During the week of June 30, the annual complaint about "pay to play" relative to the Gartner Magic Quadrants got a bit of play on LinkedIn. There was a similar set of commentary on the Computerworld blog around the end of May as the market-share/Magic Quadrant silly season began. A comment essentially about "pay for play" on a Lisa diCarlo article about market research firms received almost as many comments as the article itself.
The question on July 1 was titled:
"Has any vendor ever appeared in the Leaders section of a Gartner Magic Quadrant without paying fees?"
The LinkedIn post actually went on to say that the reader was just interested in market research from a marketing perspective. But most of the answers indicated that the answer was "no." Open source industry guru and Documentum/Alfresco founder John Newton said simply "not to my knowledge," but Peggy O'Neill, ex-head of analyst relations at Oracle, said she was aware of such situations. No one followed through with the obvious request of one reader, an IT guy from one of the Blue Crosses:
"Interestingly enough no one has provided so far with example of a vendor making into the MQ leaders section without paying for services. Ignoring all sorts of implications rightful or not this is just a fact. One example would simply end the discussion."
I agree with Peggy but can't do the research to prove it. Only Gartner knows who its clients are. On this specific issue, Gartner would be crazy to blatantly do "pay to play" and I would think it does the opposite: Salt each quadrant with at least one non-client just to demonstrate objectivity.
That's not to say some rogue Gartner salesperson hasn't used that line as a sales technique.
It's more important for you as a user of enterprise software (that's what most of the quadrants are about) to realize that although companies like Gartner, IDC, Forrester, Yankee, Aberdeen (now part of Harte-Hanks), etc. tend to get lumped together as "industry analysts," they are really all primarily in different businesses. Heritage Gartner sells user advice, IDC is into market research primarily sold to vendors, and so forth. Their research methodologies and foci tend to differ widely even when the subject is the same.
I like one of the comments on the Computerworld blog that says: Does it matter? Article to follow.