Why Do TFD Delegates Hate Gartner?

Gartner Logo

A thought, since I’ve just returned form Networking Field Day 9: I’ve heard it said that delegates to Tech Field Day events hate Gartner; that this is stupid, or that it’s some other form of snobbery. It’s certainly true that on the whole, TFD delegates do not like to see Gartner slides in presentations.

That Gartner Slide

So why do Tech Field Day delegates hate Gartner?

We don’t.

We do.

We don’t, but we do. It’s complicated.

Hey, it’s complicated, alright?

Bonus points for obvious movie reference identification. So look, here’s the thing. You folks reading this blog are likely pretty intelligent. The fact that you read tech blogs means you are looking to get information that will help you make a decision or solve a problem.

Gartner Magic Quadrants

In my opinion, the problem with a company at Tech Field Day putting up a Gartner slide and maybe boasting that “we’re in the top right quadrant” is that it’s not what we think we’re there to hear. We’re sitting in front of the actual people who make the product, and instead of convincing us of their product’s merits by telling and showing us how amazing it is, they’re saying “Here’s what Gartner says about us,” like that means we should automatically agree or something. All of us – delegates or not – I suspect like to think that we are possessed with the brains to make our own decision about a product’s technical merits. Where that company sits in Gartner’s quadrants is kind of a side issue until it’s purchase time where some other elements come into play, and I personally am not there at a Field Day event to make a purchasing decision.

That Nascar Slide

There’s a similar running joke about the “Nascar” slide – that slide filled with the logos of companies with whom a vendor is doing business. There’s rarely anything on that slide that indicates the true extent of this relationships, and even if there were, so what? Are you saying that because these companies bought your solution, I should suppress my own thought process and fall in line? Of course not.

Nascar Slide

(Image courtesy of TechTarget)

This may work in sales presentations perhaps because people like to feel that they are making a “safe” decision. After all, nobody got fired for buying the solution from a company that Gartner put in the top right quadrant that five other companies in your vertical also purchased, right? Mind you, you still don’t know why those other companies selected a particular product, nor when, but that’s the joy of putting a logo on a page. And that’s why we’re not impressed by seeing a list of logos; it’s largely meaningless in the context of a presentation where you’re hoping to persuade people that your product is the bee’s knees, so to speak.


We’re not total asses(*). Delegates know that these sessions are recorded and made available on the Internet. Especially when it comes to a corporate introduction/overview, I get why a vendor wants to put their Gartner/Nascar slides out there, and thus there’s an informal acknowledgement that these are unavoidable, and so long as the vendor doesn’t dwell on it or tell us that their solution is awesome because Gartner says so, I think you’ll see that these get a polite pass without any heckling. Except for Brocade, that is, where our wonderful host Lisa Caywood totally gets it, and plays along with the whole thing, making a joke out of it.

(*) Exceptions may apply. Exclusion valid only in states where legal.

My 10 Bits

As a TFD delegate I’m not here to buy. I’m in the fortunate position of being able to hear direct from a product vendor about their product, and they are able to pull in their best presenters or most nerdy geeks to convince us what a super solution we’re looking at. What an opportunity. Why waste time telling us what other people think about it, when you can tell us about it directly? I’m much more likely to recommend a product because I was genuinely impressed by it, than because somebody recommended it to me.

Do I personally hate Gartner? Absolutely not. I use them for research, along with other analyst companies, and they have valuable insight to bring to the table not just from the vendors, but in terms of helping you evaluate the vendor themselves, and interpreting feedback from some of the biggest customers in each vertical as well. Those play well into a purchasing decision or strategic plan, but are less critical when evaluating the actual technologies, in my opinion.

Talking of opinions, this post represents mine. I hope that my thoughts represent the majority of TFD delegates as well, but maybe they don’t, and if so perhaps those delegates could share their thoughts in the comments?

What do you think? Are Gartner (and similar companies) just a waste of money? How are you influenced by Gartner quotes on marketing material? If you’re not the decision maker, does it help get a purchase approved if you an back it up with a good quote? I’m genuinely interested to know.

Update Feb-25: Ivan Pepelnjak posted “Response: We Dislike People Quoting Gartner.”

2 Comments on Why Do TFD Delegates Hate Gartner?

  1. John,

    I pretty much agree with what you said. My issue with Gartner isn’t that I think they don’t provide a valuable service. They do. It’s just that it isn’t a valuable service for me personally. Managers and C-level folks tend to listen to them, but I have to make recommendations based on highly technical things. I don’t really care about the broader market and adoption rates of a given technology or vendor. I just need to know if a particular widget from a particular vendor is going to solve the particular problem of the business I have been tasked with to solve. I won’t necessarily get that information from an analyst.

  2. I agree with your points of view. One issue often seen when Gartner or similar is quoted, is the question of what is being shown exactly. I’m pretty sure any vendor will be able to produce Gartner diagrams claiming they’re leaders in some field or another…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.