Gartner: The Next Big Thing in BI and Analytics is “Bimodal BI”

Rado Kotorov's picture
 By | March 16, 2015
in Advanced Analytics, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Intelligence, Data Discovery, Data Mangagement
March 16, 2015

Will Gartner’s renowned Magic Quadrant be split into two separate reports—one for BI and Analytics and another for Data Discovery?

So far this year, I have attended the first two Gartner Business Intelligence and Analytics Worldwide Summits – in Sydney, Australia, where this year’s MQ for BI and Analytics report was first published, and this month’s summit in London. Both summits were very well attended by IT and business professionals, and the most interesting observation to me was the shift in the attendees’ attitude since last year.

Last year the buzzwords were data discovery and governed data discovery—everyone wanted to learn as much as possible about those two concepts. Based on the excitement last year, it seemed that data discovery would replace all other styles of BI and analytics. But I found that the excitement over data discovery was replaced at this year’s Gartner summits by confusion and concerns.

From the perspective of business professionals, my impression is that vendor differentiators have become more difficult to understand. As one stated it, “Every vendor shows you dashboards. Is this all we need?” And while data discovery is delivering on its visualization capabilities, it falls short in other areas. Hence the question: how do we close those gaps in features and functionality? Even more interestingly, according to Gartner’s research, ease-of-use correlates linearly with business value, while accuracy and consistency does not. This begs the even more relevant question: as users demand more agility in doing analytics, how do we ensure that it does not come at the expense of accuracy and consistency?

To help answer these critical questions, Gartner has formulated the concept of Bimodal BI where agility and reliability co-exist. The concept reflects the change in attitude among businesses and represents a pendulum swinging back from strictly data discovery to a more even split between data discovery and ‘traditional’ BI styles. The new concept has spurred a debate of sorts about whether Gartner’s renowned Magic Quadrant should be split into two separate reports—one for BI and Analytics and another for Data Discovery. The philosophical debate that ultimately would determine the decision is whether data discovery and BI are complements or substitutes. The opinion was that they are substitutes for one another is changing as more companies adopt and use data discovery. The user experience favors the complementary, co-existing relationship, which is reflected in the bimodal management and delivery approach to BI and analytics.

I believe such a split will introduce clarity in the field, but more importantly it will allow the vendors to evolve their capabilities in different directions rather than trying to imitate each other as the trend was last year. For example, during one of this year’s Gartner BI & Analytics Summits, a moderator asked the audience whether data visualization and predictive analytics should converge. Nearly all of the attendees voted for the convergence. And I think that is a natural evolutionary path as predictive would add depth to visualizations.

And yet, the data discovery vendors are torn between two choices – should they build more reporting capabilities to compete with the BI platforms or should they extend the analytic capabilities? If they are positioned as complementary to BI platforms, the choice becomes natural and would benefit the BI users. If they are positioned as substitutes, they are forced to evolve in a direction that they rejected from their inception. Data discovery emerged as an alternative to reporting. Vendors like Information Builders, on the other hand, would continue to extend capabilities in the areas of embedded BI, apps development, and large-scale information distribution.

All in all, success and rapid adoption of data discovery coupled with the data explosion has created confusion, but Gartner is moving deliberately to delineate the different styles of BI and analytics and to advocate for more differentiation in the market place, which ultimately would lead to greater innovation and more diverse, widespread user adoption.

You can download your copy of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics 2015 here.