Gartner

First impressions of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms 2020

It’s that exciting time of year once again when Gartner releases its new Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms. It is without doubt one of the year’s highlights for all of us Analytics-nerds. This year’s study is definitely as interesting to read as those from previous years. In fact I dare say it is particularly relevant reading for anyone who works with or is interested in the sphere of Analytics. If you don’t have the time or energy to read the full study, I have tried to summarise my impressions of the report below.

Importent phenomena and trends

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant 2020 for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms is released in February every year. The report evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of the 22 suppliers who have qualified for inclusion in the report. It makes for highly interesting reading both for those who already have tools in place, and for those who are thinking of acquiring new tools. In addition to monitoring the performance of the individual companies in the ranking, it is always interesting to examine how different phenomena make their entrance as concepts before being gradually developed and sometimes emerging as truly major trends according to the Gartner assessment.

One such phenomenon is Augmented Analytics, which we have previously written about in other blog posts. Gartner continues to cement this concept in its new report. Augmented Analytics is an over-riding term for the Machine Learning concept, and similar methods are used to support aspects such as data preparation, the generation of new insights, and explanations of how information should be interpreted. The aim is to simplify things for users and developers and to make them more independent, for instance in Self Service BI. (Just for fun I did a search of the concept in last year’s study compared with this year’s study. Result for 2020: 39 hits, result for 2019: 51 hits. So somewhat fewer this year, but it is nevertheless a concept that recurs both in general literature and linked to individual suppliers.)

The report also mentions that 2019 was the year when migration to the Cloud leaped ahead. Gartner believes that players with an extensive Cloud ecosystem now dominate the market. This closely matches my own observations of the market, not just regarding suppliers but also in respect of customers implementing new solutions and updating their older systems.

One area where Gartner has shifted back and forth over the years is Enterprise Reporting (classic standard reports such as SSRS, Business Objects and Cognos). They are now back again and Gartner highlights that one important property for suppliers is to show how their modern Analytics solutions can integrate standard reports in a seamless way.

One sub-category within Analytics that Gartner takes up in the report is Embedded Analytics, where for instance components from solutions are used in a different context, for example in an external Web, in an intranet, integrated into other applications such as business systems and so on. These application areas mean that Analytics reaches beyond conventional user groups internally and all the way to customers, suppliers and other sectors.

Developments for various suppliers

It’s always exciting to write about and discuss tool choices. For many people, the issue of tools seems to be virtually a religion and it can be very sensitive to criticise or even spotlight certain tools. Nonetheless, it is important to truly try to examine this issue in depth, beyond all the preconceived notions. The Gartner report is definitely a useful guide in this respect.

This year’s edition offers many changes, but the leading quadrant remains intact. Microsoft, Tableau, Qlik and last year’s newcomer ThoughtSpot are once again the leaders in this year’s quadrant. The graphics below show the differences between this year’s and last year’s quadrants:

Gartner2019-2020

Like I said, the leaders are the same, with relatively small shifts (more detailed comments below). Looker, which has been acquired by Google, makes its appearance in the Challengers quadrant together with Tibco. The Visionaries remain unchanged apart from Tibco moving to the Challengers sector and Yellowfin migrating from Niche Players. It is noteworthy that Oracle is once again one of the Visionaries.

I have chosen to write a little more about some of the companies that are currently major players, or that I believe will become major players, on the Nordic market:

Microsoft

  • Microsoft still takes the lead thanks to the sheer width of its offer and its market penetration. Gartner notes that Power BI is currently “going viral”. We feel this effect on the Nordic market too. At the moment it seems as though Power BI is the benchmark that everyone else has to beat. Choosing Power BI as a tool is not a choice that needs to be defended.
  • Among Microsoft’s strengths, Gartner discusses the company’s highly comprehensive solutions that cover several different areas in Analytics. Gartner feels that they are among the market’s broadest solutions from the functionality perspective, and the product’s future development visions are promising too.
  • Among the uncertainties we find the on-premises version, for customers that do not want to use the Cloud version. It lacks important functionality, and that too is ourexperience of this product. Gartner also raises the alert for those who want to use other Cloud solutions than Microsoft’s own Azure in combination with Power BI.

Tableau 

  • Tableau is now owned by Salesforce and thus far we may not perhaps have seen so much impact on Tableau. The brands are run entirely separately but we can also see that certain offers are now being made more niche-oriented for Salesforce’s traditional target groups in CRM.
  • So far Gartner regards Tableau and Salesforce as two distinctly separate solutions. Things may change next year. Salesforce is also regarded independently as a successful player, particularly in the field of Augmented Analytics.
  • Compared with previous years, Tableau has widened its offer, particularly within data management, hence the move somewhat closer to Microsoft in the quadrant.
  • Tableau’s most important strength is still its customers’ enthusiasm over the product. They have many fans! Tableau also enjoys continued strong global momentum and has succeeded in establishing a strong presence in the Nordic region where it has secured a number of large and small customers. Tableau is conducting a concerted effort in the Nordic market with multiple offices and a lot of in-house personnel, as well as its various partners.
  • Among its weaknesses are the risks involved in the Salesforce integration, and the challenge of solution governance, which can often be rather difficult to control.

Qlik

  • Qlik is one of the absolutely strongest players in the Nordic region and the company has a strong market share here.
  • In recent years they have undertaken a number of acquisitions and are in the process of being transformed into something much broader than before. For instance, Qlik has made exciting acquisitions in Data Management (Attunity and others) and has also developed more Augmented Analytics in its product. I imagine Qlik is a little disappointed that Gartner did not give them credit for this and moved them further to the right among the Visionaries. Having said that, the competition is tough.
  • Among Qlik’s strengths, Gartner notes the company’s ability to support several different Cloud suppliers, which they were the first to achieve. Broadening of the product portfolio is also listed as a strength. Finally, positive mention is made of Qlik’s attempt to create better preconditions for Data Literacy (further developed analytical ability).
  • On the downside, mention is once again made of difficulties in getting old customers to migrate from Qlik View to Qlik Sense. There is also some concern about Qlik’s development as a company and its ability to integrate all its various acquisitions.

ThoughtSpot

  • ThoughtSpot is a player characterised through and through by Augmented Analytics, with their starting-point being to search for information instead of creating finished reports for all purposes.
  • Thus far they have had only limited impact in Sweden but this may change. Gartner takes up the lack of global market shares as one of their weaknesses. However, their search-driven vision is still quite unique.

Looker

  • Last year the company was acquired by Google and many people believe this will have considerable significance in the future. We have noted considerable interest from large and small players in Sweden.
  • Looker has a new and rather unusual solution in the sense that it does not rely on in-memory or cube technology. Instead the data remains in the underlying database, which feels very sensible in a modern Cloud context with a lot of database power. However, it is a rather narrow product that requires quite a lot from whoever develops the solution.
  • It should be mentioned that Google’s acquisition was noted in June but was not entirely completed when Gartner wrote its report. This means that in this quadrant they are registered as independent. It will not be until the next one that they will be fully included as part of Google. Watch this space.

IBM

  • IBM Cognos Analytics are still big on the market among some companies, but have slipped in Gartner’s reports in recent years. This year they are among the niche players.
  • Gartner still feels they are one of the few players on the market that support a very broad approach, everything from standard reports (Enterprise Reporting) to Governed Self-Service and visual research.
  • So why do they end up so low in the ranking? Gartner’s analysis is not entirely clear but they mention that IBM has lost market momentum in general, that they seldom succeed in maintaining their position as a customer’s only Analytics solution, and that their price level can be an obstacle.

SAP

  • SAP is one of the players to have made most progress with their Cloud transition. SAP Analytics Cloud is a strong solution that is not far behind the toughest competitors in the leader quadrant. Gartner notes that SAP’s brand suffers from a history of having old and tired BI solutions but that SAP Analytics Cloud truly is an excellent solution that has made a huge improvement. This matches our experience too.
  • One of their strengths is that if the client is a major SAP customer, they get a lot free by using SAP Analytics Cloud. There is also an attractive bridge to the budget/forecasting solutions in the same family. SAP have also made huge strides in the development of Data Science functionality in their solutions.
  • Some of the weaknesses noted are that despite all this functionality, the solution is growing less compared with the competition, particularly outside the SAP sphere. Another weakness that is noted is their Cloud-only focus.

Oracle

  • Oracle made a comeback a couple of years ago and this year has migrated from Niche to Visionaries for the first time since 2017. Gartner writes a lot about Oracle this year and for my part I am naturally curious and want to find out more. In particular Augmented Analytics is highlighted as a strength in their Oracle Analytics Cloud.

SAS

  • SAS have modernised and cloudified their broad platform under the name SAS Viya. They are also one of the players to have worked longest with Data Science in their solutions. SAS too is investing significantly in the development of functionality within Augmented Analytics. Like SAP, Gartner feels that they are struggling with the fact that the brand has a history that may be difficult to erase.

 

Conclusion

It is always very interesting to read through Gartner’s reports, which are well-written and thoroughly researched. This year’s report was no exception. We will no doubt return to this year’s Magic Quadrant and more in-depth analyses in the future. If you would like to discuss market developments and what they mean for your particular organisation, don’t hesitate to contact me or any of my expert colleagues.

We also try to supplement Gartner’s and other experts’ global perspectives with a Swedish perspective on market developments. We do this not least by carrying out an annual Swedish Business Intelligence & Data Science study. We are currently in the process of compiling this report and will present it at the Business Intelligence & Data Science Day 2020.

/Thomas Svahn