Breaking Down Gartner’s Magic Quadrants

Sep 19, 2019

You’ve caught up on the cheat sheet for Gartner’s “Magic Quadrant for Cloud Financial Planning and Analysis Solutions” report but still have questions. Namely, what are the four quadrants anyway? Here, we break down each definition in terms of ability to execute and completeness of vision, as well as provide a list of business intelligence tools that fall under each category. From there, you can decide which route to go.


With a strong ability to execute, Challengers tend to be large vendors in mature markets that choose to minimize risk or avoid disruption. Challengers may have the size and financial resources, their vision, innovation or an overall understanding of market needs may not be proportionate. The products offered by Challengers tend to dominate a large yet shrinking segment of the market. “Challengers can become Leaders if their vision develops,” according to Gartner. “Over time, large companies may move between the Challengers and Leaders quadrants as their product cycles and market needs shift.”

Challenger vendors: Workiva, Kaufman Hall (Axiom Software)


The aptly named Leaders are often the frontrunners when it comes to meeting market demand and demonstrating a level of sustainability as the market evolves. Most importantly, they are the ones paving the way for the industry by focusing on and investing in their offerings, so these vendors are the ones to keep an eye on. With financial strength, Leaders typically have a higher number of customers and a proportionate number of satisfied customers relative to the size of the market while enjoying high visibility within the market. “Leaders typically respond to a wide market audience by supporting broad market requirements,” the report states. “However, they may fail to meet the specific needs of vertical markets or other, more specialized segments.”

Leader vendors: Oracle, Workday (Adaptive Insights), Anaplan, Host Analytics

Niche Players

Niche Players aim their focus on a specific segment within a market in terms of functionality or region for new entrants. In addition to limited implementation and support capabilities and relatively limited customer bases, remaining relevant can be an issue; however, Niche Players typically have reasonably broad functionality. For better or worse, Niche Players vary in terms of execution and vision. According to the report, “A Niche Player may be perfect for your requirements. However, even if you like what a Niche Player offers, if it runs contrary to the direction of the market, it may be a risky choice, as its long-term viability will be threatened.”

Niche Player vendors: Jedox, Kepion


While Visionaries have their pulses on market evolution, their ability to execute can be called into question, especially in growing markets. However, in more mature markets, Visionaries can be competitive and have the ability to stand out, depending on the size of the vendor. Because Visionaries tend to introduce new technology, services or business models, they can be considered high risk/high reward. “Whether Visionaries become Challengers or Leaders may depend on whether customers accept new technologies or whether the vendors can develop partnerships that complement their strengths. Visionaries are sometimes attractive acquisition targets for Leaders and Challengers,” Gartner reports.

Visionary vendors: CCH Tagetik, IBM, OneStream Software, Board International, Vena Solutions, SAP, Prophix