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Gartner shakes up annual ranking of business analytics tools

This year's Magic Quadrant report from Gartner on business intelligence and analytics platforms reflects a shifting market for BI reporting tools and includes some big changes in its vendor rankings.

Gartner published its anticipated Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms this month,...

and the analyst firm said this year's edition highlights a major shift in the market for business analytics tools.

"Most new buying is of modern, business-user-centric platforms, forcing a new market perspective, significantly reordering the vendor landscape," the report stated.

At the top of that reordered landscape are Tableau, Qlik and Microsoft, the only BI vendors this year to receive Gartner's Leaders distinction. Last year, those three were joined by MicroStrategy, IBM, SAP and SAS Institute -- all of which dropped to Gartner's lower Visionaries category. Information Builders, which was called a Leader last year, dropped to the Niche Players category. Oracle dropped out of the 2016 rankings completely after being named a Leader last year.

The shift occurred because Gartner placed greater emphasis on supporting business users. The report noted that, increasingly, purchasers of BI reporting software are lines of businesses. Vendors that acknowledged this trend scored well, while those that didn't fell in the rankings. The top vendors were given high marks for ease of use in their self-service offerings and flexibility in deployment options. The report noted software from Microsoft, Qlik and Tableau can be deployed by individual lines of business, or as part of centralized IT projects, as well as in the cloud or on premises.

The most dramatic change from previous years' reports is that Oracle dropped out of the rankings. A spokesperson for Oracle said the company was not included because it released new cloud and business-oriented tools shortly before Gartner's review process began, and didn't have time to provide reference users.

But Josh Parenteau, one of the Gartner analysts who worked on the report, said Oracle's existing BI offerings were examined during the review process, and the company was excluded from the rankings because it was slow to respond to changing market dynamics and business-user needs.

The decision to drop Oracle may have been a long time coming. In its 2015 Magic Quadrant, Gartner called out Oracle for producing business analytics tools that were geared mostly toward IT-centric enterprise implementations, lacked usability and were not business-user-focused.

Other vendors that dropped from this year's ranking include OpenText Analytics (formerly Actuate), Panorama Software, Prognoz, Salient Management Co., and Targit. The report said these vendors did not meet all the revised criteria for inclusion in the rankings.

Salesforce is the biggest name added to the BI rankings. The cloud CRM company is joined by BeyondCore, ClearStory Data, Domo, Platfora and Sisense -- all of which moved into the ranking after being left off last year. These vendors were included because they met all the criteria for scoring and ranked in the top 24 of all the vendors assessed.

Oracle, as well as the rest of the vendors in the business analytics tools market, will need to get on board with the more business-user-driven market to succeed in the years ahead, if the report is right. It said the trends toward flexibility and self-service are only going to accelerate in the next few years.

More stability among advanced analytics platforms

There's far less churn in Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Advanced Analytics Platforms, released in tandem with its BI report. SAS Institute, IBM, KNIME and RapidMiner top this year's list, as they did last year. They are joined in the Leaders category this year by Dell.

The report noted predictive and prescriptive analytics are among the fastest-growing segments of the overall analytics market, likely attracting 40% of net new investment in BI and analytics by 2020. The category of advanced analytics includes predictive modeling, advanced statistics, data mining, machine learning and other practices for developing deeper insights missed by traditional BI reporting.

Despite the lack of change at the top of the rankings, the report pointed out the advanced analytics market is evolving rapidly, and businesses currently using software from one of the market leaders may still benefit from evaluating more niche players. The top vendors are likely to be displaced in the coming years, according to the report.

In particular, the report said, a number of emerging trends will disrupt the market. Open source tools, such as R, Python and Spark, are growing in prominence. The number of data sources available to businesses is increasing. And the need for complex event processing and streaming analytics related to the Internet of Things is growing. The report suggested whichever vendor capitalizes best on these trends will take a lead position.

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