Business Intelligence platforms can assist to make sense of big data
BI platforms Overview
The market for business intelligence platforms (BI) tools is highly competitive, with some large international incumbents, many successful vendors with a track record spanning decades, and countless smaller specialists with alternative and sometimes disruptive approaches to BI.
This report analyzes the strengths and challenges of the leading vendors that offer beneficial value to customers wanting to implement ‘modern’ enterprise Business Intelligence platforms.
A modern enterprise BI and analytics platform is able to span traditional and explorative BI and analytics requirements both for standalone data and information applications but also when embedded in operational applications.
With the increasing importance of data to not only support management decisions but also increase the efficiency and effectiveness of operational processes – as well as the growing number of products, services and business models being based on data – a modern enterprise business intelligence platforms are an indispensable backbone of any enterprise wanting to succeed in adapting to the digitalization of markets.
A modern enterprise BI and analytics platform has to support a broad range of use cases. Therefore, it should provide front-end tools for different types of users based on a suitable infrastructural foundation. The technical infrastructure includes data warehouses and data marts, data integration and data quality components, dictionaries, repositories, and many other technologies.
Besides buying a modern enterprise BI and analytics platform, organizations should have a BI strategy that goes well beyond an architecture blueprint to include non-technical and emerging business user-oriented requirements, alignment with corporate strategy, organizational models, outcome-based priority settings and a proper roadmap.
Still, when it comes to kicking off or expanding a business intelligence platforms program, the initial focus almost always lies on the required toolsets.
While this may not be the ideal starting point, at some stage a platform or product decision has to be made. This document will help with the selection process by evaluating the most commonly used product sets from the major vendor community.
Inclusion Criteria – Business Intelligence platforms
There are two separate inclusion criteria categories for this BARC Score: the first is associated with a vendor’s products and the other is linked to the financial results relating to those products. To be evaluated in this BARC Score, a vendor has to have a strong focus on providing BI functionality and supply four out of six technologies from the following functional portfolio:
• Formatted and ad hoc reporting
• Data mining
• Self-service BI and data discovery
In addition, the vendor has to generate a minimum of 15 million EUR in license revenue per year with the above product set, spread across at least two separate geographies. Furthermore, the product set must have a significant number of implementations and license revenues across different geographies to be considered as global.
In our functional evaluation, we included the following six functional sub-areas:
Reporting – Business Intelligence platforms
Formatted standard reports are usually page-oriented reports run on regular schedules. These include static reports – which normally appeal to the widest audience in a company because they are simple to use – and prompted reports, which enable users to filter reports based on predefined parameters. Aside from pixel-perfect displays, which provide developers with precise control over how they place report objects and images on a screen, formatted reports also support rich printing options, dynamic page sizing, and a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) development interface.
Virtually every BI product can provide some type of reports. The importance of page orientation, scheduling, and other advanced reporting features, however, varies depending on the customer’s requirements.
In many cases, users require more interactivity than they receive from formatted reports. Ad hoc reporting tools are geared to non-professional report developers and provide basic filtering and navigation features (e.g., drill down, ranking and conditional formatting).
Dashboards – Business Intelligence platforms
Dashboards are also referred to as cockpits, scorecards or BI applications. They provide graphical views of key performance indicators and the ability to drill down to details. Some dashboards offer self-service functions so that end users can create their own layouts without any outside help. Others (especially BI applications with guided navigation) require support from technically savvy business users or programmers. Scorecards often incorporate strategy maps and applications to manage improvement initiatives.
Data analysis solutions differ from basic reporting tools in that they are able to probe much more deeply into operational data and generate new information that can be understood and actioned upon by the business. Further analyses can be carried out using mathematical methods. Traditional online analytical processing (OLAP) tools provide dimensional (versus reporting) data views which make it easy for users to drill down, drill across and pivot dimensions as well as apply sophisticated calculations without scripting. Certain analysis tools also offer methods to support set-based, visual or discovery-oriented data analysis.
Data Mining – Business Intelligence platforms
Data mining represents non-directed, hypothesis-free data analysis. Various algorithms scan the database searching for patterns used for a segmentation, classification or association of data. The methods cover statistical data analysis, neural networks, decision trees, time series, and many other algorithms. Users must be well trained in order to use these methods and to gain the expected insights. Data mining tools often contain data integration and analysis process support functionality.
Planning – Business Intelligence platforms
Planning describes the task of creating data with a future time reference. An essential software requirement here is to write back planning data from planning forms in the front end to a planning data model in a central database. The planning model consists of planning structures (master data), key figures and planning logic, and combines different operational and financial plans. Both the planning forms and planning model are created using a planning solution. The coordination of the various planning activities and planners involved is handled by process control functionality (workflow). Specific planning functionality (e.g., data allocation, simulation, and comments) is provided for plan data entry.
Self-service BI and Data Discovery – Business Intelligence platforms
Self-service BI and data discovery are major trends in bringing business intelligence platforms to users in companies. A major benefit of these trends is the way they increase flexibility for ‘data workers’ and provide them with analysis capabilities to gain information from different data sources.
However, in many companies, individual data processing, the definition of KPIs and publication of individually defined (and layout) reports and applications has led to a situation where trust in data has been lost and the replication of efforts in the individual creation of applications and reports is blatantly inefficient. Therefore we evaluate each product’s ability to combine the virtues of a strong software platform for secure, repeatable and broad data services with the provision of self-service and data discovery possibilities for users.
Infrastructure Evaluation – Business Intelligence platforms
Modern enterprise Business Intelligence platforms must serve multiple usage scenarios and growing user numbers. Therefore it should be designed as an open and adaptable architecture based on micro services that run in different environments and are open for third parties to use or embed into other applications. In terms of infrastructure, we evaluate a broad range of technical criteria including architectural evaluation, openness and ability to integrate different data sources, as well as other technical features such as performance optimization techniques and security settings.
We assess connectivity to data sources including standard RDBMS, Hadoop and NoSQL databases but also file formats and options for customers to build their own adapters if needed. In addition, technical features such as support for different platforms as well as overall solution performance and caching mechanisms are considered in this evaluation. The effort needed to maintain the system is considered as well.
Portfolio Evaluation – Business Intelligence platforms
Here we evaluate each vendor’s overall portfolio from a customer perspective. A business intelligence platform should have consistent user interfaces for publishing, consuming and interacting with data and reports. Consistency should not only apply to user interfaces but also to objects used to present and interact with data (e.g., tables and graphs) on a report/output level and to data (e.g., common semantic layer, joint data access standards, reusable objects).
The product’s lifecycle and maturity are also assessed. Customers often complain about reliability and stability in early product releases. Early versions are rarely as functionally rich as mature products so they usually do not meet all their customers’ functional requirements. And sometimes vendors offer mature products that are no longer being enhanced with innovative, new features. As a consequence, they may not fulfill new and emerging requirements.
Here is the list of business intelligence platforms (BI) tools:
BOARD International: www.board.com
BOARD, founded in 1994, today employs approximately 250 people worldwide. Headquartered in Switzerland, the company has 23 offices worldwide and a partner network in over 30 countries. According to the vendor, BOARD implements roughly 50 percent of its projects in planning and 50 percent in the BI area and is used by around 3,500 customers. The company currently has a strong focus on internationalization, especially on strengthening its presence in the United States.
Dimensional Insight: www.dimins.com
Dimensional Insight is a privately held company based in Burlington, MA. Started in 1989, Dimensional Insight set out to build an integrated platform with tools that address the various Business Intelligence platforms project roles. Its product line has evolved to include solution accelerators and product optimizations that have positioned it to succeed in highly regulated industries, such as healthcare, goods and services, finance and manufacturing. With a capable solution, specialized industry expertise and a strong passion for customer success, Dimensional Insight is set to expand its customer base and grow its product footprint in EMEA and APAC.
Dundas Data Visualization Inc.: www.dundas.com
Founded in 1992, Dundas began building its reputation as an innovator in visualization software with its Chart product based on Microsoft technology. In 2007, Dundas sold the Chart franchise to Microsoft to build a dashboard product, which was launched in 2009. Further expanding its mission, Dundas released Dundas BI in 2014, a full-featured and modern BI platform that launched the vendor into the market for all-in-one BI platforms. Dundas is a privately held company with approximately 100 employees headquartered in Ontario, Canada.
As one of the world’s largest vendors of IT hardware, software, and services, IBM offers a comprehensive portfolio of business intelligence and performance management solutions. For this BARC Score, we evaluated IBM Cognos Analytics, IBM Planning Analytics, IBM Watson Analytics, IBM SPSS and IBM Data Science Experience (DSX).
Infor (incl. Birst): www.infor.com
Infor is a global provider of business software, which focuses on providing cloud-based solutions. The company was founded in 2002, has 153 offices in 41 countries and supports over 73,000 customers. In 2017, Infor acquired Birst, a company founded by Siebel Analytics veterans. With this acquisition, Infor has split its portfolio into BI and enterprise performance management (EPM) products.
Birst is now positioned to serve BI usage scenarios and Infor BI – Infor’s existing BI and EPM product – to serve EPM scenarios. Birst will continue to focus on the standalone BI market. In addition, Birst also plays a central role in Infor’s cloud strategy. Birst will be able to connect to Infor’s operational systems such as ERP or CRM in one integrated layer which will be exposed to end users. The solution is packaged with Infor’s CloudSuite products, consisting of operational systems for various verticals.
Information Builders: www.informationbuilders.com
Information Builders is a privately held company, founded in 1975 and with more than 60 offices worldwide. The vendor’s flagship Business Intelligence platforms offering, WebFOCUS, was introduced in 1997. Information Builders also provides the iWay and Omni product lines, which are often used alongside WebFOCUS for data integration and data quality functionality.
Microsoft, the world’s largest software company, was founded in 1975 and has become a household name primarily due to its Windows operating system and Office suite. The vendor has a broad enterprise offering too, ranging from cloud to database to its ERP offering.
Like several competitors, Microsoft focuses heavily on providing cloud-based solutions. Microsoft Azure is already used by many customers as a cloud computing platform and infrastructure. The vendor offers a host of services and applications based on Azure. It can also be seen as a central hub for providing the company’s own software in the cloud. The platform is available through a global network of data centers managed by Microsoft and hosted by its partners. Not only Microsoft but also a number of other BI and business software vendors rely on Azure for their cloud infrastructure.
Microsoft has spread its BI capabilities across the Office, SharePoint and SQL Server product lines in the past few years, providing tools for formatted reporting, ad hoc reporting, analysis, and dashboards. Microsoft SQL Server consists of multiple products including a relational database management system, data integration and data quality components, Analysis Services as a multidimensional database, and Reporting Services as a solution for formatted reporting. With the incorporation of Revolution R functionality to SQL Server, the product is also particularly interesting for advanced analytics scenarios as well.
MicroStrategy, founded in 1989, is one of the best-known vendors in the business intelligence platforms market worldwide. In 2003, it became the first vendor to release a fully integrated product that provides formatted reports, dashboards, and interactive analysis in a single solution using the same infrastructure. With its library of statistical and advanced data mining functions, the vendor offers comprehensive analytic capabilities for a wide variety of use cases.
OpenText, is a global provider of enterprise information management (EIM), especially known for its enterprise content management (ECM) and business process management (BPM) solutions. In January 2015, OpenText acquired Actuate. Actuate was one of the earliest providers of business intelligence software.
The company was founded in 1993 and based in San Mateo, California, with about 600 employees worldwide. Actuate launched the open source BIRT (Business Intelligence and Reporting Tool) project in 2004. To complement its portfolio with a solution for predictive analysis, Actuate acquired Quiterian in 2012. The former Quiterian product is now known as OpenText Big Data Analytics.
Oracle is a global provider of enterprise cloud computing, offering software as a service, platform as a service, infrastructure as a service, and data as a service capability. In 2014, Oracle changed its general release strategy to “Cloud First” and now has a major strategic focus on enhancing its cloud-based portfolio. The cloud portfolio is packaged as Oracle Planning and Budgeting Cloud Service (PBCS) and Oracle Analytics Cloud (OAC), Oracle’s flagship product for BI and Analytics.
OAC incorporates data preparation, data visualization, enterprise business intelligence and scenario management capabilities. In the area of enterprise Business Intelligence platforms, it offers modules for developing and deploying dashboards, formatted reporting, ad hoc reporting, and analysis. Essbase Cloud, a module of OAC, is a front end tied to multidimensional storage which can be used for scenario modeling, OLAP analysis and the creation of Excel-based applications.
Hitachi Vantara (Pentaho): www.hitachivantara.com
Pentaho was founded in 2004 to “revolutionize BI” through an open source business model. Pentaho was acquired by Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) in 2015. In September 2017, HDS and Pentaho merged with Hitachi Insight Group to form a net-new legal entity: Hitachi Vantara.
Pyramid Analytics: www.pyramidanalytics.com
Founded in Israel in 2009, Pyramid Analytics is a privately held software company with more than 175 employees. Its first BI product, BI Office, was launched in 2012. The company is now headquartered in the Netherlands and has offices in the United States and the United Kingdom. With backing from Viola Group and Sequoia Capital, the company continues to grow and now boasts more than 750 customers.
Pyramid Analytics released a newly architected and revamped product – Pyramid 2018 – in Q3 of 2017. The new product is no longer dependent on the Microsoft platform and was based on modern standards. It was designed as a business intelligence platform and Analytics Platform which makes stronger use of AI and machine learning with the aim of becoming an analytics operating system (OS) for companies.
Qlik, originally founded in 1993 in Lund, Sweden, moved its headquarters to the United States in 2005 after raising funds from several venture capital firms. QlikView, the company’s virtually unknown product at the time, was very aggressively marketed after the VC investment. This created enormous attention and traction, and in 2010 Qlik went public on NASDAQ. In 2016, Qlik was acquired by the private equity company Thoma Bravo and delisted from the stock exchange.
Until the general availability of Qlik Sense in 2014, Qlik was a one-product company. Today, the vendor provides a portfolio of visual analytics offerings. Qlik focuses on integrating different data sources and empowering data governance (data), supporting people with its platform (people) and supporting analysis using its associative model (ideas).
SAP was founded in 1972 as a business applications company. It significantly increased its footprint in the business intelligence and analytics market with the acquisition of BusinessObjects in 2007 (now called SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence Platforms).
The portfolio of BI and analytics solutions from SAP encompasses on-premises and cloud-based solutions for business intelligence platforms, predictive analytics, and planning.
SAS, founded in 1976, is a privately held company and a well-known brand in the business intelligence and analytics market. The vendor has been a specialist in business intelligence, data management, and advanced analytics for decades.
SAS’s traditional BI offering, SAS Enterprise BI Server, which is marketed as part of SAS Platform, covers dashboarding, OLAP and reporting, through clients such as SAS Web Report Studio and SAS Enterprise Guide. SAS also offers a variety of analytic applications to address different industries and application domains. Currently, the bulk of these applications are based on the SAS 9 architecture.
Headquartered in New York City, Sisense is a growing BI and analytics vendor offering modern Business intelligence platforms and analytics product suited for dashboards and analysis as well as more explorative use cases on a single platform. The company sells to medium and large enterprises across the globe.
Tableau Software emerged from scientific research at Stanford University and was founded in 2003. The vendor follows a strategy of delivering software that requires little training and allows business users to interpret their own data mostly by means of interactive visualization. In 2018 Tableau introduced the concept of an analytics platform to underline its capabilities, which are packaged into the Tableau Desktop, Tableau Server, Tableau Online and Tableau Prep products. These are sold as bundles in new subscription offerings: Creator, Explorer, and Viewer, which are all available on-premises, in the public cloud or via SaaS.
Tableau is a user-friendly visual analysis and data discovery platform that provides a lean architecture consisting of a desktop and web client used for development and authoring and a server for central deployment, sharing, and collaboration. The intuitive user interface, built-in intelligence, and memory utilization to optimize performance contribute to the popularity of this solution for visual analysis, dashboarding and data discovery scenarios.
TARGIT was founded in 1986 and is a privately owned software provider based in Denmark. The company has about 5,400 customers, most of whom are located in Europe and North America, while one-third are distributed across the rest of the world.
TARGIT is positioned well for mid-size companies requiring an all-integrated BI platform. The TARGIT Decision Suite offers integrated data discovery/self-service analysis, ad hoc reporting and dashboards with capabilities for batch reporting, mobility, storyboards and data mashups.
Recent releases support a range of innovative features including speech recognition for natural language queries, alerting and notification, an intelligent wizard that finds relevant content as the user types, an in-memory data mashup tool, support for creating custom gauges, and a Java-based client for embedding the Decision Suite on any device.
TIBCO is a software vendor best known for its analytics and infrastructure offerings. From APIs and systems to devices and people, TIBCO aims to interconnect everything, by capturing data in real time wherever it is, and to augment the intelligence of businesses through analytical insights. To strengthen its data integration and interconnect capabilities, TIBCO acquired Cisco’s data virtualization business (formerly Composite Software) in 2018 and the data integration-as-a-service specialist Scribesoft.
TIBCO’s analytics portfolio provides comprehensive capabilities to support a wide range of analytical scenarios. The vendor began its analytics journey back in 2007 with the acquisition of Spotfire, a Swedish software vendor specializing in the interactive visual analysis. In 2014, the open source vendor Jaspersoft was purchased to add embedded BI capabilities.
Yellowfin, founded in Melbourne in 2003, is a BI software company that set out to change the general BI approach because the founders felt that traditional BI had become more complicated and expensive than it had to be. Yellowfin sells its solutions directly or via its network of more than 600 partners worldwide. While promoting Yellowfin as a one-stop shop for analytics, the vendor also focuses on embedding white labeled BI and analytics capabilities into other solutions, significantly expanding the brand’s reach.
There are many other established vendors in the business intelligence market that provide mature and very useful technology, which may be ideal for organizations looking for a BI solution. However, due to the inclusion criteria applied in this report, those vendors are not evaluated in detail. To provide a broader market overview, we list some of them here.
Adaptive Insights: www.adaptiveinsights.com
Adaptive Insights offers a cloud-based business intelligence and corporate performance management suite called Adaptive Suite for planning, consolidation, analytics, and reporting.
ADVIZOR Solutions: www.advizorsolutions.com
ADVIZOR offers interactive analysis with lots of different chart types for visual discovery as well as predictive analytics based on a patented in-memory data model.
Carriots Analytics is a business intelligence solution focused on data discovery and data visualization.
Alteryx Analytics provides analysts with a workflow-based approach to data integration, modeling and advanced analytics that leads to deeper insights into data. It is especially geared to supporting users in the area of data preparation as one of the important steps in a data discovery process.
A flexible, cloud-based planning product with additional functionality for reporting and analysis. Planning applications for miscellaneous topics are available.
Antivia DecisionPoint is a tool for creating interactive dashboards, reports and BI applications for mobile devices and the desktop.
Integrated BI tool for ad hoc reporting, advanced analysis, planning, dashboarding and balanced scorecard with comprehensive chart functionality.
Bissantz’s DeltaMaster software enables users to create custom solutions for analysis, planning and reporting, featuring patented visualization capabilities.
Bitam is a global provider of business intelligence and enterprise performance management software solutions.
Interactive charts and dashboards created through an intuitive drag-and-drop interface. Customers can connect their databases directly to Chartio to visualize data in real-time.
ClearStory Data: www.clearstorydata.com
Fast data access, iterative analysis and active collaboration based on an integrated Spark-based data processing platform.
Comma Soft: www.comma-soft.com
In-memory based BI solution targeted at business users. Includes advanced analytics and data science functionality as well as capabilities for dashboarding, ad hoc analysis, reporting, set-oriented analysis and visual navigation in data.
Connexica’s CXAIR is a search-based analytics tool for querying structured and unstructured data.
An ad hoc query and production reporting system that allows users to create simple queries, business graphics, and crosstab reports as well as production reports.
A big data analytics environment on top of Hadoop. Datameer combines self-service data integration, analytics, and visualization functionality.
Datawatch offers data preparation and visual analysis products for accessing structured and unstructured data and exploring it with visual analytics to identify trends, spot outliers and identify opportunities.
A collaborative business intelligence and performance management software solution that integrates analysis, planning, and execution.
Fast-growing American business intelligence vendor focused on data visualization, dashboards and reporting while offering the ability to discover, mashup, visualize and present data.
Entrinsik Informer includes a browser-based drag-and-drop, a point-and-click interface designed to encourage self-service BI. It is heavily used by mid-sized companies in specific industries.
GoodData offers a cloud analytics platform to help organizations creating and distributing data products. The product offers analytics functionality such as dashboards, data discovery, and visualization.
Halo BI: Browser-based BI platform for creating dashboards, analysis, and reports and to perform predictive analytics and data mining with support for mobile devices.
Interactive dashboarding software that displays data from databases, data warehouses, spreadsheets, XML and other data sources in real time.
InetSoft offers various applications that focus on operational BI, enterprise reporting, data visualization, and embeddable reporting.
A flexible BI solution for planning, reporting, and analysis that runs on the company’s own multidimensional database. The underlying philosophy of Jedox Suite is to extend the familiar Excel environment with specific BI functionality.
Jinfonet Software: www.jinfonet.com
JReport provides interactive data visualization with customizable ad hoc reporting and dashboards that empower end users through the web and mobile devices.
An open source business intelligence suite for ad hoc reporting, interactive cockpits, multidimensional (OLAP) analysis and data mining.
Lavastorm Analytics: www.lavastorm.com
An agile analytic environment that combines ETL and data integration, data analysis and data visualization capabilities based on the Lavastorm Analytics Engine.
Logi Analytics: www.logianalytics.com
Logi Suite is a toolset primarily focused on embedded BI and operational BI scenarios needing dashboarding, reporting and analysis capabilities.
Longview Solutions is a Canadian CPM and tax solution specialist that merged with arcplan, a German BI specialist, in 2015. The Longview portfolio now offers the following products: Longview, Longview Tax, Longview CPM and Longview Analytics (formerly arcplan) as well as Tidemark.
Web-based data discovery platform accessible on any browser as well as on mobile devices. Looker operates inside underlying databases, such as Amazon Redshift, Greenplum and Teradata Aster.
Palantir Technologies: www.palantir.com
Palantir offers solutions for integrating, visualizing and analyzing massive amounts of information. Palantir’s software is deployed at public institutions and private enterprises, and also in the non-profit sector, for example, in defense, anti-fraud and disease response.
Panorama Software: www.panorama.com
Collaborative business intelligence tool focused on dashboarding and analysis and based on visual infographics.
Phocas offers a mature self-service tool that enables users to perform their own analysis and reporting with IT support needed only for data provisioning. Phocas offers a good range of functionality to support ad-hoc querying, standard reporting, dashboarding and data discovery.
An interactive big data analytics platform for multi-structured data operating natively on Hadoop and Spark.
Prevero (Unit4): www.prevero.com
Prevero targets business users with a flexible development environment for building individual BI applications for planning, reporting, and analysis with the help of wizards.
Prognoz is a Russian specialist offering a platform containing several components for formatted and ad hoc reporting, dashboarding and analysis.
Salesforce (including BeyondCore): www.salesforce.com
Salesforce, already well known for its CRM solution, has entered the Business Intelligence platforms market with an internally developed product called Wave Analytics. In 2016, Salesforce also acquired BeyondCore, a data discovery solution targeted at business users.
Salient’s Collaborative Intelligence Suite offers analytics, interactive dashboards, and collaborative knowledge management all within one integrated business intelligence/performance management tool.
A search-based BI solution for visual exploration and data discovery with integrated machine learning algorithms.
A big data exploration, visualization and analytics platform for stream processing data including cloud, Hadoop/HDFS, social media, and proprietary databases to create real-time visualizations.
Contact Musato Technologies to learn more about our business intelligence platforms tools can assist your business make sense of your data for effective and efficient business decisions.
Data provided by BARCSCORE