Is it nearly three months since I last updated this blog? I don’t know if other bloggers have the same challenge I find - often issues come up which I want to blog about, but then my thoughts get interrupted, and then the urgency to blog goes away, and that opportunity is lost. Anyway, I now have the issue, the time and the urgency.
I recently found a report by the Gartner analyst organisation from 2010 with some predictions, most interestingly for 2012, but some beyond that. Predictions, like forecasts, are mostly going to be wrong – some in a small way, others in much bigger ways. If your organisation has a sales and operations planning activity, one of the key elements is feeding actual data back into the forecast, so you can see where the forecast was wrong, if incorrect assumptions were made, and most importantly, how you can make more accurate forecasts. I have never seen or heard Gartner do that with their forecasts. So here am I to do it.
Gartner’s top end user predictions in 2010 were:
- by 2012:
- 20% of businesses will own not IT assets
- India-centric IT service companies will represent 20% of the leading cloud aggregators
- Facebook will become the hub for social network integration and web socialization
- 60% of a new PC’s total life greenhouse gas emissions will have occurred before the user first turns on the machine
- for 2013:
- mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common web access device
- by 2014:
- most IT business cases will include carbon remediation costs
- more than 3 billion of the world’s adult population will be able to transact electronically via mobile and Internet technology
- by 2015:
- internet marketing will be regulated
- context will be as influential to mobile consumer services and relationships as search engines are to the web
How are those forecasts looking? For their 2012 predictions, the only one that might be argued as being accurate is number 3 – Facebook. However, even that could be questioned; consider that Saleforce is pushing Chatter as its social network, and Microsoft recently bought Yammer to beef up SharePoint in the social space. Number 1, the cloud prediction, was clearly driven by analyst hype, and is wrong at the moment, so why doesn’t Gartner review this and give another (maybe more realistic) forecast?
The 2013 prediction is interesting because it is definitely coming, I’m just not sure that it will be by next year.
A lot can happen in two years, ask anyone who thought Groupon would be big. So for 2014 I am prepared to accept the second prediction about how many people will be transacting electronically. I doubt the prediction though regarding carbon remediation.
The predictions for 2015 still seem to be extravagant, but who knows what will happen in three years where the Internet is concerned.
Am I being unnecesarily harsh on Gartner about their prediction accuracy? I would be interested to hear what others think.
I was alerted to the 2010 supply chain top 25 report by the AMR division of Gartner. The list of ‘winners’ are:
From an African prespective, it will be interesting to see how Walmart’s strategy to enter the African market via its 51% ownership of Massmart will impact on the supply chain practices of the local competitors.
So Gartner/AMR, do you have any country or regional analysis and predictions for us?
At the end of December 2010, Gartner published the updated version of the “Magic Quadrant for ERP for Product-Centric Midmarket Companies“, aka the mid-market ERP vendors.
Interesting for me is how Gartner has positioned the ERP mega-vendors – SAP, Oracle, Microsoft – compared to the other vendors.
Sometime in the next few months, the Gartner analyst group is going to be releasing an updated Magic Quadrant (MQ) of the mid-market ERP software vendors. The reason I know this is because I was heavily involved in preparing the presentation that SYSPRO gave to the Gartner analysts.
Its an interesting experience to prepare for an MQ session – interesting as in the Chinese curse: may you live in interesting times. Or as a former mentor wrote to me: “the prep for Gartner is a killer and usually disproportionate to the benefit.”
For me, it started several weeks before, documenting the company’s product roadmap. But the work became really intense in the week leading up to the presentation.
If you aren’t familiar with it, Gartner evaluates product and service providers on an MQ against two criteria, made up of different measures:
- Completeness of Vision
- Ability to execute
Under “Completeness of Vision”, the measures and scoring are:
For “Ability to execute”, they are:
|overall financial viability||standard|
|market responsiveness, track record||low|
What first struck me was when I saw Innovation with a low scoring. On further reading of their preparation document, Gartner explained that this score was set because mid-market companies are usually not innovation focused. This corresponds with SYSPRO’s positioning in the market – what we call the ‘pragmatic buyer’. However I was surprised that Track Record was scored low as mid-market decision-makers tend to use word-of-mouth in evaluating suppliers.
Another discrepancy for me was that while Marketing Strategy was scored standard, marketing execution was low. Does this show that Gartner care more about spin than substance? Probably not, as the scores for Sales Execution and Customer Experience are high, indicating that Gartner do look at results and real-life experiences.
One caveat – while Vertical/Industry Strategy has a standard rating, don’t assume this isn’t significant. Other members of our presenting team knew from experience that Gartner like to see industry-focused strategy clearly spelt out.
Before the first call we debated whether we should show the product or discuss it. Our decision and approach was greatly assisted by reading Carol Rozwell’s blog ‘Vendors: suggestions to maximize briefing value’.
We have now done the first conference call, and are waiting for Gartner to get back to us to present their initial ideas and findings – this is to give us an opportunity to respond and suggest amendments.
If you have gone through a Gartner MQ briefing, how did you find it? Do you think it is worth it? It occurs to me that a little wiki could be set up to provide ideas, guidelines and good practices for vendors approaching an MQ call.
There are only two Tier 1 ERP vendors – Oracle and SAP – but there are several Tier 2 vendors (and Microsoft is a Tier 2 vendor in the ERP space, despite what some say). If your company is a large or international business, you don’t have much choice and the chances are high that you are a Tier 1 ERP customer. If, however, the business is a small- or medium-size organisation, or if you have de-centralised divisions, you have a much wider choice of ERP vendors.
In June 2009, the analyst group, Gartner, published its “Magic Quadrant for Midmarket and Tier 2-Oriented ERP for Product-Centric Companies”, which is their evaluation of some major Tier 2 ERP vendors based on two criteria – Ability to Execute, and Completeness of Vision. For some consulting research I was asked to do, I had the opportunity to review the Gartner report and some of the comments that were made about it:
Tough to retire in this economy
The One and Only Choice in SMB ERP: Microsoft Dynamics AX
Gartner Mid-Market ERP Magic Quadrant: Should Have Stayed in Retirement
Gartner’s conservative mid-tier ERP Magic Quadrant
Leaving aside the comments about “where are the SaaS vendors?”, it interested me how analysts, all based in northern hemisphere, 1st World countries, were surprised why some vendors were placed where they were. For example, Frank Scavo’s amazement that:
QAD and Syspro show a better "ability to execute" than any SAP or Oracle product
Epicor Vantage shows a better "completeness of vision" than any SAP or Oracle product
The point is that these vendors have dealt with mid-market customers since they started and understand how those organisations operate and think. As I have mentioned in a previous blog, the super-size IT vendors have such a bloat of bureaucracy that they discourage the smaller, more nimble companies. The only way the Tier 1 ERP vendors can approach small- and mid-size companies is via a reseller channel which can communicate with that market in the appropriate way.
Gartner’s report classed only one Tier 2 ERP product as a leader, Microsoft Dynamics AX (Axapta has it used to be called). This surprised a number of bloggers, including me. The problem is that AX does not have a large customer base, and is more complex to implement than some of the other Tier 2 products. There has been a spate of comments on the ITToolbox ERP selection site about AX, for example, here; finding good and experienced AX implementation partners and consultants is not that easy, compared to a number of the other Tier 2 vendors.
Some people think that, because Microsoft is the global leading brand when it comes to desktop and server software, its ERP software must have the same attributes. Except for the CRM product, its ERP products were acquired – GP (formerly Great Plains) because it was strong in the US and UK, and NAV (Navision) and AX because of their presence in Europe. But as Dennis Howlett noted:
The reality is that Microsoft’s acquired products … don’t travel well. When they do, they travel inconsistently.
Another problem with Microsoft’s Dynamics division is the inconsistency of regional management; to some extent Microsoft is still dominated by a desktop and server marketing and sales mentality.
The Tier 2 vendors to watch are the Challengers as they “have broad and mature ERP systems” – SYSPRO, QAD, Oracle’s JD Edwards Enterprise One (formerly JD Edwards OneWorld), and Infor Syteline. I remember being told some time ago that it was the Challengers that have the best chance of becoming leaders, rather than the Visionaries.
I made a comment recently on how poor the Gartner web site was in terms of quick news analysis. Now I see that they have set up a Gartner blog site, it is already getting updated. Could I have that much influence
Gartner has listed SYSPRO as an ERP provider to the small- to medium-business (SMB) market. At last.
Syspro havent capitalised on it yet by promoting it. SMBs dont usually read or know about Gartner, so SYSPRO needs to get the news out through other channels. Actually, you can’t read the Gartner/Dataquest article on the web site, it requires purchasing the research. Perhaps SYSPRO should look at what other companies do with AMR or Aberdeen, and pay for it to be open to the public.
Another option would be to invite someone like Dennis to a roundtable discussion and let him talk about it on his blog.
How much of Gartner’s predictions are like science fiction?
Sadagopan has a comment about Gartner predictions for expected changes in the industry in the next two years. I don’t know if anyone has ever checked Gartner’s predictions against reality, but I know that back in 2001-2 they were predicting great things for what was then called ERP 2. Five years down the line, those predictions now seem pretty wide of the mark.