Forrester Wave™ for Enterprise BI Platforms 2019, Vendor-Managed and Client-Managed: Jake's Take

Jake Freivald
July 29, 2019

Two new Forrester Waves hit the market today: Enterprise BI Platforms (Vendor-Managed) and Enterprise BI Platforms (Client-Managed). In dividing the BI platform market into two sections, analyst Boris Evelson (assisted by Srividya Sridharan, Robert Perdoni, and Aldila Yunus) is attempting the difficult task of identifying and isolating two of the main buying use cases for BI platforms: vendors who offer zero-maintenance, cloud-based environments, and vendors who offer platforms that buyers can fully manage on their own terms.

He’s obviously addressing a real challenge. For instance, how does one compare a cloud-based Domo deployment to an on-prem Qlik implementation?

Clearly, cloud will one day be the go-to method than many companies will utilize to deliver analytics and business intelligence to their users.

Clearly, cloud will one day be the go-to method than many companies will utilize to deliver analytics and business intelligence to their users. At the same time, there will always be people who still want or need to manage their own environments for enhanced security, customization, or other purposes. Analysts have a complex job in making these kinds of market judgements, and Boris’s decision to produce two Waves seems like a reasonable way to thread this needle, at least for the time being.

If you’re actively engaged in a vendor selection process, you might want to look at both Waves, or speak directly with Boris about your specific criteria so you can get some of the nuance that is so difficult to capture in an analyst report.

There are twenty vendors represented overall, with Information Builders and six others represented on both reports. Unsurprisingly, some notable vendors only appear on one, with Oracle, Qlik, SAP, and Microstrategy among them.

Boris speaks highly of Information Builders, noting that companies should “trust Information Builders WebFOCUS for BI at scale, even in legacy environments.” He highlights Active Reports (now called In-document Analytics) as a “cool feature,” and notes that, among reference customers, our rating “exceeds expectations” for platform extensibility and big data. (The Vendor-Managed and Client-Managed text is identical.) These are definitely sweet spots for us.

There is one area where I wish we could have influenced the report differently: The Wave really doesn’t represent the full power of our company, especially in cloud deployments. The answers we gave had to be limited to products listed under the WebFOCUS brand of business intelligence and analytics products. In reality, our customers frequently employ our data integration products, whether they use the complete Omni-Gen platform for data quality and mastering or individual stand-alone data integration tools (usually sold under the iWay brand). In the cloud, it really doesn’t matter that they are two distinct product lines; services are services are services.

I understand the confluence of factors that affected the dot position, and I think the outlook is better than the current status, but our position on these Waves is not where I’d like them to be. This research was done during a transition period in our company's journey – after the fairly recent investment from Goldman Sachs and the very recent appointment of Frank Vella as only the second CEO in our history. The cutoffs for the Enterprise BI Platform Waves were early enough that some of our biggest changes weren’t complete, so some of our best work isn’t represented in the report.

As a result, the higher specific rankings we see from that time are primarily in key strengths of ours (big data, mobile) and our product vision. In essence, Boris is encouraging us to continue developing our products in the direction we've been taking them and to build our market awareness.

I’d be happy to talk more about this report (or any others), so email me or let's strike up a conversation on Twitter.