This is one of a series of posts on business intelligence and related analytic technology subjects, keying off the 2011/2012 version of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms. The four posts in the series cover:
- (This post) Overview comments about the 2011/2012 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms, as well as a link to the actual document.
- Business intelligence industry trends — some of Gartner’s thoughts but mainly my own.
- Company-by-company comments based on the 2011/2012 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms.
- Third-party analytics, pulling together and expanding on some points I made in the first three posts.
Gartner’s 2011/2012 Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms is out. I shall now comment, much as I did on the recent Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Warehouse Database Management Systems, and at more length than I did on the Gartner MQ for BI Platforms three years back.
I have one current link.
The first thing to note about any Gartner Magic Quadrant is its biases. Some of the bigger grains-of-salt for me were:
- Gartner’s Magic Quadrant methodology has some seriously silly aspects, for example giving high importance to breadth of sales channels as part of “Completeness of Vision”. (Basically, “Completeness of Vision” might as well have been called “Sales and Marketing Maturity”.)
- Gartner based the whole Magic Quadrant report on a survey of 1364 users, of which 1244 — i.e. 91.2% — were vendor-supplied references.
My concerns about that latter point include:
- The most important corporate skill you can have to rank well on such a Gartner MQ is great knowledge of who your happiest references are.
- Smaller vendors might have less opportunity to cherry-pick particularly happy references than large vendors do. (Vendors had to submit 30 references each to be included.)
- If certain vendors’ user bases are just more demanding, and thus give tougher grades, those vendors could look bad when Gartner compares scores across vendors.
- Anything quantitative in the results could be misleading. For example, Gartner figures for average number of seat/installation in the sample would be implausible as estimates across vendors’ entire user bases.
Some of the more excusable “after all, we have to decide something” aspects were:
- The word “platform” is part of the title. If you’re not a broad-spectrum BI vendor, this isn’t a report that will look favorably on you.
- Gartner seemed a bit unclear as to how relevant SAS’ great strength in predictive analytics is to assessing SAS as a BI platform vendor.
- SaaS-only BI products were not included.
The whole Gartner Magic Quadrant was based on a decently thought-out set of 14 aspects of a “business intelligence platform”, which Gartner broke out as:
- BI infrastructure, which seems to boil down to “integration among the various tools you offer”.
- Metadata management, in an expansive sense of “metadata”.
- Development tools, for programmers and non-programmers alike, an orientation I agree with.
- Collaboration, described in terms that strike me as behind the state of the art.
- Information delivery
- Reporting, which Gartner rightly thinks should be cross-platform and interactive, and which Garter says sort of includes dashboards, but also …
- … dashboards.
- Ad hoc query, into which category Gartner bundles middleware for query interpretation, execution, and management.
- Microsoft Office Integration — in particular, the ability to use Microsoft Excel as your BI interface.
- Search-based BI, which sounds a whole lot like Endeca.
- Mobile BI, especially the user-interface aspects (presumably because disconnected operation was bundled into the “ad-hoc query” section).
- OLAP (OnLine Analytic Processing), in the restrictive slice-and-dice sense of the term (which is the sense I prefer).
- Interactive visualization, which sounds a whole lot like QlikView, Tableau, and Spotfire.
- Predictive modeling and data mining, which I guess Gartner would like to see integrated with business intelligence. I find it bizarre that this area is included but planning isn’t.
- Scorecards, which I think were a screwy idea from the getgo, but which some organizations obviously believe in.