The Magic Behind the Gartner Magic Quadrant

Like many supply chain leaders, you are likely tasked to continuously improve your business processes, and understand how the latest innovations coming to market can help you along this journey. Industry analysts such as ChainLink Research, IDC, Gartner Research and Supply Chain Insights are often asked to share their opinions of the market. Recently, Gartner published the 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Sales and Operations Planning Systems of Differentiation. This inspired me to dig a little deeper into these reports.

A Gartner Magic Quadrant assesses solution providers across two criteria, their Ability to Execute (shown on the vertical axis) and their Completeness of Vision (shown on the horizontal axis). Ability to Execute is an indication of whether a solution provider has a track record of actually delivering what they said they would deliver both from a solution functionality and project timeline standpoint. Completeness of Vision is based on Gartner’s assessment of the current solution capability and available future solution development plans.

Gartner divides solution providers into four quadrants (Leaders, Challengers, Visionaries, and Niche Players) depending on their Ability to Execute and their Completeness of vision scores. For the recent Sales and Operations Planning Magic Quadrant, there have been significant shifts in solution provider placement since it was last published in 2017. According to the report, solution provider movements have been driven by several factors including:

  • Long-term established solution providers have introduced new cloud-based planning solutions that include S&OP and are still maturing
  • End users at higher stages of S&OP maturity are looking for a financial impact analysis of the decisions they make in S&OP
  • End users are increasingly thinking about the digitalization of their planning — including S&OP. Some solution providers are responding better and faster to these emerging requirements than others
  • Increasingly, end users do not select S&OP technology separately from their foundational SCP solutions
  • Solution providers are trying to incorporate emerging technologies (such as AI, machine learning and cloud) to progress their solutions. How successfully these technologies are being utilized differentiates them

Statistically Valid?

Through statistics, we learn that results obtained through samples only approximate the outcome if we had the capability to survey the whole population. To release a Magic Quadrant on a regular basis Gartner polls a subset of a solution provider’s customers on a set of technology and service characteristics that could impact their ability to achieve their process goals. Statistics also teaches us that each sample can vary greatly when the sample size is a fraction of the total population. However, if you find a consistent trend over multiple samples the result tends to be statistically valid. Applying the same thinking, I believe that significant shifts in relative positions amongst solution providers can be very telling.

Therefore, I believe the magic in these reports is not magic at all, but rather a quality we can all see right away—consistency. Not only is it important to read the latest report, but also to read the corresponding previous reports. Ideally, you want to see consistent movement to the top and to the right to provide evidence of a solution provider’s consistent improvement in their “Ability to Execute” and “Completeness of Vision.” Significant shifts in supplier positions, up/down, left/right, from one quadrant to the next should be viewed with some degree of concern for the long-term viability of the solution and solution provider.  Very few solution providers consistently rate both high in Ability to Execute and high in Completeness of Vision over multiple Magic Quadrant Reports. It is highly unlikely the dramatic shifts in position over a two-year time span are completely from changes in a vendor’s Ability to Execute or their Completeness of Vision. Having worked in the software industry for 20+ years I know from experience that it takes time for a solution provider to significantly change service and solution capabilities.

So, when you evaluate solution providers, consider looking at the longer term track record of a supplier. Making improvements to the supply chain is a journey not a destination. You need a solution partner that can enable that journey over the long-term. Consistency is the magic behind the Gartner’s Magic Quadrant Report.

Read the 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Sales and Operations Planning Systems of Differentiation and then let us know what do you think?

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