How seriously should we take Gartner's Magic Quadrants?

Edward Finegold
19 Dec 2012
00:00
News
Commentary

If you wore yellow glasses, would the sky look green? It might; ask Gartner.

Gartner just released its Magic Quadrant for what it now calls Integrated Revenue and Customer Management for CSPs and it is a puzzler. Gartner seems to be pretty uptight about reprints of its stuff, so I’m unfortunately not going to include the graphic here, but I have a copy in hand and will share some details with you. (If anyone has a link to the online source material, please let us know and I will add it to this post ASAP).

Here are my Top 5 Puzzlers on Gartner’s IRCM Magic Quadrant.

1) SAP is in the Leaders category.

Huh? My colleague, Alex Leslie, suggests that SAP might be earning points here for providing the billing behind iTunes, which he estimates bills about 400 million customers. That is impressive, but the Magic Quadrant is titled specifically as being “for CSPs”. iTunes isn’t one. What’s also odd is that Gartner’s methodology gives vendors credit for winning deals outside of telecom. And that makes sense when you’re evaluating the value and growth potential of a given company. But, again, the Magic Quadrant is titled as being for CSPs. So how do you get credit for deals won, or customers managed, outside of the CSP space on a CSP Magic Quadrant? In the CSP billing market, SAP isn’t really on anyone else’s top ten list, so it’s tough to justify calling them a leader in the market.

2) NetCracker, Ericsson, AsiaInfo, and Redknee are all ranked as “Niche Players.”

Gartner’s 2011 evaluation criteria for niche players reads:

“…vendors in the niche players quadrant are situated there because of a geographical shortfall, narrow focus (they may provide only a limited subset of IRCM core and adjacent functionality) or lack of financial strength (that is, they have not achieved financial viability compared with the leaders), or they have not come as far as the leaders in advancing their technologies or functionality. This prevents them from being universally suitable to all customers.”

Ok, explain to me again how NetCracker and Ericsson are narrowly focused, geographically limited, or lack financial viability? And AsiaInfo is perhaps the biggest biller in Asia with a strong reputation for technology and ability to execute. Redknee’s acquisition of Nokia Siemens’ billing business was not accounted for in this study because NSN is listed separately in the challengers quadrant. Maybe we’ll give Gartner a pass on that one (since I’d like to think the good folks at Redknee won’t).

3) There’s no one in the Visionaries quadrant.

So, again looking at the 2011 criteria, does that mean there’s no one who’s geographically limited that’s doing technologically impressive things in the IRCM space? You mean companies like Cycle30 – which is strong on enterprise billing, offers a cloud-based solution, and is winning deals in and outside of telecom (which Gartner claims to love) doesn’t deserve a nod? How about Matrixx Software, which has been breaking real-time processing records and demonstrating it at Swisscom…no? Sure, these examples probably don’t fit Gartner’s criteria for a variety of reasons. But it seems that in an era where we see some impressive new technology coming to market in regards to real-time and cloud-based billing, someone would get an entry on the bottom right.

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