Make the Best of Gartner’s WMS Magic Quadrant
Published on 12 January 2023
If you’ve been researching and shortlisting Warehouse Management Systems for your company, chances are you’ve come across the Gartner WMS Magic Quadrant a few times already. Touted as the most reliable reference in the business, Gartner’s yearly report offers prospective buyers valuable information about leading WMS providers on the market. It’s no surprise, then, that it never fails to be mentioned by vendors who made the list.
If you haven’t yet taken a moment to give it a read, you most certainly should—and can do so here.
Useful though it may be, the Magic Quadrant’s wealth of information can be daunting. As stated in the report, “there’s near-functional parity for core WMS capabilities across WMS providers” who made the list. Which is to say that, when it comes to differentiating and evaluating the different WMS options on the market, the devil is in the details. And, when the devil lurks about, one can easily be led astray.
This piece is meant as a quick guide to Gartner’s WMS Magic Quadrant. The objective is to help you better understand its content so that you may draw the right conclusions in your efforts to identify a WMS solution adapted to your company’s requirements.
How the Magic Quadrant Evaluates WMS Vendors and Service Providers
The first thing to understand about the report are the two criteria that fundamentally structure its evaluation of WMS vendors and service providers: Completeness of Vision and the Ability to Execute.
“Completeness of Vision” evaluates a vendor’s overall understanding of the market, their awareness of new innovations, and their vision for next-generation WMS and Supply Chain Execution (SCE) solutions. It also takes into account a company’s willingness to invest in addressing their solution’s TCO and the customer’s time to value. Another thing it measures is the sum of a vendor’s proven efforts to develop an SCE convergence strategy.
As for the “Ability to Execute”, it refers to a WMS vendor’s track record in commercializing, delivering, and deploying innovative solutions. It looks at a vendor’s ability to effectively translate its customers’ business goals and objectives into specific WMS functional requirements. Gartner’s analysts also measure a vendor or service provider’s ability to deliver value through service, consulting, and training, on top of the company’s long-term viability.
How the Magic Quadrant Evaluates WMS Capabilities
Of course, the report also looks into the actual products being marketed, the Warehouse Management Systems themselves. On top of core and extended WMS capabilities, the Gartner report considers a number of WMS features.
It looks, for instance, at the strengths and limitations of a WMS’s technical architecture, how those affect its integration capabilities. The evaluation also accounts for how a WMS is able to support cross-functional process orchestration (think, for example, of how Solochain WMS can serve to bolster a company’s back-office capabilities through integration with its ERP system).
Time to market, time to value, and the quality of technical support are important to WMS buyers, as those can have a significant impact on ROI. Consequently, the Magic Quadrant attributes a lot of importance to the tools and the technology included in the WMS that are meant to facilitate the solution’s implementation and its continuous development.
And then there’s the WMS’s long-term viability. A WMS represents a significant investment, and one that fundamentally structures a company’s operations. Once in place, it’s unlikely to change for years to come. It’s therefore critical that the system be able to deliver the required efficiencies and competitive edge companies seek in a WMS for the foreseeable future.
How to Leverage the Magic Quadrant to Select the Right WMS
Now, if you’re anything like me, the first thing you did when you opened the report is go straight to the Magic Quadrant itself:
As we can see, the two criteria discussed above structure the graph. However, we’re also given new concepts: Niche Players, Visionaries, Leaders, and Challengers.
At first glance, it would be tempting to assume that prospective buyers should immediately opt for a WMS from the companies that rank well in the Leaders quadrant. That assumption, however, would be misguided. Put it this way: everybody wants the fancy car, but an ATV might be better suited to your needs if a forest is where you do your driving.
The point is, when buying a WMS, it’s critical to select a system that is truly adapted to your operation’s level of complexity. It’s equally important that the solution’s Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) be aligned with your company’s financial capability.
The Magic Quadrant considers several types of vendors, from application mega-vendors, like Oracle and SAP, to independent software vendors like the Generix Group. Most of the Leaders seen above are mega-vendors who intend their WMS for very complex operations with high levels of automation, companies that require advanced functionalities from their WMS that less complex operations do not. Needless to say: such WMS functionalities drive up its TOC.
Statistics show, however, that the majority of warehouse operations are not so complex as to require expensive advanced functionalities. Everything else being equal, most companies are far more interested in:
- Ease of use
- Service and support
- WMS features that are adapted to their industry
- A lower TOC
Therefore, unless your company operates at Gartner’s Level 4 or 5 of complexity, you are far more likely to maximize your ROI by looking into the systems sold by specialist suite vendors, many of which are found in the Niche Players quadrant. To help you find out which is best adapted to your operation, Gartner summarizes its findings in the Magic Quadrant.
Take, for example, a growing company in the Food & Beverage industry that processes and distributes meal kits. While it would benefit from any of the WMS in the Magic Quadrant, it appears that the SOLOCHAIN WMS/MES sold by Generix provides features that are perfectly well adapted to its requirements. SOLOCHAIN comes fully integrated with Manufacturing Execution System capabilities and Generix provides a portfolio of SCM solutions to manage all distribution logistics. SOLOCHAIN is available as SaaS, which significantly reduces the initial expenditures to acquire it, making it fare more accessible to most companies than a more complex solution.
SOLOCHAIN, further reports Gartner, boasts powerful visual tools that facilitate, accelerate, and enhance implementation. Furthermore, its model-driven architecture and built-in integration capabilities make it one of the most configurable and scalable solution in its category.
At the end of the day, the Magic Quadrant enables prospective buyers to determine that, while SOLOCHAIN may not be implemented in many Level 5 warehouse operations, it offers all the features a meal kitting company might require of its WMS to support current operations, scale with agility, and protect its capital.
Beyond the Magic Quadrant: Gartner’s Critical Capabilities for WMS
Gartner’s Magic Quadrant is an indispensable resource for any company on the market for a WMS. So is its companion piece, Gartner’s Critical Capabilities for WMS. In that report, Gartner shifts the focus from vendor to product as it takes a much more in-depth look at WMS features such as: core and extended capabilities, adaptability, usability, ability to support automated MHE and distribution environments, etc.
Together, these reports empower stakeholders at distribution and manufacturing companies to select the Warehouse Management System best adapted to their requirements, to the complexity of their existing infrastructure, and to their financial resources.
About Generix Group North America
At Generix Group North America, we provide a series of solutions within our Supply Chain Hub product suite to create efficiencies across your entire supply chain. Our solutions are in use around the world and our experience is second-to-none.
We invite you to contact us to learn more.
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