Gartner 2020 Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms is out

Its that time of year again, New Year has been and gone, Christmas is but a memory, in half the world Winter is mid flow and in the other half (including my half) are mid summer wearing shorts and jandles.

As well as good friends, good barbecues and great beers this time of year also heralds the release of the latest Gartner Magic for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms, all timed for the round of Gartner BI conferences that also happen.

Again this year Sisense pipped Qlik in hitting my inbox with free access to the Gartner report. So if you want to read it your self head over to their site and grab a copy

And if you just want to see the quadrant and are not interested in anything else, here it is:


Gartner have yet again tweaked the definition / focus of the magic quadrant. As they quite rightly state the Analytics and BI market is constantly changing and therefore the magic quadrant should change with it. So this year they state:

“ABI platforms are no longer differentiated by their data visualization capabilities, which are becoming commodities. Instead, differentiation is shifting to:

  • Integrated support for enterprise reporting capabilities. Organizations are interested in how these platforms, known for their agile data visualization capabilities, can now help them modernize their enterprise reporting needs. At present, these needs are commonly met by older BI products from vendors like SAP (BusinessObjects), Oracle (Business Intelligence Suite Enterprise Edition) and IBM (Cognos, pre-version 11).
  • Augmented analytics. Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted data preparation, insight generation and insight explanation — to augment how business people and analysts explore and analyze data — are fast becoming key sources of competitive differentiation, and therefore core investments, for vendors (see “Augmented Analytics Is the Future of Analytics”).”

Now in my view we are definitely seeing the transition from niche self-service visualisation tools back to an enterprise wide end-to-end solution focus. But I find Gartner’s first bullet point kind of clunky. From what I have seen a clearer statement would be that customers are looking to replace their legacy vendors (listed in that bullet point) who currently provide their enterprise reporting platforms with a new breed of solution.

As the Gartner definition of the magic quadrant has changed over the years, so has my focus in what I do. I have moved from founding and running a BI consulting company to focussing on AgileBI coaching and co-founding a SaaS data startup. So as the things I do have changed, so has what I focus on when reading the magic quadrant.

So this year let’s look at two things, cloud and augmented analytics, both which strongly standout in the Gartner report.

The majority of the vendors in the quadrant are moving from on premise solutions to cloud deployments. It’s hidden in the words Gartner uses, but not called out strongly, that there seems to be two paths to the cloud for these vendors. Cloud washing their product via the use of “containers” and cloud native products.

In my view Snowflake have shown us the way, that those products that are cloud native (Snowflake) will have an advantage multiplier over those products that are cloud washed (for example AWS Redshift), and so it will be in the world of Analytics and BI. I liken it to the days when the BI vendors had to move from a client server architecture to a n-tier browser based architecture. Re-platforming your product hurts, it hurts because you have to put a massive amount of your constrained resources into development that does not result in new features, and typically your new version never does all the things your old version does, which does not typically make for happy customers.

Combine this with the current round of consolidation where the larger vendors are buy the leaders (Salesforce buying Tableau) or niche vendors buying smaller companies to bolster their offerings (the multiple Qlik acquisitions, I think we will see the replay of what happened when the last round of consolidation by Oracle, Business Objects and Cognos happened. The new mega vendors will spend a lot of their time focussing on the invisible “back office” part of their products and leave a gap for the new “cloud native” innovators to grow.

And this brings me to the second bullet point, augmented analytics. I thank Gartner for not hammering the “AI” hype-fest that is starting to mirror the “big data” hype-fest we have just endured.

The introduction of natural language interfaces to allow users to ask a question and receive an automated response based on the data, is a much more natural way of using data than the traditional dashboard paradigm we have used for years. This combined with analytics (yes typically utilising that “ML” word) which recommends things you should be celebrating or worrying about, again based on the data that exists, allows users to spend less time finding and using data to make data-driven decisions.

In todays world with a focus on minimal effort and instant gratification, these capabilities are delivering what I believe the new world of analytics and BI consumers are expecting.

I am looking forward to next February for more friends, barbecues and beer as well as the 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms, which should have a raft of new niche players appear.

And before I head back to the amazing New Zealand summer , I would like to shout-out to Yellowfin, who I believe are one of the leaders in the move from the enterprise reporting focus of Gartner’s first bullet point to the augmented analytics focus of Gartner’s second bullet point, keep on fighting the good fight!