How the HR software ‘Gartner Magic Quadrant’ works

June 13, 2018

How the HR software ‘Gartner Magic Quadrant’ worksImage by ESB Professional / Shutterstock, Inc

For companies considering HR software, Gartner is probably the go-to authority. As a world-leading research and advisory company employing more than 8,000 people, their business insights help thousands of CIOs to make important software purchasing decisions.

Bear in mind here, that Gartner’s research is mostly geared towards large corporate enterprises. However, through its sub-companies, Gartner also provides analysis of the smaller to mid sized business segment – so read on to find out more.

What is Gartner’s ‘Magic Quadrant’?

The ‘Magic Quadrant’ is one of the most popular ways Gartner presents the results of their in-depth analyses of the HR software market. Their analysts take the results of their research, and plot the leading HR tech providers into a ‘Magic Quadrant’ made up of four key areas:

  • Leaders These HR software vendors provide a great service right now, but are also positioned well for the future.
  • Visionaries Vendors who are positioned well for the future, but aren’t necessarily filling a significant market need right now.
  • Niche Players. Vendors doing really well in one particular area, or performing fairly well in general, but without really outstripping their competitors.
  • Challengers HR software vendors with a great service right now, but who may not necessarily be prepared for future trends.

Any provider of HR software that Gartner places on their ‘Magic Quadrant’, could be a strong candidate to fulfil what your business is looking for. But how do Gartner they put their ‘Magic Quadrant’ together?

The Gartner ‘Magic Quadrant’ research methodology

The ‘Magic Quadrant’ is put together by Gartner analysts, who use a variety of research techniques, some of them proprietary. Because Gartner has such a vast network of resources, the data they can gather on vendors, and the attention they can pay to detail, is immense.

The Gartner research map includes six steps:

  1. Scenarios Analysts predict what major shifts are likely to occur over the next 5 to 10 years.
  2. Surveys Informal surveys give Gartner information about industry budgets, financial reports, and government reports.
  3. Pattern Recognition. Using data they have collected, analysts review patterns to identify new trends, and build new scenarios.
  4. Stalking Horse. When Gartner lets a ‘Stalking Horse’ loose into the industry, they are circulating a theory, to find out if it holds weight and/or gains momentum.
  5. Search and Verify. This step involves searching information available from vendors and other platforms, such as press releases, Wall Street reports, and newswires. This further supports or discredits predictions formed during the previous four stages.
  6. Vendor and Peer Review. Once Gartner analysts are confident they have identified accurate industry information and probable trends, they put these forward to be challenged by vendors and peers.

This methodology is intense, to say the least. Which is probably why so many CIOs and IT buyers trust their analysis of the market when making software purchasing decisions.

Criticisms and challenges with Gartner’s ‘Magic Quadrant’

A lot of people criticise Gartner’s methodology, saying their results are influenced by the vendor flashing the most cash. However, passionate rants by Gartner analysts such as this one argue otherwise. It’s difficult to prove either.

There are other criticisms of Gartner’s ‘Magic Quadrant’, too, including the suggestion that Gartner actually aims to influence the market itself, in order to make it fit their tools.

But perhaps the biggest challenge with using Gartner’s research results, is that it may not be quite so helpful if you own a small to mid-sized business. This is because Gartner’s research is mostly targeted towards their own client base, which includes large corporations, government agencies and the investment community.

How smaller companies can take advantage of Gartner’s research

Gartner owns a number of sub-companies, many of which are geared towards helping smaller businesses find great IT products. For example:

If you explore the websites of these sub-companies, you’ll see that other variations on the Gartner ‘Magic Quadrant’ exist. For example, Software Advice publishes a chart called FrontRunners®, which is “Powered by Gartner Methodology”. On this quadrant, you’ll see several names that do not exist in the Gartner-branded ‘Magic Quadrant’ – and you’ll also notice that these vendors are coloured in blue, to indicate that they are not enterprise-sized solutions.

Harnessing the power of user-driven reviews

What makes these smaller quadrants within Gartner-powered websites so strong, is that they harness the power of user-driven reviews – of which there are many, because of the sheer volume of the SME market.

Software Advice, GetApp and Capterra all collect and organise real, verified customer reviews of HR software products, and this information is taken into account when forming things like the FrontRunners® list. And as of May 2018, People® is proud to maintain one of the top spots on the Software Advice FrontRunners® quadrant, thanks to positive customer reviews, and strong technical functionality.

To start your free trial of the People® HR software, and find out how it can help you make a big impact on your company’s success, take a free trial today

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