Gartner recently published a comprehensive study of the Business Intelligence and Analytics platform market.
(Survey Analysis: Customers Rate Their Business Intelligence and Analytics Platform Experience, 2016.) Naturally we were pleased with Halo’s strong showing, but in addition we found some provocative nuggets of wisdom.
Each year, Gartner evaluates the Business Intelligence and Analytics (BI&A) market with the ultimate objective of publishing the famous Magic Quadrant. While the Magic Quadrant inevitably grabs the spotlight, the underlying research offers many nooks and crannies worth exploring. In other words, there’s a lot of magic to be mined here.
This is serious research. Part of the methodology is a large user survey of vendor-supplied references and other organizations. This includes IT, business or hybrid IT-business leaders disclosing their experiences with their vendor’s BI&A platforms, as well as how those products have contributed to overall business success.
The Gartner 2016 Magic Quadrant customer survey results used in this analysis included a total of 2,244 responses received from vendor-provided references (76%), respondents from last year’s survey (12%) and OEM references (12%).
Here are three big-picture ideas we pulled from the analysis
Family Tree Revealed
Easy to Learn and Easy to Use had a child and they named it Use. Put another way, if a system is easy to learn then it’s easy to use and then lo and behold it gets used. And thereafter decision-making improves and business benefits accrue.
Gartner said it this way: “A vendor’s customer experience and operations capabilities, as well as its product’s ease of use and complexity of analysis, influence the business benefits their customers achieve.” (emphasis added.)
Halo has long emphasized Ease of Use as a crucial factor in accelerating time-to-insight. In the Gartner study, respondents ranked the Halo Platform among the highest on Ease of Use (see figure below).
Among modern BI&A systems, two measures associated with Ease of Use are User Enablement and Product Support. (The notion of technology as “simple/easy-to-use” is linked to 1) experience on the learning curve, and 2) how much effort does it take to get a question answered?
User Enablement is an important aspect of deploying self-service BI&A capabilities broadly and deeply in an enterprise, especially with the rise of the novice user. Vendors must recognize that advanced capabilities are often offered to users who may not have a technical background and may not attend formal training. In this regard, availability of online tutorials, contextualized documentation and self-help forums is important.
Among the modern vendors included in the study, Prognoz and Halo had the highest User Enablement satisfaction scores (see figure below).
Furthermore, Halo stands out for receiving a 100% “excellent” rating for product support (see figure below).
Ease of Use vs. Functional Power: Does the Battle Rage On?
Modern systems have clearly become easier to use. Does that mean they have no chops? It’s always been reasonable to expect a trade-off between these two dimensions. The old adage states that an easier-to-use system is bound to deliver less analytical muscle; on the flip side, a tool that can perform complex analysis will be difficult to use. Sigh.
Happily, the Gartner research suggests that more vendors are succeeding by refusing to accept the “false premise” that excellence in one dimension means a struggle on the other. Platforms able to deliver on both measures have been, in general, more successful, with customers seeing increased business benefits.
Halo recognizes this and is working to deliver the best of both worlds: easier-to-use tools that empower business users to solve complex analytics problems.
For some vendors, the train has left the station.
Gartner minces few words when declaring that “the BI&A market is past the tipping point of a multiyear shift away from traditional, IT- and reporting-centric platforms to agile, modern BI&A platforms, which enable fast time to insight across a range of analytics use cases.”
Later, the authors add that “This is because [traditional platforms’] sweet spot is system-of-record, enterprise reporting, which often limits or pre-defines interactivity and analysis that a user can do with the platform.”
That’s harsh, in an understated Gartner sorta way.
What Gartner is pointing out here goes to the very core of why Halo exists. A few years ago, reporting and analytics were esoteric sciences that lived in IT. They sliced, they diced, they formatted, but they did not inform. Then, thankfully, came the intelligence revolution. Today’s systems deliver information that real humans use to make better business decisions.
We look forward to spending more time with this study and publishing additional commentary. In the meantime, let us know what you think about our conclusions so far.