In keeping a close pulse on the overall BI industry, one of the stats I like to track is the Job Trends and Skills that are HOT and their increase or decrease in searches. You can do this at, an aggregator of postings across many sites. Right now in August 2013, HTML5, MongoDB and iOS are the top 3 technical job trends.  Looking at the Data Discovery Players was also really interesting. I will share the Database Player results in another blog since those trends were also quite revealing in light of MongoDB, Hadoop, and other players that have entered into that space – let’s just say those results made the Microsoft and Oracle “partnership” make a tiny bit more sense. To do your own comparison, simply put a comma between the vendor, skill or app name.

What was fun and interesting about this specific comparison of players is the obvious market growth explosion that started in January 2010. At the time Spotfire was the HOT tool. I recall playing with it and thinking it was great.  I had the pleasure of meeting some Spotfire folks that had left and started their own non-BI related company called Phreesia. I had run into Qlik only a few times in the healthcare market and was being courted as a possible partner since I was a BI Practice lead. I did not care for the Qlik developer experience, tried Tableau and at that time it felt limited, and ended up staying with Spotfire and also participating in the Microsoft Power Pivot TAP program. Each year I download and review all these tools again when they announce releases. During 2011 and 2012, I was doing a lot more with Power Pivot than the others since I joined Microsoft.  I saw and felt the market changing as I talked to customers and heard from people all around the world that were buying these other vendor tools. It seemed like I heard the Tableau love everywhere I went. The Tableau user experience and analytic depth was undeniably excellent and clearly right now they are growing the fastest even in a mix of FREE and much lower cost tools. Proves that people are willing to pay a premium for a fantastic analytic solution. SAP Visual Insight now Lumira just entered the game in late 2012. Microsoft embedded Power View into Excel in late 2012 and added many other Excel Add Ins to try to compete more effectively in this space. IBM, Microstrategy and many other BI players are also heavily investing in better data discovery user experiences trying to emulate current market leader Tableau. It will be fun to keep track of this to see where it goes in 2014, 2015 and so on.

The past few years have been a fascinating time in BI and truly a traditional BI game changer. There are still many heartaches around how to best roll out, manage, and deploy these strategic tools to employer the front-line business user SMEs. Many CIOs, BI Directors, and traditional skilled BI Lead resources are still struggling with how to embrace these tools in their BI Strategies while also maintaining a valid, single-version of the truth. It can be done – there are self-service/data discovery BI best practices that apply to all of these tools and how to best combine them with traditional BI solutions. I am happy to help you if you are struggling with this yourself. Self-service/data discovery BI best practices and governance frameworks do need to be personalized to a company’s specific environment – people/culture, processes and technology. If you are a traditional BI skilled resource, learn how these tools connect to data sources, define semantic models that can be shared, apply security, how to deploy, integrate, manage, and monitor them among other things. You will see there are many features that look a lot like the world you lived in before – they are just implemented a little differently allowing for truly rapid, high impact results versus the slow, old school ways of doing things. At the end of the day, it is the BI total solution time to value the business is buying and why these tools took off like wildfire!