Saturday, February 9, 2013

Keep Calm and Analyze Big Data: Gartner Research vs. Forrester Research

For many people, the words "Web Analytics" are quickly becoming a part of the popular vernacular. Sure, you have all heard about it, maybe you have a Google Analytics key plugged in to your website, or maybe you just track "likes" on your social media or views and comments on your blog. But this Big Data, as we have come to know it as, is much more complex than that. There are so many tools, trends and factors that play in to the mix, that sometimes it's hard to know what is best for really understanding the purpose of and ways to use your analytics and how to use that as market research. In comes Gartner Research and Forrester Research.

Gartner and Forrester aim to provide market research and other resources in connection with big data. A quick Quora search about the research industries provided a general answer from IT strategy consultant Pablo Chacin:

"Garther offers a wide perspective of the industry, giving great insights on what companies are doing with their IT technology (what technologies are adopting), what are the tendencies in terms of management practices, as well as how the technology market is moving (e.g. vendor positioning)...Forester, in the other hand, offers more in-depth analysis...They also offer much more "actionable" reports, full of practical guidelines."

What is Gartner Research?

"For tens of thousands of technology professionals, Gartner Research is an indispensable daily resource. It's what you need to know, what you need to do, where you need to look, and who you should be paying attention to. It's independent, insightful, and instantly applicable to your business challenges" (

My company subscribes to Gartner Research and I have had an account with the for some time. But since I am not heavily involved in web analytics--more of just a need-to-know-the-basics and perusing basis, I have not spent an extensive amount of time using Gartner Research. However, I have noticed on these blog posts that several times, other contributors reference and provide information from Gartner Research.

As noted, Gartner Research is an invaluable resource that provides research, training, and expert advice on understanding Big Data and web analytics in general.

And who doesn't need help with that? A quick YouTube search on Gartner Research shows a variety of different videos. For those techie people, this is totally understandable language. But when I started watching these, I felt like it was way beyond my level of understanding. Case in point: if I'm serious about understanding big data and using it successfully, I definitely need help. 

In this video, Peter Sondergaard, global head of research at Gartner, speaks about the need for big data experts. In just three more years, businesses will require more IT jobs, specifically to support big data. Check out the rest of the training at

In 2011, Gartner said that Business Intelligence and big data is a $12.2 billion dollar market...and it's only growing. Gartner not only hones in on understanding the basics, but expands into deep analysis of the BI and big data market (Ravi Kalakota. BI and Analytics a $12.2 Bln. Market). 

Gartner's Magic Quadrant, is extremely valuable in the big data world. It intends to "provide a qualitative analysis into a market and its direction, maturity and participants" according to Wikipedia. Check out its Magic Quadrant.


Don't understand it? Yeah, that's probably why we need these research companies to help us out. 

Recent News
On February 7, 2013, Alteryx, a leader in strategic analytics software, was positioned in the Magic Quadrant (Sacramento Bee. Alteryx positioned in GArtner Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms Magic Quadrant).

And on February 8, 2013, SAS, "the industry's foremost analytics provider" landed in the Magic Quadrant (Press Release. SAS a leader in Gartner's 2013 BI and Analytics Platforms Magic Quadrant).

Forrester Research approaches things a little bit differently from Gartner Research. According to their site, Forrester is "A global research and advisory firm, Forrester serves professionals in 17 key roles across three distinct client segments. Our clients face progressively complex business and technology decisions every day. To help them understand, strategize, and act upon opportunities brought by change, Forrester provides proprietary research, consumer and business data, custom consulting, events and online communities, and peer-to-peer executive programs. We guide leaders in IT, marketing and strategy, and the technology industry through independent fact-based insight, ensuring their business success today and tomorrow" (Forrester Research: About Us). 

Forrester focuses on a specific role in an organization and helps provide in-depth training and information for that role. For the Analyst, Forrester has specific, segmented information and training. Check out the Analyst role here

Here you can get a sample of the kind of training Forrester provides. Joe Stanhope, a leading analyst at Forrester speaks on The Future of Online Testing.

And what about understanding Big Data? Check out Forrester Analyst Mike Gualtieri's interview on "Big Thinkers on Big Data."

Future of research companies
Trends seem to suggest that newer companies are relying on their own research and information to make decisions based off the questions they are trying to answer and may not need these big research firms. But big data is only moving forward and growing, growing, growing. "This is not just a trend to wait out; this is real," says Mike Gualtieri, research analyst at Forrest Research). If your company is serious about analytics and understanding big data, it might be worth it to tap in to one of these research resources.

Read more here about how relevant these research companies will be in the next few years?


  1. Well done. I've used both and yes they're costly but very valuable when you're trying to create a business case for a large software purchase, implementation, or if your trying to build a specific practice, e.g. Business Intelligence, Content Management, Enterprise Document Management, etc.

  2. Thank you for taking the time to write this. Do you know what the price is for either product?

  3. I was formerly an emerging technologies researcher and I relied heavily on Gartner, Forrester, Forbes, and the like. The amount of useful data they gather is huge. The price for access ranges. There is everything from subscription costs or access to specific, more highly valuable research documentation available at a one-time cost (in the thousands of $$).

    However, it's a great resource and usually worth the expense, depending on your purposes.

  4. I am curious form Rick's comment; what purposes exactly would be best in order to spedn the money would you say?

  5. Part of the purpose (that I'm allowed to talk about) our company used the information from these research groups was for tracking tech trends and aligning our business goals to meet the change early. Basically, spend a little now so the business is better prepared for shifts in the future - rather than stagnating or playing catch-up (which is usually far more expensive).

  6. This is a helpful comparison. Did you run into any good locations where you could access thier research for free?

  7. @Steven. I don't know the pricing for either of these services, but I imagine they do pricing differently for each firm based on number of users who will access the info and what level of help you are seeking.

    @Cassi. The great thing about these services is they can help you understand what kind of research would be useful for you. Granted, they are trying to sell a service as well, so someone on your team who knows what they want would be most helpful.

    @William. I haven't found any places to access this research for free unfortunately. Not saying it doesn't exist, I just haven't seen it.