The industry upheaval that began in the BI and analytics market several years ago continues to play out, as the aggressive upstarts that displaced the old guard of BI itself gets displaced. Now Forrester Research is jumping into the fray with a new analysis of major players in the market that identifies who’s shaking things up.
The BI market has changed considerably over the years, and the change continues to accelerate. Fifteen years ago, large enterprise BI products from the likes of Cognos and BusinessObjects ruled the BI roost. Then self-service BI tools from Qlik and Tableau Software rattled the status quo.
However, because those vendors’ systems could not, at that time, scale beyond departmental use, the pendulum swung back the other way, and enterprise-grade is once again is back in style. What’s important today, Forrester says, is the combination of enterprise features (like centralized deployment and security) and self-service BI and data discovery. In other words, customers are demanding — and vendors are delivering — the best of both worlds.
The Forrester analysts, Boris Evelson and Martha Bennett, say it’s “getting harder to find significant platform differentiators” anymore. The result is a level of parity that has never been seen. As a result, there really aren’t any runaway winners or losers in the Forrester Wave for on-premise enterprise BI platforms (the analyst firm has a separate Wave for cloud products).
While MicroStrategy , IBM , TIBCO Software , and Qlik lead the pack, you can also find “highly competitive options” from other vendors in the report, including Information Builders , Looker , Pyramid Analytics , Tableau, Yellowfin , Sisense , and SAS , according to the analysts.
The one vendor coming away from this Forrester Wave feeling the best is likely MicroStrategy, which owned the pole position in the leader’s sector. Forrester lauded the firm for its “powerful, highly scalable ROLAP” engine that can optimize queries in a range of databases; perform complex heterogeneous joins between multiple databases; and support a drill-anywhere.
Mark Gambill, CMO for MicroStrategy, says the report reflects the work the company has put into the product. “We were gratified” with the report, Gambill tells Datanami, “primarily because we think the Forester Wave is a highly credible report. It’s one of the few that addresses all BI use cases.”
Whereas some BI tool analyses more heavily weight one aspect over others, Gambill considers Forrester’s approach to giving equal weight to IT considerations as well as usability by business users to be a better approach. “It equally weights enterprise IT capabilities in conjunction with data discovery, visual appeal, and elements like that that are getting a lot of visibility in today’s marketplace,” he says.
MicroStrategy has not radically shifted its product development strategy in recent years. Rather, it’s been a gradual evolution in response to changing market conditions, the CMO says. “Like any company you adapt and evolve to the needs of the marketplace, and the direction that enterprise analytics is going,” he says. “What we saw was what everybody was seeing, which was a pretty significant shift from the IT decision-maker being the primary buyer of analytics to it being much more dispersed where functional business leaders were also now decision makers.”
But it wasn’t all about MicroStrategy in the recent reports, and Forrester gave kudos to other firms, too.
BI Leaders Forrester applauded IBM for its work in adding predictive analytics capabilities (via integration with SPSS) into Cognos Analytics, and also for adding “a shot of AI” through integration with Watson Analytics.