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Who pays the piper? That's the best way to see how analyst research will come out.

Matt Asay Contributing Writer
Matt Asay is a veteran technology columnist who has written for CNET, ReadWrite, and other tech media. Asay has also held a variety of executive roles with leading mobile and big data software companies.
Matt Asay
2 min read

CIO.com raises an important issue about the integrity of research being done by industry analysts. Namely, if a sponsor pays for the research, do they get favorable treatment in that research?

But do you ever wonder about the research's integrity? Do you care enough to go to the next page of that document or website and see just who was so interested in this topic or trend that they shelled out big bucks to enable this research project to take place?

The answer is, "No." Most people don't check. They see the headline, look at the pretty charts, and forget about the fine print.

Analysts, to a person, will scream "No!" they're not biased by the money. But it's human nature to be influenced by a paycheck. Very few people/analysts have the clout of Walt Mossberg to be able to nakedly diss a product or company.

I'm not suggesting that the research is corrupted. I'm just suggesting that it's hard to remove the taint of sponsored research. Just take a look at Gartner's "Hype Cycle" on open source, which is woefully inaccurate, probably in part because Gartner gets its information from the vendors who sponsor its research, not the customers who are buying into open source in droves.

So, the next time you read a report, blog entry, or article, consider who pays the writer (including when reading this blog).

Some of us have the luxury of being able to get paid in accordance with our ideals. I have exactly zero problem advocating the adoption of open source, because I see it benefit customers on a daily basis, and because it jibes with my personal, moral philosophy.

But I'm an industry participant that makes my money selling services around open-source software. I don't have to pretend to be neutral.

For those who don't have this luxury, I feel for you. But try to avoid the sponsorship, all the same.