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Breaking Down the Magic Quadrant for Modern BI & Analytics Platforms

by Brian Rimes

Mar 22, 2016

This past week at the Gartner BI & Analytics Summit in Grapevine, Texas, Gartner Analysts Josh Parenteau, Rita Sallam and Cindi Howson walked us through the new process for assessing modern BI & analytics platforms in a Magic Quadrant Power Session. The purpose of this blog is to give you a brief overview of the rationale behind the big changes Gartner implemented this year to the Magic Quadrant.

How do you leverage the new Magic Quadrant for Modern BI & Analytics Platforms?

The Magic Quadrant is a tool best leveraged by buyers assessing platforms in the current market as it is focused on assessing tools for purchase today. Why this focus on current buyers and not current users? It is a direct reflection of the BI & analytics landscape. Over recent years, the mindset of business decision makers has changed. Now, instead of addressing a gap in BI & analytics capabilities by investing in additional licenses & training for their current platform solution, organizations look outward at investing in a new “modern” platform to solve their growing needs.

Organizations have a propensity for buying new modern tools over investing further in the traditional enterprise tools that they already own. We have all observed this disruption over the last few years, as new tools like Tableau and Qlik have emerged and truly rocked the market. As you can see by the results of Gartner’s 2016 Magic Quadrant for Modern BI & Analytic Tools, the traditional enterprise platforms are starting to roll out rivaling modern products such as IBM’s Watson Analytics and SAP’s Lumira but these larger, enterprise tools have been slower to adapt to new business demands driving the market and less attentive on some of the customer-focused capabilities that drive Magic Quadrant results.

This year marked the tipping point for decision makers who are no longer driven by IT requirements but are business-led buyers focused on enablement and self-service. At the Gartner BI & Analytics Summit, the majority of questions that we heard on the expo floor were around self-service and data governance, which supports Gartner’s theory of this shift in focus from IT-centric to business-centric.

What changes did Gartner make this year?

The definition of the Gartner Magic Quadrant has changed to reflect business-driven Modern BI. Modern BI is defined as “a self-contained architecture that enables nontechnical users to autonomously execute full-spectrum analytic workflows from data access, ingestion and preparation to interactive analysis, and the collaborative sharing of insights.” (Gartner, Technology Insights for Modern BI and Analytics Platforms). The Magic Quadrant for Modern BI & Analytics Platforms strictly focuses on modern platforms, excluding IT-Centric Enterprise reporting platforms. As you know, many of the traditional enterprise platforms have multiple products, some which span modern BI and some that focus on reporting. For these vendors, Gartner categorized tools based on their specific capabilities. For example, SAP Lumira was the included on the Modern BI Platforms but SAP WEBI, Crystal and Design Studio were included in the Market Guide for Enterprise Reporting because they are IT-Centric reporting tools. Tableau doesn’t do reporting so it is only on the Magic Quadrant for Modern BI & Analytics Platforms. This year, Oracle, Panorama Software, Prognoz, Targit, Salient and OpenText were not included at all because their capabilities no longer qualify them as leaders in the market.

Breaking Down the Magic Quadrant 1

As you can see from the above image, everyone has shifted down on the Magic Quadrant this year. According to Gartner, this is not meant to be a shocking insult but only a more accurate representation of the capabilities available versus the demands of the buying market. Gartner’s primary focus this year was ease of use of modern platforms. Gartner’s assessment revolved around four main capabilities: Infrastructure, Data Management, Analysis and Content Creation, and Share Findings. The scoring criteria of these capabilities was based on a combination of customer survey and analyst opinion. Some assumed that Gartner was simply assessing downloaded desktop tools in the Modern BI MQ but that is not the case. Features such as governance are included, they just may be a prerequisite.

Some of the key trends that impacted the 2016 Gartner Magic Quadrant were:

  • Diversity of Data Sources
  • “Smart” Capabilities
  • Self-Service Data Preparation
  • Land-and-expand model of “departmental tool” growth
  • Specialization of platforms
  • New and Innovative Partnerships – such as Birst & Tableau
  • Balance Complexity of Analysis with Ease of Use
  • Enabling the “Citizen Data Scientist”
  • Natural Language Search Query & Generation of Findings

This is only the beginning of many changes to come from Gartner and the Magic Quadrant. As the market shifts its focus on things like IoT and marketplaces for data, the platforms that support our BI environments will too shift to meet market demands. Over the course of the next few years, Gartner predicts that we will see even greater changes as vendors develop new products and even discover the next disruptive shift.

In this highly competitive and innovative field, the ranking of these leading platforms on the Magic Quadrant will change year after year. Gartner recommends that instead of focusing solely on who is in the top right corner of the Magic Quadrant this year, turn your research first inward to hone in on those modern capabilities most valuable in your organization. Your best-fit platform may be in the challengers’ quadrant or even the niche quadrant because you need less technical support or aren’t considering cloud. Remember that every tool on this quadrant is a leader in the market for modern BI & analytics, it is how you implement and leverage the tool that makes it successful.