Gartner targeting business strategists with offering

Earlier this month, Gartner ventured outside its traditional niche of IT expertise by launching a new service to help business strategists use technology to manage their companies' growth.

It's a risky move, said some observers. Although the new service from the Stamford, Conn.-based firm could attract users interested in competitive analysis, many observers warn that the market for consulting and research services is tight because companies are trying to decrease spending in today's sour economy.

"We're seeing the convergence of two markets: strategy advice and [technology] consulting," said Aldman Cushman, vice president of research at Kennedy Information LLC in Fitzwilliam, N.H. While traditional management consulting firms have branched out into IT, Gartner is doing the opposite putting a business spin on its IT services, he said.

Dubbed GartnerG2, the new offering includes services to help clients build market share, adapt technology to meet changes in the business environment and identify business models that will drive growth.

About 140 analysts, or one-fifth of Gartner's 700 analysts, will focus on the new service. They will work on cross-functional teams in the U.S., Asia, Australia and Europe.

Cushman called Gartner's move a way to grow revenue after "not posting growth numbers that have wowed investors." In April, Gartner announced a second-quarter loss of US$1.4 million, which included the sale of investments.

The new service looks attractive to Kurt Jacobs, director of marketing and product development at Sphere Communications Inc. in Lake Bluff, Ill. He is currently talking to Gartner about subscribing to its new service. Unlike most research firms, which assign one analyst to a client, GartnerG2 gives users access to a variety of experts on an ad hoc basis, Jacobs said.

He said he thinks GartnerG2 could "identify opportunities where we'd be able to transform our business."

But the service may not be appropriate for everyone.

"Gartner's brand is still built on IT-related services," which may make it difficult to reach business users, said Scott Cebula, vice president of information services at MemorialCare in Long Beach, Calif.

"In many industries, IT and business strategy are like second cousins," he said. "Relations are friendly, but a bit distant."

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