Brace yourself: the Gartner analysts who penned this year’s Advanced Analytics Platforms Magic Quadrant (MQ) expect companies that compete using advanced analytics and proprietary algorithms will disrupt entire industries by 2018.

It’s practically a call to action unless, of course, you’re content being a wallflower in the land of digital opportunity.

And that’s not much of an exaggeration. Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner analysts Lisa Kart, Gareth Herschel, Alexander Linden and Jim Hare also forecasted that by 2020 about 40 percent of new analytics spending will be for prescriptive and predictive analytics.

This is, no doubt, a market worth watching.

Sweet 16

A total of 16 vendors made it into this year’s MQ, the same number as last year. But some of the players have changed. Dell joined the Leaders Quadrant, which it now shares with perennial players SAS, IBM, RapidMiner and KNIME.

Accenture, Lavastorm and Megaputer made their debut in Advanced Analytics MQ. Because they are not yet household names, here is a little more information:

Accenture i4C Arrives as a Niche Player

Chicago-based Accenture bought its way into the Advanced Analytics marketplace through the acquisition of Milan, Italy-based i4C in 2014. Accenture’s advanced analytics platform sits within its Accenture Digital business unit.

What’s remarkable about i4C is that it’s configurable. In other words, it can provide business users access to advanced analytics. This exceptional because advanced analytics, by definition, aren’t simple; the typical user is a data scientist.

What’s the downside? i4C is a small vendor with a limited global presence and its innovation, diversity of use cases, and product capabilities still need to be improved, wrote the analysts.

Lavastorm Debuts with Execution and Vision

Boston-based Lavastorm has been around since 2002, so it’s a wonder that it’s not better known. Its data pipelining and data preparation tools, the wide variety of data types it supports and its flexibility and control are standouts.

The fact that it isn’t widely known is limiting, according to Gartner. There’s also a concern that it’s too dependent on TIBCO Software, which leaves it vulnerable. (TIBCO Software, incidentally, was not included in this year’s MQ because it didn’t meet the qualifying criteria for providing a visual composition framework.)

Megaputer Excels in Text Analytics

Megaputer, based in Bloomington, Ind., stands out in its ability to analyze text in 14 languages. Megaputer analyses are typically used for reporting and machine learning. Aside from poor visibility in the marketplace, Megaputer doesn’t support Predictive Model Markup Language. (PMML).

Magic Quadrant for Advanced Analytics Platforms

Dell Named a Leader

Think Dell, and you're far more likely to think of PC’s and servers than “advanced analytics.” But the hardware maker sells market leading software.

Dell, based in Round Rock, Texas, became a player in the advanced analytics when it acquired StatSoft two years ago. Since that time Statistica, as Dell’s analytics’ product is now called, has gained an even more intuitive UI and an imbedded interactive visualization engine (via Kitenga integration). To get more familiar with the components, read our article here.

Gartner’s main concerns about Dell’s analytics offerings are more business than product-related. The analysts reported that customers found costs difficult to predict and control, that pricing is too complex, and that Dell’s EMC acquisition might call into question the future of software at Dell.

Microsoft Sneaking-up on the Leaders

Like last year, IBM, based in Armonk, New York; Zurich, Switzerland-based KNIME (the name stands for "Konstanz Information Miner"); Boston-based RapidMiner; and SAS is based in Cary, N.C., own the Leaders Quadrant (though now they share it with Dell), but Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft nearly outranks them in “Completeness of Vision.”

Gartner cites the Cortana Analytics Gallery, with its broad partner ecosystem as “the best example of an analytics cloud marketplace” Azure Machine Learning is another product standout, not only because of the capabilities that it offers to citizen data scientists but also because scalability on the Azure cloud is consumption based and therefor cost effective. And, finally, Microsoft’s open source integrations with the likes of Python and R, suggests new and interesting capabilities.

Microsoft doesn’t measure up to the Leaders in Ability to Execute, though. The analysts note that “cloud only” offerings come with inherent limitations, and that not everyone wants to do business in the heavens just yet. Also, customers who came to Microsoft via its acquisition of Revolution Analytics aren’t sure where they stand.

SAP Approaches the Edge

SAP, based in Walldorf, Germany ranks with the Leaders when it comes to execution but falls just a tad short on vision because it’s missing things like collaboration and edge deployment and integration with tools like Python and Spark. 

It’s worth noting that the latter problem is likely to be short lived because SAP HANA Vora is scheduled to be released by July. As we wrote last September, the new in-memory query engine which plugs into the Apache Spark execution framework promises to provide interactive analytics on Hadoop. In other words, it is supposed to bring business process awareness across enterprise apps, analytics, big data and IoT sources.

The Little Engine that Could

Alteryx, based in Irvine, Calif., has been approaching the Leaders Quadrant for more than two years. It already meets the mark for “Completeness of Vision.”

Gartner likes its data preparation and advanced analytics capabilities, its Alteryx Gallery, and says that its customer satisfaction ratings are over the top. But visualization tools, at least the kind that Gartner analysts were looking for seem to be lacking. 

Alteryx does provide these through partnerships with Tableau, Qlik and Microsoft, but visualization was such a huge factor in this MQ that some of last year’s MQ dwellers weren’t invited to this year’s party because they didn’t offer it.

Title image "Crown" (CC BY-ND 2.0) by  Rob Lee