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Do Analysts Matter?

Not so long ago, Gartner could make or break a company. Not so much an
If you want to make it as a Web 2.0 company, find a way to get a positive review from Michael Arrington, the well-known Silicon Valley entrepreneur and founder of TechCrunch. Arrington, it seems, has become the tech industry equivalent of Robert Parker, the influential wine critic whose tastes have shaped that industry.

Not so long ago, Gartner could make or break a company. Not so much anymore, outside of a few areas like CRM, according to Chris Tolles, VP of marketing at Topix.com.I spent a few minutes chatting with Tolles in the Web 2.0 Expo exhibit hall. Tolles said that the objectivity that analysts (and journalists for that matter) offered, or at least tried to offer, wasn't particularly helpful to companies or customers for that matter. The industry benefited more from a more partisan form of engagement.

I could write that off to Tolles position as a marketing guy, but he's not wrong. Most people need to be told what's brilliant because most don't recognize genius (or something less than that) when they see it.

A case in point: Celebrated violinist Joshua Bell recently played incognito in Washington DC and almost all the commuters walked right past him without being able to hear that a virtuoso was performing.

The parallel isn't precise in that the utility and functionality of a Web 2.0 company can be assessed more easily than an artistic performance. But it's close enough and something sad about that...unless you happen to be on the right side of the right people.

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Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
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Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing