Undertake BI due diligence or risk ruin, analysts say

Companies that choose Business Intelligence platforms on the basis of their 'street-cred' and ease of deployment risk losing money in the long-term, a major survey finds...

LONDON - 19. März 2015.

Gartner's annual 'Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence' report - based on 2,000 BI customer interviews - found businesses are increasingly choosing interactive-analysis and data-discovery platforms that are not right for them, over traditional solutions from incumbents in the marketplace.

While the analysts stress there is nothing wrong with utilising new products that bring something new to the BI process, they warn that some emerging vendors are offering a narrower set of capabilities.

'These platforms [are being chosen] even when they're not the most appropriate tools for the job at hand,' they add, singling out two specific vendors... 'Tableau and Qlik lack the ability to scale and govern data for a variety of applications across the enterprise,' they said.

Contrarily, the report found businesses using conventional platforms - including BusinessObjects and Cognos - which offer a broad range of BI capabilities, are wrongly being applied to narrow use-cases.

Such trends are putting the Business Intelligence industry into a serious state of transition at a time where customers are concerned about how to govern data across their enterprises.

Gartner adds that further confusion about which vendor to use for what, and an increasing take-up by firms of younger BI brands that promise to simplify and combine different processes could even, in the medium term, dramatically affect the development of established BI platforms from industry giants like Oracle, IBM, SAP and MicroStrategy.

At the heart of the confusion, analysts say, is the fact that no-one provider currently offers adequate system-of-record reporting and data-discovery tools, combined into a single platform.

Winners and losers in the report run from SAS: declared by Gartner as the current leader on the BI vision axis, and praised by clients for its market understanding, product functionality and quality, and the ability of its BI and analytics; to warnings about others, including Tibco, which fell out of last year's Leaders quadrant after stumbling financially under new ownership.

[Interestingly, the Gartner BI Summit in Las Vegas on March 29 will feature a live side-by-side comparison of visual data discovery products from Qlik, SAS, Tableau, and TIBCO to demonstrate who has the edge on the part of BI that’s driving much of current buying, where confusion over what's best, abounds.]

The analysis in the 'Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence' is based on 13 capabilities and four BI and analytics use-cases: decentralised analytics, centralised BI provisioning, OEM/embedded BI and governed data discovery.

Experts warn however, that Gartner's conformity to build such reports by equating analytics with BI is an outdated notion.

While Gartner is right to emphasise the importance of how a differentiated data discovery capability puts one vendor ahead of another, Paddy Padmanabhan from Damo Consulting says the effectiveness of an analytics program depends on the ability to integrate these disparate sources seamlessly, to gain analytical insights.

Another area it fails to articulate, he adds, is that while BI is about looking back, analytics is about looking ahead...

By continuing to equate analytics with traditional BI, the reports have more historical than predictive value, he concludes.


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