Here is the latest Magic Quadrant report for Business Intelligence as for Feb 2012.


Business intelligence (BI) platforms enable all types of users — from IT staff to consultants to business users — to build applications that help organizations learn about and understand their business. Gartner defines a BI platform as a software platform that delivers the 14 capabilities listed below. These capabilities are organized into three categories of functionality: integration, information delivery and analysis. Information delivery is the core focus of most BI projects today, but we are seeing an increased interest in deployments of analysis to discover new insights, and in integration to implement those insights.


  • BI infrastructure — All tools in the platform use the same security, metadata, administration, portal integration, object model and query engine, and should share the same look and feel.
  • Metadata management — Not only should all tools leverage the same metadata, but the offering should provide a robust way to search, capture, store, reuse and publish metadata objects such as dimensions, hierarchies, measures, performance metrics and report layout objects.
  • Development tools — The BI platform should provide a set of programmatic development tools and a visual development environment, coupled with a software developer’s kit for creating BI applications, integrating them into a business process, and/or embedding them in another application. The BI platform should also enable developers to build BI applications without coding by using wizard-like components for a graphical assembly process. The development environment should also support Web services in performing common tasks such as scheduling, delivering, administering and managing. In addition, the BI application can assign and track events or tasks allotted to specific users, based on predefined business rules. Often, this capability can be delivered by integrating with a separate portal or workflow tool.
  • Collaboration — This capability enables BI users to share and discuss information, BI content and results, and/or manage hierarchies and metrics via discussion threads, chat and annotations, either embedded in the BI platform or through integration with collaboration, social software and analytical master data management (MDM).
Information Delivery
  • Reporting — Reporting provides the ability to create formatted and interactive reports, with or without parameters, with highly scalable distribution and scheduling capabilities. In addition, BI platform vendors should handle a wide array of reporting styles (for example, financial, operational and performance dashboards), and should enable users to access and fully interact with BI content delivered consistently across delivery platforms including the Web, mobile devices and common portal environments.
  • Dashboards — This subset of reporting includes the ability to publish formal, Web-based or mobile reports with intuitive interactive displays of information, including dials, gauges, sliders, check boxes and traffic lights. These displays indicate the state of the performance metric compared with a goal or target value. Increasingly, dashboards are used to disseminate real-time data from operational applications or in conjunction with a complex event processing engine.
  • Ad hoc query — This capability enables users to ask their own questions of the data, without relying on IT to create a report. In particular, the tools must have a robust semantic layer to allow users to navigate available data sources. These tools should include a disconnected analysis capability that enables users to access BI content and analyze data remotely without being connected to a server-based BI application. In addition, these tools should offer query governance and auditing capabilities to ensure that queries perform well.
  • Microsoft Office integration — In some use cases, BI platforms are used as a middle tier to manage, secure and execute BI tasks, but Microsoft Office (particularly Excel) acts as the BI client. In these cases, it is vital that the BI vendor provides integration with Microsoft Office applications, including support for document and presentation formats, formulas, data "refreshes" and pivot tables. Advanced integration includes cell locking and write-back.
  • Search-based BI — This applies a search index to both structured and unstructured data sources and maps them into a classification structure of dimensions and measures (often, but not necessarily leveraging the BI semantic layer) that users can easily navigate and explore using a search (Google-like) interface. This capability extends beyond keyword searching of BI platform content and metadata.
  • Mobile BI — This capability enables organizations to deliver report and dashboard content to mobile devices (such as smartphones and tablets) in a publishing and/or interactive (bidirectional) mode, and takes advantage of the interaction mode of the device (tapping, swiping and so on) and other capabilities not commonly available on desktops and laptops, such as location awareness.
  • Online analytical processing (OLAP) — This enables end users to analyze data with extremely fast query and calculation performance, enabling a style of analysis known as "slicing and dicing." Users are (often) able to easily navigate multidimensional drill paths. And they (sometimes) have the ability to write-back values to a proprietary database for planning and "what if" modeling purposes. This capability could span a variety of data architectures (such as relational or multidimensional) and storage architectures (such as disk-based or in-memory).
  • Interactive visualization — This gives users the ability to display numerous aspects of the data more efficiently by using interactive pictures and charts, instead of rows and columns. Over time, advanced visualization will go beyond just slicing and dicing data to include more process-driven BI projects, allowing all stakeholders to better understand the workflow through a visual representation.
  • Predictive modeling and data mining — This capability enables organizations to classify categorical variables and to estimate continuous variables using advanced mathematical techniques. BI developers are able to integrate models easily into BI reports, dashboards and analysis, and business processes.
  • Scorecards — These take the metrics displayed in a dashboard a step further by applying them to a strategy map that aligns key performance indicators (KPIs) with a strategic objective. Scorecard metrics should be linked to related reports and information in order to do further analysis. A scorecard implies the use of a performance management methodology such as Six Sigma or a balanced scorecard framework.

Magic Quadrant

Figure 1. Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms

Figure 1. Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms

Source: Gartner (February 2012)


Here is what is written for IBM,

  • IBM maintains its leading position on the Completeness of Vision axis for this year’s Magic Quadrant. The company takes a holistic approach to what it calls Business Analytics and Optimization (BAO), combining comprehensive software, hardware and services in a coordinated market offering. IBM’s business analytics software portfolio includes a unified BI, analytics and performance management platform, and is complemented by IBM information management software and appliances (Netezza, for example). Services are made up of a consulting line of nearly 9,000 people, which is a growing part of IBM Global Business Services (GBS). IBM can offer both a tools-based and/or a solution-driven offering, along with significant vertical expertise, to customers and prospects.
  • In 4Q10, IBM introduced its latest business analytics platform, IBM Cognos 10. Throughout 2011, additional capabilities have been released and customer adoption has begun in earnest. Cognos 10 references who responded to this year’s Magic Quadrant survey painted a very interesting snapshot — on average nearly 4,000 users, over 12 TB of data, broad functional use, and very high platform integration scores, all at or near the top of all ratings for all vendors in this report. Overall, Cognos 10 references were significantly more satisfied than Cognos 8 customers, who were the majority of IBM’s survey respondents. While some indicated that upgrading from Cognos 8 to Cognos 10 had some complexity, the majority rated it as straightforward or very straightforward. This bodes well for IBM’s future ability to execute, providing the firm delivers superior service and support and problem-free software.
  • The average tenure of IBM respondents was seven years, second highest of all vendors in this survey. Gartner often hears this long-standing customer commitment in inquiry, and this represents a strong customer loyalty factor. This year, less than 7% of references noted that they are planning to discontinue use of the software in the next three years (or are considering doing so), which is significantly lower than last year’s result.
  • Advanced analytics is a particular IBM strength. The company’s SPSS software continues to advance nicely, readily allowing IBM to bid for predictive analytics and statistical use cases. Customers rated IBM’s predictive capabilities in the top quartile of all vendors. A secret weapon at IBM’s disposal — IBM Research — delivers another level of research and development prowess to the overall IBM value proposition. For example, Watson, the Deep Question and Answer system that interprets natural language and scores possible answers based on probability, is a visible example of IBM Research at work. While not a part of the Cognos 10 platform, it demonstrates the depth and breadth that IBM can bring to clients’ advanced analytic scenarios.
  • The top reasons why customers select IBM are functionality, ease of use for end users, and data access and integration. IBM’s road map and future vision weighed heavily in reference decisions. In 2011, IBM delivered a new Cognos 10 mobile application for the iPad that is included free in existing user roles. In early 2012 the company will introduce Cognos Insight, a personal, desktop BI product that enables independent discovery and "what if" modeling, while also providing full interoperability with the larger workgroup and enterprise solutions.
  • Twenty-three percent of Cognos 8 references indicate that performance continues to be problematic (a persistent problem for the last several years), nearly three times the average response for other vendors evaluated in this Magic Quadrant. In contrast, Cognos 10 references reported below average performance concerns. This is a sure signal that IBM must encourage upgrades to Cognos 10 without technical and/or financial disruption.
  • Again this year, references consider the Cognos products more difficult to implement and use than those of competitors. While Cognos 10 was rated slightly below average, other IBM products (Cognos 8, SPSS software and Cognos TM1) were deemed significantly more difficult. These are cited as two major reasons that limit expanded BI deployments with Cognos 8. As such, improved system administration and end-user usability were major development themes of the Cognos 10 release. References indicate that Cognos software is used largely by a consumer/casual user population. Reporting is the most extensively deployed component, followed by ad hoc query and OLAP analysis.
  • IBM’s customers also continue to have less than optimal customer experiences, with support and sales interactions, along with product quality, rated in the bottom quartile of all vendors reviewed in this report. References also rate product functionality slightly below the average for all vendors. The bright spot is that Cognos 10 references rated product functionality near the top of all vendors, and support, sales and product quality were rated better than for Cognos 8. These issues remain IBM’s Achilles’ heel, and will limit its ability to raise execution scores next year unless action is taken quickly.
  • License cost continues to be another source of customer concern across all products in the IBM business analytics portfolio. Gartner client inquiry also bears out this concern. Higher than expected costs to upgrade from Cognos 8 to Cognos 10 have stalled some projects, but changes in configuration, user roles, and/or support costs appear to drive the increase. As a counterpoint, existing Cognos 10 users did not identify license cost as a concern.
        I have some comments about the report but this will be in the next post.