The Gartner Magic Quadrant is one of the most talked about tools for selecting products in the IT industry. It’s a first step toward choosing a service provider and the associated technology that will complement the strategy and vision of a particular business venture.

Using a graphical ranking system, these reports by Gartner offer an objective and independent market view for dozens of technology providers in various industries. As for all the “talk”, the Gartner Magic Quadrant is sometimes criticized for its simplistic nature but the success of this methodology is why so many world-class businesses adopt it.

In this article, we can hopefully demystify the Gartner Magic quadrant and make them more understandable. But in order to know how to use this methodology, it’s also important to better understand more about Gartner and the man behind the name.

About Gideon Gartner and the Gartner Magic Quadrant

Gartner Group is a consultancy firm that was founded in 1979 by Gideon Gartner. It was set up by the famous tech analyst to enable clients to make better business decisions. More specifically, Gartner compiles relevant insights and forward-thinking metrics that help quantify their research. Moreover, Gartner created the above-mentioned Gartner Magic Quadrant to help businesses stay on top of their game.

But why was Gartner so passionate about this magic quadrant?

Gartner was of the opinion that great leaders not only needed the best people to deliver solutions but also an excellent understanding of the market and what was needed to meet the needs of customers. Using the Gartner Magic Quadrant, these market leaders could identify which technology providers were best suited to the task at hand.

Here are the five values on which the company was built:

Integrity – Always focus on doing the right thing.

Objectivity – Be 100% independent/unbiased.

No Limits-Mindset – Never settle and always look for opportunity.

Collaboration – Work in teams to achieve more.

Results – Execute with consistency.

Now, let’s get back to the Gartner Magic Quadrant…

The Gartner Magic Quadrant

Gartner releases a report every year in which it ranks various service providers in the same industry. You will find dozens of these reports for many different industries, and the ranking system has a clear winner and loser in each category. For instance, Garnter has reports that rank everything from application testing and data integration tools to sales force automation and the best AI developer services. Gartner also used to rank technology such as printers and copiers but times have changed a lot since the 1990’s.

Here’s a full list of markets and research documents by Garnter.

Why Market Leaders Adopt the Magic Quadrant

Every business is limited in terms of how much time or resources can be invested in market research. The Gartner Magic Quadrant provides expertise and a ready-made solution for evaluating the company and identifying the best and most-suited vendors.

It’s true, the Gartner Magic Quadrant is a powerful tool for reflecting on the needs, goals and priorities of a business. Evaluation criteria can be adjusted to ensure this graphic is client-specific and this method focuses on four types of technology providers:

Leaders – Execute with accuracy against their company vision.

Visionaries – Do not execute well but understand the market and where it’s going.

Niche – Do not outperform but focus well on a small market segment.

Challengers – Do not understand where the market is going but execute well today.

Keep in mind that every circumstance will require a different solution. For instance, staying focused on the leaders’ magic quadrant is not always the best approach, for often market challengers need to be considered. Similarly, Niche companies might support or suit better than a market leader and this will depend on the business goals.

Let’s take a look at some snapshot reasons for using the Gartner Magic Quadrant:

Learning About the Company – It’s necessary to have a good understanding when it comes to what makes a particular service provider stand out from the competition. Eg. Are they positioned to outperform this competition? What strategies are they deploying?

Focusing on Context – It’s important to look at the Gartner Magic Quadrant through a particular lens. Context is everything for gaining a true perspective of any market, company or region and customizing the magic quadrant helps a business focus on the most important criteria.

Knowing the Options – The Gartner Magic Quadrant can help businesses get up to speed with the best technology providers in a market. Also, these reports are highly detailed which means it’s possible to establish not only which providers can provide for customers in the present, but also those which can do so in the future.

Fitting in with the Business – Is the service provider right for the business? The Gartner Magic Quadrant can compare the strengths or challenges of a provider with the needs of the company.

But how exactly does the Gartner Magic Quadrant work?

About Deploying the Gartner Magic Quadrant

It can take approximately four months to deploy the Gartner Magic Quadrant methodology. After defining a market and desired outcome, chief analysts will need to approve the plan and decide which criteria on which to focus. Each line of criteria is designated a weight and then passed to several chosen vendors for discussion.

Numerical scores are used to generate a graph for the magic quadrant before text is added and the graph is reviewed by peers. In the final phase, the vendors receive a copy of the graph for fact checking and a final edit/review can be performed by Gartner.

You might have expertise of your own but the truth is, there is no substitute for the objective view that comes from an independent analyst. After all, many in-house experts are likely to resist change or favor a specific vendor, while the Gartner Magic Quadrant will rely on research and knowledge and only deploy the right solution in each case.

Final Thoughts

For some analysts, the Magic Quadrant is “too simplistic” and somewhat ambiguous due to the lack of disclosure regarding the vendors’ scores. In other words, these analysts suspect that a conflict of issue exists and that certain methodologies are used in order to make these tools seem more relevant or enticing to the buyer. However, the Gartner Magic Quadrant was subjected to a federal lawsuit in recent years but this complaint was quickly thrown out by the court and the subsequent appeal was denied.

The Gartner Magic Quadrant is not a crutch but rather a tool that uses proven methods to define the best roadmap for a business. It has even withstood the test of time and there’s a reason why everyone is still talking about the magic quadrant – it works.