For the past many years Field Service Management has been an area of expertise that has been very rewarding to me and a small team. Our practice at Gartner has grown since first I began covering the topic solo. Whereas in the early period I was a lone wolf baying into the digital night, we have since expanded the practice to where there are now four analysts focused to one degree or another on the different aspects: the mobile technician, parts and inventory, mapping and schedule optimization, analytics, the impact of IoT and intelligent devices, and work order scheduling. To underscore our commitment we recently brought on an analyst to be 100% dedicated to the area, to organize the research agenda, and to take over as the lead on the Field Service Magic Quadrant.
A funny thing happened along the way: the three core analysts who created and nurtured the space have all but been ignored by the providers of field service products. These vendors have fallen into the insidiously alluring trap known as THE DOT MATRIX. This is a powerful centrifugal force that sucks vendor energy into its empty core: the DOT. What lies behind the phenomenon? Two reinforcing factors. The first is the growing popularity on the part of the vendor’s analyst relations group to turn to third party companies that guide them through the supposed labyrinth of Gartner Magic Quadrant methodology. Since a Sixth Grader can master a course on codeacademy inside of three months and exit with proficiency in Ruby or Python, it stands to reason that an expert in Analyst Relations (AR) can leverage the copious documentation and guidance available on Gartner.com to understand the transparent Magic Quadrant (MQ) process. The third parties have a vested financial interest in characterizing the process as opaque. Talented AR understand the simple guidelines and thrive.
The second factor at work is the myopic but prevailing notion that the MQ dot is solely determined by and upheld by the Primary Author on an MQ document. Yes, the peculiar arrangement of dots on the Cartesian plain impacts the perception of a company’s ability to deliver a given product, despite prodigious efforts on the part of Gartner to explain that vendor position is 15% about product, and 85% other factors, and all of these factors are couched in a set of ‘if-then’ hypotheses – conclusion exercises. The ‘if’ can be Cloud/On-premise, geography, industry-specific solution versus general purpose, breadth of solution, availability of professional services, company risk factors, cost, or support of complex business rules and integration. And those factors are determined by a team, based on all available data.
But, regardless, vendors have a Pavlovian conditioning that compels them to focus attention on “Primary Author” when dispensing information and querying experts. The net result is that the vendor damages their chances of reaching the long ‘short list’ of potential solutions when an analyst other than the ‘Primary’ handles a client interaction, and that could be up to 50% of the time. It is hard to imagine why an organization would compromise itself like this, except for ignorance. And here we are dispelling the darkness: ask your vendor which analysts they are working with. This is germane to all Gartner MQ’s. Most MQs are now the handiwork of multiple people, as solution complexity and our geographic reach requires insights from multiple members. And to the vendor community, it is like the 1974 single from the Steely Dan album, Pretzel Logic, Rikki don’t lose that number: don’t shortchange yourselves by chasing MQ dots – it is a fool’s errand that does neither yourselves nor your prospects any lasting benefit. Cast a broader net and avoid the dot matrix.
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