It is certainly true that the large analyst firms continue to make money from a largely symmetrical analytical model. As I see it, the problem with this symmetrical analytical model is that it fails to deal with some of the critical complexities (asymmetries) of the software market, and therefore falls short of providing genuinely useful guidance to its customers.
- The first asymmetry is that the product is not the technology. Software products do not always fit into neat technological categories, but typically provide a shifting and overlapping bundle of features.
- The second asymmetry is that the business is not the solution. Classifying a software vendor is not much use, when the relative advantage of one vendor over another changes dynamically with each announcement (especially mergers and acquisitions).
- The third asymmetry is that the value of a given solution is relative to the context-of-use. As @monkchips puts it, business success is not a function of IT purchasing. That's why the traditional IT analyst business is broken.
@mcgoverntheory reckons analyst research tells you what people were thinking about yesterday, not tomorrow. It's like driving a car using a rearview mirror.
If all you want is an expensive analyst report that absolves you from blame if you buy the wrong product, then you can spend your money on the large firms. But if you want to engage critically with technology and make intelligent judgements about what you are going to do with present and future technologies, then you need to participate in a different kind of conversation.