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Gartner Magic Quadrant for IT Service Support Management Tools (ITSSM) 2012

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The extra 's' - a genuine new market definition or marketing fluff?

Gartner have recently published their Magic Quadrant for IT Service Support Management (ITSSM).

The research includes Axios Systems, BMC, CA Technologies, Cherwell Software, EasyVista, FrontRange Solutions, Hornbill, HP, IBM, LANDesk and ServiceNow.

In a nutshell:

  • BMC came out on top, closely followed by ServiceNow
  • Everybody else is sat uncomfortably close together in the ‘must try harder’ niche players quadrant
  • Nobody made it into the ‘leaders quadrant’ (The RFP-shortlist-holy-grail)

What is ‘ITSSM’ anyway?

My first question when beginning to read this new Gartner Magic Quadrant was – what is ITSSM? Where did that extra ‘S’ come from and what does it mean?

The introductory text reads:

“IT service support management (ITSSM) tools offer a tighter integration of functions that correlates with the activities of the broader IT support organization. ITSSM tools leverage a business view of IT services, enabling the IT support organization to quickly resolve or escalate issues and problems, improve root cause isolation, and provide higher levels of business user satisfaction.”

I’m still none the wiser. Still looks like good old ITSM to me.

Marketing Fluff?

In the book ‘The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing’ by Al Ries and Jack Trout we are introduced to the ‘Law of Focus’. The authors argue ‘the most powerful concept in marketing is owning a word in a prospects mind’. The most powerful evidence of this is when a product is so totally engrained in our vernacular that it becomes a verb. We ask for a Coke, we Skype, we Hoover the stairs etc (i.e. one product name dominates the entire sector). This begins to explain why technology companies dream up new and exciting ways to explain markets and cook up new acronyms, to try to own the whole concept for themselves.

Perhaps ‘ITSSM’ is a misguided attempt at this new sector definition.  I think it is marketing fluff and does little to help the market. Would it really be that dreadful to admit dropping the previous ITSM Quadrant was a mistake? If it is a genuine new market sector they’ve done an awful job of defining it and educating the market.

Only Behemoths May Apply

My other criticism of this report, and Gartner Magic Quadrants in general, is over emphasis on global reach.

Some of the global players have an international network of offices that span the globe, but how many of the people in these hundreds of offices know about your product? I would ague that is probably about the same amount of people as the total team of a smaller niche competitor. i.e. BigMegaCorp operates in 50 countries with 20,000 staff and 35 of these people worldwide know about ITSM, compared to the small niche competitor with 35 staff – all of whom know about ITSM.

Similarly, vendors in this report had to have revenues in excess of $10M. Isn’t this threshold cutting out the most exciting and innovative vendors in the sector? The target audience for this report is typically large enterprises – but are they really that risk adverse?

In Richard Stiennon’s recent article he stated that:

“Gartner’s 11,000 clients are the largest organizations in the world and Gartner acknowledges that 80 percent of them are late-adaptors. They are much more likely to buy from HP, IBM, or Oracle than from a start-up with the most cutting-edge solution.”

Is that really the case these days? The old adage of ‘You won’t get fired for buying IBM’ is being replaced by users who can search what they are looking for on Google, buy it using a credit card and get the job done in the Cloud without a second thought.

Rudderless Industry?

Finally, I believe the fact that there are no vendors in the Leaders quadrant is a good reflection of the industry. Once upon a time ITIL aligned processes were the key market differentiator, and then came the ability to deliver in the Cloud – the market is now looking for new leadership and new differentiators.

The report is available here free from BMC.

Martin Thompson

Martin is owner and founder of the The ITAM Review and The ITSM Review.

Martin is also founder and Chair, Campaign for Clear Licensing. A contributor to the British Computer Society (BCS) Configuration Management Group and contributor to the UK itSMF UK Service Transition SIG. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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  • hwangeruk

    I don’t know anyone who loves any of the systems in the Quadrant.
    Given personal experiece of Remedy, ServiceNow, Axios Assyst its easy to see why, the UI is terrible, and everyones needs in terms of service management are so diverse.
    Certainly when you see how terrible the 4GL built dogs dinner of Assyst, and its hideous database backend. I’ve never seen such a mess.

  • Lee Cullom

    Solid points all Martin. I enjoyed this one. I can’t believe it took me a year to find it!