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Lee Gomes vs Aberdeen: Round 1

January 31, 2008

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it is a duck. And Aberdeen is a duck…for hire that is.

So what did we learn from yesterday’s Lee Gomes WSJ column, “Vendors Still Paying For IT Research That Flatters Them”? One thing: Aberdeen continues to solicit large amounts of money from technology vendors prior to engineering positive research results on their behalf.

On the scale of topical newsworthiness, this ranks next to a “dog bites man” headline. So what’s new in Gomes’ piece and what is he telling us that we didn’t already know? Nothing. Aberdeen’s “white paper for hire” business model has been known across PR circles for years…long before the words “Web 2.0” or “Twitter” were uttered.

That said, I don’t believe for one second that any enterprise buyer picks up an Aberdeen report and makes a purchasing decision based on some survey research or an industry taxonomy report it concocted. Just in the same fashion I don’t believe an enterprise CIO picks up a Forrester Wave or Gartner Magic Quadrant and buys the vendor in the upper right corner. But wouldn’t it have been nice to hear from an enterprise end-user concerning his/her experiences with Aberdeen? Former Aberdeen analyst, Paula Rosenblum, echoes the same sentiment.

Occasionally, in the PR world, we’ll be able to pull stats and percentages from a specific survey to help support a media pitch but other than that, the value is minimal. And, from dozens of past experiences, the value is even less when it comes to generating targeted leads for my clients.

And that is exactly what I recently told a client who was contemplating an Aberdeen survey sponsorship proposal.

Let’s call a spade a spade like we always have and let it be known that Aberdeen content is nothing more than vendor press kit stuffer or sales pitch collateral, if that.

But again, let’s hear the end-user enterprise perspective in a follow up piece – can you make that happen Lee? Hoping this is the case as Gomes is no stranger to kerfuffles. You’ll recall his Long Tail column concerning Chris Anderson’s book from 18 months ago and online debate and response that ensued.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 1, 2008 12:59 pm

    I respectfully disagree with you – many buyers base shortlisting decisions on placement in the top right of the MQ – and in my consulting career I have regularly seen Aberdeen and Butler (sort of equivalent firm in the UK) reports used in buying decisions.

    We know what Aberdeen does, but most buyers do not. I co-run a small analyst firm that works hard to take a strong ethical line. We do not write papers for vendors, nor do we consult to them, in fact we pay our own travel and accommodation costs at vendor events.
    We do this as our research business is designed to deliver indepth technical evaluations of vendor software to buyers. We believe our selves to be near unique in the analyst business by taking this route.
    Sadly, many buyers hear the words ‘Independent’ and tar us all with the same brush. It is time that the industry really took this issue on seriously and starts to clean up its act.
    We may be a small firm, but we are growing quickly and are profitable, proving that you don’t need to depend on vendor hand outs to do well.
    Best
    Alan

    Alan Pelz-Sharpe
    Principal
    CMS Watch

  2. richkyoung permalink*
    February 1, 2008 6:35 pm

    Alan,

    Your response is appreciated as is your insight into CMS Watch.

    Absolutely agree with you on your general point. Let’s face it – people love putting others in buckets. It’s incumbent upon us as owners of small and growing analyst firms (you) and PR professionals (me) to educate the market on the differences of each of these firms, their strengths, their weaknesses, etc.

    Rich

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