New generation Business Intelligence vendors encroaching on mega vendors

Change is afoot. The consumerization of Business Intelligence (BI) – finally helping vendors to deliver on the long awaited promise of ‘BI for the masses’ – is seeing the popularity of new generation BI solutions soar.

Gartner’s 2011 Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms study shows that BI vendors whose products are focused on ease-of-use are beginning to erode the market share of traditional mega vendors.

BI research director with Stamford, Conn. – based Gartner Inc., Rita Sallam, said that the findings represent a significant shift in the attitude and purchasing approach to BI. More non-technical business users are demanding access to reporting and analytics, and hence, exerting a greater influence over the purchasing process and ultimate purchase decision.

“That ease-of-use dynamic – the fact that the business users are having greater influence over the purchasing decision – is really driving the momentum of [new age] vendors,” said Sallam. “They’ve been on the Magic Quadrant [before] but this year we’ve seen the momentum pick up.”

Gartner’s BI Magic Quadrant is an annual report that outlines the strengths and weaknesses of participating BI vendors. The research results are based on customer interviews and surveys. The study also found that user-centric BI solutions are not only growing in popularity, but that deployments are becoming more widespread and pervasive, in response to greater user adoption.

“We’re seeing [these new generation BI solutions being deployed] more pervasively across the enterprise,” Sallam said. “In the past, they were very much departmental solutions.”

According to Gartner, the key to the successful end-user adoption of new generation BI products, is their highly intuitive, visualization-driven interfaces, that shield users from the underlying complexities.

The growing popularity of business-user focused BI software – offering the same depth of analysis as traditional BI platforms, with more intuitive functionality, reduced deployment and maintenance factors – coincides with three core BI trends:

  1. The rapid expansion of corporate data assets: The need for decision-makers throughout an organization to perform accurate data analysis, and receive actionable information quickly and easily with minimal IT assistance, means a self-service BI solution is critical to reduce time to action. The need to wade through an increasing number of data assets compounds that requirement.
  2. The consumerization of BI: Corporations and organizations across all industries and sectors are beginning to realize the potential of reporting and analytics, and its ability to underpin strategic fact-based decision-making, across multiple business functions. As BI is rolled out to a wider diversity of users within an organization, the need for highly intuitive BI solutions is also compounded.
  3. The rise of Agile BI: As organizations embrace their constantly changing reporting needs, the demand for Agile BI technology – developed under agile methodologies – will increase, as organizations address new and shifting analytics requirements.

Product-oriented demand-side factors

The Gartner report also lists three major feature-oriented factors that it claims are set to influence future BI market requirements and demand. The three factors are:

  1. Intuitive and fun user interfaces
  2. Intuitive and interactive mobile applications
  3. User oriented and controlled data visualizations

BI mega vendors can hear the footsteps

The report notes that traditional BI heavy-hitters are feeling the pinch, launching competing supplementary products in response to the consumerization trend, and in an attempt to claw-back market share.

New generation BI products: A warning from Sallam

Despite their growing popularity, Sallam warned that some new-age BI solutions can be more expensive than traditional tools, on a per-users basis, for expansive rollouts. Sallam also suggested that many of the newer BI platforms still have scalability, security and administration issues, and have not reached a maturity level suitable for large deployments.

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