A Decade of Research at Ventana Research

I’m happy to say that Ventana Research celebrated its tenth anniversary at our recent Business Technology Innovation Summit in San Jose at the Tech Museum. This location was fitting, since at the event we introduced and presented our first-ever Technology Innovation Awards and seventh annual Leadership Awards. If you did not get a chance to attend, we have the live webstream available for replay at no cost; thanks to Splunk for sponsoring this to let everyone enjoy the sessions.

At our summit we discussed best practices organizations can employ to save time and resources when using technology across business processes. We also unveiled a series of new research studies on  business technology innovation, next-generation business intelligence, integrated business planning, next-generation workforce management and customer service agent desktop.

Our firm has strived for ten years to present research based on business and IT facts, rather than projecting analyst opinions based on handfuls of inquiries from IT-specific clients. We rely on primary research across business and IT as the foundation for our analysis and guidance, while most industry analyst firms provide opinions that do not represent the business priorities of organizations, because they research only IT. We continue to see the varying priorities of business and IT through our research, even where the alignment is not obvious. In our recent research on technology innovation, for instance, we found the number one factor driving change across business and IT is a business improvement initiative (60%) – and if you are not researching business, you cannot understand the dynamics of what organizations are doing to prioritize and select technology for business.

The importance of independent research that covers business and IT is essential. I recently wrote about the skewed research in our industry and provided analysis about the misinformation on the projections that CMOs will outspend CIOs in technology. These situations point out the sad state of the technology analyst industry, which needs to do some serious self-policing of its actions and behavior.

At our summit I was glad to bring forward some truth about technology innovation and the priorities of business and IT. Our new business technology innovation benchmark research uncovered some stark realities about what factors are most important for organizations to consider in technology in order to improve productivity and performance. Our research found analytics to be the top-ranked priority (39%), followed by collaboration (16%), mobile technology (15%), cloud computing (13%), big data (11%) and social media (11%). Organizations are using these critical technologies to improve results, and business improvement is the top factor driving change when businesses assess new technology. Many organizations are still working to address the largest barrier in taking on new technology, which is lack of resources (51%).

I want to thanks the sponsors of the summit: IBM and SAP at the vanguard level, Ceridian and Datawatch at the pioneer level, and Peoplefluent, Planview and Saba at the ground-breaker level. I also thank the clients who over the last decade supported our mission to provide quality research and education to the industry. We also could not do this without the help of the partners who have helped us promote and syndicate our research. I thank everyone who has supported our mission to conduct research across business and IT in an independent and objective manner and provide facts and education to help advance businesses’ use of technology and gain the most value in the shortest period of time. I look forward to the next decade, and to continuing to deliver the most direct research and educational value to the market to help everyone use technology to its fullest value.


Mark Smith

CEO & Chief Research Officer

Industry Analyst Art or Fiction: Questionable Technology Predictions

I recently wrote about how technology vendors attempt to skew analysts’ and influencers’ research from the edit and review cycles controlled in financial contracts to payment for placed blogs as independent analysis published on the Internet. It is unfortunate that we have to deal with this level of bias. Clearly it is critical for business and IT to identify trusted sources of research and insight that can help determine technology direction. Businesses need not just data but insights from experienced advisors who can provide information with depth and meaning. Unfortunately, a recent pronouncement or prediction from one analyst firm throws a bad light on technology analysts in general.

Most people do not realize that the majority of technology analyst firms focus on serving CIOs and the IT organization. Why is this important? If you want to understand what technologies businesses are not just using but renting and purchasing, you cannot get a true picture from an analyst firm that advises IT exclusively and that does not do research into line-of-business departments. For some reason, though, analyst firms positioned this way nonetheless predict technology trends in business, and with no level of uncertainty. You have to question predictions from analyst firms that use no science or rigor in their research and have no experience in the roles they propose to represent.

The latest example I found of this questionable research is a Gartner prediction that the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO by 2017. I saw some follow-on review on this prediction, and it appears to be based on a percentage-of-overall-revenue comparison of two different research surveys – a budget spend by IT from one survey compared to different survey on the budget of marketing organizations in the telecommunications industry. The analysis then uses another survey from a university research statistic on percentage of revenue spend on marketing budget to present comparison of the overall percentages. I did not see any specifics on percentage of overall budget for technology from either CIO or CMO being presented, yet we know that that number is significantly higher for a CIO than it is for a CMO, who has a larger portfolio of non IT spend on advertising, events and other services. In my opinion, this prediction is more than suspect.

This skewed comparison has no basis in reality. Comparing companies’ CIOs’ and CMOs’ overall budgets based on varying-sized companies and budgets and then using those numbers to make conclusions about the true subset of technology spending across departments compared to other spending is comparing apples to peanuts to potatoes. If the research analyzed overall spending on and allocation for technology, comparing one company at a time and using specific-sized companies, it would be harder to find fault with the results – and they would likely be different. Those in the industry know that marketing spend percentages differ according to the size and stage of various companies and the markets in which they operate.

This CMO spend prediction needs some research science under it, as it does not appear to be well-crafted nor accurate, and should not attempt to make a prediction about an entire industry of CMO spending more on IT than CIO. In addition, the research statistics should not be used by vendors to support the assertion that CMOs should spend more on IT to keep up with others, since that is utterly inaccurate. I have been a head of marketing and a CMO in the technology industry. I understand technology spending in marketing. My experience alone does not allow me to make projections on the entire CMO and marketing spend, but I do know the basis on which you can and cannot compare research statistics and then project to a prediction. This kind of analysis misstep should have been scrutinized in a research review. It should not be presented as a headline for technology vendors to use to influence or bias the market.

We need better research and science to help our industry, and research firms needs to do a better job policing research statistics before their reports turn into headlines that just shine a bad light on technology analysis.

I, Mark Smith, approve this message and verify that this article was not reviewed, edited, paid for or approved by any technology vendor before it was published.


Mark Smith

CEO & Chief Research Officer