Gartner BI Magic Quadrant: Inflection Point Has Arrived

Reflecting the fundamental transformation in the market, Gartner has changed how it evaluates vendors in its 2016 Magic Quadrant for BI and Analytics. Only three vendors survived the cut and stayed in the Leaders Quadrant. Here's a look at the changes.

Jessica Davis, Senior Editor

February 9, 2016

6 Min Read
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12 Ways To Connect Data Analytics To Business Outcomes

12 Ways To Connect Data Analytics To Business Outcomes

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The business intelligence (BI) market has reached an inflection point as organizations shift to agile workflows and self-service analytics driven by business leaders. This is a fundamental transformation from the centralized top-down BI platforms of IT organizations past. In this world, Microsoft, Qlik, and Tableau Software are big winners. And Oracle? Not so much.

That's according to IT research firm Gartner, which has released its Gartner 2016 Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms this month, saying this year's report represents a fundamental change in how it evaluates vendors.

Essentially, this year's edition redefines what BI and analytics platforms should look like in an era defined by the business need for fast-moving intelligence that is unconstrained by central services bottlenecks. In this scenario, BI and analytics tools become an underpinning to the entire infrastructure and all its tools, easily accessed by users who need the intelligence, rather than a discrete tool provisioned and allocated by central IT.

[ Looking for more Gartner Magic Quadrant advice about data? Read Gartner Magic Quadrant: Top Tools For Cleaning Up Your Data. ]

"The evolution and sophistication of the self-service data preparation and data discovery capabilities in the market have shifted the focus of buyers in the BI and analytics market -- toward easy-to-use tools that support a full range of analytic workflow capabilities and do not require significant involvement from IT to predefine data models up front as a prerequisite to analysis," Gartner said in its report. "This significant shift has accelerated dramatically in recent years and has finally reached a tipping point that requires a new perspective on the BI and analytics Magic Quadrant and underlying BI platform definition -- to better align with the rapidly evolving buyer and seller dynamics in this complex market."

Gartner said that this change aligns with the idea of bimodal IT, where Mode 1 represents traditional IT delivery and Mode 2 represents the type of agile delivery usually enjoyed by digital native companies.

Vendors in this year's report "present modern approaches to promoting production-ready content from Mode 2 to Mode 1, offering far greater agility than traditional top-down, IT-led initiatives and resulting in governed analytic content that is more widely adopted by business users that are active participants in the development process," Gartner said.

Because of the significant changes in this year's evaluation criteria, Gartner cautioned against comparing this year's results to any historic results for this Magic Quadrant. Indeed, the number of vendors in the Leaders Quadrant has shrunk down to three. That compares to nine vendors that scored leaders' status last year.

Leaders Quadrant

Tableau, Qlik, and Microsoft are the Gartner 2016 Magic Quadrant BI and Analytics leaders.

"The market share leaders SAP, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, MicroStrategy, and SAS have amassed large customer bases over time with their enterprise-reporting-based platforms," Gartner said. "With the exception of Microsoft, these vendors are no longer in the Leaders Quadrant, placement in which requires reaching a new breed of buyer with requirements that are fundamentally different than in the past. As a result, many have dropped into the Visionaries Quadrant."

Gartner delivered an even deeper blow to one of those companies.

Oracle's Drop

"Oracle has dropped from the Magic Quadrant entirely, because it has been slow to respond to the shift in market dynamics and does not have a product offering with enough market traction that meets the modern platform criteria established this year."

Among the leaders, Gartner said that Tableau leads in execution (in spite of the punishment delivered by Wall Street last week after the company failed to deliver on analyst expectation).

"Tableau has grown rapidly and now finds itself in a completely different position to that of only a few years ago," Gartner said. "Deployments in organizations have grown exponentially, which places an increased burden on Tableau's support structure as it scales to meet a much larger customer base that is using its products against more complex use cases."

Microsoft led in Vision in the Leaders Quadrant based on the company's commitment to Power BI.

"Power BI is at the center of Microsoft's Azure story, which includes Azure Machine Learning, Azure HDInsight, Stream Analytics, and others, which solidifies its status as an area of continued strategic investment and innovation," Gartner said. "Cortana Analytics Suite is an umbrella for several of these offerings."

Qlik sat between the two other vendors in the Leaders Quadrant. Gartner said that the company has "dramatically improved and clarified its messaging to the market around Qlik Sense and QlikView, which positions Qlik Sense Enterprise as its strategic product."

Challenger And Niche Quadrants

Under the new evaluation criteria for this Magic Quadrant, no vendors made it into the Challenger Quadrant, defined by Gartner as well-positioned to succeed in the market but limited to specific use cases, technology implementations, or application domains.

Niche vendors included several well-known companies. Among them were Salesforce, for its Wave platform, Information Builders, Birst, and GoodData.

BI In 2018

Gartner based this year's report on three strategic planning assumptions expected by 2018:

  • Most business users will have access to self-service tools to prepare data for analysis.

  • Most standalone self-service data preparation offerings will either have expanded into end-to-end analytic platforms or have been integrated as features into existing analytics platforms.

  • Smart, governed, Hadoop-based, search-based, and visual-based data discovery will converge in a single form of next-generation data discovery that will include self-service data preparation and natural-language generation.

Gartner recommended that IT organizations take a measured approach to evolving their BI and analytics strategies. Many existing enterprise reporting systems are "integral to day-to-day business processes, and these processes would be exposed to unnecessary risk if disrupted by an attempt to recreate them in a modern platform."

However, "organizations should initiate new BI and analytics projects using a modern platform that supports a Mode 2 delivery model, in order to take advantage of market innovation and to foster collaboration between IT and the business through an agile and iterative approach to solution development."

Basically, don't rip out your current investments. Rather, as you implement new projects, look for ones that offer Mode 2 delivery models.

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About the Author(s)

Jessica Davis

Senior Editor

Jessica Davis is a Senior Editor at InformationWeek. She covers enterprise IT leadership, careers, artificial intelligence, data and analytics, and enterprise software. She has spent a career covering the intersection of business and technology. Follow her on twitter: @jessicadavis.

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