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2/1/2011
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Gartner Quadrant Reports BI Split

Business intelligence buyers want easy data exploration. That has small, independent vendors waxing and a few BI incumbents mired in a "new normal" malaise.

Now is the winter of our discontent.

With apologies to William Shakespeare, that's what a number of customers of IBM, Oracle and SAP are now saying about their incumbent business intelligence platforms. This is one of the key findings of the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms, which was released on Monday.

IBM, Oracle and SAP (along with Microsoft) remain in the analyst firm's prized upper-right Leaders Quadrant. And they still dominate BI marketshare, the report finds. But non-IT buyers are gravitating to easy-to-use data discovery tools, which moved up in the report.

And bowing to growing customer demand, Gartner has added several low-cost BI platforms to its Quadrant for the first time.

The key finding in the report is that there's a growing BI market bifurcation, with IT favoring stack standards while business users are choosing innovative data discovery tools.

"These data discovery alternatives to traditional BI platforms offer highly interactive and graphical user interfaces built on in-memory architectures to address business users' unmet ease-of-use and rapid deployment needs," Gartner reports.

The data discovery vendor camp is lead by QlikTech, which rose into Gartner's Leaders Quadrant for the first time. Tableau Software and Tibco Spotfire are both in the upper-left Challengers Quadrant.

The big incumbents are responding to the call for fast deployment and easy-to-use tools with new products such as PowerPivot from Microsoft, SAP BusinessObjects Explorer, IBM Cognos Express and WebFocus Visual Discovery from Information Builders. Nonetheless, Gartner says IBM, Oracle and SAP are still suffering from a post-acquisition malaise in the wake of their 2007 Cognos, Hyperion and BusinessObjects acquisitions, respectively.

"Oracle's weaker satisfaction ratings in this year's survey results, along with ongoing dissatisfaction among IBM and SAP customers for the past three years in a row post acquisition, suggests that transition disruption for these vendors may be chronic, and dissatisfaction the new normal," the report states.

Microsoft ranked highest on Gartner's vertical "ability to execute" axis while IBM was the farthest-right on the horizontal "completeness of vision" axis. Microsoft's strategy of bundling BI into Microsoft Office, SharePoint and SQL Server is clearly driving adoption, and customers rate the vendor above average across key satisfaction metrics, Gartner reports. IBM's business analytics vision is a strength that was supported by the acquisition of SPSS, but deployment delays and software complexity are cited as a liability by some Cognos BI customers.

Cost pressures tied to the economy have increased interest in low-cost BI platforms. This contributed to Microsoft's BI success, Gartner notes, while also boosting interest low-cost products from LogiXML and open source vendor Jaspersoft, both of which were added to the Quadrant for the first time.

Reporting and ad hoc analysis are still the dominant uses of BI software, but the rise of interactive data visualization, predictive analytics and dashboards is shifting the focus toward forecasting and optimization, Gartner finds. These have long been strengths for SAS, but "many smaller vendors (such as Information Builders, Tibco Software [Spotfire] and MicroStrategy) and most of the megavendors (SAP, IBM and Microsoft) are maturing their capabilities to make statistics, predictive analytic models and forecasting algorithms more consumable in reports, dashboards and analytic applications," according to the report.

Free downloads of the complete Gartner Magic Quadrant Report can be downloaded from the SAS Web site.

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