How to Leverage the Gartner Magic Quadrant in Your Decision-Making Process

Guest Blog by Steve Leaden, President, Leaden Associates, Inc.

Gartner is a household name in the IT industry. It uses its Magic Quadrant and associated reports to evaluate technologies and vendors and to provide clients with insights and even strategic planning assumptions. In the 1990s, the Magic Quadrant, originally used in-house, evolved into an official research note and today, there are numerous Magic Quadrants across various technology sectors.

Magic Quadrants offer visual snapshots — analysis that provides insight into a market’s maturity and its participants. Understanding a Magic Quadrant helps companies evaluate a specific market or vendors within that market segment.

Gartner Magic Quadrants provide a graphical positioning of technology and service providers. Gartner uses its Magic Quadrant matrix to evaluate vendors based on their “Completeness of Vision” and “Ability to Execute.” The Magic Quadrant uses internal weighted criteria to plot vendors on a graph based on their relative strengths. The upper-right quadrant is the Leaders segment while the lower-right quadrant shows Visionaries. The lower-left region is Niche players and the upper left is Challengers.

The Magic Quadrant: What You Need to Know

According to industry analyst relations authority, The Knowledge Capital Group, for every dollar spent on analyst advice, $0.87 goes to Gartner (March 2020). Currently, Gartner has 15,000 clients — 70% of which are end-user/buyer customers and 30% of which are vendors. In the contact center market, Gartner analyzes a vendors’ ability to demonstrate market understanding that’s consistent with the needs of customer service organizations.

Below are key points that I have identified relative to the Gartner Magic Quadrant and my personal insights into each:

1. From my perspective, the Magic Quadrant is the gold standard for vendors seeking an achievement they can publish, especially those in the upper quadrants. It identifies vendors that are leaders in respective technologies evaluated. This is a place to also acknowledge vendor improvement over time. Typically, Gartner Magic Quadrant reports are published every one-to-two years. Gartner’s Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) report, now in its fifth year, is updated annually.

2. The Gartner Magic Quadrant has also been the gold standard for enterprise customers making final decisions on a specific platform. They look to the Magic Quadrant to confirm a final decision.  In our experience working with large enterprise clients and with Gartner, clients often ask where vendors appear before making a bid; therefore, limiting vendor participation to specific quadrants. Clients commonly leverage us to go through their own procurement RFP and analysis — and then create a shortlist of possible vendor candidates for their contact center platform.

In some cases, especially for large-spend technology investments, clients will engage Gartner for its input via a short call to confirm that the direction they’re moving in is confirmed with any potential risks that Gartner notes.

3. When making a final decision, many of our clients want to know where the vendors stand in the Gartner Magic Quadrant. However, while this is one consideration, it’s not an absolute requirement in our process. We encourage clients to also consider the following:

    • A strong RFP that outlines, in detail, the client’s requirements in the short-term and long- term for the contact center technologies as well as results they’re seeking to support their customer and prospect base.
    • Results from the RFP analysis performed, including vendor services, technology, and overall cost.
    • Insight into what other colleagues in their industry are doing and industry associations they belong to, including which vendors and services they’re using and which ones they have had success with for an application similar to that of our client’s.
    • Product reviews collected from various resources.

4. From our perspective, some clients won’t consider a vendor who is not in the upper right quadrant of the MQ. We don’t require this as part of our analysis. But we reference the MQ as one of the resources for making a final decision, including strengths and cautions that Gartner notes. In specific cases, we might consider and highlight Niche or Visionary vendors, if the vendor requirements meet the client’s needs in very specific areas.

5. Periodically, Gartner changes the MQ inclusion requirements i.e. having a global presence or not. In 2020, the Magic Quadrant for Contact Center as a Service changed its inclusion and exclusion criteria for providers to demonstrate sales, market and operational presence in North America and Europe and, optionally, any of the following regions: South America (including Central America); Asia/Pacific; and the Middle East and Africa.

The world is getting smaller and customer experience is paramount for any company providing products or services. According to a Walker study, in 2020 customer experience will exceed product and price as the most important criteria for a customer making a decision. Those vendors who provide a global reach are acknowledged with this change.  Contact centers are on the front end of customer experience; this includes those offshore, which extend the contact center reach of an organization. And, in my opinion, in the last 36 months, these offshore contact centers have gotten much better in terms of their ability to service the customer quickly and readily. This wasn’t the case three years ago.

A Magic Quadrant on a global scale also supports vendors that can work internationally across multiple time zones, including ‘follow-the-sun’ requirements. It’s an important acknowledgment of changes taking place in the contact center market; companies’ awareness of customer experience is front and center. This global aspect now gives our clients the ability to do on-shore and offshore contact center requirements seamlessly while leveraging the customer journey.

6. Specific to the contact center, Gartner now focuses on the CCaaS market in its Magic Quadrant for Contact Center as a Service and no longer uses an MQ to evaluate on-premises-based solutions. Depending on the client that we’re working for, some have already moved to the cloud as a baseline for going forward. Others that are more prone to PCI and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance still work with an on-premises solution to manage any financial or client risk exposure.

For most of our clients, RFPs are built for both cloud and on-premises solutions – clients still want the option of both cloud or on-premises solutions and are more open to CCaaS than they were just 24 months ago. We’re also finding that cloud is being used to test drive larger contact center applications going forward. Companies know that there’s a more manageable monthly opex cost compared to a fully loaded capex cost for on-premises solutions as they evaluate their overall contact center needs.

In health care, for example, many contact centers are actually small hunt groups (agents) or Uniform Call Distribution (UCD) groups with no reporting capabilities. As health care becomes more patient experience-focused, reporting and multiple channels become front and center. Therefore, these hunt and UCD groups become eligible for contact centers. Identifying the needs early on and building them on a cloud platform lets the client pay as they go — until they have a full understanding of what they need to convert.

Balance Out Your Evaluation Process

Over time, we’ve found that most internal client specialists have their favorite sources to assist with evaluations. A company might have a long-standing relationship with a particular vendor and, therefore, it’s prone to moving towards that vendor. The Gartner Magic Quadrant is a good source to leverage Gartner knowledge of the market and its vendors. Clients also leverage us for an independent view of the contact center vendor landscape.

We recommend using the Gartner Magic Quadrant as a resource in the evaluation — but not the only resource:

  • Consider each vendor and the strengths of the value-added reseller distribution network and geography to understand how they can support you and your enterprise — not the agent network that’s reselling without technical resources.
  • Consider any vendor incumbency and any strong history with the customer.
  • Discuss and brainstorm with us about which vendors you might require based on your environment or other criteria as well as who can support the client in the short and long term.

A key area to keep in mind is that the Gartner Magic Quadrant is written for the Gartner client base. Gartner acknowledges that 80% of them are late adopters. I recommend that you treat the Gartner Magic Quadrant as a tool but don’t use it as a crutch for making an informed decision. Use specific criteria developed in an RFP for your actual needs, including servicing, technology, and cost as the main criteria for making an intelligent decision for a vendor that you’ll likely have a relationship with for the next seven to 10 years. Treat the Magic Quadrant as a touchpoint in your decision-making process — not an endpoint in your buying process.

Get a complimentary copy of the 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Contact Center as a Service report. 


Gartner Magic Quadrant for Contact Center as a Service, Steve Blood, Drew Kraus, Pri Rathnayake, 9th November 2020.

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product, or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.