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By Reagan Nickl
Enterprise Customer Success Senior Manager
Wondering what is the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS)? And what it means for you and your business? This brief overview should shed some light on the subject. As you’ll see, the Magic Quadrant is a useful and interesting piece of information for those considering investments in the IWMS market, but it isn’t the be-all and end-all of market research.
It may sound like some sort of obscure ritual but, in actuality, the Magic Quadrant is a simple coordinate graph that uses a classic X-Y axis system to create a four-quadrant plane. Rather than using a number line though, the axes and quadrants represent qualitative judgements made by research analysts at Gartner, a world-renowned IT research firm based in the U.S. This qualitative analysis is based on data-backed research, but the subjects of each Magic Quadrant graph are not assigned a numeric value, score, or weight. This means that the people reading the Magic Quadrant reports can determine which qualities they find most important and assess the research results based in large part on their own criteria.
Each Magic Quadrant graph focuses on a single topic or market trend such as eCommerce, sales force automation and integrated workplace management systems (IWMS). Each of these reports names the major software and technology vendors in each market and places them on the quadrant graph based on data analysis and qualitative determination. The 2017 eCommerce Magic Quadrant, for example, includes vendors such as IBM, Oracle and Salesforce. Gartner researchers update their Magic Quadrant reports roughly every 1-2 years. There are Magic Quadrant reports for most major tech markets in which several big-name vendors release software platforms.
Why an IWMS Gartner Magic Quadrant?
The IWMS Magic Quadrant assesses the major players in the facilities management software market. According to a 2013 Magic Quadrant report from Gartner, “Real estate and facilities executives who deliver the significant ROI of integrated management of the full facilities life cycle will gain positive C-suite and even board-level attention.” This gets at the “why” of the IWMS Magic Quadrant: Gartner believes this class of software to be of significant professional import for executives and others in facilities or real estate departments within larger organizations.
Gartner describes Magic Quadrants as a “first step” for those considering adopting or changing to a new technology provider for a specific purpose. Investors can use the Magic Quadrant to determine which organizations are best positioned for success in the near and distant future. With the IWMS market continuing to grow and expand, the Magic Quadrant is a good source for those interested in anticipating which vendors will provide the best tech in this market.
Though these graphs have become useful shorthand to represent industry achievement, it is important to remember that Gartner does not reveal its research methodology. The Magic Quadrants themselves are rather terse representations of what is likely a complex research and analysis process. Gartner has also been the subject of some criticism in the past, particularly from smaller vendors and open-source vendors who feel that the company focuses too much on entrenched industry leaders and doesn’t make enough room for up-and-comers. With that in mind, investors and others watching the IWMS industry may want to balance the information Gartner presents with independent research and analysis.
Understanding the Magic Quadrant
Beyond the basics, it’s important to understand the qualitative categories each part of the Magic Quadrant represents. A vendor shown to fall into the very bottom left-hand corner of the Quadrant is represented very differently in Gartner’s analysis than a vendor shown in the very top right corner. That’s why it’s so important to understand what each different part of the quadrant means before you start taking in this simplified visual summary of complex, data-backed market research analysis.
You may also not always agree with the placement of certain vendors in the Magic Quadrant. Gartner has an interactive Magic Quadrant that you can adjust according to your own needs, but if you don’t have access to this tool, you can simply make your own assessment of whether you think the analysis presented on the chart is complete or accurate.
The X-Axis: Completeness of Vision
This is the axis that deals mostly with technology and innovation. “Completeness of Vision” gets at questions relating to the vendor’s ability to actually do what it sets out to do with its products in this market. Vendors who have a good handle on innovation and seem to be one step ahead of the pack tend to do well on “Completeness of Vision.” Technology that doesn’t really clearly address the problems it purports to address or that unsuccessfully approaches a specific function or doesn’t seem to have a good feel for future market direction will appear further to the left, while those vendors that deliver useful tech and make good products in the market will appear further to the right.
The Y-Axis: Ability to Execute
Gartner approaches the “Ability to Execute” axis from a pure business standpoint While anything related to the software program or technology’s ability to deliver on the promise of its concept are included in the “Completeness of Vision” axis, the “Ability to Execute” axis addresses business issues, such as profitability, fiscal stability, market share, and the ability to compete. Vendors that do not appear to have much long-term financial viability or that aren’t competing well in the market will appear closer to the bottom while those that do better than their competitors in this area will appear closer to the top.
Quadrant I (Northeast): Leaders
As the topmost and furthest-right quadrant, the Leaders section of the chart includes those vendors who succeed in both “Completeness of Vision” and “Ability to Execute.” This is the section in which major vendor names tend to fall, though that’s not always the case, especially when Vision is an issue for a particular vendor or when a vendor’s business prospects are in trouble in spite of a high profile. While it can be easily assumed that the Leaders quadrant is the location for the “best” IWMS tech, it’s not necessarily the case. Each quadrant on the chart presents a balance of pros and cons. The Leaders quadrant may include vendors who can safely charge astronomical prices for their tech or who provide subpar customer support due to the sheer volume of business they do.
Quadrant II (Northwest): Challengers
Challengers are positioned to do well in the short-term and may already be cutting into established vendors’ market share, but Gartner’s analysis has determined that their ability to think ahead is limited. The high position on the chart does indicate that these vendors are doing some things right, but their lack of appropriate Vision may have long-term implications for the company’s market viability. Good market share doesn’t necessarily indicate that the vendor will continue to make the right moves in the future.
Quadrant III (Southwest): Niche Players
The bottom left quadrant is reserved for the Niche Players, which Gartner defines in two ways. One category of Niche Players is only interested in capturing a small segment of the market, producing technology that doesn’t address the wider needs of potential users outside of a certain industry or function. Broad Vision isn’t necessarily a priority for these companies and their limited market-share goals mean their Execution isn’t at the top of the heap, either. The second category of Niche Players includes those organizations that actually want to be addressing the widest market share possible but have neither the Vision nor Execution to stand out from the crowd.
Quadrant IV: (Southeast): Visionaries
As the name (and graph position) indicates, Magic Quadrant Visionaries have a good completeness of vision, meaning they understand where their market is headed and do a good job anticipating needed changes, but they don’t compete with the top players from a business perspective. This quadrant may also include newer companies or programs that haven’t yet had the chance to prove their long-term ability to execute but have excellent delivery of concept. The Visionaries category may, therefore, include some up-and-comers that could easily hop up to a higher and, therefore, more prestigious quadrant in a future Magic Quadrant analysis release.
What the Magic Quadrant Means for IWMS Programs
As with all professionally aggregated industry analysis, the Magic Quadrant isn’t perfect. Gartner isn’t without its critics but, in general, the Magic Quadrant is a good way for outsiders and insiders alike to get a high-level view of the major players and competitors within a specific market.
Because IWMS is a rapidly-changing and constantly-shifting market, the Magic Quadrant can help facilities and real estate professionals keep their eye on the ball when it comes to changing tech in the industry. Remember that Gartner’s full report includes more than just the Magic Quadrant chart. Past reports have included sections titled “Best Practices for IWMS Deployment” and other information that could be of vital importance for both vendors in the market and professionals who use this kind of software.