This is always an exciting time for me awaiting the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence to be released and to see the latest surprises.

This year’s MQ contained a few surprises and invoked a few thoughts on the current state of the market and where it is going.

The 2017 Quadrant looks like this:

Gartner have not approved the free reprint from the BI vendors yet, for now, you can register your details at the SiSense website here, and they will send you a copy when they have it approved for release.  (in a few hours they said, the SiSense guys are so onto it that they rang me from the UK literally 5 minutes after I registered on their website, with a great joke about their product being as fast as their sales team 😉 )

Changes and thoughts

So let’s look at the main changes since the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence in 2016:


So the obvious change is Microsoft and Tableau taking off to the top right, and Qlik slipping slightly back.  Again these 3 vendors being the only ones in the Leader’s quadrant, reinforces Gartner’s view that the world of BI is now centered on Visual Data Discovery.

What is interesting is Gartner’s prediction that:

“By 2020, natural-language generation and artificial intelligence will be a standard feature of 90% of modern BI platforms.”

If this becomes true Microsoft will only further its lead given its investment in these two areas within the PowerBI solution and outside it.

The next change that everybody expected was the return of Oracle to the MQ.   Gartner state:

“What is new this year, is that traditional BI vendors that were slow to adjust to the “modern wave of disruption” (such as IBM, SAP, Oracle and MicroStrategy) and struggled to remain relevant during the market transition, have finally matured their modern offerings enough to appeal to many in their installed bases already using these”

This is definitely true of Oracle with them releasing a raft of new products/modules.  Although their strategy has confused me, with a number of customers I am working with being presented with both the legacy OBIEE suite and the new BICS suite (and other related products/modules) as viable solutions.

Mind you Oracle are not the only vendors with this transition problem, SAS with their move to Viya, IBM with their move to Watson Analytics, are all in the mid-transition dance that makes it confusing for customers.

It will be really interesting to see how Tableau handles the inevitable re-architecture of their backend platform as a result of the Hyper acquisition and their need to move into the governed enterprise BI space, and if it will introduce a transition challenge for them in the future.

On that note, one of the reasons Gartner gives for Qlik slipping back was the effect of transitioning the market from the legacy  QlikView product to the new QlikSense platform.

Customers (and implementation partners) often under-estimate the difference in effort and skills required to deliver BI to a large audience compared to a couple of dashboards to a few analysts or managers.  Mind you it’s the same transition for customers (and implementation partners) who are used to deploying the enterprise BI suites of old, with their massive design up front and controlled semantic layers, to move to the world of Agile and iterative delivery.

“Big Data” Tools

Datameer and Zoomdata have made the quadrant this year, which is the emergence of BI tools based on “big data” infrastructure (aka Hadoop).  This has been a long time coming and it will be interesting to see if it helps accelerate the adoption of the big data platforms.  The current joke seems to be everybody has a Hadoop cluster and are now wondering what to do with it.  Perhaps the introduction of user-friendly front-end tools will help customers realise more value from their often large big data investments.


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 the Azure platform and its low subscription pricing.  AWS and Google, Microsoft’s main cloud competitors, are nowhere to be seen.

In my view, the world of CloudBI will be the new hot area over the next couple of years.  Each of the vendors above is taking different approaches, from marketplace offerings of prebuilt images on the big 3 cloud platforms to standing up their own managed cloud offering based on their on-premise version to deploying a modified version of their products as public cloud versions, to building native cloud BI products.

I have seen a lot of partner companies enter this space with a private cloud offering, but I think they have little chance of surviving when the vendors enter the market themselves.  They just can’t compete on knowledge, support capabilities and reach, not to mention capital.  I addition the owners of the software can come up with whatever licensing model they want, which partners cannot always leverage.  Of course, a lot of the BI vendors currently rely on reseller partners to peddle their wares, so this will change their acquisition and sales model markedly, having a massive effect on the BI marketplace.

At the end of the day and to be perfectly honest …

Gartner say:

“Through 2020, the number of citizen data scientists will grow five times faster than the number of data scientists.”

To me, this is just the introduction of the data analysts that have always used data, all be it often in standalone excel spreadmarts, to the new world of BI tools.

But this ability to finally deliver to these users with functionality that makes their lives easier, coupled with cloud solutions that make turning it on a breeze, means the world of BI is going to continue to explode and I for one can’t wait to see the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence in 2018 to see who has moved where and why.

Change, learn or fade away, it’s your choice – Shane

Shane blogs about all of the things data and business intelligence. 

Want to read more? Try… 3 AgileBI Things: Multi-Site Agile Teams, The Ultimate List of 100 Software Testing Quotes, Estimation or more from Shane.

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