Gartner Magic Quadrant for BI and Analytics Platforms, 2016: My Take

Jake Freivald's picture
 By | February 05, 2016
in gartner
February 05, 2016

The Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms, 2016

This graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research document and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document.

The new Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms is out. (Download it here.) Interestingly, it's a pretty complete break from prior years. How complete? Here's how they put it:
As a result of this change and the resulting effect on the shape and composition of the BI and analytics Magic Quadrant, historical comparison with past years (to assess relative vendor movement) is irrelevant and therefore strongly discouraged.
And how! They've gone from looking at very broad capabilities -- that used to include data discovery and other business-user analytics, but also included dashboards and reporting that can be used for broad-scale deployments -- to looking only at products that can be used by business users with little-to-no IT involvement.*
To understand what's going on here, it helps to understand Gartner's attitude toward "bi-modal IT". Mode 1 is the traditional, IT-governed, stable form of IT delivery. Mode 2 is the exploratory, agile, non-linear form of IT delivery. This quadrant is focused on BI and analytics that supports Mode 2.
Mode 1, which had been important in previous quadrants, is essentially ignored in this one. As a practical matter, it isn't going away, so one of the more important things to figure out is how to promote mode 2 (exploratory insights found by individuals) to mode 1 (production apps for the many). More on that in a moment.
This narrowing of focus, from mode 1 + mode 2 in previous years to the current emphasis on mode 2, reduces both the use cases and the number of products that can be considered.
Out of a large number of companies who were considered for the quadrant -- I can't find the number in the report, but if I recall correctly, it was something like 87 -- only 24 made it onto the chart. Some that were leaders (us included) are in different parts of the quadrant (there are only three ranked as leaders), and some significant vendors didn't make it into the quadrant at all.
The criteria are so different, in fact, that the only product they ranked out of our entire product line is InfoAssist+, our self-service analytics tool. This product has been around for quite a while and has hundreds of thousands of users worldwide, and includes interactive dashboards, reporting, ad hoc query, and the creation of in-document analytics -- but, until about a year ago, it didn't contain data discovery.
In other words, we're essentially a start-up in the market niche they're covering.
Personally, I don't mind being a start-up in this niche. Most start-ups don't have the organic strengths that we have: a mature support organization, time-tested technology, more than ten thousand customers, and millions of users.
Moreover, we have strengths in mode 1 that most other vendors in the quadrant don't have. We can take visualizations, dashboards, queries, reports, and so on from InfoAssist+ and share them with -- literally, no exaggeration -- hundreds of thousands of users, even millions, inside or outside the corporate firewall. See why other industry analysts position us a leader here.  
It's easier for us to enhance our data discovery technologies than it will be for our data discovery competitors to develop that kind of analytical application power. Which means we see our position as a start-up on this quadrant as an opportunity to move up and to the right over the next few years.
We look forward to working with you along the way. :)
Don't forget to download your copy of the report.

* This leads me to my one real gripe with the quadrant: If they were going to radically change the definitions, I would have preferred that they change the name from "Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms". A rose by any other name and all that; nevertheless, a specific petal, no matter how beautiful, doth not a rose make. Despite their warning not to make comparisons, we're going to see some confusion here.