The purchase is another example of how the analyst community is becoming increasingly homogeneous, dominated by a handful of firms such as Forrester and IDC. And it points to a growing debate about the value that companies can receive from analyst firms when there is little diversification in the market.
But it also points to the importance of independent firms and individuals that engaging in dialogue through blogs and other mediums.
The Burton Group is based out of Midvale, Utah. Its speciality lies in providing in-depth advice to front-line IT professionals. The firm has 41 research analysts and 40 sales and client service associates, and self-projected 2009 revenue of $30 million.
This is Gartner's second acquisition in the past few months. Gartner purchased AMR Research late last year.
The Future: A Hybrid Model
Analyst firms do not have the sway in the market that they once did. Bloggers are often considered analysts as they often specialize in particular fields, providing in-depth analysis for particular markets.
This is not to take anything away from the individual analysts who populate Gartner, Forrester and other groups. We depend on many of them for the insight they give on topics ranging from APIs to web-oriented architecture.
But the future of the analyst community looks more like a hybrid animal - a cross between a traditional analyst firm and an online community.
RedMonk, for instance, provides in-depth research into markets but they also invest heavily in their blogs, podcasts and other outlets such as the real-time, microblogging world.
The Altimeter Group also invests heavily in its community. Technobabble 2.0 recently took a look at a survey done by Jeremiah Owyang to determine the influence of his blog on the overall market. Owyang is a partner with Altimeter.
Technobabble's Jonny Bentwood made this conclusion:
"The fact that there is any link between the blog and procurement is a massive validation point. Obviously we are taking people's words for this and it would be excellent to have credible evidence to back this up, but this in itself is a huge factoid."
"The implication for the analyst ecosystem is "not good." Anytime a well-regarded mid-sized advisory firm is swallowed up by another firm it eliminates a valued second voice and opinion about the vendors and markets it covers, and decreases clients' purchasing and negotiating options. However, for competitors like Ovum this does provide a great opportunity to establish themselves as the second - if not the first - source of advice and opinions to IT managers and other technology buyers not comfortable with having only a single source for this type of service."