There are long-held industry myths that have prevailed in the analyst relations profession. Despite LinkedIn touting analyst relations as one of the fastest growing jobs for 2022 and investors mandating AR programs, there is still a lack of understanding of the function within many companies. Much of this is surrounding the largest FIG* – Gartner. The firm has outsized impact on the industry, with over 4B USD revenue and over 2,000 industry analysts across their research and advisory services. However, there is one key component of Gartner which raises the most questions.
The ubiquitous Magic Quadrant, or MQ in industry terms, is used and abused by tech-buyers everywhere and thus, it has become notorious among technology providers. With 87 Gartner Magic Quadrants covering as many technology markets, MQs drive a disproportionate amount of conversations across the half a million client interactions Gartner analysts conduct each year. At Starsight, we often get asked 5 questions: How much do I need to pay to be in a Magic Quadrant? Are MQs impartial? Are Gartner MQs good for business? Very few clients think to ask the most important questions: should we try to be in a magic quadrant? And what do we pay Gartner for?
Here, we’ll cover those burning questions everyone is asking and share the questions everyone should be asking. Once you’ve settled on an informed MQ strategy, be sure to check out our blog on tips for Gartner Magic Quadrant success, written by former Gartner analyst, Nigel Montgomery.
Myth #1: How much does it cost to be featured in a Gartner Magic Quadrant?
Nothing! It costs 0 USD to be featured in a Gartner Magic Quadrant. Yes, you can get into a Gartner MQ without paying. In fact, there is no way to buy yourself a spot in an MQ. In 2011, Gartner analyst Lydia Leong published a blog on the full process of a Magic Quadrant with the intent to de-bunk rumours that placement can be bought.
Even the courts agree that pay-to-play at Gartner is a myth. In 2014, NetScout filed a lawsuit against Gartner for unfair practices. Ultimately the court ruled that Gartner is not operating on a pay-to-play model and cannot be sued for defamation. They maintain that independence is key to their business model and pay-for-play would undermine that.
“Influence over research content or the amount of research coverage focused on any vendor, sector or topic is not, and has never been, for sale by Gartner. Period.”Gartner, Office of the Ombuds, 2017.
Myth #2: Are Gartner Magic Quadrants impartial?
Gartner’s signature research method has been perfected over many years. A Gartner Magic Quadrant is a research report based on a robust methodology. A participating vendor can expect to spend over 150-hours working on one, spread across getting on the analyst’s radar, filling in the 200+ question RFI and preparing for product demos. The end report is based on the factual information provided by vendors themselves and analyst opinion formulated from end-user analyst inquiries, industry expertise and customer reviews on Gartner Peer Insights. Where there is any question of validity, Gartner has an Ombudsman to investigate and take corrective action as needed. Therefore, it’s fair to say the research methodology is solid and well screwed together.
However, the solid method is sometimes overshadowed by tumultuous processes and generalisations. Gartner has, like many businesses, felt the impact of the great reshuffle. Tenured analysts have left the company, causing delays, cancellations and changes in the process for many MQs. The inclusion criteria and categorisation of markets also lends itself to larger vendors and can be a barrier to inclusion for smaller companies.
Myth #3: Are Gartner Magic Quadrants good for business?
Concerns about whether the method stacks-up or how seamless vendor-experience is are ultimately obsolete, as Gartner Magic Quadrants have undeniable impact as social-proof. In 2009, email provider ZL Technologies felt that its sales were so damaged by poor position in an MQ that it filed a lawsuit against Gartner. Although, interestingly, Gartner’s defence was that MQ’s are based on opinion, not fact, which calls into question the independent positioning of the methodology.
Gartner’s Magic Quadrant has a greater online presence than Forrester’s Wave and IDC’s MarketScape combined. As the go-to-choice for technology buyers, it’s not surprising that many start-ups are seeing investors mandating analyst relations programs and setting goals related to MQ positioning as indicators of company success. The notoriety of the method means that purchasing reprints and listing them on your website will help attract new customers. You can also create a lead-generation engine by requiring an email to access it.
Myth #4: What do you pay Gartner for?
Short answer: you pay for access and insights. A Gartner sales rep may spin you a tale of gold with their 7-steps process, promising a route to becoming an analyst’s favourite vendor and insinuating that a Gartner analyst would not even know about a company who isn’t a client, never mind include them in a Magic Quadrant. This is not the case.
The value of an analyst subscription is in the insights it provides. Analysts have access to insurmountable data – Gartner works with an annual average of 300 new, thoroughly vetted, practitioner-sourced case studies and has a Digital IQ index, which reports on the performance of 1,000+ brands. Armed with this database, they can function as sounding boards that offer insight to anticipate issues early and avoid making costly mistakes, enabling your business to manoeuvre around the competition. Use your analyst access to ask questions about market categories and help find your perfect fit. Glean industry insights and act upon them to improve your product positioning.
As analyst relations is a relationship business, when used appropriately, access can always help. No, you don’t need to be a Gartner client to be in a Magic Quadrant. No, you don’t need to be a Gartner client to brief their analysts. However, inquiries will help you better understand where the analysts come from and where are the gaps between their perception and yours.
Myth #5: Should you be aiming to be in a Magic Quadrant?
It’s important to understand whether or not a Magic Quadrant is the right fit for your product. As an example, open source platforms historically lagged behind in Gartner’s evaluations as on revenue and marketing are heavily weighted criteria. An open source product will therefore perform poorly, which may look worse than not appearing at all. Another cautionary tale is when your product has capabilities that straddle two MQ categories, then it may struggle to perform well in either.
A Gartner Magic Quadrant is not the only analyst report that evaluates key vendors in a market. The other FIGs create similar reports, the Forrester Wave and the IDC MarketScape, where you may find a category that is a better fit for your product. In addition, the long tail of firms have their own versions of evaluative reports. Particularly if a firm has deep expertise in your market area, these can be great alternatives to find your perfect category fit. Examples include: the KuppingerCole Market Compass, the Everest Group PEAK Matrix, the Aragon Research Globe, the Omdia Universe, the Constellation Short List, the HFS Top 10, the PAC Radar, the Canalys Vendor Benchmark Analyzer, the ISG Index, the GigaOm Radar, the Nucleus Value Matrix and the Quadrant Knowledge Solutions SPARK Matrix.
We advise our clients to apply the same sanity check for magic quadrants and other evaluative tactics as they do for all other AR tactics:
- What outcomes do we want to get from this?
- Does a category exist that works for us?
- Will your offerings be swallowed in this category?
- Are there alternative evaluations we should be targeting?
- Do we have the time to commit to an evaluative research process?
Bottom line: MQ or not, every company’s analyst relations strategy will look different.
Don’t assume your end-goal should be the leaders quadrant of a Gartner MQ. For some companies, this will be a sensible goal, but it should not be the only one. The impact of analyst relations runs deeper than just a mention in a report. At Starsight, we see four key impacts a thoughtful AR strategy can have on a business. There’s a whole host of potential opportunities for analyst engagement beyond the dot of a Gartner Magic Quadrant –you just need to know where to look.
*FIG refers to Forrester, IDC and Gartner. The top 3 industry analyst firms.
If you’ve decided that undertaking a Magic Quadrant is right for your business, make sure you check out our blog on tips for Gartner Magic Quadrant success, written by former Gartner analyst, Nigel Montgomery.