So what are the pros and cons you need to consider?
When firms ask our advice on this issue, there are usually two main reasons they are mulling the question over.
The first is the effort and investment that’s needed to prepare for the assessment. Our 2016 survey of 110 firms showed that, on average, companies spend about 12 man weeks on all the RFI components for an assessment – from survey and briefing activities to collecting references and (in some cases) setting up software demonstrations. For smaller firms, this is often time that’s effectively being stolen away from revenue-generating work that’s vital for their growth plans.
The second reason for raising the question is the often-heard view that “The assessment doesn’t really match our capabilities and market strategy.”
Our survey revealed that this is actually the case for the majority of companies. More than three-fifths (62%) see the assessment’s definitions as being at odds with their own view of the business and markets they are in. And if the assessment is only a partial match with a company’s ambitions, in terms of breadth or geographic coverage or business model, people believe that’s bound to affect the outcome. “If we’re not in line with what they’re looking for, they won’t position us as a Leader, so what’s the point of being in the MQ?” companies ask.
Add these two factors together and it surely makes sense to give the MQ a miss, doesn’t it?
1. But before you make that final call and pop the prosecco cork, there are a few important points to consider.Like it or not, the analysts, and the Magic Quadrant, have been shown time and again to have a major influence on buyers’ decisions. That may not be right, but it’s reality. Many companies use the MQ to decide who to consider. Among enterprise buyers, the proportion may be as high as 80% (see, for example, the evidence of the 2015 study by Blanc & Otus, part of the Hill & Knowlton group). For those who are included, the MQ is a proven lead generator.
2. It’s great to be one of the Leaders in the Magic Quadrant. Obviously, they benefit most. But, as our own survey of 110 companies showed, inclusion at any level genuinely helps. In many cases, you simply won’t get on the list for consideration if your name doesn’t show up in the MQ.
3. It’s true that participation in the RFI is not essential for inclusion. Gartner is quite explicit about that, as are other firms such as IDC, Forrester and Ovum. It’s not at all uncommon for them to include a company they consider relevant to buyers, while noting that it chose not to participate in the RFI (See the Gartner policy at bit.ly/gartnermethodology, Forrester’s at bit.ly/forrestermethodology.) But if you are included and don’t participate, you’ll have no right of reply and no mechanism to enable you to complain or negotiate if the write-up and position are bad. Whatever the reason for your non-participation, an analyst’s unsympathetic view of you is always likely to be bleaker without any counterbalancing positive input.
4. Gartner gives buyers the opportunity to compare MQs year-by-year. If you fall back or disappear, this will be seen by buyers and potential future investors as a sign that your business is faltering or losing ground. Once you get into discussion with them, you can always explain your position, but you can never really explain your absence.
In the end, it comes down to this. If you choose not to participate, it’ll certainly save you time and effort. But the price you pay, in the market place, is likely to be overwhelmingly more significant.