Analytics and business intelligence consumers want easy-to-use products that make data access and data analysis a self-service proposition. This is a key finding of our just-released 2014 InformationWeek Analytics, Business Intelligence, and Information Management Survey. It's not surprising, because ease of use and self-service have been high on the wish list in our annual survey for the last four years. It's also no surprise to see vendors associated with ease of use gaining ground.
Which analytics and BI products are you using, planning to use, or evaluating? We've put this question to survey respondents every year, so we can track changes over time. The biggest gainer in current or planned use compared to last year's results was Tableau Software while the biggest slides were seen by Actuate, IBM Cognos, and MicroStrategy.
As in past years, survey respondents were qualified as being involved in determining the need, recommending, specifying, or authorizing or approving the purchase of data analytics, business intelligence, or statistical analysis software. Among this year's crop of 248 qualified respondents, 13% say they're using and 6% say they're planning to use Tableau Software (see chart below), a vendor known for data-visualization software that has a reputation for being easy to use. That's a 5-point overall increase from our 2013 survey, in which 8% of 417 respondents said they were using and 4% said they were planning to use Tableau.
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Keep in mind that this data is not a direct reflection of market share, as our research doesn't track software revenue or licenses (something that Gartner and IDC both measure). The two other gainers in this year's survey are Microsoft and SAP, which saw modest, 2-point increases in current and planned use.
The most notable decreases in current and planned use from the 2013 to 2014 survey were tied to Actuate (down 8 points to 6% reporting current or planned use), IBM Cognos (down 7 points to 26% reporting current or planned use), and MicroStrategy (down 5 points to 9% current or planned use). These results aren't entirely consistent with market share measures. For example, Tableau's share of the business intelligence tools market increased steadily from 2010 through 2012, according to IDC's Worldwide Business Analytics Software 2013-2017 Forecast and 2012 Vendor Shares (the latest report available). Actuate and MicroStrategy marketshares were flat from 2012 to 2012 while IBM's declined modestly.
Judging by recent product releases, Actuate, IBM Cognos, and MicroStrategy are all pushing to meet demand for intuitive, easy-to-use products that promote self service. Actuate's iHub Visualization Platform, released in 2012 and upgraded last month, promises "intuitive, self-service information applications" that let non-technical users do "visual data mining and predictive analytics."
IBM last month promised self-service data access and analysis through Project NEO, which it describes as bringing data discovery to the masses. Currently in IBM's labs, NEO lets users drag and drop data sets from a library into an analysis. A built-in ontology engine automatically reconciles disparate data without requiring complicated data-mapping exercises. NEO also supports natural-language query, so users can ask questions in plain English, such as: "Show me the top sellers by region." NEO also promises a rich selection of suggested data visualizations from which users will be able to explore. It all sounds like just what users have been asking for, but it won't be released until mid 2014, according to IBM.
MicroStrategy's latest grabs at mainstream adoption are MicroStrategy Desktop and MicroStrategy Express, free entry-level products introduced in October. MicroStrategy Desktop is aimed at individual BI users and is based on Microstrategy's Visual Insight data-visualization product (which competes most directly with Tableau). MicroStrategy Express is a cloud-based version of Desktop that offers more robust reporting, report scheduling, and file sharing capabilities, according to MicroStrategy. The vendor says its service is free for up to one year, with no cap on the number of users within one company.
Software cost and ease of deployment play a role in how quickly companies can embrace new products (here's where Tableau's low-cost desktop software has an advantage), but the fastest-growing vendors and the biggest market share gainers in recent years -- Microsoft, QlikTech, Tableau, and Tibco Spotfire -- have been the companies that have focused on ease of use, self-service, and data visualization. The handwriting has been on the wall for at least four years, so it's kind of late in the game to be changing product reputations.
In other findings in our 2014 InformationWeek Analytics, Business Intelligence, and Information Management Survey, 59% say data quality problems are the biggest barrier to successful analytics or BI initiatives, 44% say "predicting customer behavior" is the biggest factor driving interest in big data analysis, and 58% list "accessing relevant, timely or reliable data" as their organization's biggest impediment to success regarding information management. For complete survey results, including 22 charts and detail on current and planned use of software from 14 leading vendors, download the free report (registration required).
IT groups need data analytics software that's visual and accessible. Vendors are getting the message. Also in the State Of Analytics issue of InformationWeek: SAP CEO envisions a younger, greener, cloudier company. (Free registration required.)