Gartner releases 2013 BI Magic Quadrant

Summary:As a follow-up to the data warehouse Magic Quadrant, here's a roundup of Gartner's annual Business Intelligence Magic Quadrant report.

Last week, I provided an overview of Gartner's data warehouse Magic Quadrant (DW MQ). I explained that the DW MQ has a lot of significance for the Big Data world. The same is true of the Business Intelligence Magic quadrant (BI MQ) which was released just five days later. As such, I thought it a good idea to let the DW MQ analysis sink in and then provide a similar summary for the BI MQ this week.

The BI MQ has many more vendors than does the DW MQ (with all of last year's vendors retained and three new ones added to this year's MQ), and so I'm not going to each vendor included in the report. As before, I will recommend you read the full report in any case, and will instead concentrate on some of the trends and themes that evidenced themselves in the report that were not explicitly spelled out.

2013 BI MQ
Image Credit: Gartner


A BI Vendor Primer

Before covering those trends, though, some background on the BI vendor lineup may be in order.

One thing to keep in mind as you consider both the BI MQ and DW MQ reports, is that the "MISO" vendors (Microsoft, IBM, SAP and Oracle) figure prominently in both. There are major pure plays on the BI MQ side, too: just as Teradata is a specialist vendor in the DW space, but a substantial force nonetheless, so too are a certain vendors in the BI world, including SAS and MicroStrategy.

BI has more subcategories than does the DW space. One of them - involving interactive visualization for data exploration and discovery, has crowned its own kings: Tableau is chief among them, QlikTech's QlikView is right behind it and Tibco's Spotfire is there too.

The Big Data world is dominated by Open Source technologies; the BI world, not so much. But there are Open Source BI players, and three of them -- Pentaho, Jaspersoft and Actuate -- make a significant showing in this year's BI MQ.

And speaking of the Big Data world, you will see in the BI MQ report, as you did in the DW MQ, that partnerships and connectors to major Hadoop distributions, and the beginnings of standardization on the R programming language for statistics and predictive analytics, is starting to take place.

In fact, in the near future, we may find that distinguishing between DW, BI and Big Data markets will be a contrived endeavor. These worlds will likely become like neighborhoods in the same city, even if today they seem like loosely federated states. The very reason this blog is called Big on Data (and not just "Big Data") is in anticipation of such unification.

I'll get down off my soapbox now though. Let's run through the trends evident in this year's report.

Microsoft leads in ability to execute

As I did with the DW report, I'll start with the "winners" in this MQ. Each axis ("ability to execute" and "completeness of vision") had its own winner, and that for the former is Microsoft. I tend to go out of my way to point out my bias on Microsoft. I built much of my career around Microsoft technologies, especially its developer and BI stacks, and I served on the company's BI Partner Advisory Council for several years. I've long thought the MS BI stack provided significant value, and have watched that value increase recently with the introduction of PowerPivot and SQL Server Analysis Services Tabular mode (in-memory column store databases that are highly integrated with Excel and SharePoint) and Power View (interactive visualization technology integrated with those same products). Microsoft has also recently added Master Data Management and Data Quality tools that, while still maturing, round out very nicely a stack that costs little to nothing for customers already using SQL Server, Office and SharePoint.

So it's interesting to see strong recognition from Gartner this year of the Microsoft BI stack. Couple that with the Microsoft's rise on both axes in the DW MQ report, and the impending release of its HDInsight Hadoop distribution for Windows Server and the Windows Azure cloud platform, and I think we're at a point where everyone needs to pay attention. Again, I am far from objective on this point, but even those that are objective have to take notice.

Meanwhile, Microsoft continues as a laggard in the mobile BI space. While it is technically possible to work with Power View on a Windows 8 tablet, this is not the case for iOS, Android, or even Microsoft's own Windows RT platform. Power View is still based on Silverlight, which is a technology all but disowned by Redmond, supported only on the full Windows desktop and MacOS (but, again, not iOS) platforms. Microsoft is out of excuses on this one, and it's no wonder that the company did not win on the MQ's completeness of vision axis. Which brings us to the company that did.

IBM leads in completeness of vision

IBM, if nothing else, is a master of acquisitions.  While it's long had its DB2 database, and some BI enhancements surrounding it, the company's acquisition of Cognos (and thus TM1) and SPSS, as well as acquisitions in the analytics space like Netezza and Vivisimo; and even marketing technology acquisitions Unica and Coremetrics, are what have really propelled IBM in the BI space.  With so many products in its portfolio, and with subsequent organic additions, like Cognos Insight, Cognos Express and InfoSphere Streams (a complex event processing engine), it seems almost a no-brainer to award IBM the winner in the completeness of vision axis. 

But Gartner does have cautions for IBM, like performance and ease of use, discussed below.  The downside of so many acquisitions is the monumental integration burden that comes with them.  IBM has, however, shown that with time, they make the integration happen.  Given that IBM is so focused on services, that's especially impressive.  Then again, Big Data and analytics are so important to growth in the services business these days, that such strong efforts are certainly justified and, ultimately, good for the bottom line.

Topics: Big Data


Andrew Brust has worked in the software industry for 25 years as a developer, consultant, entrepreneur and CTO, specializing in application development, databases and business intelligence technology. He has been a developer magazine columnist and conference speaker since the mid-90s, and a technology book writer and blogger since 2005. A... Full Bio

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