Gartner Magic Quadrant for BI and Analytics, 2014 – Here’s Our Take

Jake Freivald's picture
 By | February 24, 2014
in analyst reports, analytics, Business Intelligence, data discovery, gartner, gartner BI magic quadrant, Magic Quadrant
February 24, 2014
We're happy to announce that Information Builders is once again a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms. This is our thirteenth straight year in the leader quadrant and we couldn't be prouder. Here are some highlights:
  • Gartner specifically noted the way our "broad information management capabilities bolster its BI platform and provide differentiation from other pure-play BI competitors." That's our 3i message of business intelligence, integration, and data integrity.
  • They noted that our "reference customers reported almost double the survey average for size of deployment in terms of numbers of users". Drilling down, they said that (a) the percentage of employees using WebFOCUS is above average and (b) that we have one of the highest percentages of users external to customer organizations.
  • The said that almost two-thirds of our customer respondents consider Information Builders their enterprise BI standard.
  • Unlike many of our competitors – including those getting the most buzz right now – rated us "above the survey average in sales experience and customer experience, including support and product quality," also "reporting below-average incidences of problems with it and no significant product-specific limitations on wider deployment."
  • We have strong capabilities across the BI platform spectrum, but our highly parameterized dashboarding (which they include under "reporting") and reporting capabilities – the capabilities needed for business-user-friendly InfoApps – stand out: "Information Builders' customers predominantly make extensive use of highly parameterized reporting (involving, for example, interactivity via prompts, drilling or filters), the company's strongest area for consumers and casual users; they do so at a far higher rate than the survey average."
Awesome. There are cautions, too, of course, but you weren't really expecting me to dwell on them, were you? Didn't think so. :) The report contains everything, positive and negative, about all of the vendors, including us, so go get it to read more.
If I may indulge in a game of "analyze the analysts," let's take a quick look at other things the report says. 
The biggest issue in the report is the rise of data discovery tools. Here's the report's opening summary: Data discovery capabilities are dominating new purchasing requirements, even for larger deployments, as alternatives to traditional BI tools. But "governed data discovery" – the ability to meet the dual demands of enterprise IT and business users – remains a challenge unmet by any one vendor.
Fair enough. I don't deny that data discovery has been shaping the market. But let's drill into some details.
The report makes a Strategic Planning Assumption: "By 2015, enterprise buyers will predominantly purchase platforms that support both strong and broad business-user-accessible data discovery capabilities and IT-driven enterprise features for data reuse, governance, security, and scalability." 
Furthermore, the report says, “Gartner's inquiries and survey data suggest that, increasingly, companies would like to expand use and even standardize on data discovery platforms for their larger enterprise BI deployments but find that in many cases these platforms (from Tableau, Qlik and Tibco Software [Spotfire]) lack the necessary enterprise features in relation to governance, administration and scalability, among other things.” 
Given that, it doesn't strike me as odd that companies like Qlik and Tableau have garnered a strong position in the Magic Quadrant. I confess that it strikes me as odd that a Magic Quadrant dedicated to BI and analytics platforms would rate those vendors so high on an ability to execute when they aren't executing the key enterprise platform features of data reuse, governance, security, and scalability.
This is borne out by additional commentary in the report. For example, Tableau customers reported one of the lowest implementation costs in the industry. Sound great, right? But costs will naturally be lower for a product that doesn't concern itself with "meet[ing] enterprise requirements for reusability, scalability, and embeddability." When you do only the easy part, your costs will be lower. (Among companies that do meet those requirements, by the way, Information Builders does extremely well.)
Another example: Only 42% of Tableau customers consider it their BI standard. That indicates that they're probably unable to use Tableau in the enterprise BI and analytics space where Information Builders and its enterprise-class competitors execute extremely well. 
So, while I could see giving the data discovery vendors more completeness of vision points (rightward movement), I believe an increased ability to execute score (upward movement) should really be reserved for platforms that are actually capable of executing the things that Gartner says are needed for enterprise platforms.
On another note: If, as the report says, “The intent is to expand the use of analytics to a broad range of consumers and nontraditional BI users, increasingly on mobile devices,” then many of those nontraditional BI users will be well-served by BI apps InfoApps that relate directly to the problems they want to solve. And, unsurprisingly, Gartner's research backs that up: It notes that “companies are increasingly building analytics applications, leveraging new data types and new types of analyses.” 
The report says, “It is very likely that 2014 will be a critical year in which the task of making "hard types of analysis easy" for an expanded set of users, along with ensuring governance, scale and performance for larger amounts of diverse data, will continue to dominate BI market requirements. At the same time, the ability to bridge widely proliferating business user silos with enterprise deployments will be a crucial challenge for IT and BI vendors.” We agree. That's why we're focusing on a combination of data discovery capabilities built into the platform, so it has the robust governance, scalability, and performance to reach thousands of underserved users as well as InfoApps for many users who need simpler, more intuitive interfaces to answer their questions.
At the end of the day, Gartner made a call about what's important in the industry. I'm happy to get recognition for the things we do well, but I cordially disagree with the way they've scored some of the issues here. I think the odds are high that enterprise companies in our industry not just Information Builders, but BI and analytics platforms generally will be able to develop business-user-accessible data discovery capabilities (deployments are already in full swing) more quickly than the niche data discovery vendors will be able to build out complete, enterprise-capable platforms.
In the thirteen years we've been included as a leader on Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence, we've seen quite a number of BI vendors come and go, some by acquisition, some by attrition. But in the end, it's not about having the trendiest new features, the flashiest ads, or "the buzz." It's about helping our customers grow their businesses through the power of information, and that's something Information Builders remains committed to, now and in the future.
If you'd like to understand how we see data discovery in the enterprise, I encourage you to download a paper called (surprise!) Data Discovery in the Enterprise. It includes five questions to ask before choosing a solution. It's a compact and clear review of some of the things that people struggle with during data discovery implementations, including things like in-memory databases, data integrity, and advanced analytics. It's worth your time.
Please feel free to discuss, argue, cajole, or agree in the comments below. Thanks!