In this series we're looking at the myths and legends of the database world; some are true, some false. The myth under the spotlight today is whether Gartner's Magic Quadrant really is magic. (True, Gartner's Magic Quadrant (MQ) isn't just applied to databases, but its recent application to the area of BI platforms, for me at …
Never ceases to amaze me..
..how much sway people allow analysts to have, when the majority of them simply give opinion based on talking to the vendor and not actually playing with the product.
As an ex-product internal I have seen with my own eyes the way marketing and product executives cosy up with, wine, dine and generally fawn all over analysts within their sector in a scary sycophantic manner just to garner that little bit of MQ kudos.
I have more sympathy with companies like Forrester who actually test the product and provide real world metrics as opposed to the likes of Gartner.
One day I will start an analyst firm myself, but it will report on the analysts themselves and provide in-depth analysis of their past predictions when directly compared to today's reality.. Have a look back and see what Gartner said about the Network Computer for evidence.. For every one thing they get right I wager there will be nine other inaccuracies.. A simple random number generator would provide a more accurate forecasting model.
Gartner - More snake oil than statistics
"Incidentally, there is very good evidence that Gartner performs this work very diligently and with great competence. I have absolutely no doubt of the worth of Gartner's work: my concern is with the MQ, not the fundamental research work that the company performs."
I have become convinced, after many years in IT, that Gartner delivers what they are paid for. They are useful for management to justify decisions and to provide conferences to go to etc.
I will make the bold assertion that if the Gartner MQ or a Gartner Whitepaper has been used to justify a strategic technical decision - its a dangerous decision (And you should fire the person advancing the justification).
People who use Analysts, and Gartner in particular, to justify technical decisions - like a movement to SOA, .Net or (to borrow from a previous contributor) Network Computers - love the fact that the MQ and the other charts and graphs that the analysts provide make the information accessible to non-experts. This means that management feel they have the information necessary to make decisions on complex technical and process issues.
This means that a combination of the analyst who thought up the 15 criteria and the analyst who decided who qualifies as being in the market and the analyst who decided how to measure attainment and the analyst who decided which criteria has the most effect .. Are the people running the company, not anyone with the business or technical knowledge to deliver results.
Vendors know that to be included in a market segment for analysis in the MQ gives credibility. In order to get on the list, they commission their own analysts reports so they effectively buy their own credibility...
When I stopped listening
I'm amazed that people buy research from Gartner. I was asked to participate in a round-table discussion moderated by a Gartner VP a few years ago. Someone at the conference asked for advice and the official Gartner answer was, "we're not in the advice business, we just point out issues".
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