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How to Maximize Magic Quadrant Effectiveness

by Adam Ronthal  |  July 29, 2015  |  1 Comment

By Adam Ronthal and Merv Adrian

The Gartner Magic Quadrant is, perhaps, the most well known piece of research we publish each year.  Vendors appearing on the Magic Quadrant often issue press releases, purchase reprint rights, and generally make some well-deserved noise when included in the final research note.  And quite rightly so.  The Magic Quadrants often serve as a starting point for prospects looking to evaluate technologies for new initiatives, refreshes of existing infrastructure, and technology buying decisions in a wide range of scenarios.

Given the importance that most vendors place on their Magic Quadrant positioning (or inclusion), the range in the quality of input we get is startling. Vendors sometimes use boilerplate responses on the Gartner Request For Information (RFI) document, arrive unprepared for the Magic Quadrant briefing, spend time on irrelevant issues, use a standard sales pitch – and are surprised when they see the resulting draft. They ask later why information they did not provide was not considered. They struggle (and sometimes fail) to come up with references for the survey and/or interview Gartner conducts that supplements our own list, and surprisingly often, have not vetted them –  even to be sure they are in production! During the Magic Quadrant process, the analysts will not conduct any internal or remote Strategic Advisory Services (SAS) days with the vendors – that is during the complete calendar month of planned publication for a particular MQ, and for the two complete preceding calendar months — a total period of three months. Even vendors who might think they can “buy the time” to reinforce their story are unable to do so – by design. Gartner is committed to level the playing field.

By far, the best way to be sure the most important information is considered is to conduct an effective briefing. A Magic Quadrant briefing is 30 to 60 minutes. It is the vendors’ opportunity to highlight key areas of their offering in terms of two primary analysis axes:  Ability to Execute, and Completeness of Vision.  In the welcome packet sent to vendors under consideration, Gartner provides detailed criteria along with how they will be weighted.  For example, for the Operational DBMS Magic Quadrant, the Completeness of Vision and Ability to Execute axes include the following criteria:

Completeness of Vision Ability to Execute
  • Market Understanding
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Sales Strategy
  • Offering (Product) Strategy
  • Business Model
  • Vertical/Industry Strategy
  • Innovation
  • Geographic Strategy
  • Product/Service
  • Overall Viability
  • Sales Execution/Pricing
  • Market Responsiveness and Track Record
  • Marketing Execution
  • Customer Experience
  • Operations

Each of these includes a detailed description of exactly what is meant by these evaluation criteria.

Magic Quadrant briefings will be most effective if structured exactly along these lines.  They are not product briefings; they are not corporate briefings. They are certainly not demos.  Remember, the analysts that take these briefings for a busy Magic Quadrant will talk to 20 or 30 vendors, each for 30 minutes.  The presentation should make it easy to go back to these criteria and allow the analyst to quickly refresh their memory as to what was discussed – ideally without having to listen to the recording.

So here’s what to do:

  • Structure the presentation deck to align with the evaluation criteria
  • Don’t be afraid to use lots of text, with detail in the Notes if you’re using Powerpoint. It will be easier for the analyst to look back on the deck later and check details for some specific dimension like geographic reach, vertical representation, etc.
  • Stick to the deck and don’t ramble on about items that are not directly related to the Magic Quadrant
  • Brief us via Vendor Briefings throughout the year on your product or offering so we are already familiar with it. Vendor briefings are a service available to all vendors – see here for details:  http://www.gartner.com/technology/about/vendor_briefings.jsp

The best deck we reviewed in this round of briefings had NO pictures… just concise descriptions of how the vendor met the defined evaluation criteria.  And the briefing call that accompanied it was similarly concise.  Follow the format, follow the guidelines, and a smooth process will follow.

Category: magic-quadrant  

Adam Ronthal
Research Director
1 years at Gartner
20 years IT Industry

Adam Ronthal is a Research Director on Gartner's Information Management team with a primary focus on database management systems, technologies and strategies. Mr. Ronthal's areas of specialization include both operational- and data-warehousing-focused use cases, cloud, appliances, and traditional implementations. Mr. Ronthal joined Gartner in January 2015 and is based in Toronto, Canada. Read Full Bio


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  1. […] Adam Ronthal By Adam Ronthal and Merv AdrianThe Gartner Magic Quadrant is, perhaps, the most well known piece of […]



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