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Magic Quadrant Mythbusters, Part Deux

By Rick Franzosa | November 05, 2018 | 0 Comments

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Last November, I wrote about MES Magic Quadrant Mythbusters.  With the release of Gartner’s second Magic Quadrant for Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) , let’s see if the busting of these MQ myths still holds up:

Myth 1: – You can’t write a Magic Quadrant for a Fragmented Market

When I joined Gartner in 2014, there was one thing I knew for certain.  There would NEVER be a Magic Quadrant for Manufacturing Execution Systems.  Conventional wisdom said that the MES market was too fragmented, made up of small vendors with unique specialized functionality to meet the needs of specific industries.  A small vendor serving the aerospace and defense market would never compete with a small vendor serving the food and beverage market.

Well, the world has changed.   Larger enterprise vendors in the PLM, ERP and Automation arenas have acquired and developed their own MES capability.  Their strategy is to provide a set of functionality that will meet the needs of a wide variety of industries, leaving the specialization to industry specific implementation service providers, or the end customer via industry templates.

Myth:  Busted… (sort of)  Update:  The 2018 Magic Quadrant for MES includes 21 vendors, an increase of 9 from the 2017 edition.  This has allowed us to feature some of the specialized vendors that are more industry specific.  In addition, the 2018 Magic Quadrant for MES will be followed by a Critical Capabilities MQ Manufacturing Execution Systems.  For those of you not familiar with the Critical Capabilities document, the key differentiation is that the MQ focus is on the market and the Critical Capabilities focus is on the product.  The end result is, products from vendors of all sizes will be compare against use cases of continuous process manufacturing, batch/repetitive flow manufacturing or complex discrete manufacturing.  Critical capabilities levels the playing field for product offerings.

Myth 2: – The Niche Quadrant is a bad place to be

Conventional wisdom says that the lower left ‘niche’ quadrant is a place to avoid in the magic quadrant.  In a market where industry specialization is strength, being a niche vendor is a strength.  The vendors in the Magic Quadrant for Manufacturing Execution Systems that reside in the niche quadrant are recognized as leaders in MES for the specific industries they cover.

Although there might be an assumption that vendors in the other quadrants are better choices for new MES buyers, in certain circumstances Niche Players are just as good or better choices for prospective users. This is because they might focus on a geographic or vertical component of the market that is meaningful to particular users.

Myth: Busted! Depending on your specific needs, a niche MES vendor could be what you are looking for.

Myth 3: – The Challenger Quadrant is not great either

The Challenger quadrant has its own ‘stigma’.  These companies are really not as ‘visionary’ as the leaders.    Maybe not as shiny, maybe not as glamorous.  A colleague refers to the challenger quadrant as “The Chevy truck quadrant”.  Solid…  Dependable…  Vendors in this quadrant provide solutions that are very well received by customers and provide solid capabilities.  Not everyone needs the new, shiny stuff.

Myth: Busted!  Update:  This quadrant is the home of products that have some of the largest client bases and significant revenue, as well as products that, while not flashy, perform some extraordinary tasks, and/or provide very competitive value in comparison with the expense of vendors in the leaders quadrant.

Bottom line, there are strong business reasons for manufacturers to consider vendors in any quadrant, AND specialized vendors that are not part of the Magic Quadrant, but may be found in the Critical Capabilities document.

For additional guidelines on how to best use Magic Quadrants, take a look at Cindi Howson’s blog here.

And for you MES Practitioners, please let your voice be heard by participating in the Gartner/MESA International Future of MES survey


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