What is the Difference Between the Gartner Ombudsman and Disclosure

Executive Summary

  • Gartner covers up its enormous financial bias with a fake entity called the “ombudsman.”
  • We discuss why this does not replace actual disclosure.

Introduction

Gartner is a very powerful and controversial entity in enterprise software. In order to dissipate criticism of how fair or accurate its ratings are, Gartner created a position called the ombudsman. This is an internal position — not independent from Gartner — that intermediates disputes that vendors have that believe they are not being treated fairly. In the article, The Problem with How Gartner Makes Money, I pointed out that while Gartner has a high requirement for disclosure because it receives income from vendors that it also rates. However, Gartner does not disclose which vendors or the amount of money it gets from different vendors.

The Existence of Ombudsman Versus Meeting Disclosure Requirements?

In my book Gartner and the Magic Quadrant, a Guide for Buyers, Vendors, and Investors, I point out that Gartner will often use the existence of its ombudsman to argue that they are objective and that no further controls are necessary – which includes disclosing financial conflicts of interest. However, within the community of those that publish research, this is a contention that is unique to Gartner. It is important to consider that the rules on the disclosure of income sources that create a conflict of interest are much larger than Gartner and they are known throughout academic research and private research (not that they are necessarily always followed of course). The rules are much bigger than Gartner and cannot be defined by Gartner. And the rules are that for research to be considered “research,” and to be taken seriously, financial contributions need to be disclosed, which is one of the criteria by which I demoted them when compared against academic research, the Rand Corporation, and Consumer Reports.

Whether Gartner has an ombudsman is a different subject entirely and if we are trying to get to the truth, it is important to not be distracted by an argument which is instead related to whether rated vendors have recourse.

Conclusion

In a future post, I will explain how the Gartner ombudsman is a curious creation as well as the relationship of the Gartner ombudsman to the term “ombudsman” as it is traditionally used and understood. This in itself is an interesting story. All of this is important in understanding how Gartner works and getting value from a Gartner subscription, as well as how many additional services to purchase from Gartner. Time spend understanding Gartner should precede purchasing Gartner products or reading Gartner reports.

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Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

This article and no other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle and SAP. Brightwork does offer competitive intelligence work to vendors as part of its business, but no published research or articles are written with any financial consideration. As part of Brightwork’s commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research, the company’s business model is driven by consulting services; no paid media placements are accepted.

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References

Gartner Book

Gartner and the Magic Quadrant: A Guide for Buyers, Vendors, and Investors

Gartner is the most influential IT analyst firm in the world. Their approval can make or break a vendor in an application category, or at the very least control their growth. Gartner has been behind most of the major IT trends for decades. However, many people read Gartner reports without understanding how Gartner works, how it comes to its information, its orientation, or even the details of the methods it uses for its analytical products. All of this and more is explained in this book.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: An Overview of Gartner
  • Chapter 3: How Gartner Makes Money
  • Chapter 4: Comparing Gartner to the RAND Corporation, and Academic Research
  • Chapter 5: The Magic Quadrant
  • Chapter 6: Other Analytical Products Offered by Gartner
  • Chapter 7: Gartner’s Future and Cloud Computing
  • Chapter 8: Adjusting the Magic Quadrant
  • Chapter 9: Is Gartner Worth the Investment?
  • Chapter 10: Conclusion
  • Appendix a: How to Use Independent Consultants for Software Selection
  • Appendix b: What Does the History of Media Tell Us About This Topic
  • Appendix c: Disclosure Statements and Code of Ethics