I was part of a group of analysts Gartner started hiring in the mid 90s to expand their business applications coverage. It launched the Administrative Application Services (AAS), Customer Relational Management (CRM), Integrated Logistics Services (ILS), and several vertical ones starting in 1995. Its coverage of these areas started to get richer and soon there were all kinds of Magic Quadrants and events focused on the categories.
But you could see major chunks of the enterprise and the tech industry would not fit easily into these categories. So, there would be frequent debates around where Order Management would go. It was customer facing, so CRM? It also involved pricing and invoicing, so AAS? Similarly with procurement – indirect items like pencils under AAS, but where to put procurement of production related direct materials? Who would cover lifecycle issues such as application TCO? Who would cover packaged software focused SIs?
Twenty years later we have seen many more tech categories get defined (and an occasional one retired). And yet the world of business continues to become exponentially more complex. In my book project this summer I spoke to a number of companies who described many projects in areas using technologies few analysts have Waves or Quadrants for. And most of these executives were not even discussing their work with biotech, cleantech, healthtech, and other technologies – the kind of multi-disciplinary projects and products that I had described in The New Polymath
Having created the narrow silos, the IT industry has also perpetuated a group of opinionated category watchers – not just analysts, plenty of bloggers, consultants, journalists also fall into that definition. They view every industry trend and challenge from their category lens. Either their category supposedly solves every problem, or the problem is not worthy of attention. Their Magic Quadrants and vendor lists keep getting more nuanced – mid market versions, European, Asian versions. Their events showcase newer specialists in their category. But the category itself does not typically grow wider in scope.
The good news is many customers, and at least some vendors think outside these silos. The majority of the 3,000 posts on New Florence do not neatly fall into single market categories. Maybe that’s why we go wow when we see them.
(Cross-posted @ DealArchitect Full)