Thursday, 23 March 2006

Should vendors institute a pay-to-brief policy?

Gartner managers have instructed their analysts to stop providing their opinion and recommendations during briefings if there are non-Advisor seat holders participating from the vendor side. Why? Gene Hall does not want to give away for free anything that he can sell. That is certainly Gartner’s privilege, but it raises an interesting issue: why should vendors give to analysts something of value – information that the analysts then resell-- for free? Perhaps the vendors should start considering selling or bartering their information. After all, it can take hundreds of hours by dozens of employees using up precious customer reference favors to provide Gartner or Forrester the information needed for a Magic Quadrant or Wave.

An example of bartering could that if the vendor is providing access to executives – say VP and above – then the briefing has to be a dialogue instead of monologue. IDC and Forrester analysts are already very good about engaging in dialogues.

Another approach would be giving credits the vendor could exchange for services. A potential menu:

$100k -- Magic Quadrant, Forrester Wave
$25k ---- Product and services shipment and revenue data
$10k ---- Executive session
$1k ----- Update by AR staff
$0.2k --- E-mail response to a question
$20k ---- Annual inquiry retainer

Vendors could decide to provide pro-bono briefings for boutique firms.

Of course this is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but Gartner and the other firms need to take into the consideration how much vendors spend to respond to their requests.

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