Douglas Toombs

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Douglas Toombs
Research Director
1 years at Gartner
19 years IT industry

Douglas Toombs works in Gartner's Technology & Service Provider organization, providing research and insights into the cloud, hosting and colocation marketplace in North America ...Read Full Bio

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Quick tips for Magic Quadrant briefing presentations

by dtoombs  |  February 11, 2014  |  Comments Off

Given that we are coming into the season for our Magic Quadrants for cloud IaaS and hosting, after having been through my first set of MQ briefings in 2013 I thought I would share some thoughts with providers that will be included in these MQs, and my particular thoughts on what makes for an effective briefing for service providers.

BTW, I am stealing heavily  from Lydia’s excellent similar blog entries on the topic – here (http://blogs.gartner.com/lydia_leong/2012/08/10/general-tips-for-magic-quadrant-briefings/) and here (http://blogs.gartner.com/lydia_leong/2012/08/10/specific-tips-for-magic-quadrant-briefings/) – as the foundation, and those blog entries are both good reads which are also worth a few minutes of your time.

Also please note that I am writing this specifically for the Magic Quadrants for which I am an author or co-author — if you have found your way to this blog entry via a search engine … because your company is presenting for some other MQ … your best guidance on that process will likely come from the analysts you are already working with for that sector of the market.

Slides

In a Magic Quadrant briefing, you will typically have one hour to present your thoughts to Gartner. As analysts are almost always scheduled back to back with other MQ briefings or client inquiries, it is highly unlikely you will have any time beyond the end of your alloted briefing appointment.  Briefings are (whether you are a Gartner client or not) primarily a one-way discussion – your organization presenting your material – but you should plan to leave time for Gartner analysts asking questions either during the course of the presentation, or at the end.  Please do not ask for business strategy guidance during a MQ briefing – that is what Gartner client inquiry calls are designed for.

Generally, we suggest planning for enough material to fill a 40-45 minute presentation.  If you think you have too many slides – you probably do … so it is worthwhile rehearsing your primary slides to make sure that you can get through them in the allotted timeframe.  You can, of course, include additional supplemental/supporting slides at the end of your presentation deck as appendices – you should feel free to put as much supplemental material here as you think would be useful for the analyst’s later perusal.

Within your slides, it is best to avoid broad statements, when you could make stronger, more specific ones – i.e. “Overall sales have seen healthy growth this year” statements are weak, whereas points such as “Managed hosting revenues increased 23% over last year” or “ARPU has increased 17% and is now over $X,000” are strong.  A ”logos” slide is always helpful, so that we understand the makeup of your customer base, however please don’t include company logos that you do not have a direct contractual relationship with (i.e.: pipeline prospects, or the clients of a digital media agency who is your direct client) or at least clearly segregate them as such.

Send your presentation to Gartner at least 24 hours in advance of your scheduled briefing, in PDF or PowerPoint format (although PowerPoint is preferred, so that the analyst can make notes on your slides as you are presenting them to us).  If you are inclined to not share a slide deck, and would prefer to deliver a web conference presentation instead, that’s fine – however, you should expect that the analysts will simply take screenshots of the most relevant slides anyway, so it’s easiest just to send a slide deck.

All information presented to Gartner during vendor briefings (including MQ briefings), is considered “on the record” per Gartner’s NDA policies (http://www.gartner.com/it/about/max_time/NDA_External_Policy_and_Process.pdf).

Presentation Preparation

Pick a good presenter for your organization, someone who tells your story well.  You don’t need your most senior executives on the phone, and in some cases (sorry, senior executives!) we’ve had execs that were much too far up in the organization and lingered too long in broad market-wide pondering discussions.  MQs are very focused in a specific area of the market, so while having a good understanding of the broad market – and your place in it – is important, you do need people who can present your position in that MQ’s specific market thoroughly.  The presenter should know their source material well, be able to clearly articulate your organization’s position, and be able to either answer whatever questions may arise from the analysts or at least be able to parse the question well enough to understand what’s being asked … in order to supply additional information after the briefing.  Many presenters will often have few supporting team members in the room at the same time.

It’s also perfectly acceptable to write a full script in advance, and read it during the call, if it makes you more comfortable with getting in all the points you want to make during the allotted timeframe.  This is how many publicly-traded companies handle their earnings calls, so while we can generally tell when someone is reading off of a script … we don’t really care one way or another.  It’s the information that counts … whatever approach helps best get your message across is fine with us.

Presentation Day

When your slot comes up for your organization’s a briefing, you will have one hour with the analysts to brief us on your offering for the MQ.  Dial into the bridge early – if there is a technical problem, email the coordinator (Michele Severance in the case of our MQs) who sent you the bridge details ASAP.  Make sure that your dial-in number is distributed to everyone who needs to be on the call, and have someone available to tackle your executives in the hallway if they’re notorious for running late to meetings.

Don’t spend much time on introductions at the start of your presentation.  A quick run-down of names and titles at the top of the call (“Hi! I’m Joe Smith, and I run our support organization”) is sufficient, and the Gartner analysts will introduce themselves when they ask questions (our bios are all available online if you want to read more about us).

During your presentation, an analyst occasionally may prod you along.  If this occurs, it is not intended to be rude – it usually means that the information you are currently going through is not going to be important enough for the MQ analysis process, in relationship to the amount of time you are spending on it.  Suggestions to move forward are done for solely for the service provider’s benefit – generally, all of the analysts on the call are experts in their particular market and know it extremely well … and therefore really want to get to the heart of your offerings, unique value proposition compared to your peers in the market, your go-to-market strategy, partnerships, market successes, competitive wins, investments you are making, your vision for your services evolution over the next 2-3 years and how you expect to achieve it, etc.

Be concrete in your information, and incorporate quantifiable, tangible data whenever possible. Analysts are under a constant deluge of broad directional statements and grandiose claims all the time, and we are usually unimpressed by them; we’re very interested in what you’ve done - not where you think the industry is heading (that’s our job) – and what you’re going to do.  Even better if these items can be backed up by numbers.  You don’t necessarily need to read the numbers, but general sentiments such as “customer satisfaction has increased greatly in the last year, as our NPS scores show” or “availability across all our datacenters hit five 9′s this year” (with the metrics on the slides so the analysts can dive into them later – or in an appendix slide) work well.

At the end of the hour, the analysts will thank you for presenting, and may ask you to send along supplemental information based on the presentation.  Do not expect to be given the opportunity to do another briefing if you fail to finish within your allotted hour.

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