Over the past six to nine months, Gartner has brought about a huge change in process in their customer insights and reference programme and renamed it Gartner Peer Insights.
The 'due diligence' process they have adopted is intended to replace the old process of Gartner Research analysts having to chase (and chase. And CHASE!) the customers of those companies that were undergoing reviews for Gartner's flagship reports like the Magic Quadrant (MQ), Critical Capabilities report, or any Vendor Rating or industry analysis Gartner builds out.
Fundamentally, what has changed from the IT buyer's perspective? Gartner's PeerInsights ultimately aims to subvert the old convention that conducting telephone- or email-based interviews on a IT or service provider's customer and technical expertise is the best way forward. I believe they're also freeing up their analysts from doing the grunt work.
When I attended a recent IIAR professional forum on the topic in December 2016, the question many AR Pro's were posing was - is this a (virtual) dumbing-down of customer insight and reviews? How will they ensure it is free from tampered reviews and free of vendor influence (something the old process conducted behind closed doors, was hard to disprove)? And is it ultimately now making the customer reviews process at Gartner a bit like TripAdvisor for IT Services? The response from many in the IT community has been muted so far, but a mixed response seems to be the prevailing mood in the AR community.
Time will tell how much push-back the infrastructure and IT services community will have on their Gartner counterparts to improve the PeerInsights overall review process, but I am hearing (see the IIAR's LinkedIn if a member) that Gartner standard practice is to move away from 'face to face' and spend more time on conducting client analysis - but is unconfirmed.
I suppose the optimist's view must be that moving to a more open and transparent system of reviewing customer software and IT goes some way to dispersing with the idea that Gartner is a closed-door ivory tower accessible only to a privileged few IT players (read: biggest) the world over.
A quote from Gartner in its own right may sum it up best:
Tap into the collective knowledge and experience of IT professionals just like you. Free of vendor influence, Gartner Peer Insights offers detailed perspectives for every phase of the IT lifecycle - from evaluation and implementation to service and support.
Time will only tell what this means for end-user research, is my best guess.