Visual analytics have emerged as a major tool for data science and business. The field has roots in information visualization and scientific visualization techniques that display complex data sets in ways people can better understand. These representations can encompass a wide array of tasks that intersect with computer science, information visualization, cognitive and perceptual sciences, interactive design, graphic design, and social sciences.
Regardless of the specific purpose, the goal is to deliver information in a way that people can understand, analyze and act on. These representations may take the form of maps, charts, graphs, diagrams and other types of visual representations.
Not surprisingly, visual analytics have advanced remarkably in recent years. Although these tools date back to the 1960s, improvements in data mining methods, business intelligence (BI) software, data marts and data warehouses, clouds, wireless technology, the Internet of Things (IoT), and machine learning have transformed visual analytics. In addition, better dashboards and 3D representations have ratcheted up the value. It’s now possible for casual business users and analysts to use many of these tools and systems for a broad array of tasks. At the same time, data scientists can explore complex data sets in ways that would have been unimaginable in the past.
MarketsandMarkets estimates that the global visual analytics market will grow at a 20.4 percent annual rate through 2022. This would expand the market from $2.57 billion in 2017 to $6.51 billion by 2022.
Among the industries that benefit from visual analytics: financial services, telecom and IT, retail and consumer goods, manufacturing, healthcare and life sciences, energy and utilities, transportation and logistics, media and entertainment, government and defense; travel and hospitality, education, and transportation and logistics. What’s more, major enterprise software vendors are adapting to the growing need for visual analytics while new players are streaming into the marketplace. MarketsandMarkets noted that the technology impacts 70 percent to 80 percent of revenues for companies with worldwide exposure. In addition, mid-size firms and SMBs are turning to visual analytics software as well.
Sorting through all the vendors, options and possibilities can seem overwhelming. As a result, eWEEK has surveyed the marketplace and identified 10 of the top vendors for visual data analytics. We assembled this vendor list and the accompanying information from several sources, including the Gartner Magic Quadrant (MQ) for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms, the Gartner MQ for Data Science and Machine Learning Platforms, Gartner Peer Insights, G2 Crowd, vendor websites and other online sources.
Headquarters: American Fork, Utah
Domo offers a cloud-based platform for BI and analytics. It features more than 500 data collectors that pull data from numerous third-party sources, including Microsoft Office 365, AWS, Dropbox, Box, Twitter, Google Drive, Facebook, Salesforce and MySQL. It also accommodates CSV uploads, OLAP and ODBC. The vendor offers a drag-and-drop data preparation, real-time data refreshes, machine learning, notifications and alerts, and visual output that extends beyond conventional computers screens to iOS and Android devices. An app ecosystem built into Domo addresses specific industries, functional roles and use cases. Users can view and filter data in numerous visual formats, including charts, graphs and maps. The platform uses a feature called Card Builder to manage, manipulate and customize views. G2 Crowd placed Domo in the “Leaders” quadrant of its Business Intelligence Platforms Grid 2019. Gartner ranked the company among the “Visionaries” for its 2019 Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms.
Headquarters: Santa Cruz, Calif.
Headquarters: Redmond, Wash.
Microsoft has established itself as a heavyweight in the business intelligence and analytics spaces. It has landed in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms for the last 12 years. The Power BI platform is designed for all levels of users—from analysts and IT staff to developers and data scientists. It includes visual data exploration, data mining and data preparation tools that connect to both Microsoft and non-Microsoft sources. Third party sources include ComScore Digital Analytix, Salesforce, Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics. The drag-and-drop user interface delivers numerous formats, including charts, graphs, maps and clusters. Microsoft Power BI supports analytics both on-premises and in the Azure cloud. It includes extensive collaboration and sharing tools—and it operates in real-time with support for mobile notifications and alerts. Microsoft was ranked among the “Leaders” at both G2 Grid and Gartner MQ for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms.
Headquarters: Tysons Corner, Va.
MicroStrategy has built a self-service platform that serves up powerful tools for data preparation, visual-based and NLQ-based data discovery and exploration, and data visualizations. It features a drag-and-drop interface, self-service data discovery and the ability to tap big data analytics platforms. MicroStrategy offers connectors to virtually every potential data source, including Salesforce, Dropbox, Facebook, Google Analytics, and Hadoop. The platform accommodates ad-hoc reporting with strong filters, sorting and pivoting functions. It also includes extensive vector-based mapping—through ESRI and Mapbox—that can display more than 150 countries down to a postal code level. MicroStrategy supports dynamic layers, handles clustering, supports numerous styles and formats, and works with iOS and Android mobile devices. MicroStrategies is rated among the “Leaders” in the G2 Grid and among the “Challengers” at the Gartner MQ.
Headquarters: Radnor, Pa.
Qlik bills itself as a complete platform for data discovery. It also promotes the concept of democratized data. This translates into a solution that allows non-data scientists and experts to gather, manage and manipulate data from multiple sources. The platform supports Hadoop, NoSQL, Microsoft SQL Server, Amazon Redshift, Google BigQuery and others. Users can prepare data visually through a drag-and-drop interface. An advanced profiling tool suggests associations and automatically presents appropriate data types. Qlik’s Associative Engine finds relationships across multiple data sources without the need for specific queries and searching. However, the platform also offers natural language search and visual dashboards that present numerous types of charts, graphs, maps and other representations. QlikView was rated among the “Leaders” on the G2 Grid and the vendor was also ranked among the “Leaders” at Gartner’s MQ.
Headquarters: Walldorf, Germany
SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence Suite
Organizations that rely on SAP enterprise applications are a natural fit for SAP BusinessObjects. The BI platform offers a high level of flexibility—including the ability to connect to more than 200 data sources. It ties into SAP Business Warehouse and SAP HANA, and there’s embedded analytics in Microsoft PowerPoint. BusinessObjects is designed for use by different groups from across an organization, ranging from non-data scientists to experts. The real-time platform supports self-service data extraction, management and manipulation through a drag-and-drop interface. It can be deployed on-premise, in the cloud or as a hybrid solution. The result is rich ad-hoc reporting and visualization tools that generate data representations in numerous formats. SAP also delivers robust cross-enterprise data sharing and graphical role-based dashboards that deliver information to desktops, laptops and mobile devices. G2 ranked the company among the “Leaders” in its 2019 BI Grid, while Gartner placed the vendor in the “Visionaries” category.
Headquarters: Cary, NC
The SAS Visual Analytics on SAS Viya platform promotes self-service analytics for a spectrum of users, ranging from business analysts and developers to data science experts. It connects to numerous data sources—including Microsoft Office applications—and allows users to import data, join tables and handle other functions through a drag-and-drop interface. There’s also strong support for geolocation data and mapping functions. The result is interactive data visualizations that can be displayed in numerous formats and styles. It’s also possible to easily share BI and analytics visualizations across an organization. SAS Visual Analytics has built in tools for automated forecasting, scenario analysis, goal seeking, decision trees, network diagrams, path analysis and text analysis. It also delivers interactive reporting and dashboards that extend to mobile devices. The platform offers powerful in-memory processing to produce real-time data. SAS was ranked a “Contender” at G2 Crowd Grid for Business Intelligence Platforms, and among the “Visionaries” at Gartner MQ. SAS Also offers other visual tools, including SAS Visual Forecasting and SAS Visual Statistics.
Headquarters: New York, NY and Tel Aviv, Israel
A visual approach is at the center of the Sisense analytics platform. The vendor has designed a self-service approach that revolves around pictures, graphs, charts, maps and other data representations within a single dashboard. The platform supports non-data scientists and data scientists alike. It taps a propriety In-Chip analytics to deliver enormous processing power and fast performance. Sisense is adept at handling mash-ups; it offers connectors to numerous data sources and formats, including Amazon Redshift, Google BigQuery, SQL Server, Facebook, Google Analytics, Intuit QuickBooks, Salesforce, Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics and Adobe Analytics. The platform also includes a widget library that supports hundreds of predesigned data visualizations and includes recommendations about how to best view data. It accommodates open source designs as well. Sisense is among the “Leaders” at G2 Crowd Grid for BI platforms and on the borderline between “Visionaries” and “Leaders” at the Gartner MQ.
Headquarters: Seattle, Wash.
Tableau has constructed a sophisticated business intelligence and analytics platform that places visual elements at the center of everything. It features a visually-oriented drag-and-drop interface designed for casual business users as well as data scientists. The solution connects to numerous data sources, including AWS, Azure, Dropbox, Microsoft Excel and Salesforce—and it taps geolocation data and types of structured and unstructured data to produce maps, charts, graphs, clustering diagrams and much more. The vendor displays dozens of examples online at its Tableau Viz Gallery. The framework supports collaboration and sharing, big data sets and time series analysis through business dashboards. It also offers analytics tools and solutions designed for specific industries, such as healthcare, education, government, IT, marketing and high tech. Both G2 Grid and Gartner placed Tableau in its “Leaders” category in its MQ for analytics and business Intelligence Platforms.
Headquarters: Palo Alto, Calif.
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