11 Feb 2016

Disruptors and Game-changers: 5 things we can learn from the evolution of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for BI vendors

Tim Archer

The release of the Gartner Magic Quadrant (GMQ) is much like waiting for the full line-up at Glastonbury to be announced - it's highly anticipated and the content has the ability to determine the focus of the industry over the coming year. This year's magic quadrant does not disappoint. In fact, I believe that the content highlights five characteristics that epitomise today's business intelligence (BI) industry.

1. Moving backwards, looking forwards

All of the vendors appear to have moved back in position from previous years. This is a reflection of Gartner trying to align their assessment criteria to reflect the demand shift in the industry. According to Gartner the increasing desire for easy to use agile and self-service analytics tools is now at a 'tipping point' which has led them to change the use cases vendors are graded against.

The assessment criteria now favours a vendor who can offer data discovery and autonomy for business users, rather than the more traditional enterprise-wide reporting solutions which are procured for IT organisations. Much of this shift has been driven by disruptive vendors such as Tableau and Alteryx. And yet while these two companies have gained massive traction in the self-service BI market, Gartner appears to believe that the market as whole may take some time to catch up with these disruptive technologies. They estimate a modest 5.8% growth, reasoning that most powerful vendors who drive the market will take some time to transition their offerings to business orientated, rather than IT.

2. Here today gone tomorrow

This year saw 6 vendors leave the quadrant, compared with zero leavers last year. For a vendor to feature in the magic quadrant, there are a number of stringent qualifiers that must be met. The failings of these 6 companies to make the quadrant this year indicate that they have not capitalised on their success in previous years. In contrast, all three of the current leaders are spending large amounts of their revenue in research and development to ensure continuous innovation in their tools. Over the past year we have seen Tableau, Microsoft and Qlik showcase some of their hard work with powerful releases. Stack loads of new functionality has appeared, with Elastic, Power BI and License being released respectively by these leaders. In this ferociously competitive industry, it is not enough to simply copy the leaders, vendors must be truly innovative to move towards the top right of the quadrant.

3. Fewer leaders, no challengers

The shift in the assessment criteria have left us with a GMQ BI landscape that looks unfamiliar to those of previous years. For the first time we are seeing only 3 vendors maintaining their position as leaders with no new vendors joining them. Tableau have maintained their strangle hold on leading the 'ability to execute' race with their focus on helping people to see and understand their data. However, Gartner has favoured Microsoft vision as we see them make massive gains along this axis. Furthermore, we note that the 3 leaders are the only ones dominating the upper half of the quadrant, with no vendor achieving a challenger status this year. This once again highlights the need for differentiation and innovation in order to separate a solution from the pack.

4. More niche, less mass market

Back in 2013 we saw the leader's quadrant being dominated by traditional enterprise solutions – with the likes of Tableau making the breakthrough from being the challengers to the leaders for the first time. Just three years on, this segment of the GMQ has changed beyond recognition with IBM being the biggest loser here. Today, we see the leading vendors' products focus on ease of use and compatibility with an agile analytics approach. This is the ability to rapidly design, develop and deliver against the requirements of an individual's needs (read more). Tableau, Microsoft and Qlik actively encourage their customers to take advantage of this, while casting aside stock reporting suites to solve business' needs. Alteryx, a prospective leader, is pushing these rapid development cycles by enhancing business users' ability to blend, prepare and analyse data before feeding it to one of the powerful visualisation vendors. There is an understanding that the business environment is ever-changing, so to remain agile is to remain competitive. There is no such thing as a one size fits all when it comes to information. It must be tailored and targeted to each individual consumer. An organisation can no longer be satisfied by implanting a solution that takes days to turn around simple change requests resulting in new reports go to the bottom of a waiting list.

5. Increased focus, better solutions

The 2016 quadrant demonstrates that the industry and the buyer's expectations have increasingly shifted from IT-led top down systems to business-led agile analytics. Gartner has raised the challenge to the vendors to become more innovative and more business focussed. The functionalities in their tools will lead them to success but innovation and differentiation in the marketplace is key. The coming years will be interesting. Will next year see the leaders pull away? Will there be corrective actions from the rest of the vendors to take up the challenges the industry is laying down to them? One thing is for sure, all 3 leaders are investing heavily is developing their already market-leading offerings – we hope that Alteryx will join them in the leaders quadrant next year.

Interactive Magic Quadrant in Tableau (click here or a full page view). You can track the movements in the magic quadrant for BI and analytics platform over the last 6 years.

Interested in learning more about our partner technologies? Download your free trial here:

Tim Archer

About the author

Tim Archer - Consulting Manager. I visualise data to help our clients see and understand their business better as a living! I enjoy visualising all sorts of data – particularly sporting and current affair data. My blog articles will usually pull together multiple sources of data to uncover interesting insights and offer different perspectives. No matter what the subject, they will always leverage visualisation best practices to present stunning insight to the masses.