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Blog March 07, 2016

Winners in Business Intelligence 2016

For those of us who work with BI, February means an updated report for Business Intelligence and analysis platforms. The first thing that struck me when the characteristic magic quadrant began to appear in my flow was that it differed quite significantly from last year – all the operators appeared to have achieved poorer results than before, and there was plenty of empty space in the desirable "leaders" quadrant.

In last year's report there were nine companies in the "leaders" quadrant – this year there are only three. For a closer look at last year's report, you can find my blog entry about it here.

New definition changing the landscape 

According to Gartner, the BI market has reached a breaking point, where organisations are increasingly switching to agile workflows and self-service, and the formulation of the analysis is driven by the business operation. This is a radical change from the centralised, top-down BI implementations that have previously been dominant in our area. This is  a perception that Enfo shares with Gartner, and our own project methodology All the Way to Value™ is wholly centred on operational requirements and many small part-deliveries.

In practice, this means that the various companies' full product catalogues within BI are not included in this report, only the products that correspond to one or more of the following five applications:

  1. Agile Centralised BI Provisioning - That the product allows a working method where IT can easily illustrate various data and other central concepts for users. 
  2. Decentralised Analytics - That the product allows a workflow where the operation itself can formulate analyses. 
  3. Governed Data Discovery - That the product supports operationally formulated analyses in various forms of data that are supplied by the IT Department, but that can then be re-used and marketed internally. 
  4. Embedded BI - That the product supports the workflow from data to an analysis that is embedded in a process or application. 
  5. Extranet Deployment - That the product supports a workflow where the operation, in an agile manner, can  illustrate analyses for its customers or citizens for the public sector. 

Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms

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Source Gartner 2016

Winners in the new landscape

In this landscape, Tableau, Qlik and Microsoft are the major winners, while Oracle has dropped out of the analysis completely. I can only agree with this picture, and that is why we at Enfo have entered into top-level partnerships with both Qlik and Microsoft. My perception when it comes to the companies' offers to the market is that Tableau and Qlik have slightly more incisive tools, while Microsoft thrashes them both when it comes to the holistic approach in its portfolio. As regards Microsoft, it is important to point out that only Power BI and Azure have been included in this analysis.  If you want to know what Gartner thinks about Reporting Services and SSAS cubes, you can refer to their market guide for enterprise reporting.

Gartner justifies Microsoft's position with Power BI 2.x, which was released in late autumn 2015. Key functions for the new release compared to the previous Power BI include the fact that it allows hybrid solutions – it is no longer necessary for all data to go via Azure! In addition to this, there are new publishing options and native support for web browsers. And it doesn't hurt that Microsoft has dropped the price per licence from $39.95 to $9.95, making them the cheapest supplier of analysis and data discovery solutions. Finally I can see enormous potential in "natural language query", which is based on users being able to put questions to the data model, which in turn presents a visualisation in answer to the question. This is not running smoothly yet, but there is probably something there.

It may seem remarkable that a company like Tableau, which is relatively unknown to us Swedes, is at the top when it comes to ability to execute. My explanation for this is that you are in Qlik's home market, while the Gartner report has been produced in the USA (Tableau is Canadian). One of Tableau's strengths is its flexibility, which can be seen in its areas of application. All of the companies asked used as many Tableau products with a data warehouse for agile publication of centrally administered data, as individual and decentralised desktop installations where the users themselves are responsible for their data and analysis flows. Tableau is also flexible when it comes to installation procedures and can be commissioned either on-site or in the cloud. Tableau was also awarded very high grades with regard to user experience and they were the first to offer a tool in which you can build analyses entirely without being able to code, a solution that Microsoft and Qlik now also offer via their self-service products. I am not aware of any Tableau implementations in Sweden, but if you have conducted one you are more than welcome to contact me so that we can swap experiences and have lunch!

Qlik offers managed data discovery through its products QlikView and Qlik Sense. Qlik has achieved high levels of customer satisfaction, but with the launch of Qlik Sense it was extremely unclear as regards its overall plan, which has created a certain amount of anxiety among purchasers. Qlik has acted on this through clearer communication and new leadership in the organisation, which should alleviate such misgivings in 2016. The same analysis engine is now being used for both Qlik Sense and QlikView, making their products even more robust. Just like Tableau, Qlik's products work well as stand-alone solutions but also together with a data warehouse. However, Gartner shows that for large implementations (more than 500 users), Qlik is much more expensive than both of its main competitors in the "leaders" quadrant.

What do the BI solutions of the future look like?

Gartner based this year's report on three strategic assumptions as regards developments up to 2018:

  1. Most end users will have access to self-service tools in order to prepare and analyse data. 
  2. Most stand-alone self-service products will either have expanded to end-to-end analysis platforms or been integrated as new functions in pre-existing platforms.
  3. Various forms of data discovery (Hadoop, search-based or visual) will finally be developed into a new form of self-service data preparation and natural query language.

Gartner stresses that this new definition of the BI landscape does not mean that everything we have done to date constitutes a poor investment, rather that IT organisations should try to adopt a dual (BI modal) delivery process within BI. Existing enterprise reporting should not be exposed to risk by attempting to recreate them in a modern platform, rather these stable solutions are what are referred to as "position 1". However, we recommend that organisations initiate new BI projects in a modern platform that supports a "position 2" delivery model, in order to benefit from innovations on the market and increase collaboration interfaces between IT and the operation, shorten delivery times and realise their strategy in the long term. This is reflected in my current customer, where we run projects that include continual part-deliveries and close collaboration with end users, in parallel with conducting a global project for official reporting that is more of a "position 1" project with a large final delivery.

In short, don't throw out your current BI platform, but for future projects check whether you can complement it with a modern platform. 

Jonas Wahlström

Business Intelligence Consultant