I had a little fun in yesterday’s April 1 post assigning new names to the Magic Quadrants, and renaming the whole thing to Real Quadrants. I hope I left enough clues that it was a joke, but it actually illustrates a frustrating issue. I am starting the process to update the Externally-Facing Social Software Magic Quadrant, so how people use the MQ is top of mind at the moment.
Analysts do a lot of work to define inclusion and evaluation criteria to give what we feel is a realistic and useful picture of a market. Obviously, there is no way to include all the nuances of what companies need to do and how they should get there in a two dimensional graphic. For most markets, we cannot include all possible vendors, but draw the inclusion criteria carefully to rate the most relevant ones. Our goal is to make the dot placements provide an overall view of the market, which combined with the text descriptions of the market itself and each vendor provides useful guidance. These are consistently among the most popular deliverables we produce, so despite the inevitable limitations, clients love them and find them useful.
However, it is not a good idea to take important decisions only by looking at the top right corner. I cringe whenever I hear customers say that they only consider vendors in the leader’s quadrant. That is not how these things should be used. When I speak with customers, I often recommend vendors from every quadrant or who are not on the MQ at all, based on what the customer wants to achieve, the infrastructure already installed, potential affinity with how the vendor works, etc. Interpreting these diagrams too broadly means missing out on a lot of great stuff.
Also, apologies to European readers who probably didn’t read it on April 1. I only thought of it in the evening while walking my dog. It usually works that way.