[GUEST POST] #Visionaries, #Disruptors and Complete Lunatics

By Jonathon Gordon / Directing Analyst, Expert Market Insight (LinkedIn, @Jonathon_Gordon)


Recently, I have been taking an interest in the Gartner Magic Quadrant, trying to understand how helpful the model is and what role it plays. I looked at a bunch of these industry super models and one thing in particular caught my eye, or rather something that didn’t appear to be there. That something was a little dot in the far bottom right hand corner of the bottom right hand quadrant, the one Gartner calls ‘Visionaries’.

If you want a quick verification without doing all the hard work, just Google Gartner magic quadrant and take look at the image tag. Low and behold, you should get something like this and the pattern will become clear …

Various Gartner Magic Quadrant (IIAR website), post by Jonathon Gordon

So what does all this mean, you say? That’s just what I asked myself. I have to assume that someone down in that corner would be considered a real market disruptor. Before continuing, I thought I’d better confirm all the quadrant rules before I went off ranting again. I stumbled across this page on the Gartner site, written by two very help analysts explaining exactly How Gartner Evaluates Vendors and Markets in Magic Quadrants and MarketScopes. So according to the rules, markets follow 5 predictable stages. The Marketscopes are ‘designed’ to cover the Emergence and into the high Growth stage where the MQ takes over through to decline.

Magic Quadrant vs. MarketScope (IIAR)

The Problem 

There are only 5-6 (depending on where you read on the site) Marketscopes that have not been retired. Does that mean Gartner is no longer covering these stages anymore? Are they planning to retire these altogether (please let me know the answer if you know the answer) in lieu of all those incredibly ‘cool vendors’? The problem or question here is without this analysis, how to they identify that a new market is underway?

As my focus was really on the MQ, I’ll get back to that and leave the Marketscopes for another day. So now I get that when we look at the MQ, we are looking at a market between high growth to maturity, but why does that mean we can’t find any disruptors? I went back to rules and looked at the definition of a ‘visionary’, it read like this –

Visionaries align with Gartner’s view of how a market will evolve, but they have less proven capabilities to deliver against that vision.

Enter the Lunatics

So it still doesn’t explain why there are no dots close to the bottom right of the quadrant. I would assume that even in some mature market disruptors should or could pop-up. My thinking puts these new kids on the block with an amazing idea right in that corner. OK, they are super-risk, super high reward, one in a billion – let’s call them ‘lunatics’ for now. Once the lunatic’s concept has been validated, they are essentially lunatics with a great idea but not much hope, but surely they are going very interesting to some audience (angels, VCs, other lunatics)?

My issue is they don’t seem to show up on the radar at all. So what’s the lesson to be learned here? It may be I am looking for all the ‘lunatics’ in the wrong place.

Another issue came to mind later – what happens if you are a niche player with an awesome vision. I figure you would need two dots at different places at the same time. I assume quantum theory and could explain all that, but I’ll have to brush up on the topic and save it for another post. I vaguely remember something about a cat named Schrödinger…..

Disclaimers at the end today:

#1 I am very fond of ‘lunatics’ and I use the term in the most sincere way. If we looked at an imaginary MQ of the mobile messaging market just when Twitter emerged, surely they would have been considered way out there somewhere.

#2 It is quite possible that I misread all the rules or that I have been holding the model upside-down or something like that. So if you can correct my assumptions &/or conclusion or give a better explanation, I’m all ears.

#3 The Magic Quadrant is a trademark of Gartner, Inc.


Originally posted on Jonathon’s LinkedIn page on the 12/6/14.


Other posts on the Gartner Magic Quadrant

Other posts by Jonathon

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