Is it research or is it marketing? Almost every day, the BI media promotes new “surveys” and “research studies” on industry/market trends, product evaluations, vendor directions, etc. It's a lot of material for me to digest. And often as not, the promotions leave me with indigestion as what amounts to little more than pure marketing is presented as “objective” analysis. Research sometimes seems our industry's answer to infomercials.

The first thing I want to know when I see a new BI study is the identity and motivation of the main constituents – who's getting paid by whom. Often, BI thought leaders are hired to conduct “independent” surveys and summarize the results for BI tool vendors or the media. In a first scenario, the researchers are paid directly by the vendors; in a second, participating vendors may “sponsor” the analysis for the media who then pay the researcher. And of course there are the research companies themselves who are compensated directly by vendors to conduct studies in exchange for the buzz of the “findings”.

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