Gartner CEO: Think Big, Bet Small

Interview: Gartner CEO Michael Fleisher says to weather tough times, companies need to place small and thoughtful bets.

Michael Fleisher is Chairman and CEO of Gartner, Inc., the worldwide technology research company that boasts a 10,000-company clientele.

Gartner is advising its clients to focus on their strengths during the current difficult economic environment and to invest prudently where opportunities are present. Like its clients, Gartner has been under pressure and its business is off compared with past years. For example, attendance at this weeks annual Symposium and IT Expo in Orlando, Fla., is 6,000—up from 5,000 last year but down from 7,500 two years ago.

Fleisher joined Gartner in 1993 after working as an associate at Bain Capital. He later ran Gartner events, served as CFO and became CEO in 1999.

Fleisher discussed Gartners recommendations and its business practices with eWEEK Executive Editor Stan Gibson at the Symposium.

EWEEK: The tone I get from the conference is not particularly upbeat. Your speech emphasized the value of perseverance in tough times. Is the key message, keep our chin up?

Fleisher: We have to understand the environment were in and operate our companies in the best way we can and not use the excuse of a bad economy or wait for the good times to return in order to move our businesses forward. Companies that dont follow our simple model for what they need to do are going to be in trouble.

Companies must focus on the things that are most strategic and compelling for their highest-value customers. They have to continue to aggressively cut costs and they need to make investments for the future. Companies need to place small and very thoughtful bets—not huge bets like they were placing three years ago.

EWEEK: Are some companies cutting out luxuries, such as their relationship with Gartner?