Business intelligence (BI) and advanced analytics are now at the center of operating a successful enterprise. They deliver insights into complex issues, patterns and trends that would have once flown beneath the radar. As a result, savvy organizations are increasingly tapping these tools along with rich data sets—originating from point of sale (POS) systems, ERP and CRM, web analytics, social media, the Internet of Things (IoT) and more—to produce more effective business strategies.
BI and analytics have moved far beyond basic insights and reporting. Many of these products now incorporate visual-based data discovery, machine learning and elements of artificial intelligence—including image recognition, voice recognition and natural language processing. What’s more, these tools are increasingly designed for citizen data scientists. This puts them in the hands of developers, business analysts and software engineers. According to a Gartner Magic Quadrant report, the number of citizen data scientists using advanced BI and analytics will grow five times faster than the number of expert data scientists through 2020.
Gartner also noted in the 2018 Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms, that these next-generation tools—which began to take shape as early as 2004—have redefined the marketplace and transformed the way organizations approach data, including predictive analytics. They increasingly incorporate tools for governance and sharing/collaboration. “The multiyear transition to modern agile and business-led analytics is now mainstream, with double-digit growth; meanwhile, spending for traditional BI has been declining since 2015,” Gartner pointed out.
Here's a look at 10 top vendors in the advanced BI and analytics space. eWEEK has assembled this vendor list and the accompanying information using a number of sources, including Gartner Magic Quadrant (MQ), Gartner Peer Insights, G2 Crowd and vendor websites.
Headquarters: American Fork, UT
Domo aims is to create a “truly digitally-connected organization” through a suite of cloud-based products and services. It works to achieve this result through a framework that is based on the concepts “Pull data from everywhere, integrate everything” and “Connect everyone.” Domo includes more than 500 pre-built data connectors that reach out to services as diverse as Twitter, AWS, Dropbox, Excel and LinkedIn. It features strong collaborative data science tools, more than 300 interactive chart and dashboard models, mobile capabilities and alerts within a framework that supports a high level of customization, scalability and security. One of the differentiating features for the platform, Gartner noted in its 2018 MQ, is an ability to deploy the platform with little or no support from IT. It rated the vendor a “Niche Player” though it captured a 2018 Gartner Customers’ Choice 2018 award. Users rate the platform high for ease-of-use and rapid deployment. However, some complain that a subpar web-based interface slows design and development and adds complexity to other processes.
It’s no secret that Google is a leader in the data science and analytics spaces. Google Data Studio is particularly valuable for marketing and advertising campaigns. It offers built-in and partner connectors that allow organizations to connect to almost every type of data. This includes everything from Google Analytics and Google Ads to third-party offerings such as Amazon Ads, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads, Salesforce, Twitter and Adobe Analytics. The platform also includes features that allow users to transform the data into visualizations, and it includes strong dashboards and web-based reporting capabilities. Google’s BigQuery delivers a RESTful web service that provides interactive analysis of large datasets residing in Google Storage. This makes it ideal for tackling predictive analytics. The platform is highly scalable and flexible. Google earned a Gartner Customers’ Choice 2018 award at Peer Insights. Users describe the platforms as powerful and like the robust reporting capabilities. Some complain that the platforms could use further refinements, including additional visualization options.
Headquarters: Armonk, NY
IBM long ago established itself as a leader in the analytics and machine learning spaces. Last year, it phased out Watson Analytics but now offers an updated version of Cognos Analytics. The solution focuses on guided data discovery, automated predictive analytics, and cognitive capabilities such as natural language dialogue. It incorporates smart visualizations (the product recommends the best chart or graphic based on the data) and offers sophisticated geospatial mapping and reporting. IBM Cognos Analytics is available as either a hosted or on-premises solution that is designed for data scientists, business users and citizen data scientists. The product includes self-service dashboards and robust tools to guide users through the process of building data models. It’s also possible to use the analytics platform as an add-on with IBM’s Watson Studio, which handles advanced machine learning functions. Gartner positions the vendor as a “Visionary” on its MQ. It cited superior functionality, innovative features and ease of use for Cognos Analytics as strong points but also noted that the product has some limitations related to the complexity of analysis it can handle. Users view the solution positively but say they encounter some challenges related to self-service functions, including reporting.
Headquarters: Redmond, Wash.
The business analytics solution is designed to deliver insights in a fast and flexible way. Microsoft touts Power BI as an analytics platform that supports visual exploration, collaborative data science, customized dashboards and interactive reports. It is designed for data scientists, analysts, IT professionals and developers. Users can link dataflows to create data transformation pipelines that reach across different groups—and connect to Azure Data Lake Storage, Azure Machine Learning Studio and Azure SQL Data Warehouse. Dataflows support the Microsoft Common Data Model, which makes it relatively easy to tap a standardized and extensible collection of data schemas. Gartner ranks Microsoft as a “Leader” in its MQ. It cites the solution’s low cost, ease of use, visual appeal and product vision as key adoption points, but notes that breadth of use is somewhat limited, particularly in regard to personalized dashboards and reporting functions. The product captured a Gartner Customer’s Choice 2018 award. Buyers give Power BI high ratings and echo Gartner in praise about ease-of-use but also complaints about the lack of certain features and capabilities.
Headquarters: Radnor, Penn.
Qlik offers an integrated platform of products, both on premises and in the cloud, that address various pieces of the analytics and data science puzzle. Qlik Sense provides data discovery, BI and analytics. Qlik Analytics Platform offers robust tools for developers looking to create custom applications and embedded analytics tools. Other products offer on-premises and cloud native tools for building analytics apps without professional development skills. The platform is highly scalable and offers add-ons that serve up geoanalytics capabilities and additional reporting features. Gartner placed Qlik in the “Leaders” category for its 2018 MQ. It described the platform as “scalable” and “robust” and noted that it is adept at handling complex data models and complex calculations. Gartner pointed out that the Qlik Associative engine is shared between QlikView and Qlik Sense—and the enterprise governance features remain a strength and differentiator. Qlik earned a Customer’s Choice 2018 award at Gartner Peer Insights. Users are positive about the vendor and say that the platform is powerful and feature rich. However, some also noted that it sometimes lacks flexibility and that some features and functions are not in sync.
Headquarters: Cary, NC
SAS has established itself as a heavyweight in data science, analytics, BI and machine learning. SAS Visual Analytics offers a platform built around data discovery, robust dashboards, advanced visualizations, strong reporting functions and powerful scheduling. It is designed for business users and citizen data scientists as well as dedicated data scientists. SAS Visual Analytics is offered as an on-premises solution or a cloud-based service. It can be hosted in a SAS data center or a third-party provider, such as AWS or Microsoft Azure. It also supports mobile devices and includes strong location analytics tools. SAS Viya includes a suite of products for specific vertical industries such as banking, insurance and government. SAS Visual Data Mining and Machine Learning offers a group of tools built into a single, integrated, collaborative solution. SAS Visual Statistics and SAS Visual Forecasting add other predictive capabilities. Gartner rates the company as “Visionary” in its MQ. It describes the vendor’s products as “comprehensive” and suitable for “multiple use cases.” A particular strength is prebuilt industry solutions. However, it also described the vendor as pricey and cited migration challenges as a common problem. Users rate the product high but also express dislike over high pricing.
Headquarters: New York, NY and Tel Aviv, Israel
Sisense offers an integrated BI and analytics platform designed to address data science in a comprehensive way. It addresses tasks through in-chip analytics and industry specific dashboards that focus on specific needs, including customer service, marketing, finance, manufacturing, social responsibility, healthcare, IT and human resources. It also offers role-specific interactive dashboards for CEOs, CFOs, COOs, sales directors, customer service managers and others. An additional selling point is that it offers built in AI and machine learning functionality. Sisense relies on a browser interface and it can interact with cloud services such as AWS and Azure. Gartner describes the company as a “Visionary” in its MQ. It cited relevant product enhancements, a strong vision and powerful use cases as top benefits. However, it also noted that the solution tends to fit smaller deployments and smaller data volumes better. The solution earned a Gartner Peer Review Customer’s Choice 2018 designation. Users describe Sisense as powerful, easy to use and highly capable. They also find the pricing appealing. However, some complained that documentation is limited.
Headquarters: Seattle, Wash.
Tableau has led the charge toward a BI and analytics framework that doesn’t require dedicated data science skills. It delivers an intuitive visually oriented platform that leads business analysts, developers, citizen data scientists and dedicated data scientists to insight and results. Tableau connects to numerous data sources and repositories, including AWS, Amazon Redshift, Google BigQuery, Microsoft Excel, SAP and Salesforce. The platform delivers rich tools for geocoding and geolocation mapping and other visual charts and graphics. APIs allow users to embed data in numerous other applications. Tableau uses a drag-and-drop interface to build data models. It incorporates advanced capabilities for forecasting, clustering, automated geocoding and assisted formula editing. Gartner rates the company a “Leader” at its MQ and describes Tableau as the ‘gold standard’ for interactive visual exploration. It noted that the platform is flexible and feature rich. The vendor earned a Gartner Customer’s Choice 2018 award from Gartner Peer Insights. Buyers rate the company overwhelmingly positive. A few complain about the flexibility of reporting and somewhat expensive and restrictive licensing.
Headquarters: Palo Alto, Calif.
The vendor’s focus is on providing visual exploration at scale. During the last few years, it has added numerous functions and capabilities. It offers an on-premises appliance--although more than 85 percent of its sales are software only--with data loaded in memory for fast indexing and data performance. The software solution is available only as a managed service. ThoughtSpot is often deployed in conjunction with other BI and analytics products from third parties. The company’s focus is on making anything searchable, producing instant charts and graphics and sharing and collaborating. All of this allows business analysts, citizen data scientists and dedicated data scientists to conduct complex tasks as scale. Gartner has moved the company from “Niche Player” to “Visionary” in its most recent MQ. It cited the companies “innovative roadmap” with augmented analytics as a distinction. Users give the vendor high marks for easy implementation and rollout as well as high performance and usability. Criticisms revolve around modeling flexibility and additional features users would like to see in the product.
Headquarters: Palo Alto, Calif.
TIBCO offers an array of products to address various aspects of BI, analytics and data science. The company was a pioneer in introducing visual-based discovery and introducing the modern era of analytics. The vendor’s Spotfire solution delivers dashboards, interactive visualizations, and data preparation within a single package. It accommodates data processing in memory or in-database and incorporates natural language search and AI-powered insights. TIBCO’s other products handle specialized tasks, including data management and governance, developing algorithms and using machine learning. Gartner labels the vendor a “Visionary” in its MQ. It noted that the company’s products are well-suited for advanced data exploration with highly integrated data science and machine learning functions. It also cited the vendor’s product vision as a positive. Users give the vendor relatively high marks. They like the products overall capabilities and cite major improvements in the UI in recent years, but also note that the vendor needs to improve visual and integration features, along with certain statistical functions.
Solutions at a Glance