One of the first report format aiming specifically at helping technology buyers to select vendors/providers was of course the Gartner Magic Quadrant. Based on a two-by-two matrix (as popularised by BCG, which is ironic considering Gartner is ran by a McKinsey alumni), the “MQ” quickly became irreplaceable. The X axis is for how good a product/service is (completeness of vision), the Y axis is for market traction (ability to execute) and the quadrant is in fact four quadrants, from leader to niche with visionary and challenger in between. Gartner now publishes a staggering 149 MQ’s, enough to employ a small army of analyst relations (AR) managers at each megavendor. Those type of landmark vendor ratings not only impact sales by pre-selecting vendors in long or short lists but also shape markets altogether as my fellow IIAR board member Neil Pollock studied. No wonder it’s been abundantly blogged about. See our own IIAR Best Practice Paper on Managing the Magic Quadrant.
And thus each and every firm now needs to have a vendor evaluation landmark report that is based on the seminal quadrant: Forrester surfs on Waves, IDC churns out MarketScapes, HfS paints Blueprints, G2 crowdsources Grids, Ovum publishes the Decision Matrices, Chartis issues the RiskTech Quadrants, etc. Even the IIAR proudly boast the Tragic Quadrant. Apart from PAC who went full circle with their RADAR and MetaGroup who tried ellipses, they all look like Jeff Mann’s spoof above, though some introduced a third dimension with bubble sizes. Ping me a comment for the ones I forget and I’ll build a list.
We’re in quadrant paradise -and it keeps everyone busy.
Too slow, too expensive, too numerous, not insightful? Maybe and yet, it seems quadrants are not going away.
Yet, landmark vendor evaluations are such a pull for research firms that they’re unlikely to drop those signature reports any time soon. They’re usually the most downloaded research formats with case studies and vendor fuel the hype with a flurry of press releases each time a favourable evaluation comes out (but who would miss out?) They also buy webrights (reprints in industry parlance), a nice little earner for many firms -and a business model in itself for some.
Quadrants are imperfect but it seems there for the long haul. Personally, I would love to see them not only augmented with social ratings but also with informed opinions.
Is that too much to ask? What do you think?