Tableau is ranked as a Leader in  the 2013 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence report.  Customers rate Tableau #1 for ease of use, fastest development times, and it has unmatched  big data visualization. Told ya so… I couldn’t resist! I literally just said that last in my last few posts. I knew that Tableau had matured into a true beauty for data lovers, the upcoming version 8 is simply amazing, and apparently the Gartner industry analysts see it in a similar light. Data discovery is now mainstream with every vendor trying to emulate what Tableau has been doing for years. It should get interesting down the road but Tableau does appear to be way ahead of this trend and the best in class in this niche space. I told my Microsoft friends Tableau was complementary and indeed Gartner confirmed that important point as well today. I am sooooo excited that both of my loved BI platforms were seen as stars.

This year the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence report took on a whole new level of special meaning for me since I was on the technical product marketing team that submitted Microsoft’s response.  It was an excellent experience,  working hard with both the engineering and marketing teams, huddling up and rallying for what may be the best answer with brilliant engineers that don’t give their solutions enough of the rah-rah that they deserve.  The teams did a fantastic job responding, presenting, and  supporting the analysts reviews. It is a thorough process.

After reading through a few of the BI vendor detail comments, I wanted to share a few notes and take aways. The first one is that ease of use and total solution time to value are typically the most important decision factors and need to be included or “scored” in BI vendor evaluations. Time is money. period. I see the intelligent people overlook that in their RFP/RFI  evaluation matrices. The happiest customers have BI platforms that  they enjoy working with, are agile and supportable.

I did appreciate that for the second year in a row QlikView had the worst/longest development times of any vendor reviewed. Having been in a global BI technical marketing role and listening to win/loss customer reviews around the world, I heard my fair share of customers cite QlikView pains, excessive development times and total costs of ownership becoming far more than estimated/budgeted.  If you are reviewing QlikView, make them show you how it is built with the scripts, time intelligence, how to change, add new columns, how to do mash-ups, test real time data, test incremental loads, load test it and so forth.

The next item I want to bring up is about cloud BI. Many of the vendors were given kudos about cloud BI but in the Spotfire commentary section I noted a point about “67% of the survey population at large will never put their enterprise BI in the cloud”. That is an interesting figure that I’d like to better understand. There are a couple vendors betting big on the cloud including Birst and Microsoft. I do think it is interesting in 2013 that several of the pure in-memory players finally are waking up to the direct query advantages in the world of big data.

The mobile BI commentary in the Microstrategy section was spot on with what I have seen in the market the past year. The report noted 50% of Microstrategy customers were piloting mobile BI in 2012 and Microstrategy was being invited to competitive bids in companies that see mobility as a strategic imperative succeeding to replace long-established BI vendors that lag behind in mobile BI. It is a shame that innovative Microstrategy tumbled this year. It is a great but expensive and complex solution that takes a bit of time to get the shared metadata layers ready to be able to enjoy Visual Insight and other reporting.

Congrats to a peer of mine at IBM that again rocked this report. I used to develop with Cognos, got some Cognos v10 books this year to play around, and I do like some of the things that I am seeing from them.

SAP…oooh. So I went to SAP TechEd last fall and left there feeling exhuberant about Microsoft BI. SAP is all over the place, obsessed with SAP HANA, alienating acquired Business Objects shops that are not SAP ERP, and much like Qlik, SAP  customers cite long project development times and pains. I did like SAP’s Predictive Analytics with R but I didn’t see any mention of it in this report.

Spotfire will be one to keep an eye on this year! I do like what they are doing with predictive and R.  Since they are tied into Tibco, I wonder how much of the middleware may become a future requirement.

Lastly, I do feel it is a bit intriguing that vendors with a narrow scope of offerings were included/rated side-by-side with vendors that have a plethora of functionality across all the BI life-cycle areas. This report should be reviewed along with other reports on the specific functional areas of interest to understand apples to apples comparisons across vendors.

I could ramble on and on but I do need to get some sleep. To wrap up, congratulations to all the BI Leaders. The rapid BI industry development and vendor progression in this space is thrilling. I can’t wait to see how this plays out in the upcoming years.