Gartner’s Strategic Sourcing Magic Quadrant: Clarifying a Few Questions

On Tuesday, I got a number of questions from colleagues about Gartner's Strategic Sourcing Magic Quadrant or "MarketScope", as they've come to also call these types of 2/2 analyses. One question that kept coming up again and again was why Oracle was not included in the report. Gartner essentially dismisses the reason for their elimination and links itself to past analyses based on how the winds blow, making it difficult to discern, while also obfuscating, their current view on their solutions: "We review and adjust our inclusion criteria for Magic Quadrants and MarketScopes as markets change. As a result of these adjustments, the mix of vendors in any Magic Quadrant or MarketScope may change over time. A vendor appearing in a Magic Quadrant or MarketScope one year and not the next does not necessarily indicate that we have changed our opinion of that vendor. This may be a reflection of a change in the market and, therefore, changed evaluation criteria, or a change of focus by a vendor." I bolded a section in this passage, above, because it captures the fundamental challenge of how analysts must account for their past research within the context of current analyses. At the end of the day, I'm left with not knowing what opinion to believe -- past or current (or both).

Another question I got from Spend Matters readers yesterday which deserves attention is why some vendors scored where they did when other analysts (even those at the same firm) have a different perspective. I'm not the author of the report, but let's just say views among analysts (even those who work for the same parent company) can differ. The situation with Zycus is a perfect case in point. In the report, they do not rank up with the leaders -- Ariba, BravoSolution, Emptoris and SAP. Yet in another recent match-up authored by AMR Research (which is now part of Gartner), Mickey North Rizza presents an entirely different angle and perspective from a comparative perspective and Zycus shows well relative to its peers. Mickey also titled a short brief from last year: Zycus Sourcing Suite Beating Out the Competition.

In this analysis, Mickey suggests Zycus "has added 27 new customers in the past six months, which span a wide variety of industries like healthcare, discrete, high-tech, chemical, pharmaceutical, energy, and financial services. Many of the wins were displacements of other supply management vendors, including Ariba, Emptoris, and SAP." Of course the irony in this is that Debbie's findings around Ariba, Emptoris and SAP contradict her colleague's analysis. But I'm sure stranger things have happened before in the analyst world.

So in short, Gartner's latest Magic Quadrant, and AMR's own research, highlights a wonderful thing we have in Western society: the freedom to report and to have a unique opinion. Neither Gartner nor AMR is necessarily right with their analyses. These reports and comparisons represent the researched opinion of an informed -- we would hope -- individual. Nothing more, nothing less. But taken together, they provide a more holistic picture of the comparative vendor situation than taking any 2/2 as gospel.

Moreover, anyone who is serious about any of the areas Gartner analyzes in their comparative report would do well to look beyond the vendors mentioned in each area to develop a more complete list around discrete e-sourcing, spend visibility, supplier information management and contract management products. As a final point I'll leave you with Upside, which scored the highest in a recent AMR analysis of contract management products (and has RFX capability), but is not even on Gartner's list.

Jason Busch

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