Having published our second KuppingerCole Leadership Compass (on Access Governance) some ten days ago – with many others in the pipeline – I want to look at a blog post Michael Rasmussen, a former Forrester analyst and now an independent GRC expert, published in October 2012.

I do not want to comment on the Gartner Magic Quadrant and MarketScope or the Forrester Wave. I also do not fully share the opinion of Michael Rasmussen on these. His major complaint is that documents like the ones mentioned tend to be too mono-dimensional for the needs of the customer. From my perspective, there is a value in all of these documents, if used the right way. Clearly, it is not only about picking the upper left vendor – he might be the best in the overall, condensed analyst view. Nevertheless, he is not necessarily the best one for the problem a customer wants to solve. However, for identifying a long-list of vendors, such views are quite helpful.

In our Leadership Compass documents, we take another approach. There are four categories of leaders:

  • Product Leaders (Product features, maturity, etc.)
  • Market Leaders (Number of customers, ecosystem, global reach, etc.)
  • Innovation Leaders (Current – not past – innovativeness, support for upcoming requirements, etc.)
  • Overall Leaders (Combined rating)

Beyond that, we have matrices that relate product and market leadership, product and innovation leadership, and market and innovation leadership. This allows, for example, identifying vendors that are highly innovative but still have some way to go to become both product and market leaders. For some requirements, these vendors might be the best pick. Others might opt for the ones that are current product and market leaders, even while some of them might not be highly innovative.

Leadership Compass

Michael Rasmussen illustrated this in his post by noting that some customers might need a GRC vendor that is strong in Risk Management, while others might look for one with a particular strength in Audit or Policy Management.

I fully agree. However, from my perspective the customer not only needs that information, he needs a view that relates a particular strength (or weakness) to the overall product rating. A customer might start with a focus on a particular challenge, like Risk Management for Enterprise GRC products. However, over time he will in most cases need a product offering that serves all other Enterprise GRC aspects as well, at least at an adequate level. We provide that information in the additional matrices we have added to the KuppingerCole Leadership Compass on Access Governance. We will add them to upcoming Leadership Compass documents as well.

The figure above gives one example. This view shows the strength of products for SAP-specific requirements on Access Governance – the depth provided for SAP environment – in relation to the overall product rating. While the Product Leaders are the ones on the right side, the best products for SAP-specific Access Governance are the ones more to the top. SAP GRC is the clear leader when it comes to SAP-specific features, but it is not the leader when it comes to overall Access Governance functionality for heterogeneous environments.

When looking at that matrix, a customer can opt for a solution that is fairly good in both areas. He might also opt for a combined solution where he picks a specific solution for the SAP environment and another one for “the rest of the world”.

These matrices add information and provide a multi-dimensional view of the market. Michael Rasmussen is right in his complaint that not all of the products in a market segment can be easily put into the same box. However, defining market segments and identifying players therein is important for customers when they start solving a challenge and looking for vendors.

One thing I want to add: Documents such as our KuppingerCole Leadership Compass are just one of many aids customers should use in making decisions. Besides strategy, guidelines, processes, and organization, a vendor selection process needs several stages. Documents like the Leadership Compass assist in identifying long-list vendors and even short-list vendors. However, they cannot replace further evaluation, with request for information based on the specific challenges of the customer or a PoC. That is why we provide both the KuppingerCole Leadership Compass and additional advisory services to support the customer in these subsequent stages.