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Battle royal between new and old in fast growing BI space

There is a serious battle going on in the Business Intelligence (BI) market between traditional BI platform vendors and aggressive, innovative data discovery vendors, with big money and critical market share at stake. A recent report from Gartner has identified what could be a generational shift in BI technology.


The ground war in the BI trenches is driven by business users, with the business-focussed side of organisations in ascendancy over the IT side, demanding solutions that afford greater ease of use and flexibility rather than just the functionality and need for standards and control advice they're getting from IT.

That's the view, at least, from Gartner in its just released Magic Quadrant research report of the BI market, which concludes that there's now massive fragmentation, with the market splitting into two distinct segments comprised of traditional BI platform vendors on one side and data discovery vendors on the other.

On the BI side, we have the massive monoliths and large old money independents such as IBM, SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, SAS and Information Builders. On the data discovery side, are rising stars such as QlikTech (QlikView), Tibco Software (Spotfire) and Tableau.

Gartner's Magic Quadrant survey and report has drilled down into the BI market with considerable depth, slicing and dicing all aspects of the market. And it is quite clear from the report that data discovery vendors are increasingly reaping the benefits of the user shift away from traditional BI platform solutions at the expense of their traditional Business Intelligence (BI) platform rivals, as business users look for greater ease of use and flexibility despite their IT departments' needs for standards and control.

According to Gartner, ease of use and greater flexibility has now surpassed functionality for the first time as the dominant BI platform buying criterion, which it seems has played right into the hands of the data discovery vendors.

The Magic Quadrant report shows a distinct and significant momentum swing to 'innovative' data discovery tool vendors, as part of the fall-out from what Gartner describes as the 'intensified struggle' between business users' need for ease of use and flexibility on the one hand, and IT's need for standards and control on the other.

'Vocal, demanding and influential business users are increasingly driving BI purchasing decisions, most often choosing easier to use data discovery tools over traditional BI platforms '” with or without IT's consent,' Gartner observes.

But don't by any means count out the traditional BI vendors, despite the current momentum swing to the data discovery vendors, particularly when it comes to share of market revenue. The 'traditionalists' are certainly not sitting back and taking their medicine while their competitors snap-up new customers and look to grab market-share.

Traditional BI providers are embracing the business user challenge, albeit slowly, says Gartner, making the point that despite accelerated data discovery vendor momentum and reports of 'chronic post-acquisition megavendor customer dissatisfaction,' megavendors continue to control the majority share of BI platform market revenue.

'In particular, some are succeeding at selling into their expansive installed bases by promising major new releases featuring tighter enterprise application process integration, while others are stressing vertical integration within their information infrastructure stacks.'

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