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.
- 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?