Gartner’s 2017 BI Magic Quadrant: What Differentiates The Leaders?

Gartner’s BI Magic Quadrant scorecards give businesses a glimpse of where tech solutions have been, a snapshot of the current lay of the land and a hint of which companies are customers’ “best bets” two to five years down the line. Now that the dust has settled, here’s what we think the BI Magic Quadrant is saying – and what to expect from tomorrow’s tech landscape.

For those who aren’t familiar with the BI Magic Quadrant (MQ), here’s the in-a-nutshell definition: Gartner analyzes business solution providers in a variety of areas – Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms (“BI” – generally the most publicized MQ), Identity Governance, Intrusion Detection and Prevention, et al.

BI MQ analyses, including the 2017 MQs released this spring, are based on a dozen or more critical capabilities. Gartner runs all the data and “ranks” the true players in each category inside a quadrant. The four quadrants are:

  1. Leaders
  2. Challengers
  3. Visionaries
  4. Niche Players

Then inside those quadrants, companies are “pegged” along sliding scales – Completeness of Vision and Ability to Execute. Bottom line: Firms pointed the furthest Northeast, smack dab in the middle of the Leaders quadrant, are lapping the field against competitors.

Getting Lonelier at the Top

For 2017, it’s a three-horse race in BI and the other MQ categories. Why does that matter? Just five years ago, customers had seven to eight Leaders to choose from. For example: In 2012, there were eight Leaders in BI. Two years later, 10 firms were fighting tooth and nail in the increasingly competitive analytics field.

And now? Just three companies are Magic Quadrant BI leaders – Microsoft, Tableau and Qlik, just like they were in 2016, although Qlik’s spot in the Leader category is slipping a bit. Microsoft and Tableau remain the Coke and Pepsi BI behemoths.

There’s a distinct trend at work: Across the board we’re seeing consistently smaller groups of Leaders. In addition to the “mighty trio” setting the pace in BI, we see dwindling fields in other categories:

  • Workforce Engagement Management: 2 Leaders – Nice, Verint
  • Intrusion Detection/Prevention: 3 Leaders – Cisco, Intel Security (McAfee), Trend Micro (Tipping Point)
  • Insight Engines: 3 Leaders – Coveo, Sinequa, Microsoft
  • Managed Security Services: 4 Leaders – SecureWorks, IBM, Symantec, Verizon
  • Identity Governance: 4 Leaders – SailPoint, Oracle, CA Technologies, IBM

You get the point. Compared with five to 10 years ago, customers don’t have as many choices if they’re determined to go with the best. Less-crowded fields tend to signify a trend where the providers best-equipped to do the job have nudged the also-rans to the side.

That might not be a bad thing for your typical overworked CIO. Let’s face it: Many small companies don’t want to beta-test “hot” providers that won’t be around in the long run.

Current & Future Market Trends

Cloud-based solutions keep picking up steam. Seemingly everyone predicts fully integrated cloud-based BI programs are the future. Yet notable options, such as Salesforce Analytics Cloud, aren’t pushing the envelope enough, according to Gartner.

Shane Gibson at Optimal BI scribe notes: “For all the focus on the world of cloud these days, again the 2017 Magic Quadrant is lacking in cloud solutions. … In fact, it is probably one of the reasons Microsoft scored so highly, given its leveraging [of] the Azure platform and its low subscription pricing. … In my view, the world of Cloud BI will be the new hot area over the next couple of years.”

If they build it, the customers will come around, though it may be a little longer than developers and investors hope. For now, business leaders aren’t chomping at the bit for cloud options. Take the latest BI Trends survey: On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being most important, Cloud BI came in at 4.2 among analytics’ trends.

Three issues that do move the needle:

  1. Data discovery/visualization – 7.2
  2. Self-service – 7.1
  3. Master data/data quality management – 6.9

Those were also the industry’s top three most important trends in 2016. “This is a good indicator that our survey participants are not seeing any major market shifts or disruptions impacting their work,” the survey concludes.

In other words, the more things change – well, you know the rest.

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