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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Gartner's HR Magic Quadrant: A (Strong) Rebuttal - Updated Sep. 2018

The 2017 edition

For someone whose HR technology career includes a couple of years as an analyst with a Gartner-like outfit (Paris-based CXP), I keep an eye out for what Gartner, IDC, Forrester and a flurry of new analyst entrants produce. Apart from some comments in LinkedIn discussions, I hadn't dedicated a full post on these research firms. Gartner's latest Magic Quadrant dedicated to cloud HR gives me the opportunity to share some inconvenient truths (some of which I already aired in my book, High-Tech Planet : Secrets of an IT Road Warrior.)
There is a lot in the report that I agree with because it is simply common sense or knowledge, just like if Gartner were to state that water boils at 100° C I would agree with that. But that doesn't mean that I do not disagree with a lot, too. And there are quite a few findings that are misleading, inaccurate, odd if not altogether bizarre. And some astonishing omissions.

Methodology-wise, Gartner is guilty of equating mid-market size in the US with Europe. As anybody who has done any market research would know, SMBs tend to be larger in the US vs Europe. The cloud definition misses out completely the private-cloud variant (Oracle recently renamed theirs Cloud @ Customer - which I always found an oxymoron.)

Speaking of Oracle, one can only wonder that it is put so close behind SAP SuccessFactors (SF) when all empirical research shows it should be closer to Ultimate which, in many respects, should rate higher than Oracle, anyway. Gartner then commits the unforgivable crime of belting out features like a good parrot without discussing their value. Why? Oracle Work-Like Solutions is a good example of vaporware, nobody’s interested in it but because Oracle stresses it in its Analyst Day presentations Gartner dutifully presents it too. Why can't Gartner be honest and tell us that customers licensing it (never mind actually using it) are few and far between?  Because  Gartner takes money from vendors, so it is not free to write what it wants.

                                                              The 2018 Edition

Sep. 2018: Oracle’s vision better than Workday? (Last year it was SAP which was ahead of Workday - see below) The company that (in)famously pooh-phoned the cloud before scrambling to tweak  Fusion to have it hosted? (Remember that I coined faux-Saas in Oracle’s “honor”) So, Oracle displays better vision than Workday, the vendor that in less than a decade has managed to win the hearts and minds of HR? Laughable. How can the new Fusion Recruiting module gets such accolades when NOBODY is live on it? I have been involved in more HRIS evaluation exercizes than most of you have had hot dinners, and no HR user has ever expressed any admiration at Oracle’s HR vision, especially not in the cloud. Gartner just buys all the marketing crap that Oracle sends its way, lock, stock and barrel and delivers it to us with no critique whatsoever, just like the customer numbers that Gartner hasn’t audited: but if a vendor claims they have 2,000 customers, then it must be as true as Holy Writ. Preposterous.

Why doesn’t Gartner tell you that more Oracle PeopleSoft customers move to the cloud with Workday than with Oracle Fusion (which Oracle wants you to believe is true cloud by slapping the moniker cloud on it – which Gartner dutifully obliges.)

Putting SAP ahead of Workday on …Vision? Is Gartner deranged? Who in their right mind can countenance such an absurd claim: Workday with its single line of code, true SaaS offering, revolutionary UI, workflow, reporting, same-platform payroll, pionnering Community. And SAP is ahead? With SF? Completely silly.

SF Employee Central (EC)  figures are not accurate: As usual with these mainstream analysts, such figures are accepted from the vendor's mouth, lock, stock and barrel - not verified. I am on record for being very critical with vendor-provided figures, but Gartner considers them like Holy Writ. Also, to mention "EC payroll" is, again, just parroting the vendor with no critical thinking: There is no such think as EC Payroll but good old SAP Payroll, just like there is no such thing as Oracle HCM Cloud but just  a rebranding of  Fusion, which is available on-premise as well. I can understand the vendor trying to mislead the customer, but the analyst doing it, too? How shameful! Gartner clearly makes a lot of money from SAP and Oracle, and being in their pay it has to put lipstick on their pigs.

Sep. 2018: As for SAP, Gartner aids and abets vendors in their well-trodden path of misleading customers, when it parrots the false claim of SuccessFactors’ “supported payrolls for 42 countries”. As I have denounced SAP for so long, that is BS, pure and simple (can BS be pure?) We the cognoscenti know it is just good ole SAP Payroll hosted and interfaced to SF. GARTNER: stop lying to customers by feeding them false information. You have just become an extension of vendors’ marketing organizations.

Very odd to see Talentia and Ramco which I NEVER ran into in any bid having pride of place (well, sort of) in this report. Just because you need to put a logo on your fancy diagram, doesn't mean that you should make up analysis. Ramco has no meaningful presence in either the US or Europe, which represent the lion's share of the global HRIS market. Shouldn't be there...yet!
Sep. 2018: Other examples of absurd findings: Ramco having 40 payrolls! Really? Only SAP (on-premise), after several decades, was able to provide that many localized payrolls. Not even PeopleSoft, for so long the best HR system around, was able to get close. Workday, PeopleSoft’s successor, has barely managed a couple of payrolls, and Gartner wants us to believe that Ramco, with limited financial and human resources vs Workday (or Oracle,) has been able  to produce so many payrolls. Puh-lease!

Same thing with Kronos whose only claim to HRIS fame is that it is the Time Management leader (I positively hate the term “WFM”), but it doesn’t have the footprint to be considered  a suite. Where is its global HR Admin (or Core HR)? And yet Gartner says it is one of its criteria, as it should be. Cornerstone has much stronger credentials to feature in the report than Kronos since it has a (light) Core HR offering. And yet the Santa Monica-based vendor is nowhere to be seen. As glaring omissions go, this one is simply bizarre.

Meta4? The zombie vendor? If you consider Meta4 as a cloud vendor just because its offering can be hosted, then why not have PeopleSoft? It can also be hosted, and is as much on life support as Meta4 is. But Gartner takes money from vendors, so it is not free to write what it wants. The shared vs public cloud is not as meaningful as the private cloud (Cloud  @ Customer as Oracle calls it) which doesn’t even get a mention. I wonder why. And of course, as is usual with those pseudo-independent analysts, many figures are given, not verified. Very sad when analysts become an extension of vendors’ marketing departments.

Echo-chamber mentality
Mind you, there are times when a vendor dares produce a truly independent analysis. A couple of years ago Forrester wrote about the low customer uptake of Oracle Fusion. The vendor immediately retaliated by cutting all funding. Since then Forrester has been toing the line. As with Gartner, you can't bite the hand that feeds you. Forrester's latest report is a case in point where it becomes almost indistinguishable from Gartner's. Lesson learned, you might (and can) say.

Along with many others, I have been demanding of Gartner & Co to commit not to take any paid assignment from vendors and avoid making money from them. But they refuse to put an end to this inherent conflict of interest and therefore lose in credibility and ability to produce unbiased analysis. It is a disservice to user organizations to make them believe otherwise.

Sep. 2018: Great minds think alike. Independent analyst Shaun Snapp from Brightwork Research just published a cogent analysis documenting Gartner's inherent conflict of interests.

Another weakness of this type of analyst reports, is that since most of these analysts have NEVER implemented an HRIS, they completely ignore the issues related with implementation. What’s the point of selecting the best HRIS in the world if you can’t find resources to implement it? Or they are too expensive? Or the methodology is fuzzy? Or the SI ecosystem is half-baked? Or building reports or maintaining workflows is too  cumbersome? Or if change management leads to customer rejection? Nothing whatsoever in the Gartner report. This is like recommending a car based on several great features, but forgetting to ask the prospective buyer whether they can drive. Largely pointless.  I checked the LinkedIn profiles of the analysts involved in the report: the "stars" (Hanscombe, Lougee, Poitevin) and most of the others have ZERO to little cloud implementation experience. And yet here they are pontificating about something they have limited knowledge of. How reassuring.

Check out my analysis done with my own two ten fingers, with no paid assignment accepted from any vendor and you'll see the difference: SOW -  A Comparison of 3 Cloud HR Vendors: SAP, Oracle and Workday.  I firmly believe that there is a lot to be said for critical thinking, lack of bias and independence. 

The blogger/analyst/consultant is continuing his World Localization Tour as part of one of the largest global HRIS projects in the world. After Brazil last week, he is now in Argentina presenting the prototype to HR representatives from several Spanish-speaking countries. NEXT STOPS: France, Spain and Turkey.

NOTE ON BUENOS AIRES: For anybody currently in the Americas' most beautiful capital city, I strongly recommend Fuerza Bruta, a terrific Cirque du Soleil-like  show at the Centro Cultural de Recoleta. And, of course, enjoy the amazing architecture, large avenues (9 de Julio is the world's largest avenue with 18 lanes), numerous parks and the world's best meat. If you are staying near Avenida Corrientes (Buenos Aires' answer to the Big Apple's Time Square) as I am, Chiquilin is a great option. I will later dedicate a full-length post to HR technology in Spanish-speaking Latin America (already done it for Brazil.)


  1. Always intresting to read your blogs and see your point of view with good analysis

  2. Finally someone is willing to describe the clothes Gartner is wearing!

  3. Looking forward to read that Latam blog post. thanks from MX HRIS Project Manager

  4. I've been part of 3 RFPs and Implementations that involved Oracle HCM, SF SAP and Workday. I'm a Enterprise Architect so I understand that, whilst not perfect in terms of capability, Workday's principles and technology strategy are so much better place than Oracle & SAP. I once described Oracle & SF SAP as a technology companies that happen to have a HR application whereas Workday, a HR company that truly understand the product. I have presented Total Cost of Ownership models for all three, the attractiveness with Oracle & SAP is the short term financial gain, but senior management seem to fall for it. Workday is clearly more expensive on licensing and initial capital outlay, but I do not believe it's more expensive over the long run if you consider the maintenance, f ups, delivery and complexity of both Oracle HCM and SP SAP. By the way, out of my three implementations, 2 have been Oracle and 1 Workday so I didn't always get my way.

  5. Working for a large US multi-national we have a number of those quadrant apps in use in the HR space. We do have Ramco for Singapore and India payrolls but core HCM is one of the established vendors. I was amused to see how Ramco capitalized on their new found status though by giving it a 'David vs Goliath' spin on their website. Agreeing with you that they're a small player but impressed that they're playing up on that image rather than giving it a full service marketing spin.