Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Why Gartner and Forrester sometimes don't respect Open Source Products...

Last week I had a conversation with a Gartner and Forrester analyst and asked them why don't us enterprise customers always see open source projects in their matrixes. You may be surprised by the answer...

In order to appear in either the Quadrant or Wave, the process first starts by filling out a grueling 300+ question form that seeks information on customers, features, product roadmap and of course revenue. The analysts indicated to me that many open source projects simply don't go through the trouble of filling out the fine paperwork. It is my thought that maybe us enterprisey folk shouldn't be even noodling for a second contributing code but should instead do something we do best which is fill out paperwork of questionable value.

The second insight that I learned was how industry analysts actually work. For example, analysts are used to being briefed and don't really have the incentive to scour for research. This tells me that leaders of open source projects need to to a better job at reaching out to analysts and not just expecting them to do, well research.

The third insight that I gained is that since the components of magic quadrants and waves have as a component to them, the attributes of a vendor such as revenue that this by its very definition will put open source vendors at a disadvantage. Consider a closed source vendor could have 10 million in revenue where 9 million of it goes to cover expensive sales people and lots of other forms of overhead and the remaining 1 million is revenue from consulting services whereas the open source firm doesn't have the 9 million dollars worth of overhead and generates the same 1 million in revenue from consulting services.

This tells me that focusing on the vendor and not the product will always result in a bias against open source projects. I wonder what would happen if open source projects started a blogging campaign asking for more integrity / removal of bias in terms of how this is calculated, what would happen?

Several months I ago, I had asked a Gartner analyst if a vendor ever appeared in their magic quadrant that didn't pay any fees and they were of the belief that this was probably not the case. The analyst reasoned that when vendors make the leaders quadrant they by their very nature will want to become clients. The analyst did promise to check around and get back to me to see if there were vendors that didn't pay yet still managed to make it. You can probably guess, that this followup never occured.

The final insight that I learned is that research is primarily driven by what enterprises are asking. If enterprises continue to ask braindead questions, then research will remain shallow. If enterprises however start asking about open source alternatives anytime they happen to provide coverage on topics such as BPM, ECM, ERP, CRM, ESB, and so on, then the possibility of less shallow research will emerge.

This begs the fact that open source projects who know which enterprise customers are using their products should immediately ask of them to call their favorite analyst firm and ask them for insight into the products they already use. Of course, you will for a period of time realize that insight is non-existent but patience may be rewarded in the long run.

Calling up industry analysts and inquiring about open source projects that are of interest to you may be the best contribution an enterprise can make to open source. So, why aren't you already inquiring...

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