I was at Gartner for 19 years, latterly group vice-president for the software research group and head of analyst associate development. Having attended (and survived) Symposium as an associate, I wanted to share some inside tips that could make your Symposium experience more valuable. 

  1. Have a plan: select the sessions you want to attend and the Gartner people you want to meet with. The list of people should go beyond analysts. For example, the Ombudsman is usually in attendance, and although busy, is likely happy to discuss questions about process or issues.
  2. One-on-one time with analysts are at a premium, as in-demand analysts have their calendars booked in advance. If you want to speak with one of the analysts, you need to plan carefully. Here are some good things to know:

    • Every full ticket holder is entitled to 3 one-to-one meetings with different analysts (this excludes special tickets purchased by sponsors and exhibitors)
    • Analyst keeps time clear immediately after they have presented.
    • Analysts doing Q&A for another analyst will often have cleared their calendars immediately after their session as well
    • Analysts need to eat (and often like to drink). While they may not want to take time during lunch (which is served to analysts near the analyst work rooms), a beer or a glass of wine, after 6 pm, is often welcome.
  3. Analysts are people too and Symposium is a great chance to build relationships with them without an agenda. This means avoiding conversations that include phrases like “tell me again why you can’t move my dot to the right and up a bit;” or, “we should have been rated much higher than Oracle”.
  4. If you are a vendor, Symposium is not a good time for an analyst briefing. And, with in-demand analyst schedules so full, it’s like trying to get pigs to dance. You can’t do it, and you’ll just get them upset.
  5. Don’t assume that all the best analysts are at Symposium. This is “Symposium season;” Gartner runs a number of Symposia and a number of themed events. Many of the best analysts opt for more exotic locations like Cape Town, Sydney or Tokyo. And, many of the best stay on home turf.
  6. Pace yourself – spend some of the day in the sunshine: filling every minute of your day by may seem like a good idea, but it’s not. It’s draining.
  7. Attend the presentation sessions on topics that adjoin your company’s focus. Things change. The business application your company offers today is the service another company will be offering tomorrow. Stay on top of “near” or related markets.
  8. Magic Quadrant ratings shouldn’t be a surprise. Be aware that the Gartner rule for presenting Magic Quadrants and other rating frameworks is that the rating must have appeared in prior research.

If this is all still a mystery, and you’d like to learn about how you and your company can more effectively engage with Gartner analysts, you can contact me at joel.wecksell@theskillsconnection.com. Our firm works with clients every day helping them to get greater value out of their Gartner relationship and the best possible assessments.