Dutch software firm Compuware has questioned the objectivity of international analyst firm Gartner Group after seeing its competitive ranking drop in the past six months, while the one of its arch rival takes the lead.
Compuware - which ships the Uniface tool and claims to be the fifth largest independent software vendor in the world - has asked Gartner to explain its rankings of the main application development vendors in a July research paper.
The Enterprise AD Tools Magic Quadrant 2000 categorises suppliers as leaders, challengers, visionaries or niche players according to their ability to execute and the perceived completeness of their vision.
The Gartner research puts Compuware among the five leading suppliers alongside IBM, Oracle, Forte and Sterling Software. But Compuware's ability to execute its strategy has fallen since the last evaluation six months ago. In contrast, Forte has risen to take overall leadership position.
Roy Franzen, Compuware's general manager of Uniface product line, said he wanted to know upon what criteria Gartner had based its assessment, claiming that Forte's revenues did not warrant its position in the rankings.
"I think there is probably more subjectivity to the evaluations than [Gartner] would like to admit," he said. "I want to know from them what we have to do to make the right moves. Forte has been bunjee jumping over the quadrant."
He added that the rankings were likely to be more important in the US market than in Europe where analyst judgment carry enormous weight with corporate buyers.
"It matters very much over there," he said. "There's no point in briefing a Gartner Europe analyst because the quadrants are compiled in the US."
Mike Belchar, Gartner's vice president of application development technologies, said the quadrant is drawn up according to hundreds of criteria based on a Strategic Analysis Report. He added that Gartner's Decision Drivers organisation sells a tools selection package that can customise criteria to suit client needs.
"If a client wanted to compare Sterling vs Forte vs IBM vs Compuware, the software would have Gartner ratings for each of those vendor's products in the tool and produce a ranking of these products based on the (default) criteria weighting," he explained. "But the client could decide which criteria weightings they wanted to change."
If a client decides functionality is more important than the default weighting, then this can be recalculated and the ratings re-ordered.
Gartner's Blechar concluded: "It allows the good feeling that a proven methodology looking at broad based requirements is being used and is based on Gartner evaluations of how well the vendors meet the criteria, not subjective ones by the evaluators."
Martin Sprinzen, chief executive officer of Calfornia based Forte, said: " "Gartner has consistently ranked us in the top quadrant, and we're very proud to receive an even higher ranking on our ability to execute. In the majority of our sales cycles, when we discuss the evaluation process, Gartner's input ranks high on the list."
He added: "Overall, I'd say we've continued to go up in analyst recommendations because we recognize and respond to change quickly. Software in general is very competitive, particularly at the enterprise level, and competitive advantage and technical strength are paramount. Many vendors in what used to be the mainstream tools market, have learned this lesson the hard way."
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