This four-part series focuses on why companies shouldn’t focus on a Gartner Magic Quadrant (MQ) when making a procurement technology decision. Part one (How does Gartner pick their vendors for a Magic Quadrant?) discussed why some vendors you may be interested in aren’t on there. In part two, we’ll look at the inherent conflict of interest that Gartner has with vendors on a MQ.

Part II: Gartner doesn’t do pay-to-play – at least directly

Gartner reiterates that they do not engage in any pay-to-play activities. That is, they do not accept money to improve a vendor’s standing on the MQ. This is technically true; however, it does not tell the whole story. As David Rossitar, co-founder of the Institute of Industry Analyst Relations (IIAR), explains:

"[T]here is one big advantage to being a Gartner client. What you are buying isn’t just the research, it’s time with the analyst to get their insights and advice.  And that is massively important. 
As a vendor [who doesn’t pay Gartner], I can brief an analyst perhaps four times a year. And analysts aren’t supposed to provide me with any feedback during a vendor call. Gartner's advice is only available to its clients. 
As a client, I can talk to my target analysts every week or so. I can find out what they see happening in the market, what they think is important, what they like about my business and what they think I should do differently. 
If I’m smart, I use this feedback to build a stronger, better business. I make sure the way I position my company to Gartner reflects back what I’ve been told is important."

Vendors cannot pay to be included on a MQ, but those that pay for Gartner’s services can receive weekly feedback from the analyst who completes their industry’s MQ, whereas vendors who do not pay for Gartner’s services can only occasionally brief an analyst on their product, and the analyst cannot give that vendor any thoughts during their briefing.

Imagine interviewing for a position at a company. You have the option of walking into the interview knowing nothing except what is included on the job description, or you could pay to discuss the position requirements with the hiring manager half a dozen times before the interview. Technically, you are not paying to get the position, but the feedback they provide would certainly give you a leg-up against those also vying for the spot.

This is how it works with Gartner. Vendors who pay for face time with the analyst completing their sector’s MQ have a better understanding of what the analyst is looking for and can better position their product to score well.

A company like Gartner could easily address this shortcoming by disclosing vendors who pay for analyst face time, but they do not. As an end-user, you have no idea which vendors have spent money in hopes of improving their MQ positioning and which have not.

Do you want a product designed to score well on the MQ, or do you want a product that works best for your use case? While the MQ can prove useful for evaluating vendors, it should not be the only consideration. Source One can help you navigate the market, find an ideal procurement technology vendor for your use case, and assist in a smooth onboarding of that platform.

Up next: Part III - Magic Quadrant Leaders are not necessarily the best
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Benjamin Duffy

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