reason why it ended at 93 minutes was because my spokesperson had another meeting he was late to. The analysts loved the content and asked a gazillion questions. The analysts got lots of value from it. Could my company and the analysts gotten the same value in 30 minutes? No. In two 30-minute briefings, maybe but unlikely because two calls are not as effective as a single call. And no way would there have been three calls, because of the admin burden of setting up briefings.

BTW, Is it my imagination or do Vinnie's comments typically have an anti-vendor slant?

Dale Vile said...

It is impossible to generalise on the appropriate amount of time to allocate to a briefing. I find it quite interesting that everyone seems to go for a default of 1 hour - why?

If it is a new vendor I have not spoken with before who approaches me and I am unsure as to their significance to our audience, I will often agree to a 20-30 minute qualification call on the phone, but you cannot get a real feel for a vendor in that time. I just use it to decide whether it will be mutually beneficial to spend more time later. I qualify this way because if you allocate an hour or a couple of hours to a call, it will consume that time, whether it is useful or not. In that respect, I sort of see where Gartner is coming from.

Beyond this, however, I generally make a judgement on a case by case basis, and in fact, once I know a vendor or have been through a pre-qualification call, I find it relatively straightforward to work out the appropriate length of time to spend on something. This can range from 15 minutes, e.g. just to check some specifics whilst writing a report or article, to a whole day, e.g. when a vendor is pre-briefing in the lead up to a strategic launch or change in direction.

Most briefings are somewhere in between, just like today when a couple of us spent three productive hours with IBM and an a couple of productive hours with Avaya.

As some of the others said, we generally prefer our briefings to be interactive. Not sure I would be capable of just sitting there listening to messages for 30 minutes, and any decent two-way conversation of substance typically requires a reasonable amount of time.

Vinnie Mirchandani said...

Anonymous, I run a small business and my clients are (mostly) CIOs. So I am a vendor just like you (I presume)

I do take the buyer’s perspective because I help them negotiate tech deals. If that is anti-vendor as you call it, I am guilty

I would encourage every AR person to spend a few weeks in sales. You will find the average buyer does not return calls, sets his own rules for how long a presentation can be, what format, will cut you short etc. Once you have done that you will find analysts are really not that rude.

Also, tech vendors in general have no idea what brutal vendor relations can be. I deal with sorucing/procurement people all the time. You have to do business in the auto industry or with Wal-Mart to really understand rules of engagement. The tech world is still pretty congenial and our margins are still way generous. So criticize Gartner for their 30 minute limits, but buyers are far more ruthless...

Duncan Chapple said...

I think Vinnie's comment are 100% on the money as far as the US goes, but could be rather wide of the mark when it comes to other countries in which many of Gartner's analysts, clients and research contacts are based.

Outside of the US, VC funds are hugely culturally specific. In many countries, technology enterpreneurs have gotten their funds elsewhere. That's one reason why VC funds have more invested in Israel: the culture there is closer to the US VC culture in so far as they are both direct, low-context and fast-paced. But generally, many business people outside the US would fail if they addmpted to communicate as this speed.

For that reason, Gartner's policy hugely aids the home team. For more on this, take a look at today's post on http://analystequity.com.