Comma insights: Garner Quadrant

Magic...or mystifying? Understanding the Gartner Quadrant

Mike Evans and Stuart Squires share their insight on the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant – from understanding the context to some of the key findings of the report.

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant is a visual tool intended to help people better understand the MDM and PIM market before choosing a technology supplier. Split into challengers, leaders, niche players and visionaries, it measures vendors on their ability to execute, and their completeness of vision.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yet the MDM landscape is complex, and the quadrant reflects this. While it brings brilliant insight, it needs contextual information to be truly useful, and if you’re not familiar with the industry, reading the quadrant can be less ‘magic’ and more ‘mystifying’. That’s not to say it isn’t worth looking at: it absolutely is. But how you translate the information, your understanding of the context, and where you are on your data journey, can all influence the way you see the graph and the decisions you make as a result.

Here, we share not only at our top-line perceptions of the quadrant, but how you can dissect the data to make an informed decision on your MDM provider.


Before anyone delves into the quadrant, it’s vital to recognise the inclusion criteria. With the quadrant, Gartner are tackling a vast industry, one that is constantly in flux and changing to demand. Wrangling this data without clear parameters would be a futile quest, so some exclusions do apply: essentially the quadrant acts as a filter, not necessarily a comprehensive view of the market.

You’ll find the full exclusion criteria when you download the full Gartner Magic Quadrant: it’s a crucial aspect to the report that many miss. There are other players on the MDM scene that could meet your criteria, but don’t meet Gartner’s, so exploring the wider market is advisable.

One year on...


The top right of the quadrant has not changed drastically from 2017, with the same big names in the sector occupying that space in 2018. What has changed in the last year is the volume of suppliers. More vendors are entering this market, and there is a now a combination of targeted and broad solutions spread across the four quarters. This is where reading the graph can become difficult.

The quadrant has a multi-domain focus. It assumes you’re looking for an MDM vendor, but it doesn’t necessarily take into account what you’re trying to achieve with the technology that they provide or the budget at your disposal. Therefore, the vendors in the top right of the chart may have a suite of products that combine to form a technically brilliant solution for those big-budget, broad reaching MDM projects, but they may not be the most appropriate choice to satisfy your organisation’s needs.

How can you decide this? Well, a good place to start is by listening to Gartner’s own advice.

Outline your vision

In Gartner’s Seven Building Blocks of MDM[i], they urge that anyone embarking on a data management journey takes time to understand their business vision before selecting a vendor, or even choosing what type of product to implement. In their own words, data management without a vision can “become a solution looking for a problem to solve”. When it comes to the findings of the quadrant, automatically leaning towards the vendors at the top right hand of the chart may result in an all-singing, all-dancing MDM solution that doesn’t really solve your business needs.

It is also crucial that you understand the data domains that will be the primary focus of your MDM programme. The Gartner magic quadrant lists a range of very different MDM vendors, some which were born from very strong capabilities in Product Information Management, others whose strengths lie in Customer Data Management and some whose strengths lie in managing data and relationships across multiple domains.


This is where the Strengths and Cautions section of the report can be more practically useful than the quadrant itself. Within this section, important insights into the vendors, their products and core focus areas, along with what actual customers say about them. Once you have a clear vision of what your business wants to achieve, supported by your data management technology, you need to make sure that the vendor you eventually choose shares your priorities and can deliver on those key points. If, for instance, workflow and BPM are important to you, you need to make sure that your shortlisted vendors have strong capabilities in this space. If your primary focus is on improving Product Information to support a multi-channel retail strategy, then shortlisting a tool whose major strengths lie in creating a 360-degree view of customer may not necessarily be the best choice for your business. It all comes down to business vision, and drawing on the finer details of the report rather that taking it prima facie. It could also be valuable to cross reference against other MDM reports.

Your MDM navigator

It’s a lot to take on board and making an informed decision can be a daunting task. That’s why calling upon the experience of an unbiased advisor, is increasingly popular. Partner-led selection, using a tried, tested and agnostic approach, through a consultant like Comma, can help you make sure that the vendor – and product/products – you choose align perfectly with your vision and are able to deliver the capabilities you need to support the creation of true business value.

[1] The Seven Building Blocks of MDM: A Framework for Success. Published: 02 August 2016 ID: G00311161. Analyst(s): Bill O'Kane, Michael Patrick Moran.