As a business leader, who doesn’t want to be in the upper right hand portion of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant! Assuming you have been charted there, it means that the analysts believe your product or solution has scored high in both the ‘Completeness of Vision’ as well as ‘Ability to Execute’ categories. And if you are not in the upper right portion, the question on everyone’s mind is “how do I get there”?

Having a firm understanding of the methodology used in tools like the Magic Quadrant would be helpful, and would also serve as a good basis for a more holistic approach to your competitive intelligence process.

One such methodology is the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP).  Developed at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) is recognized as the leading theory in multi-criteria decision making … especially when it comes to high technology. The hierarchical decomposition model that utilizes 6 weighted key buying decision criteria is the predecessor to what eventually became the Magic Quadrant. The weighting generally is specific to the industry being addressed.

The mistake most people make when approaching the competitive positioning process is not understand all of the criteria, and merely focusing on functionality and/or cost. The reality is that in many cases, these two criteria will make up only about 1/3 of the overall decision. So what are the criteria?  While they may vary by industry, I have generally found that these 6 will suffice:

  1. Functionality – what are the key capabilities/features of the solution
  2. Architecture – to what extent does the solution focus on the “…ilities”
  3. Cost – what is the total cost of ownership of the solution
  4. Services – what additional services supplement the product offering for additional value
  5. Viability – how strong is the company offering the solution
  6. Vision – how does the solution fit into a broader vision/story moving forward

If you are limiting yourself to only focus on features/functions, you are not positioning your solutions in the best light with your sales teams and/or to external constituents. Fred Webster, Amos Tuck School of Business Administration, Dartmouth College once stated that “superior marketing is a more sustainable source of unique competitive advantage than superior technology in global markets”. The marketing story needs to be a broader, more complete approach. That is what will land you in the upper right hand quadrant!

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