By Allison Campbell-Jensen
Gideon Gartner died Dec. 12 at his home in Manhattan. He and his wife Sarah have been generous supporters of the Charles Babbage Institute’s research and archives. The Gartner Group Records that he donated to CBI Archives have already been used by many researchers, reports CBI Director Jeffrey Yost.
Gartner’s path to prominence
Gartner earned his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and M.B.A. at MIT and worked at IBM and other computing firms before becoming a top Wall Street IT analyst.
He established the Gartner Group in 1979. According to The Washington Post, Gartner implemented a huge change in how computer research firms sold their services to companies. Rather than focusing on recommending systems to build and sell to technology giants like IBM and Microsoft, Gartner looked at information technology managers and chief information officers within large corporations who “would need help navigating the fast-changing world of technology.”
Gartner insisted that his Gartner Group research reports not exceed two pages, rather than the once-common 200+ page reports. He was a demanding boss, adept at spotting trends, and compensated salespeople based on the growth in the value of their client contracts. Rather than short-term consulting contracts, he also, Yost notes, built long-term, open-ended relationships with client firms and organizations for a wide range of products and services. The company grew tremendously in value.
He also is famous for developing the Magic Quadrant, a visual tool (or matrix) with a Completeness of Vision axis and an Ability to Execute axis, used for market analysis of firms globally, Yost says. It is taught in business schools and used in industry.
After Gartner Inc., was purchased, his name was no longer available for a company. So he used the first two letters of his first and last names and established a new market research IT firm, Giga Information Group, Inc. It also became quite successful.
Relationship to Charles Babbage Institute
Yost conducted a six-hour oral history interview with Gartner in 2005. A version of the full interview transcript is also available in CBI’s collections on the University Libraries’ Digital Conservancy. In his remembrance of Gartner, Yost wrote: “[W]hat struck me most in interviewing Gideon a decade and a half ago was his great eloquence and the depth of insight in each of his responses. He had an unrivaled commitment to excellence within his work, products, management, and service to his clients.”
Gartner’s legacy remains in the world of technology and in his collection in the Charles Babbage Institute Archives.