Gartner’s planned acquisition* of AMR Research sparked some vibrant conversation this week. Alex Williams posting on it at ReadWriteWeb Enterprise asked my perspective. With his OK, I’m sharing our offline exchange, which focused on enterprise supply chain decision makers.
Enterprises have been putting up with quite a bit of churn and staffing reductions among their analyst firms during this recession, and AMR Research is no exception. Still, AMR Research merging into Gartner signals the loss of yet another independent voice in the enterprise tech marketplace.
Gartner is not simply buying AMR Research business contracts. Gartner is buying the attention and trust that enterprise decision makers invest in AMR Research. That’s what will determine the lifetime value of the AMR Research clients. Attention and trust are the stakes.
The difficulty supply chain decision makers face is that they can’t easily transfer their trust in AMR Research to another analyst firm. Their biggest obstacle is limited choice. Few analyst firms come close to AMR Research in terms of size, expertise, track record, culture and clientele. The choices are:
- the giants — Gartner, Forrester, Informa/Ovum
- a few companies with dedicated teams, such as ARC Advisory and IDC Insights
- a sprinkling of qualified supply chain experts among the hundreds of small analyst firms and one-person shops
Companies comfortable with the AMR Research company culture will need to think about chemistry as much as content when considering Gartner, Forrester Research, ARC Advisory Group and IDC Insights.
The small and one-person consultancies already include several former AMR Research analysts. Decision makers comfortable with betting on the jockey, rather than the horse, will find familiar faces in this group.
What about replacing AMR Research with advisors who do not wear an analyst badge? Most decision makers already listen to several types of experts, at least in the early stages of their decision process. So in reality, this is a question of whether to direct more attention and trust to current advisors whether they be peers, consultants, etc.
My advice to AMR Research clients and partners: take a fresh look at your decision support ecosystem while you’re on honeymoon with Gartner. Assess everyone who has your ear, not just the analysts. It’s a good time to ask, “who are the smartest people on the kinds of supply chain issues we have, and do we confer with them?”