Is There a Need for a Magic Quadrant on the Analysts?

"Magic Quadrant" for the analystsFrom time-to-time, we get a suggestion – sometimes tongue-in-cheek, other times quite serious – that we need to create a Magic Quadrant focused on the analysts. One client passed along that he heard the two axes could be “The Analyst Gets It” and “We Care that the Analyst Gets It.” This remark produced both a chuckle and an “hmmm.” 

The idea behind the Magic Quadrant is to provide a visual snapshot of a market or situation to provide the reader with a framework for making a decision or shaping an opinion. Graphical representations of data are generally considered to be the most powerful form of information delivery. Thus, internally using a graphic to show the analyst landscape vis-à-vis your company can dramatically shape an executive’s perception about AR.

To be effective, the graphic needs (click on example MQ to enlarge) to convey succinct, interesting and provocative information. The axes above are a good starting point. Knowing whether an “analyst (not firm) gets it” is critical to AR because it impacts the information campaign directed toward that analyst. Gauging whether the analyst is relevant (“We care”) is just as important because it determines whether effort should be expended to influence him/her. For example, if an executive insists on briefing an analyst with low relevance, a well thought-out graphic could help persuade him/her not to bother.

So, how do we determine the key issues to map on a graphic about the analysts? That’s where you come in. We want to hear your ideas based on the needs of your analyst program. Send your suggestions for graphical axes-either humorous or serious-to We will compile a follow-up article discussing your suggestions.

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).

Bottom Line: Educating colleagues and executives about the analysts should be a high priority for all AR teams. Using a humorous pseudo-MQ can be an effective tool to get across important insights about the analysts.

Question: Do you use a graphical representation of the analyst marketplace/influence to help educate colleagues?


  1. I have often pondered this question, but not in these terms. Since influence of the analyst over potential buyers of a vendors product (thumbs-up/thumbs-down or short-list advice). I am an advocate for “Influence” being one of the axes.

    At the end of the day, the analyst may be bright, may get it, and we may even care that they get it, but if they are not able to influence potential buyers then the return on the AR investment is not as good. BTW, I count influence over other analysts within the firm as a valid form of influence.

    That’s my $0.02.

  2. From Dean Whitehair, Symantec, via Facebook comment ——

    “The MQ for analysts and analyst firms, (although fun) would be too simplistic for true value measurement. Of course, that is one of the flaws we in the AR Manager community have with the MQ and Wave’s when it comes to measuring our products, but that is another discussion. I measure the analysts by the traditional influence on the enterprise buyer, the exposure potential to media, investors, etc AND the value the SMART analysts give to my company regarding strategy, M&A, messaging, competitive stance, etc.”

  3. From Gerry Van Zandt, HP, via Facebook comment ——

    “I believe the proposed axes are too simplistic.

    They don’t take into account the actual influence & ability to impact external perceptions (IT buyers, corporate execs, Wall Street, consumers, etc.) of the analyst and/or firm. Or the quality & objectivity of the research work product.

    And, does the “Analyst MQ” cover specific analysts in a particular practice area, or the overall firm? I could see “firm MQs” being relevant to justify research investments to execs.”

  4. From Erin Kinikin, former Giga and Forrester analyst, via Facebook comment ——

    “Seems like Carter’s axes could be mapped to Knowledge (“The Analyst Gets It”) and Influence (“We Care that the Analyst Gets It.”). This also maps to the two big reasons vendor clients consult with analysts: 1) the analyst knows something of value (i.e., positioning, competitive analysis, customer needs) or 2) the analyst has enough influence that it’s worth paying to teach him/her the vendor’s view of the world.”

  5. From Peter Kastner, former Aberdeen co-founder/analyst, via Facebook comment ——

    “Yes, for internal consumption, it’s a good starting point. Can use the same 2-axis model with the press. But only for internal, “know your analyst” coverage.”

  6. An unofficial ‘MQ for analysts’ has existed for a while in Europe. It was born as a joke during a dinner attended by inhouse and agency folks one evening and subsequently refined. Despite being rather useful, I don’t think it will be made public – certain analysts/analyst houses wouldn’t be overly flattered even though every effort was made to ensure balance.

  7. could be an idea. parameters should be something like:

    1) real world experience outside of the analyst community – i.e. has the analyst actually had real “hands-on” experience of their coverage area;

    2) independence – is the analyst perceived to be biased towards certain vendors

    3) bravery / boldness – is the analyst unafraid to deliver insights that may upset their clients / major vendors

    4) general “respect” in the industry

    5) longevity – has the analyst withstood the test of time (i.e. not been a flash in the pan)

    6) new media – does the analyst use new media tools or social networks to get their views across / cultivate ideas

    7) ability to impact an audience – i.e. writing-style / presentation style

    8) frequency of media exposure

    9) depth of technical / services expertise

    10) degree of influence over technology / services decision-making with user / buy-side executives

  8. From Erin Kinikin, former Giga and Forrester analyst, via Facebook comment ——

    Yeah, while you “could” represent analysts in a graphic with dimensions like knowledge and influence, I’m not sure you should. Why?
    1) The upper right quadrant would not necessarily be the “best” analysts (call these analysts “Big Risk, Big Reward”).
    2) While the MQ “might” represent the “average” usefulness of a given analyst, it wouldn’t distinguish skills needed for a specific project — in other words, the graphic wouldn’t support action (unlike products, analysts aren’t one-time purchases). 🙂
    3) One of the strengths of an MQ (still not my favorite thing) is that the axes approximate both current strength and future potential. Would need a specific way to represent the “up and comers” — actually the analysts with the largest potential payoff (“get ’em while they’re young and impressionable”).
    4) “Internal” things have a way of becoming external — not a way to make analyst friends

  9. I’ve done something like this before but in a client-specific fashion using one axis as their influence and another as their favorability towards the client’s strategy. For example, if they’re supporters but nobody cares then talking with them might feel good but accomplishes little.

  10. Carter,

    This makes a great pub conversation and hours of endless fun (esp. if you plot the “ego” vs. “expertise” you get an interesting one), but can also be used seriously.

    For instance, if you plot depth of technical knowlegde/relevance and exposure/influence and then map your analysts, you can then have four quadrants (gotta love McKinsey) and you can determine what to do with each…

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