James has an interesting post inspired by Armadgeddon (a great read for any AR professional). While I think they (Armadgeddon) are probably placing a little too much emphasis on Insystek naming Gartner as a partner, the point James makes that:
Categories are breaking down like tundra. That is why you have to go with the flow. Can the major analyst firms afford to do that, though? RedMonk can. Macehiter Ward Dutton can. Quocirca can. If you work for an independent analyst firm and agree with any of this why don’t you leave a comment.
James then goes on to point to the "mass amateurization" that is underpinning this… The term "mass amateurization" is a terrible one in my book – if only because it frames those not engaged as professionals. However, information and dialog is increasibgly getting open sourced by folks who aren’t paid to do analysis. They are using participatory technologies to drive their own knowledge into the public domain. Traditionally the value of this commentary was diminished in that it was single voice. Now it tends to be informed by a collective.
Some of the big analyst firms get this, some don’t. But so long as CIOs and VCs continue to place so much emphasis on "Magic Qadrants" (and believe me, there is a fair degree of magic involved), the big analysts will continue to weild enormous power.
Like James I love Clay Shirky’s writings and thinking. One thing is clear to me though, and that is a huge amount is assumed in relation to the intelligence and time of the buyer. Most have lots of one, but not both. Or are lacking on both counts. Thus, they turn to the magic quadrant and conventional analysis. This points to one of the key benefits of the large analyst firm – information utility. I’m not talking quality, just utility – which often replaces quality in most decision making.
And this is where James’ point hits home. Now we have technology which is fusing information, dialog and utility. All of which is going to make for a very interesting period of time.