Reactions to the new Gartner iBPMS Magic Quadrant, part 1

Scott Francis
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Author’s Note: This is part 1 of a write-up on reactions to the Gartner Magic Quadrant.  It seems enough of a change to warrant more than one post. 

I saw the new Gartner Magic Quadrant for BPM – correction, Intelligent Business Process Management Suites (iBPMS) – was out, I decided to let it sink in before reacting to it on our blog. Sandy Kemsley has a few links to it, but withheld her own commentary.

Big picture, I think it reflects well what the market (customers) seem to be saying already:  there are three Vendors That Matter.  The surprise is that they’re the only three vendors in the Leaders Quadrant.  This is bold, by Gartner standards.  To actually make the quadrants mean something.  But this also puts Gartner in the potentially uncomfortable position of picking winners and losers in a market, more than just reporting on the winners and losers.

Jim Sinur defines an iBPMS as:

The iBPMS represents the next evolution of BPM-enabling capabilities. By incorporating more analytics — and other technologies, such as deep CEP, social media and mobile devices — into process orchestration, process participants have better real-time situation awareness and can tailor their response most appropriately to emerging business threats and opportunities. Although simulation, optimization, BAM and business intelligence tools have been included in our definition of a BPMS for years, we are now seeing these and other, more advanced technologies become better integrated into the stack. This evolution is similar to the past evolution from pure-play BPM products to BPMSs.

Based on his blog, there was an emphasis on: Social Media, mobile support, analytic activities, on-demand analytic tools, decision management tools, and new forms of unstructured or external information sources.

It’s hard to argue with the shift in emphasis – those emphases reflect what vendors are chasing, and what customers are asking for in increasing percentages.

So the big picture is about right. The three Vendors That Matter (VTM?) are IBM, Pega, and Appian.  And they have different strengths and weaknesses.  But if you’re one of the other vendors, and you’re competing against one or two of these in the BPM market, you have an uphill battle.  Not un-winnable, but the deck is stacked against you.  And it has to be frustrating if you’re one of the “other vendors” to be left out of the Leader Quadrant.

Take Ian Gotts’ Reaction:

So the results of the MQ were eagerly awaited by the BPM software vendors like excited school kids around the noticeboard with exam results. But many of the vendors who read the report and were probably disappointed, confused and angry  – in that order.

But probably more importantly, where does it leave clients who have made strategic decisions based on the 2010 BPMS MQ? They have made purchasing decisions, choosing the Leaders in that MQ only to find some of them languishing at the bottom of the Niche quadrant.  A couple of new entrants in strong positions are a real surprise and there are a number of companies who have not appeared.

Sadly this MQ seems to have raised more questions than it answers.

Very hard to argue with this – this is exactly the risk Gartner runs by taking a more decisive stand in their evaluations.  It risks alienating some Gartner clients, and potentially vendors (who are also clients).

Ian points out that the process Gartner follows actually takes quite some time – and even then there is a publishing delay:

But in Gartner’s defense, the MQ research and publish process is quite lengthy (opportunity for business reengineering?) and the development cycle for software applications is getting faster. In fact the report states: “Gartner analysts conducted 14 in-depth vendor reviews during January, February and March 2012 to produce this report.”  So, by the time the MQ is published, some 6 months later, some of the criticisms (or “Cautions”) in the report have already been addressed by the software vendors.

It isn’t so much a criticism of doing this original research or direct interviews, it is just that the delays between fact-finding and interviews, and the publishing of the report, opens up the opportunity for the report to be a bit out of date even as it is published.  For example, TIBCO has released a new roadmap that addresses the primary criticism in the Gartner report.  IBM has already released a major new version of its BPM suite (7.5 was evaluated, and released in June 2011, while 8.0 was not evaluated, and was released in May 2012).  I’m sure Pega, Appian, and Oracle have similar complaints.  So while I think the report is “stale” with respect to product release cycles, I think all the vendors were similarly disadvantaged in this way, unless they simply stalled in their product innovation cycles.

I think Ian’s commentary raises a really interesting question – is there an opportunity to revise the research (or publishing) techniques and processes to have information that is more dynamic and live?  Much as Gartner advocates for the iBPMS products themselves?

For a more humorous take on the process, check out Theo’s BPM Redux blog.

Even though I think they got the big picture right, it isn’t to say that customers will never find an ideal fit outside of these three vendors. Clearly that will happen, despite these three moving the market the most.  And there is a lot to nitpick about the specifics of the report, but we can save that for another post…

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  • While my venomous tongue is planted firmly in cheek for the post on my blog, I stand by the comments that the analyst scene, not just my best friends at Gartner, is guilty of following a very outdated method of industry analysis and reporting. We are living in an always-on social world now and analysis methods need to change and be reflective of this. Changing what criteria a group of vendors is judged by just and sticking to the tired format in an attempt to try to shake things up is like trying to mask a turd with a squirt of Fabreeze.
    Only recently did I challenge a relatively young analyst organisation trying to cry that a particular vertical was dead and that we should adopt their own new name for it going forward seemed like they’re predestined to fall into the same trap as the larger firms because that’s what clients expect.
    Analysis should have a sense of urgency because the market shifts all the time.
    Seems most are content in practicing a jedi mind trick, waving their hands around and saying “these are the stale reports you’re looking for…..”

    • there’s a lot to criticize about the process. and the methods. its sort of a meta-discussion of the report :)

  • CEOVIEW

    If you build a company that depends on Gartner to exist, you haven’t built any company at all.

  • Wallstreet

    Very thorough analysis….”Pega is growing so fast”…their numbers are public, for Gods sake! Growth is at 5% YOY , profit flat (or declining) for the last 5 years and the only real jump in revenue during that time was due to their Chordiant acquisition.
    So much for the quality of Gartner’s research….

  • TragicQuadrant

    This blog is just unbeatable:
    http://adamdeane.wordpress.com/2012/10/09/gartners-ibpms-magic-quadrant-2012/It's incredible how much of a buffoon Jim Sinur has become…almost as terrible as his paintings!

    • Really prefer to avoid name-calling of individual people. You can disagree with his point of view or his art without calling him names, no? At least if you’re going to call names do it with your real name on the tagline, please :)

      I’m sure the MQ was a group effort over at Gartner, usually these things aren’t done by just one person.

      On the other hand, I agree, Adam did a fantastic job with that blog post.