How accurate are industry analysts?

One of the more important relationships tech firms needs to have is with industry analysts. It’s quite a symbiotic relationship. Industry analysts from the likes of Gartner, Forrester and AMR need to be kept up to date as to what new technology is being created or is available now in order to seem knowledgeable with their clients. At the same time tech vendors need to secure the air cover that analysts provide when a firm is announcing new products or new strategies. The relationship has to work both ways for each side to prosper.

However, while I hold many industry analysts in high regard, I’ve often chuckled at the thought of someone actually holding analysts accountable on industry predictions. On some level aren’t analysts just as bad about predictions as your local weatherman?

I’ve always thought being a weatherman would be a great job – stand in front of the screen, highlight clouds on maps and never need to be correct. Sounds a little bit like an industry analyst.

I was reading Network World and an article — Cautious optimism shapes new year – caught my eye. It said

“Now tech spending is looking up – at least a tad. Gartner is predicting IT spending in the United States will grow 2.8% in 2010 to reach $958 billion. Forrester is more bullish. The first is forecasting 7.7% growth in 2010, citing economic data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, expectation for GDP growth and signs of a return to normal lending conditions.”

Great to hear that things, at least economically, are looking up. But in late 2008 when these firms were making predictions about 2009, did any analyst predict the dramatic drop in IT spending brought on by the recession that nobody saw coming? To be fair I haven’t researched analyst firms to see if they amended their predictions when the recession was in full swing.

Sports Illustrated columnist Peter King makes predictions each week on a number of pro football games. The following week SI lists his running total for prognosticating throughout the season. Wouldn’t it be nice if analysts could have a running scorecard of their accuracy? I mean if we’re paying these folks to give us expert advice on technology shouldn’t we have some confidence in their ability to be accurate some quantifiable percent of the time? Are they better than a coin flip? Are they better than a groundhog? Or the weatherman?

So I’ll toss it out to you…how can analysts be held accountable for their market predictions?

Rob Goodman

Author: Rob Goodman

Rob Goodman is a communications professional with more than 27 years of experience in public relations, marketing and content creation.