In 2016, Gartner brought about a vast change in process in their customer insights and reference programme, and renamed it Gartner Peer Insights.
The 'due diligence' process they adopted is intended to replace an old process. Gartner research analysts had to chase (and chase, and CHASE) reference customers of those companies who were providing reviews for Gartner's flagship reports like the Magic Quadrant (MQ), Critical Capabilities report, or any Vendor Rating or industry analysis Gartner builds out.
What has changed from the IT buyer's perspective? Gartner's Peer Insights ultimately aims to subvert the old convention. Traditionally, telephone- or email-based customers interviews were the best insight into providers' technical expertise. Online reviews free up analysts from doing the grunt work.
At an IIAR forum in December 2016, many AR professionals asked: is it a (virtual) dumbing-down of customer insight and reviews? Will Gartner ensure it is free from tampered customer reviews or vendor influence (something that was hard to disprove the old process, behind closed doors)? Is the customer reviews process at Gartner now TripAdvisor for ICT solutions? Many in the IT community had a muted reaction: a mixed response remains the prevailing mood in the AR community.
Time will tell how far the infrastructure and IT services community will push back on their Gartner counterparts to improve Peer Insights' overall review process. We see (for example in the IIAR's LinkedIn) suggestions that Gartner's practice is to move analysts away from 'face to face' and spend more time on conducting client analysis. That is unconfirmed by Gartner, but feels true to us.
The optimist's view is that moving to a more open and transparent system of customers reviewing software and services goes some way to dispersing with the idea that Gartner is a closed-door ivory tower accessible only to a privileged few IT players (i.e: biggest) the world over.
A quote from Gartner itself 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, but not everyone is optimistic.