Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms is one of the most dynamic quadrants Gartner produces. It reflects a market that is still growing and intensely competitive. However, all is not well in paradise.

Enterprises are looking to expand the use or even standardize their data discovery platforms for larger business intelligence (BI) deployments. But Gartner reports that many vendors lack the enterprise features around governance, administration and scalability that are required to do this.

Gartner’s BI Magic Quadrant

The Magic Quadrant, which has just been released, is dominated by Leaders and Niche players. In fact, there are 10 vendors that made it into the quadrant, including IBM, Information Builders, Microsoft, MicroStrategy, Qlik, Oracle, SAP, SAS, Tableau and Tibco. Along with these, there are 13 vendors in the Niche Quadrant, and two each in the Challengers and Visionaries Quadrants, respectively.

In the first part of our write up, we will give a general overview of what is happening in this quadrant and take a look at five trends that are dominating the market. In the second part, we will take a close look at the Leaders.

Before doing this, however, it is important to understand what exactly we are talking about here. Gartner points out that, because BI had grown to cover multiple markets in 2013, it split the Magic Quadrant into two: 1) Magic Quadrant for Advanced Analytics and 2) Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms.

Traditional BI

While most of Gartner’s clients were interested in traditional BI capabilities, the criteria used to evaluate advanced analytics -- which covers diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive components -- have changed.

Traditional BI covers traditional query and reporting (descriptive) capabilities, but also includes interactive visualization, predictive analysis and prescriptive analysis, all of which have become more important to organizations.

In practical terms, this means that Gartner assessed vendors in this quadrant across 17 capabilities in three categories:

  1. Information Delivery
  2. Analysis
  3. Integration

BI Evolves

So what has happened in the traditional BI market over the past year? According to Gartner, it grew into a $14.1 billion market on the strength of IT efforts to consolidate and standardize enterprise platforms.

These platforms are highly governed and centralized, with IT pushing out reports to a large range of information consumers and analysts. While analytics are used in these processes they are not generally embraced by business users and managers, who find them too difficult to utilize for many business use cases.

In response to this, and to encourage wider adoption, vendors are incorporating traditional reporting methods and dashboards with interactive analysis alongside more advanced forms of analytics for business processes and applications.

The objective here is to expand the use of analytics to business information consumers and non-traditional BI users, with a focus on mobile devices. In addition to this, companies are increasingly building analytics applications that can make use of new data types and new kinds of analysis, like location intelligence and analytics on data stored in NoSQL data repositories.

BI Continues To Grow

The BI market broke the $14 billion mark last year, and Gartner expects growth to continue at 7 percent a year for the next three years on the strength of the following factors:

Data Discovery

Data discovery remains a major concern for many enterprises, especially in light of the amount of dark – or unfindable – data that inhabits the corners of many enterprise systems. However, much new investment will be driven by the need to provide business users with usable data discovery applications. As a result, data discovery will displace IT-authored static reporting as the dominant BI and analytics deployment by 2015. The key here is user adoption.

Data Building Activities

Data building activities in the development of BI applications, and the need to make this easier, will see vendors focusing on making BI content and application development far more agile and productive, which will also feed into the drive for greater user adoption.

Social, Collaborative Enterprises

The rise of social and collaboration applications and the need to derive as much meaningful insight from the information contained in these applications will also be one of the major drivers in the medium term.

Mobile BI

Mobile remains an important driver in the BI market, which has yet to be used to its full potential, Gartner says. The vast majority of companies are currently focused on redeveloping content for mobile devices, resulting in flat growth in BI. However, this is likely to change rapidly, creating a key area for future growth.

Cloud BI

Cloud BI is seen as not only a way of making BI more accessible to an enterprise market that would include Small-To-Medium-Businesses (SMBs), but also as a way to make it easier to manage and use. It will also create demand for new, line-of-business applications such as those that integrate industry data with analytics tools sold to users as a package.

Internet of Things

Gartner also points out that while the last 10 years of analytics investment was driven by the “Internet of People,” the next 10 years will be driven by the “Internet of Things”. This growth will come from a need to find meaning in the data that will be generated by a world connected through sensors and the internet.

For the moment, Gartner says, the only real inhibitors are general fatigue of the hype surrounding big data and difficulties in deploying BI applications. 

5 Business Intelligence Trends

From this and from an analysis of the positioning of vendors in the Magic Quadrant, Gartner has identified five trends that will dominate the BI market over the coming year and beyond:

1.Governed Data Discovery

One of the notable features of this quadrant, Gartner says, is that there is no single vendor addressing the dual enterprise needs of ease-of-use and IT requirements concerning governance and security. This is curtailing the expansion of BI platforms across enterprises, which are looking to standardize and expand the use of their data discovery platforms.

This is coupled with a failure to deliver data discovery capabilities for business users despite considerable investment in discovery capabilities since 2012. The existence of two separate platforms --  systems-of-record reporting platforms and data discovery platforms -- will be a challenge for many enterprises.

2. Business Users and Data Discovery

Piggy-backing on that, Gartner says that the race is now on to fill the gap created by the lack of governed data discovery. The current Leaders, which to a large extent are IT-centric BI and which currently "own" the installed base market share, currently lack market growth momentum and are looking at products geared toward business users to give growth a push.

It is worth noting that a number of Challengers and Niche Players have road maps and plans focusing on the business user, and that the position of vendors in next year’s quadrant could reflect this.

3. Self-Service Data

Access to sophisticated interactive analysis and insights for business and non-traditional BI users will be driven by advances in self-service data integration. Some of the advances include automatic semantic identification and data model inference, along with discovery (for easy and rapid data modelling) and advanced analytics to portray correlations and clusters in data.

4. Cloud BI

Cloud-based BI is gaining acceptance, with 45 percent of respondents to this quadrant saying they would put mission-critical BI into the cloud. That's up from 30 percent for each of the  past four years. Gartner says that BI vendors with cloud offerings are close to meeting critical market requirements to be classified as governed, business user-friendly applications. There are also economic considerations to take into account.

5. Hard Data Easy

Finally, the dominant theme across 2014 will be making “hard types of analysis easy”, Gartner says. It will also be a year where vendors will try to make their products accessible to a wider audience while also bridging gaps between information silos within the enterprise. There will also be a significant move to  bring data from new sources into the BI net including cloud data, real-time events and sensors, multistructured data and new types of analysis.

Tomorrow we will take a deeper look at the Magic Quadrant Leaders.