March 22, 2024
XX Minute Read

What happened to the Gartner Data Loss Prevention Magic Quadrant?

Gartner is one of the largest technology research and consulting firms in the world, with tens of thousands of the world’s most important companies relying on its output and services to help CIOs and CISOs make informed business purchasing decisions. Within IT and cybersecurity, one of the largest segments of Gartner’s analysis was the Data Loss Prevention (DLP) industry, with the firm producing a recurring “Magic Quadrant” mapping vendors in the field based on Garter’s assessments of their performance. While the DLP Magic Quadrant has been discontinued as of 2018, we’re going to walk though the story of its significance, what happened to it, and how organizations should think about data loss prevention solutions today.

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What was in the Gartner DLP Magic Quadrant?

The Gartner Magic Quadrant (MQ) reports are a recurring series of market research reports that Gartner produces for a specific industry. These are typically released every 1-2 years in order to keep track with an industry’s developments in real time. If Gartner deems an industry to be stagnant or to have transformed enough to become another industry entirely, it’ll abandon doing a MQ analysis for that industry. This is what happened in the case of Gartner’s magic quadrant report for the data loss prevention market.

Gartner, however, still releases its Gartner DLP market guide that defines the industry landscape while highlighting where individual DLP tools fit. This is an acknowledgment that while standalone “traditional” DLP solutions still exist, broader shifts in the security industry have made competitive evaluation of DLP products in the absence of broader developments—like machine learning, data classification, cloud-based data protection functionality—less valuable. Additionally, consolidation in the DLP space led to little year-over-year change in not just DLP functionality, but the vendors who would appear in Gartner’s assessments.

What is the Criteria for the Gartner DLP Magic Quadrant?

Gartner uses the same criteria for all of its MQ reports. The eponymous quadrant which the report features is a graphical representation of an industry’s top performers on a 2×2 matrix with the Y axis being continuum representing a vendor’s ability to execute and the X axis being a continuum representing a vendor’s completeness of vision.

Gartner’s “ability to execute” evaluation includes the following criteria:

  • Product or service. This criteria refers to the core goods/services provided by a vendor relative to other vendors in the industry and to standard features within the market. Gartner evaluates the competitiveness of a vendor’s capabilities and feature sets.
  • Overall viability. This criteria evaluates a vendor’s overall financial health and likelihood that a vendor will maintain investment in its core feature set.
  • Sales execution/pricing. This evaluates the competitiveness of a vendor’s sales function to determine how well a vendor competes on price.
  • Market responsiveness/track record. This criteria uses a vendor’s past track record to determine how well it can innovate, pivot, or otherwise change direction based on the direction a market might be going.
  • Marketing execution. This refers to how well a vendor can communicate its point of view and promote its brand within the marketplace.
  • Customer experience. This criteria evaluates relationships, products, and services, and programs that enable clients to succeed with a vendor’s products.
  • Operations. This last criteria determines if a vendor is able to meet its current goals and commitments.

Gartner’s “completeness of vision” evaluation includes the following criteria:

  • Market understanding. This refers to a vendor’s ability to translate the current market’s needs into compelling products and services that match the market’s current needs.
  • Marketing strategy. This is a vendor’s approach to promoting its presence and offerings.
  • Sales strategy. This criteria evaluates how effectively a vendor leverages the appropriate direct and indirect sales channels.
  • Offering (product) strategy. This is a vendor’s approach to product development and service delivery.
  • Business model. This evaluates a vendor’s underlying business proposition in the current market.
  • Vertical/industry strategy. This reflects how well a vendor is positioned to address the needs of individual market segments and vertical industries
  • Innovation. This is how well a company is positioned to acquire new resources like capital and investment
  • Geographic strategy. This final criteria looks at how well a vendor can meet the needs of locals beyond its native operating region.

What happened to the Gartner DLP Magic Quadrant?

Gartner discontinued the DLP magic quadrant after 2018, which indirectly brought the spotlight to its other reports for Security Service Edge (SSE) and Insider Risk Management (IRM) as the future of data security and enterprise DLP. Even within Gartner’s latest market guide for DLP, the company highlights that DLP vendors are shifting towards integrating DLP technologies within the scope of these broader security areas in order to address sensitive data leakage, insider threats, endpoint response, and similar adjacent use cases.

Is the Gartner Magic Quadrant different from the Gartner Market Guide?

Unlike the DLP magic quadrant, the DLP market guide is not intended to cluster vendors via competitive or comparative criteria. The market guide rather simply outlines different niches or categories within the industry and which ones each vendor most closely aligns with.

What’s the future of Gartner DLP analysis?

Gartner will likely continue maintaining their DLP market guide, keeping track of both legacy and next-generation tools that combine behavioral analytics, data lineage, content inspection, and cloud data security for cloud apps. Over time, as DLP capabilities more comprehensively merge with newer categories like secure service edge, insider risk and data breach management, as well as data detection and response, it’s possible that Gartner could choose to introduce a new market category and re-initiate magic quadrant coverage.

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