CIO Jury: Are tech analysts worth the money?

UK IT bosses think so, but add a note of caution…

Gartner's announcement over Christmas that it is to acquire rival analyst group Meta in a deal worth $162m is further evidence of consolidation in the analysis industry.

And with fewer than ever big players now offering predictions on trends and advice to users we asked's user panel, the CIO Jury, if they get any real value from the information and services provided by IT industry analysts.

The answer was overwhelmingly 'yes', with 11 of the CIO Jury voting in favour of the analyst industry and just one saying 'no'.

Two key themes emerged out of the 'yes' camp, with CIOs adding that the information is of value because of the independence of analysts but also that it is important to ask the right questions of them.

Kevin Fitzpatrick, CTO at Manpower, said he finds the advice especially useful when choosing long-term suppliers. "Be clear about requirements when requesting help so that you get meaningful input and not just lots of 'it depends'," he said.

Bill Gibbons, CIO at Abbey Group, agreed. "You must tailor your requirements to get the best value and realise that advice and comment is rarely very specific to your particular requirements. When used in this way they can provide a valuable source of information, future trends and directions and facilitate valuable cross sector exchanges of views," he said.

Frank Coyle, IT director at John Menzies Distribution, said the analysis of what is happening and projections of what is likely to happen invaluable.

"The independence of analysts is critical and avoids the bias of consultancies whose recommendations are restricted to the services that they offer," he said.

Inevitably even those in favour of analyst predictions advised some caution and healthy scepticism at times.

Paul Coby, CIO at British Airways, said firms need to watch out for "motherhoods masquerading as insights" and the "70 per cent probabilities of something happening" which give them a handy exclusion clause if it doesn't turn out as predicted.

"You must retain your capability to make up your own mind and form your own strategy. Analysts are great as an input, but don't get dependent and always be prepared to shop around for other sources of advice," he said.

Public sector users also sided in favour of the much-maligned analyst community. Richard Steel, head of ICT at the London Borough of Newham, said: "Among the hardest tasks for an IT strategist is predicting and intercepting the technology roadmap. Effective research is essential, but there's no point in us all duplicating efforts and reinventing wheels."

The lone voice of dissent came from Ted Woodhouse, IT director at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

"I work in the NHS at the sharp end, and spending money on someone's view of the way things might be in five or 10 years is just not worth it when I've got some PCs that are eight years old still in service," he said.

Today's CIO Jury was…

Mike Bufalino, IT director, Sheppard Robson
Paul Coby, CIO, British Airways
Frank Coyle, IT director, John Menzies Distribution
Peter Dew, CIO, BOC
Kevin Fitzpatrick, CTO, Manpower
Bill Gibbons, CIO Abbey Group
Neil Hammond, IT director, British Sugar
Dr John Odell, group IT director, BBA Group
Sean Powley, head of IS strategy, London Borough of Barnet
Richard Steel, head of ICT, London Borough of Newham
Gavin Whatrup, IT director, Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners
Ted Woodhouse, IT director, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

If you are a CIO, IT director or equivalent at a large or small company in the private or public sector and want to be part of's CIO Jury pool, or you know an IT chief who should be, then drop us a line at