Without question, we can all agree that there’s been much ado of late about Gartner, AMR Research, and the whole industry-analyst business model (I confess to adding some fuel to the fire in this discussion). But perhaps the most important overlooked question in this whole debate is how companies are actually getting detailed information to make technology decisions these days. On many levels, the traditional role of deal influencer is shifting quite a bit from the analyst ecosystem of old to a new model, often led by consultants and advisers working with companies in a services capacity. In many cases, management consulting firms, SIs, outsourcers, and professional peer/networking groups are playing a larger role not only in how companies are learning about appropriate technology, but also in the final decisions they’re making.
As one example, consider a colleague at a Big 5 firm with whom I speak on a regular basis. His Sourcing and Procurement consulting team — not to mention other advisory practices spread throughout the firm outside the Strategy and Operations consulting team — is often asked to recommend detailed solutions to clients. A more personal example involves a situation on which I’m currently working: I’m looking for detailed integration information on a specific area of Spend Management technology on behalf of a client for a potential project. The level of detail I need could only come from a technology implementer who has worked with half-a-dozen different systems over the course of hundreds of implementations — a level of depth that neither traditional analysts nor I can begin to touch.