Gartner Magic Quadrant 2014 for Enterprise Search

by | Jul 22, 2014 | General, Search

For ten years in my somewhat diversified career I managed large IT market analysis teams, initially for IDC and then for Logica. Preparing vendor analyses was a core element of the work of the teams and we knew that subscribers would read every word and every line between the lines. One highlight was flying in HP’s corporate jet to present an independent view of HP’s server markets to meetings in Lausanne and then Cannes. Those were the days! So I have some idea of the challenges faced by Whit Andrews and Hanns Koehler-Kruener in developing the Gartner MQ for Enterprise Search.

Miles Kehoe has already published an assessment of the report highlighting some of the apparent inconsistencies in the report and I would broadly concur with his comments. Criticisms of the MQ are usually levelled both at the selection of vendors and the comments about the vendors. I was certainly very surprised to see IHS listed when Funnelback was relegated to a passing mention. The exclusion of SharePoint on the basis that it is not sold as an independent product is understandable but skews the analysis as my guess would be that the combined installed base of SharePoint search must make it the most widely adopted of all search applications.  However it is important to remember that Gartner clients are able to talk to Whit and Hanns about their views on the market and that what is released is just a summary of the main outcomes of their research. It must have been a greater challenge than usual this year as open-source applications grow rapidly in sophistication and adoption level.

From my perspective as an independent search consultant the MQ does enable me to have good discussions with clients as all the major vendors are set out in the document and I can add value to the Strengths and Cautions analysis based on my own experience. It also enables me to start discussions about what clients actually want from a search application, and what trade-offs will be acceptable. Sadly the Real Story Group has discontinued its reports on search software and Forrester seems to be ignoring enterprise search, certainly from a vendor comparison viewpoint. Fortunately Dave Schubmehl and his colleagues at IDC track the search and content analytics markets but as with Gartner the reports come with a significant price tag if you are not a subscriber. My overall view is that the search community should be grateful to Gartner for (in effect) releasing the report through some its clients. (I downloaded it from Coveo – thank you!)  It is a good starting point for discussion, and Garter would be the first to emphasise that the published version of the MQ should not be seen as the sum of all the knowledge the consultancy has about this sector.

Martin White