Sisense Leaps From Cool Vendor To Visionary, And 5 Key Takeaways From the 2017 Magic Quadrant

After several weeks of tense anticipation, the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms has officially been released. This is probably the most influential report in the BI space – describing the current state of the industry, and influencing its future by impacting buyer behavior, vendor strategy and market awareness.

After last year’s Magic Quadrant redefined business intelligence, this year’s report gives us a fascinating snapshot of an industry changing into something completely different, driven by technological breakthroughs and a crowded marketplace.

I strongly recommend everyone with even a fleeting interest in BI to read the MQ. These are my own 5 key takeaways (and my own opinion, unless stated otherwise):

1. Sisense Leads the Way in Innovation, Customer Success

I can’t help but start with mentioning how immensely proud and grateful I am of our amazing global team. Together, we have managed to achieve the largest organic shift in this year’s Magic Quadrant: moving from Cool Vendor to Niche Player to Visionary, all in the span of just three years.

gartner magic quadrant business intelligence 2017 Sisense Leaps From Cool Vendor To Visionary, And 5 Key Takeaways From the 2017 Magic Quadrant

This is, above all, a testament to our core values: we innovate, care and deliver solutions with a single-minded focus on customer success. We are leading the way in innovation – reinventing core BI technologies, providing the most flexible embedded analytics platform in the market, and transforming the way business users receive insights. But this is never innovation for its own sake: everything is done with a strong, constant focus on business value and empowering our customers.

From my experience at the helm of several software companies, this spirit is absolutely vital for long-term success – and Sisense has an abundance of it. Based on information and feedback from our clients, Gartner rated Sisense in the top quartile for user enablement and achievement of business benefits.

2. Simplifying Complexity

The BI industry is maturing from departmental projects into enterprise endeavors, creating demand for more robust functionality, more data sources and more analyses. As Gartner notes:

“…buyers want to expand modern BI usage, including for self-service to everyone in the enterprise and beyond. They want users to analyze a more diverse range and more complex combinations of data sources (beyond the data warehouse or data lake) than ever before — without distinct data preparation tools.”

Indeed: we’ve talked before about the rise of complex data. Modern enterprises are dealing with troves of data generated from more sources than they can wrap their head around, and business departments are demanding more than visualization. Today’s data-driven professional needs the ability to navigate a wide variety of disparate data sources in a self-service environment, and derive insights before making a decision. Enterprise data tools should empower business units to be data-driven in this sense, rather than retroactively justifying decisions with canned reports.

It all boils down to simplifying, removing barriers, and giving more power to everyday users while enabling “data heroes” to truly unleash their analytical prowess.

3. A Move to Consolidate

More than ever we see the market gravitating towards full-stack and single-stack solutions, replacing the infamous “assembly line” of database, ETL, querying and visualization tools. This is reflected in Pentaho and Alteryx – two good companies with a very loyal customer base – moving backwards in this Magic Quadrant due to focusing mainly on back-end, data preparation features.

I believe this trend will continue and expand. It is simply unsustainable for organizations to maintain three, four or five different and expensive systems for analytics. Instead, modern business intelligence should be a seamless value chain that is purchased, owned, and operated mainly by the individual business units. If Marketing or Sales have dashboards, but any new data source or query has to go through centralized IT systems, the bottleneck has merely moved elsewhere. BI vendors that can deliver on this premise will lead the industry in the near future.

4. The Future is Hands Free and Machine Guided

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Another clear trend is the emergence of next-generation technologies – machine learning, natural language processing, and artificial intelligence – as core components of modern BI solutions. Gartner predicts that:

“By 2020, natural-language generation and artificial intelligence will be a standard feature of 90% of modern BI platforms.

By 2020, 50% of analytic queries will be generated using search, natural-language processing or voice, or will be autogenerated.”

It would seem that BI is set to converge with AI. Machine learning is already being used to serve analytical insights to end users with close to zero human intervention. Couple this with the amazing advancement of voice and natural language processing, and it’s safe to assume that the way businesses interact with data is going to very different, very soon.

I am once again extremely thrilled to see our own product vision aligning with the marketplace – with Sisense leading the way in the use of machine learning for automated anomaly detection, alerting and performance optimization, as well as integrating natural language into analytical workflows through chatbots and smart devices.

5. An Overcrowded Market

Finally, if there is one conclusion that is undisputedly evident just from a cursory glance at this year’s MQ, it’s this: there are a LOT of vendors out there. Gartner’s report is merely the “cream of the crop” with dozens of other tools available, offering everything from verticalized dashboards to advanced statistical analysis.

So how can you make an informed buying decision in such an overcrowded market?

I would start by asking three questions:

  1. Will the vendor give me the tools I need to succeed as a customer?
  2. Do I believe in the vendor’s vision and roadmap?
  3. Will the vendor bring me to where I want to be with my data today? Tomorrow? Three years from now?

In other words, focus on the future as well as the present. Business intelligence is evolving, perhaps more so than any other enterprise technology. Data is changing and growing in complexity; technology is moving towards consolidation, automation, and smarter workflows; and business itself is changing and becoming more and more dependent on data for its operations. In this time of sea change, future-proofing is the way to go.

These are definitely exciting times, the best and most dynamic I have experienced in my own career (and possibly yours). I for one can’t wait to see how the next iterations of data and analytics will transform the enterprise.

You can get your copy of the full Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms right here.

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Copyright notice:
Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms, by Rita L. Sallam, Cindi Howson, Carlie J. Idoine, Thomas W. Oestreich, James Laurence Richardson, Joao and Tapadinhas, published 16 February 2017
This graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research document and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. The Gartner document is available upon request from Sisense.
GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally, and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

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