It’s A Kind Of Magic (Quadrant)


It’s A Kind Of Magic (Quadrant)

First off, apologies for the pun.

Each year at around this time, the Business Intelligence communities are a-buzz with speculations about the new Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence. The 2016 Magic Quadrant saw a shift in the BI landscape compare to 2015, as Self-Service Analytics emerged as the trend for BI. The new shift in the market comes from a change in modern BI and Analytics platforms, which are characterised by easy-to-use tools requiring less and less IT involvement, which led Gartner to redesign the Magic Quadrant last year. In 2017, this shift is now the new norm in the BI and Analytics market. Gartner also predicts that in the next few years, analysts and business users will have access to self-service tools, as they transition to new, more modern BI platforms. This prediction has been valid for the past few years and continues to hold true.

The Gartner Magic Quadrant 2017

The new 2017 Gartner Magic Quadrant looks like this:

Gartner Magic Quadrant 2017

The most significant change from last year’s MQ is Microsoft’s and Tableau’s clear lead from the rest of the BI vendors, with Qlik dropping closer towards the middle. As these three competitors occupy the Leaders quadrant again, Gartner’s vision of Visual-based data discovery is spot on.

In this year’s report, Gartner has assessed and defined 15 product capabilities across five use cases, which were used to evaluate the competition on. These use cases for this year’s MQ are as follows:


Agile Centralized BI Provisioning. Supports an agile IT-enabled workflow, from data to centrally delivered and managed analytic content, using the self-contained data management capabilities of the platform.

Decentralized Analytics. Supports a workflow from data to self-service analytics. Includes analytics for individual business units and users.

Governed Data Discovery. Supports a workflow from data to self-service analytics to SOR, IT-managed content with governance, reusability and promotability of user-generated content to certified SOR data and analytics content.

OEM or Embedded BI. Supports a workflow from data to embedded BI content in a process or application.

Extranet Deployment. Supports a workflow similar to agile centralised BI provisioning for the external customer or, in the public sector, citizen access to analytic content.

As well as these use cases, the five capability areas were Infrastructure, Data Management, Analysis and Content Creation, Sharing of Findings, and Overall platform capabilities.  How well the platforms of the Magic Quadrant vendors support these critical capabilities is explored in greater detail in the forthcoming “Critical Capabilities for BI and Analytics Platforms” (to be published during Q1/2017).

So what’s interesting?

Datameer makes a debut into the Niche Players quadrant. BI platforms running on Big Data, (i.e. Hadoop) have been missing from Gartner’s report previously. I personally like Datameer, as it simplifies the use of the Hadoop ecosystem with an easy-to-use front-end. Maybe this will be the tipping point for Big Data platforms, as more user-friendly tools start to penetrate the market.

Cloud-only BI platforms have made it to the Gartner report in previous years. Vendors such as Birst and Domo have been niche players in the previous years, and remain in that sector in the newest report. This is a little surprising, given the hype about cloud adoption and the transitioning of on-premise BI systems to the cloud. Maybe the market just isn’t ready for the the cloud yet.

Tableau and Microsoft have solidified their lead in the Magic Quadrant. Microsoft’s lead in the Completeness of Vision comes from its large ecosystem of complementary analytics products on the Azure cloud platform, such as Machine Learning and the Cortana Intelligence Suite. Tableau on the other hand continues to be the gold standard for intuitive interactive exploration. Tableau has a strong focus on customer experience and success, which is a must when talking about analytics tools, and ease-of-use. Also the flexibility of deployment options is a big thumbs up, as customers can choose virtually any deployment model; be it on-premise, prepackaged virtual machines in AWS or a pay-by-the-hour cloud marketplace deployment.

The Gartner Magic Quadrant 2016

By comparison, last year’s Magic Quadrant looks a lot different, with many of the bigger players being bunched up together in the Visionaries quadrant, but lacking the ability to execute.



Looking forward

So where does Gartner think the BI and Analytics platform market headed?

Well, by 2020 natural-language processing and artificial intelligence will be a staple feature of 90% of modern BI platforms. That’s a big number. Tableau has already announced NLP as part of their three-year roadmap, and Microsoft already has rudimentary NLP in the Power BI service, with their “Q&A” feature. 50% of analytic queries will also be generated using NLP, says Gartner. Natural-language processing is a difficult nut to crack, and I for one am very interested in seeing how it will mature as a technology in the coming years.

Gartner also predicts that in the coming years, companies who offer their users access to a governed catalogue of data from both internal and external sources will be able to realise the twice business value from their analytics investments compared to companies who do not. We’ve already seen this first hand during the past year, as our customers are starting to use a wider array of data sources in their daily analyses.

Also, through 2020 the number of citizen data scientists will grow five times faster than the number of data scientists. This prediction is easy to agree with. Just looking at Tableau Public, or the amount of  noise Microsoft is making with Power BI, it’s hardly surprising that the general public is getting excited about visual analytics.


The next few years will definitely be very interesting for the BI and Analytics vendors, especially now that Tableau and Microsoft are the clear leaders. For example, Tableau’s recent acquisition of Hyper and reveal of Maestro will definitely up the stakes for Microsoft to out-perform the competition. And even though Gartner has just published this year’s report, we’re already imagining what next year’s Magic Quadrant will contain 🙂


To read the full Gartner report, download it here.  Download a free 14 day trial of Tableau, go to our trial download page and discover why Tableau is a Gartner Magic Quadrant leader!

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Blog writer

Karri Linnoinen

Bilot Alumni

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