Avoid like the plague – Using pseudo-Magic Quadrants in your analyst briefing presentations

After completing the in-depth Magic Quadrant series I was going to give this topic a rest for awhile. That is until I saw this tweet:

 

jowyang is the twitter handle of Forrester social media analyst extraordinaire Jeremiah Owyang. Jeremiah joined Forrester only last October and already he has seen so many vendors use a pseudo-Magic Quadrant that he is commenting on it. Can you imagine how bored and annoyed with this graphic other analysts that been around longer must be? I have seen pseudo-MQs that I swear were built on the idea of who is the leading vendor among left-handed IT managers who buy technology on Tuesdays in Guam.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the competitive landscape slide should be a component of almost every presentation made to IT industry analysts. There is no better opportunity to demonstrate your company’s strengths and to learn about your competition and the market from the analysts. Many vendors are reluctant to develop a competitive landscape graphic (also known as a market map) because they believe it is the analyst’s job to do so, they are uncertain about the dynamics that go into such a chart, they do not feel they have sufficient information about their market to create a chart intelligently or because they feel it is inappropriate to position their competitors. Frankly, none of these are sufficient excuses for avoiding this important exercise. The competitive landscape graphic is a critical tool for communicating with the analysts what the vendor knows about its market, emphasizing the key differentiators of the market and picking the competitors that you want the analysts to compare you against. In addition, if you do not go through this exercise and your competition does, then you are ceding thought leadership to your competition who will not present you in a favorable position. Furthermore, creating a competitive landscape graphic will help you avoid the classic “we have no competition” mistake that many vendors make.

Because many vendor teams are uncomfortable or not skilled at creating market maps, they fall back on the ultimate cliché – looking like Gartner’s Magic Quadrant. While it is quite useful for Gartner, a vendor who uses it as a template for its competitive landscape graphic risks being ridiculed by Gartner analysts, annoying analysts from other firms, and not having the information used as research fodder by all.

SageCircle Technique

  • Purge all analyst presentations, nay all presentations, of pseudo-MQs
  • Starting with a blank sheet of paper, design a competitive landscape that illustrates the market differentiators
  • Avoid a list of criteria that makes you look head-and-shoulders better than all your competitors
  • Honestly position the market players on the graphic
  • Review the draft competitive landscape graphic with trusted analysts

Clients of SageCircle can for background information, e.g., SageNoteTM AR54 “How to: The Competitive Landscape Slide” and example graphics. Starting July 1st, this information will be in the AR Wiki. We also suggest setting up an inquiry with a SageCircle strategist to discuss how to apply this information to your specific situation and to review drafts of the graphic and underlying framework as they evolve.

Bottom Line: The competitive landscape graphic is an important tool unless it is a cliché. We recommend that vendors invest time and skull sweat into creating a useful and interesting graphic that will capture the imagination of analysts and lead to a productive dialog.

Question: Analysts – Please share any examples you have of outrageous and amusing pseudo-MQs. I promise we will blank out the names to protect the guilty. AR teams – Speaking of guilt, do you use pseudo-MQs and why?

 

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8 Responses

  1. Vendors, especially ones new to doing briefings, proudly display their pseudo-MQs like proud new parents flashing pictures of their new baby. So how do you tell them their baby is, well, average or even ugly? Mostly through the use of humor. I used to use this joke to tall about a more realistic view of vendors’ strengths and weaknesses: “Oh, I was an ugly kid. My old man took me to the zoo. They thanked him for returning me.” from Rodney Dangerfield. The recommendations from the SageCircle team are right on. Be brutally honest with your strengths and weaknesses and earn credibility with analysts as a result.

  2. Hi Louis, Thanks for the comment.

    Agree completely that candor is an underutilized technique.

  3. Keep in mind, I said quadrants, in a generic sense, not “Magic Quadrants”, by a well known Analyst firm, just to be clear.

  4. I recently asked a VP giving a briefing “so, is this your version of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant? Or the Magic Quadrant as you think it would lay out?”

    Umm…well…uh….yeah. Sort of.

    Gartner: Live by the sword…. If you make MQ a staple of all analyst activity–as though it is the sine qua non of how one analyzes a company, product, or issue–then expect to have that format copied, imitated, co-opted, and genericized.

    Personally I don’t mind vendors pitching their own MQ variants. It’s no less and no more pertinent than any other info / pitch they might offer. And at least it shows them in relationship to the rest of the industry, which has some orientation value.

  5. […] By the way, we advocate against using the Magic Quadrant graphic with analysts to illustrate competitive differentiators in the marketplace. Frankly, a pseudo-Magic Quadrant created by a vendor is cliché (see Avoid like the plague – Using pseudo-Magic Quadrants in your analyst briefing presentations). […]

  6. Hard to imagine the value of such a quadrant. The biggest benefit would be list of analysts that are cover a particular topic.
    Unfortunately most analysts seem to cover categories of products. The challenge I find recently is finding analysts that have a clue about business issues in either vertical or horizontal areas.

    If I had two dimensions I’d want one dimension would be level of content for the area in question, and the second would be level of influence. The latter would be challenging to identify who they would influence – Investors, financial analysts, business press, technical press…

    I’m disappointed I wasn’t smart enough to come up with an irreverent answer!

  7. […] The Famous Two by Two Grid For some reason, vendors think anything in a chart is believable, even if they made it up themselves! Typically, in the first five slides of a presentation, there’s a two-by-two grid (image: sample grid, not for re-use) where the vendor always positions in the top right. The competitors are scattered in all the other quadrants, but are never more further ‘up and to the right’ than the vendor. The funny thing is, the X and Y axis are often criteria that you won’t find on any research report –and every vendor’s 2×2 is different so they’re ‘up and to the right’. Update: I forgot about this post from former analyst Carter Lusher, now AR expert, he says to get rid of grids all together. […]

  8. […] Haff on “There are only so many …How to Translate Ven… on Avoid like the plague – Using …Analyst Relations in… on AR in TransitIIAR research highli… on Why AR Matters – […]

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