Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms

Jul 21, 2015
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BI and Analytics Platform Capabilities Definition

The BI and analytics platform market is undergoing a fundamental shift. During the past ten years, BI platform investments have largely been in IT-led consolidation and standardization projects for large-scale systems-of-record reporting. These have tended to be highly governed and centralized, where IT-authored production reports were pushed out to inform a broad array of information consumers and analysts. Now, a wider range of business users are demanding access to interactive styles of analysis and insights from advanced analytics, without requiring them to have IT or data science skills. As demand from business users for pervasive access to data discovery capabilities grows, IT wants to deliver on this requirement without sacrificing governance.

While the need for system-of-record reporting to run businesses remains, there is a significant change in how companies are satisfying these and new business-user-driven requirements. They are increasingly shifting from using the installed base, traditional, IT-centric platforms that are the enterprise standard, to more decentralized data discovery deployments that are now spreading across the enterprise. The transition is to platforms that can be rapidly implemented and can be used by either analysts and business users, to find insights quickly, or by IT to quickly build analytics content to meet business requirements to deliver more timely business benefits. Gartner estimates that more than half of net new purchasing is data-discovery-driven (see "Market Trends: Business Intelligence Tipping Points Herald a New Era of Analytics"). This shift to a decentralized model that is empowering more business users also drives the need for a governed data discovery approach.

This is a continuation of a six-year trend, where the installed-base, IT-centric platforms are routinely being complemented, and in 2014, they were increasingly displaced for new deployments and projects with business-user-driven data discovery and interactive analysis techniques. This is also increasing IT's concerns and requirements around governance as deployments grow. Making analytics more accessible and pervasive to a broader range of users and use cases is the primary goal of organizations making this transition.

Traditional BI platform vendors have tried very hard to meet the needs of the current market by delivering their own business-user-driven data discovery capabilities and enticing adoption through bundling and integration with the rest of their stack. However, their offerings have been pale imitations of the successful data discovery specialists (the gold standard being Tableau) and as a result, have had limited adoption to date. Their investments in next-generation data discovery capabilities have the potential to differentiate them and spur adoption, but these offerings are works in progress (for example, SAP Lumira and IBM Watson Analytics).

Also, in support of wider user adoption, companies and independent software vendors are increasingly embedding traditional reporting, dashboards and interactive analysis into business processes or applications. They are also incorporating more advanced and prescriptive analytics built from statistical functions and algorithms available within the BI platform into analytics applications. This will deliver insights to a broader range of analytics users that lack advanced analytics skills.

As companies implement a more decentralized and bimodal governed data discovery approach to BI, business users and analysts are also demanding access to self-service capabilities beyond data discovery and interactive visualization of IT-curated data sources. This includes access to sophisticated, yet business-user-accessible, data preparation tools. Business users are also looking for easier and faster ways to discover relevant patterns and insights in data. In response, BI and analytics vendors are introducing self-service data preparation (along with a number of startups such as ClearStory Data, Paxata, Trifacta and Tamr), and smart data discovery and pattern detection capabilities (also an area for startups such as BeyondCore and DataRPM) to address these emerging requirements and to create differentiation in the market. The intent is to expand the use of analytics, particularly insight from advanced analytics, to a broad range of consumers and nontraditional BI users — increasingly on mobile devices and deployed in the cloud.

Interest in cloud BI declined slightly during 2014, to 42% compared with last year's 45% — of customer survey respondents reporting they either are (28%) or are planning to deploy (14%) BI in some form of private, public or hybrid cloud. The interest continued to lean toward private cloud and comes primarily from those lines of business (LOBs) where data for analysis is already in the cloud. As data gravity shifts to the cloud and interest in deploying BI in the cloud expands, new market entrants such as Salesforce Analytics Cloud, cloud BI startups and cloud BI offerings from on-premises vendors are emerging to meet this demand and offer more options to buyers of BI and analytics platforms. While most BI vendors now have a cloud strategy, many leaders of BI and analytics initiatives do not have a strategy for how to combine and integrate cloud services with their on-premises capabilities.

Moreover, companies are increasingly building analytics applications, leveraging a range of new multistructured data sources that are both internal and external to the enterprise and stored in the cloud and on-premises to conduct new types of analysis, such as location analytics, sentiment and graph analytics. The demand for native access to multistructured and streaming data combined with interactive visualization and exploration capabilities comes mostly from early adopters, but are becoming increasingly important platform features.

As a result of the market dynamics discussed above, for this Magic Quadrant, Gartner defines BI and analytics as a software platform that delivers 13 critical capabilities across three categories — enable, produce and consume — in support of four use cases for BI and analytics. These capabilities support building an analytics portfolio that maps to shifting requirements from IT to the business. From delivery of insights to the analytics consumer, through an information portal often deployed centrally by IT, to an analytics workbench used by analysts requiring interactive and smart data exploration (see "How to Architect the BI and Analytics Platform"), these capabilities enable BI leaders to support a range of functions and use cases from system-of-record reporting and analytic applications to decentralized self-service data discovery. A data science lab would be an additional component of an analytics portfolio. Predictive and prescriptive analytics platform capabilities and vendors are covered in the "Magic Quadrant for Advanced Analytics Platforms."

See Note 1 for how capability definitions in this year's Magic Quadrant have been modified from last year to reflect our current view of the critical capabilities for BI and analytics platforms.

The 13 Critical Capabilities and Use Cases

Vendors are assessed for their support of four main use cases:

  1. Centralized BI Provisioning: Supports a workflow from data to IT-delivered-and-managed content.
  2. Decentralized Analytics: Supports a workflow from data to self-service analytics.
  3. Governed Data Discovery: Supports a workflow from data to self-service analytics to systems-of-record, IT-managed content with governance, reusability and promotability.
  4. OEM/Embedded BI: Supports a workflow from data to embedded BI content in a process or application.

Vendors are also assessed according to the following 13 critical capabilities. Subcriteria for each are listed in Note 2. How well Magic Quadrant Leaders' and Challengers' platforms support these critical capabilities is explored in greater detail in the "Critical Capabilities for BI and Analytics Platforms" (to be published shortly).

BI and Analytics Platform Capabilities for 2015
  • Business User Data Mashup and Modeling: "Drag and drop," user-driven data combination of different sources and the creation of analytic models such as user-defined measures, sets, groups and hierarchies. Advanced capabilities include semantic autodiscovery, intelligent joins, intelligent profiling, hierarchy generation, data lineage and data blending on varied data sources, including multistructured data.
  • Internal Platform Integration: A common look and feel, install, query engine, shared metadata, promotability across all platform components.
  • BI Platform Administration: Capabilities that enable securing and administering users, scaling the platform, optimizing performance and ensuring high availability and disaster recovery. These capabilities should be common across all platform components.
  • Metadata Management: Tools for enabling users to leverage the same systems-of-record semantic model and metadata. They should provide a robust and centralized way for administrators to search, capture, store, reuse and publish metadata objects, such as dimensions, hierarchies, measures, performance metrics/KPIs, and report layout objects, parameters and so on. Administrators should have the ability to promote a business-user-defined data mashup and metadata to the systems-of-record metadata.
  • Cloud Deployment: Platform as a service and analytic application as a service capabilities for building, deploying and managing analytics and analytic applications in the cloud, based on data both in the cloud and on-premises.
  • Development and Integration: The platform should provide a set of programmatic and visual tools and a development workbench for building reports, dashboards, queries and analysis. It should enable scalable and personalized distribution, scheduling and alerts, and workflow of BI and analytics content and applications via email, to a portal or to mobile devices. It should include the ability to embed and customize BI platform components in a business process, application or portal.
  • Free-Form Interactive Exploration: Enables the exploration of data via the manipulation of chart images, with the color, brightness, size, shape and motion of visual objects representing aspects of the dataset being analyzed. This includes an array of visualization options that go beyond those of pie, bar and line charts, including heat and tree maps, geographic maps, scatter plots and other special-purpose visuals. These tools enable users to analyze the data by interacting directly with a visual representation of it.
  • Analytic Dashboards and Content: The ability to create highly interactive dashboards and content with visual exploration and embedded advanced and geospatial analytics to be consumed by others.
  • IT-Developed Reporting and Dashboards: Provides the ability to create highly formatted, print-ready and interactive reports, with or without parameters. IT-authored or centrally authored dashboards are a style of reporting that graphically depicts performance measures. This includes the ability to publish multiobject, linked reports and parameters with intuitive and interactive displays; dashboards often employ visualization components such as gauges, sliders, checkboxes and maps, and are often used to show the actual value of the measure compared with a goal or target value. Dashboards can represent operational or strategic information.
  • Traditional Styles of Analysis: Ad hoc query enables users to ask their own questions of the data, without relying on IT to create a report. In particular, the tools must have a reusable semantic layer to enable users to navigate available data sources, predefined metrics, hierarchies and so on. Online analytical processing (OLAP) enables users to analyze data with fast query and calculation performance, enabling a style of analysis known as "slicing and dicing." Users are able to navigate multidimensional drill paths. They also have the ability to write-back values to a database for planning and "what if?" modeling. This capability could span a variety of data architectures (such as relational, multidimensional or hybrid) and storage architectures (such as disk-based or in-memory).
  • Mobile: Enables organizations to develop and deliver content to mobile devices in a publishing and/or interactive mode, and takes advantage of mobile devices' native capabilities, such as touchscreen, camera, location awareness and natural-language query.
  • Collaboration and Social Integration: Enables users to share and discuss information, analysis, analytic content and decisions via discussion threads, chat, annotations and storytelling.
  • Embedded BI: Capabilities — including a software developer's kit with APIs and support for open standards — for creating and modifying analytic content, visualizations and applications, and embedding them into a business process and/or an application or portal. These capabilities can reside outside the application, reusing the analytic infrastructure, but must be easily and seamlessly accessible from inside the application, without forcing users to switch between systems. The capabilities for integrating BI and analytics with the application architecture will enable users to choose where in the business process the analytics should be embedded.

Magic Quadrant.......

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