A Compass For the Value of Software Decisions

Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Digital Commerce 2022

November 3, 2022 / Sama Fraij

Anyone looking to orient themselves in the sprawling world of global e-commerce technology will be hard-pressed to find a single source of information more widely circulated than Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce. Technology vendors, their customers, and partners in each respective ecosystem await the IT consulting juggernaut’s yearly publication in suspense, always on the lookout for changes in their own, as well as their competitors’ position in the quadrant.

It goes without saying that for us, this is also very much the case. Just this summer, we saw some of the technologies we use daily included yet again – namely Spryker, commercetools and Oro Commerce. Our longtime partner Spryker, for example, which has offered a basis for many of our commerce platform projects for over seven years now, was recognized as a “Visionary”.

That’s reason enough to dive into the Magic Quadrant more deeply. What does it actually show us and why is that relevant for the organizations we work for and us? To find answers, we spoke to Managing Director Christopher Möhle.

Christopher, what does the Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ show us?

At a very basic level, I see the Gartner Magic Quadrant as a tool for assessing and comparing the various technologies in the commerce field. It provides a valuable synthesis of various dimensions that anyone making technological decisions needs to take into account. The Magic Quadrant combines each solution’s level of innovativation with its level of execution. Is a certain vendor pushing the ecommerce market forward or following others? And how well is it equipped to carry out its vision?

Though it is often misunderstood as such, the Magic Quadrant is not so much a ranking from top to bottom, but actually a map. It offers guidance: some companies may be looking for the most innovative software, others for the most proven track record, and still others for that small niche solution that handles their specific use cases well. Commerce is not a one-size-fits-all world. And the Magic Quadrant is a first step towards assessing which technologies suit your own strategic development.

Christopher Möhle

So, how is a ranking in the Magic Quadrant relevant for us as a tech agency?

That’s easy: we look out for technologies that suit companies we in turn are best suited to work with. In our case, that’s mostly large corporates with highly complex, custom business processes in their commerce and wider business operation. This usually means a high level of technological ambition, a strong need for flexibility, and constant evolution. With that in mind, we look at how technologies are positioned that can best solve highly complex problems our clients and we deal with every day. In recent years, that has often meant working with the newer, fast-growing solutions like Spryker or commercetools, depending on the client’s individual requirements. This is especially important when it comes to projects such as marketplaces, B2B procurement platforms, wholesale platforms, customer portals with contract management and more.

What are your top takeaways from the Magic Quadrant 2022?

In the upper right corner, the “Leaders”, we see a mixture of monolithic, safe options that not only work well, but offer a high level of scalability. They mostly offer a proven track record and high market penetration; in essence the options that have been tried and tested for years and years. Compare this with more recently established, “punk” players like Spryker and commercetools, which are quickly moving up and becoming market leaders in their own right. This captures a change in the market, as companies are moving from strictly monolithic solutions to more and more flexible ones. Nowadays, it is seen as less risky for a large, globally operating corporate to go for a modular or even a microservices approach, and that has really changed over the years.

That being said, I would also add that there has not been much happening these days when it comes to really new approaches in commerce. We are seeing solutions that came on the scene a few years back now coming into their own and increasingly finding acceptance in the market. In many cases, it’s not so much a matter of finding a new technology, but rather confirming the fact that the technology already in use is still the best fit. Tools like the Magic Quadrant act like a compass for the strategic value of software decisions.

And, what does the ranking of technologies we use mean for us and our clients?

Basically, Gartner’s publication serves as a kind of validator for technological decisions, similar to relying on an external consultant to confirm a business decision you’ve made. For us, the higher technologies are ranked in the quadrant, the greater the market potential for us as a service provider. The more a technology moves ahead on the completeness of vision axis, the more potential it has for the kind of companies we tend to work for – often offering them a more flexible approach. The higher it rises on the execution axis, the more it is perceived as an established, less risky option – but also generally more expensive.

For clients, knowing how the technologies a service provider has in its stack are ranked in the quadrant makes the process of choosing an agency easier. Why? Because it offers an indication of what to expect from the agency, be it in the level of professionalism in their workflows or the expected investments required.

Christopher, thanks for the chat!

Sama Fraij
Brand and Communications Specialist