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Gartner Magic Quadrant for IT Service Management

Gartner Magic Quadrant

Has the Gartner Magic Quadrant Lost Its Magic?

If you’re an IT decision maker, one of the most valuable tools you can have is accurate, timely information about your environment, your users, and the solutions you choose. One of the most respected sources of this information has long been Gartner. And some of their highest-profile research products have been Gartner’s Magic Quadrant reports.

Every Magic Quadrant is the work and expertise of highly respected and knowledgeable analysts, and I am not trying in any way to undermine the value of their expertise. But at the same time, I think we need to pause for thought when examining the latest Magic Quadrant for ITSM.

The Magic Quadrant for ITSM: Why It (Still) Matters

The ITSM solution you choose can, in effect, determine the quantity and quality of information that is made available to you about your IT environment and your users. That information can influence or even drive strategic business and technology decisions. So you’re highly motivated to always try to choose the best ITSM solutions for your particular environment and business needs.

In order to do that, you seek out the best information available about those solutions and their vendors. For decades, IT decision makers have looked to the Magic Quadrant reports for enlightenment.

I have just spent some time perusing the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant for IT Service Management Tools, and I am convinced you and your colleagues may want to take a closer look. Not necessarily at the Magic Quadrant itself, but at how much influence it should have on your solution choices. It includes useful information about the market and some of its leading vendors and offerings, to be sure. But in a crowded marketplace, just how relevant can a report that only highlights 13 tools be? How relevant should it be?

Magic Quadrant – is it a Movie or a Still Life?

Despite the fact that there are hundreds of products vying for your attention in this space, this latest Magic Quadrant looks a lot like the past few I’ve seen. Gartner analysts have made just one change to the list of chosen vendors this time out, replacing HPE with Micro Focus, the company that acquired HPE’s former software business. So I guess, in reality, there were no net changes.

The fact that IBM and CA Technologies have been on this list of market leaders for more than a decade lends credence to the perception of a market in stasis. Is this actually the case, and if so is an annual recap of relative vendor positions really that helpful to your solution decisions? Or has it devolved into “the lazy executive’s short list?”

As I have already stated, none of this is meant as a criticism of Gartner, the company, nor its analysts, for whom I have the utmost respect. And the “Context” and “Market Overview” sections of the report should be required reading for IT and ITSM decision makers. As should a companion Gartner report, “Critical Capabilities for IT Service Management Tools.” (If you don’t have access to the latest version, recent past editions can be had easily via an online search, registration at an offering vendor’s web site, and polite refusal of any irrelevant follow-up sales calls.)

But I think the current Magic Quadrant for ITSM does represent an opportunity to pause and reflect. For relatively inexperienced IT decision makers, and those seeking to convince and/or reassure senior managers, the report might be helpful. To more experienced hands, however, it would seem to be, at best, an affirmation of an already familiar reality.

This is likely less true in more emerging and dynamic markets, but for ITSM, the ability of the Magic Quadrant or any similar exercise to shift the trajectory of the market or its leading vendors is doubtful. It may have more influence on vendors “on the cusp” of moving up and/or to the right, or down and/or to the left. For other vendors, their partners, and their customers? Not so much.

The Bottom Line: More Information Needed

It doesn’t really matter whether you view the Magic Quadrant as essential to your ITSM solution selection process, or simply something with which you can placate your boss about your decisions. What Gartner or any other single source says is, and should be viewed as, only that: one set of opinions. Your mileage will vary, based on characteristics ranging from your organization’s size, sophistication, and specific business challenges, to the expertise and agility of your local reseller(s).

A vendor’s presence and position on Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for ITSM comes with no guarantees of that vendor’s ability to deliver success for you and your team. And a vendor’s absence from the Magic Quadrant should not disqualify them from your consideration, if you’ve seen something from them potentially valuable to your organization. Unless, of course, your boss is a risk-averse, reactive avoider of independent thought. Just saying. 😉

What are your views on the value of the Magic Quadrant? Is it a valuable tool when you are considering your next ITSM platform purchase, or just one opinion in a sea of information? Leave us a comment below.


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