The business intelligence landscape is fracturing as it evolves.

In a market once characterized by applications that covered all the bases, cloud computing and the availability of Software-as-a-Service means many vendors are starting to specialize in analytics, data discovery and visualization.

Out of this splintered market, the value of business intelligence applications is forcing vendors to focus on line-of-business support and ease of use concerns.

BI Value Matrix 2014

The findings are contained in Nucleus’s Technology Value Matrix 2014 for Business Intelligence. It is a crowded matrix with the majority of vendors in either the leaders’ or facilitators’ quadrants.

Leaders are the vendors that provide value for money combined with high levels of functionality. Facilitators are vendors whose products are easy to use, deploy and manage.

The other quadrants include the expert quadrant, which is dominated by products that are optimized for big data applications that require expert developers. The final, core quadrant consists of providers that are affordable and easy to buy and deploy.

6 BI Trends

The Matrix, generally speaking, focuses on platforms and applications that provide value and functionality in the key business intelligence areas of:

  • Enterprise-class scale and data availability
  • Transformation of raw data into analytic-ready queries
  • Data discovery and analysis tools,
  • Presentation of analytic outcomes
  • Embedding BI functionality into applications.

As the market splits and fractures around these key functionalities, Nucleus has identified six key trends that characterize the BI space:

1. Data discovery

If enterprises are only beginning to understand it, discovery is starting to emerge as a key element in providing value for BI applications. This is particularly true of vendors like Qlik and Tableau, which have raised business users’ expectations on how they can interact with data.

2. Collaboration

This has emerged as a “must have” rather than “desirable” functionality BI. According to Nucleus, the presence, or no, of collaboration is now being used by organizations to assess the viability of a given business intelligence investment.

3. Unified business views

As more and more data sets are being used in organizations, the ability to provide a common view and definition of business data has become a core requirement. This is particularly true as more and more organizations incorporate more and more external data sources.

4. Cloud computing

There are numerous advantages of moving business intelligence to the cloud, including a reduction in on-premises server costs. The cloud also offers easily scalable processing resources as well as the ability to store huge amounts of data cheaply.

5. Mobile BI

Mobile BI has also become a "must have" versus a "nice to have" option for organizations. Many vendors are now offering mobile versions of their desktop applications that mirror each other exactly. In parallel to this is a rise in user expectations around the capabilities of mobile BI.

6. Big data, bigger money

BI and performance management solutions have been making big bucks over the past six months as investors start to smell some real dollar potential with the combination of BI and big data.

Value Matrix Leaders

BI Leaders are defined by their ability to combine key BI functionalities that provide value with high levels of usability. In this value matrix, the leaders include Birst, GoodData, IBM, Information Builders, MicroStrategy Microsoft, SAP and SAS.


A Leader in the value matrices for the last two years, Birst has been identified by Nucleus as a leading cloud BI vendor by linking cloud BI with visualization capabilities and data warehousing.

Birst is one of the real market disruptors, with Nucleus pointing to the fact that Birst’s integration of Amazon Redshift into an integrated analytics solution provides organizations with a unique route towards rapid return-on-investment (ROI) in business intelligence deployments.

This is combined with high levels of customer service and data management capabilities that provide a real differentiator for Birst. The effect is that, overall, Birst provides lower costs on investments in BI. Going forward, Nucleus says Birst will support more cloud and on-premises application through new connectors.


Nucleus says that GoodData has made the leaders’ quadrant on the basis of its usability, data governance, licensing and cloud model. Users were able to access data in a self-service way, which has made GoodData’s products one of the more popular product applications on the market.

Organizations also like its Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) as it enables them focus on business, and not the IT systems that are supporting the work. As an extensible platform, its PaaS offering is targeted at midsized companies and large enterprises.

GoodData also provides APIs for defining and executing custom predictions, as well as offering a bulk export capability for sharing data with data discovery tools from other vendors. It is currently focusing on social analytics for sentiment analysis.


According to Nucleus, IBM’s core BI performance management, predictive analytics and big data management have all demonstrated considerable business value with multiple documented projects providing payback in less than 12 months and kept it in the leaders’ quadrant.

It is impossible to outline all the products here. In general terms, though, IBM has continued to develop its analytics functionality over the year adding them to its procurement, sales performance management, social collaboration and product life cycle management products.

IBM has also broadened its product suite offerings to promote usage with small-and-medium businesses, especially with products such as IBM Cognos Insight, IBM SPSS Modeler Advantage and IBM Cognos Express, that can bring enterprise capabilities to the individual user and smaller organizations.

In January, IBM announced a new business unit, focuses on IBM Watson and delivering cloud based cognitive innovations that will continue over the course of this year.

Information Builders

Information Builders made it into the leaders’ quadrant on the back of the development of its portfolio of data management offering with hundreds of sources, its core BI application, its packaged applications and its advanced analytics, and its mobile apps.

Late last year, Information Builders announced the availability of InfoApps, a self-service environment that provides an “app store” delivery mechanism that enable it extend its apps to a much wider user base.

Nucleus says Information Builders is gaining market strength with deployments in excess of two million users by providing the ease-of-use and data integration such large deployments necessitate.


From the very beginning, Microsoft has committed itself to developing the Office 365 suite by the continuous development of new functionality. Last February, for BI, it put Power BI on general release, and in the past week has already released an upgrade with forecasting capacities.

According to Nucleus, Office 365 provides small companies with limited IT staff access to tools that would normally be beyond its reach, including BI. With Power BI for Office 365. Microsoft extends the Office 365 investment for on-premises data warehouses as well as cloud-based, easy-touse self-service data.

Nucleus says that Microsoft continues to build the investment that customers have made in the Office platform, something which should improve confidence in Office 365 developments.


Recent upgrades to MicroStrategy cloud-based deployments along with the full functionality of the BI platform has seen many of its customers claiming reductions in IT costs, giving MicroStrategy a strong position in the leaders’ quadrant.

The report also found that many organizations are choosing MicroStrategy to run on top of Amazon Web Services because of the ease of deployment, its powerful analytics, its mobile app development environment and the ability to scale.

Its BI offerings are end-to-end solutions that fully integrated data discovery offering while its VisualInsight product is designed for fast and intuitive used with capabilities like drag-and- drop manipulations, or drop-zones, for multidimensional analysis.


SAP continues to focus on building improvements into its high performance analytics, predictive analytics and visualizations, cloud deployments and user experiences. In fact, it is the user experience that has pushed SAP into the leaders’ quadrant, along with the developments of in-memory database capabilities in HANA.

According to Nucleus, SAP’s BI solutions product strategy is focused on developing strong user experiences along with advance functionality for analysis and easy scalability. Among the key functionality provided by BusinessObjects, users cited increased visibility, and enhanced data visualization and interaction.

In the past year, SAP has pursued two goals: increasing the ROI of analytic deployments and increasing the ease of use associated with enterprise functionality. Nucleus says SAP is starting to see the success of those efforts.


SAS is a long-time player in the BI market and has built a complete suite of applications on top of a strong programming environment that is designed to support analytical use cases. In 2013, SAS announced a new major version of Visual Analytics.

This in-memory BI solution significantly simplified the ease of use of SAS’ BI by providing auto-charting and mobile access along with the existing SAS functions. In March, that was upgraded to provide easier and faster data loading, new text and unstructured data analytics, and more reporting features.

The Visual Analytics release and subsequent upgrade has given SAS BI solutions a wider appeal, covering data preparation, exploration and visualization as well as model development. Nucleus says the result of this is that there has been widespread adoption of Visual Analytics as it meets the needs of many different kinds of organizations.

This is only a very brief summary of the main points in a very detailed analysis of the product offerings of the leaders in Nucleus’ value matrix. For anyone considering upgrading, changing, or looking at a first-time deployment, it would be worth taking a look at the report in detail.

Photo by Sanit Fuangnakhon, Shutterstock