Team Chats March Title Slide

What Are Your Thoughts on the Gartner Magic Quadrant Results?

Welcome to the Tessellation team chat. Inspired by one of our favorite segments at FiveThirtyEight, we are giving you a peek into the Tessellation Slack channel. This month we’re focusing on the results of the recent Gartner Magic Quadrant Business Intelligence results, which you can read here.

John (John Emery, consultant): Thanks for joining our March team chat! With the Gartner Magic Quadrant results being released a few weeks ago, how do you feel about the report? Is it valuable and does it persuade you to look into any new tools that you hadn’t tried before?

Spencer (Spencer Baucke, consultant): The report can absolutely be misleading, but I think it holds some merit because lots of people see it and make decisions based on it, which alone gives it power. The very fact that they have Tableau and PowerBI as 1 and 2 in the Leaders category means that they’re at least doing something right, because they are the clear cut numbers 1 and 2 in the space.

Aidan (Aidan Bramel, consultant): My general thought is that the report attempts to boil the ocean and, all things considered, they do a pretty decent job at that. However, the hardest thing for me about the Magic Quadrant is that it assumes a single perspective on weighted capabilities, when in reality every organization would likely weigh those capabilities in a separate way. But that doesn’t stop people from taking one look at the leaders and taking it for gospel across the board. I think my ideal version of this report is where one could interact with the weights or at least dig down deeper into the scores that make up each placement.

John: It would be fantastic if we could change the weighting scheme. If you read their full report, way down at the bottom they talk about which components have “high” or “low” weights, but there is no information that says exactly what the weights are.

Aidan: Right! Even digging deeper, for the highly-weighted “Product or Service” score for Ability to Execute, we don’t know how highly those 15 capabilities that add up to this metric are weighted against each other. If I’m looking at this, let’s say from the healthcare or maybe aerospace industry, I’m going to want Security to be weighted a lot higher than, let’s say, the CPG industry. At the end of the day, I guess this is intended to show leaders in the general market and not be company or industry-specific, but I usually find myself leaving with more questions than answers.

*always me after reading the quadrant*

Curiosity voyage gif from Stranger Things

Luke (Luke Stanke, Tessellation co-founder, Tableau Zen Master): I look at the Magic Quadrant as trying to quantify two latent dimensions. What’s a latent dimension you ask: well it’s something we know exists but we can’t really see it. The best example is a pain scale. We can rate our pain on a scale of 1-10. But there are different types of pains. Another might be, say, Skill in Tableau. We know what is great and what is beginner. And there are so many different components that make up any “score.” So when the authors put the values on two axes, I have no problem with that.

Alex (Alex Christensen, Tessellation co-founder): The write-ups that accompany the quadrant visualization have been quite helpful to me in the past. Let’s say a client asks me to give the biggest pros and cons of the pricing model of Tableau, Qlik, and Power BI. The most recent Gartner report is the first place I look to. They do a good job of summarizing the general user base’s favorite and least favorite aspects of the tool.

The cynic in me thinks it is a little bit of a popularity contest, but I am glad it exists overall.

For looking at what tools to look at in the future, I like to talk to owners of other analytics consulting companies. Particularly small ones. They tend to have their ears to the ground and have a good idea of what the next “hot” technology will be.

Luke: I mean by default, yes, the more popular tools are going to be in the top-right. That’s what I’d expect. There’s always a trade-off between cost and capability. The popular tools are generally giving the most bang-for-the-buck… it’s why they are popular.

Shaun (Shaun Davis, consultant): I’m immediately suspicious of the value something can provide if it has the word “Magic” in the title.

Aidan:@Shaun clearly you’ve never tried a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

Shaun:@Aidan They are magical, but don’t cost that much. I would be interested in a Gartner Magic Quadrant for cleaning products.

Shaun: All Magic aside, it does actually have value. I approach it in a similar way to a travel guide. It gives you a good idea of the popular features but it doesn’t compare with actually being there. I’ve used it in the past to narrow down the list of tools I want to investigate more. It does give a good overview of the analytics market and key trends. I especially like to hear about a product’s road map.

John: Would anybody try a new product based on its location in the Quadrant? Say a new product appears in the “Visionaries” category. Is that enough to pique your interest?

Luke: They might be extremely niche and integrate well with existing legacy systems.

Plus, you might get a great price on a product to stick around longer.

Katrina (Katrina Johnson, consultant): Visionaries also might help you figure out what you’re really looking for in a tool.  You might try it and run into some different situations that could be really great features or turn into deal-breakers.  Plus, if it’s a newer tool, they might be more attentive to your feedback vs. a larger/more established company.

Alicia (Alicia Bembenek, consultant): The report is valuable in that it helps to start conversations. Lots of people have been/will be persuaded to investigate other tools based on the tool’s placement on the quadrant. It is also interesting to me to think about whether companies see this feedback about their product and then strive to make changes based on how they have been categorized. Do companies see this and then work to change their product strategy with the goal of being identified as a leader in the future?

Nick (Nick Haylund, Tessellation EMEA director, Alteryx ACE): Agreed with the majority on this, that the quadrant is useful when paired with the detailed breakdown. Gartner says this “…will help data and analytics leaders evolve their analytics and BI technology portfolios.” I think it could serve as an initial “what’s what” in the space, but shouldn’t be the deciding factor on a BI tool. That should be based on a company’s current needs, data literacy levels, goals, personas, etc. The fact that there is not a call out in the 15 critical capability areas around community is worrisome, to say the least.

John: We’re all primarily Tableau users here.

What are your thoughts on Tableau’s placement in the “Leaders” category, especially when compared to Microsoft’s placement?

Spencer: I think it’s very well deserved. PowerBI is making a lot of strides in terms of their licensing and pricing model, their product performance, and the success of their play with Azure. At this point, until Tableau figures out how to be more flexible and sensible in their pricing to customers, I see PowerBI gaining more and more of the market share.

Aidan: I think the past few years have made it abundantly clear that PowerBI and Tableau are the leaders in the market, so it is no huge surprise that they place so far out, even from the other “Leaders” in the quadrant. I agree with Spencer that a big dig for Tableau is likely its pricing/licensing model in comparison to PowerBI, as well as for it being platform agnostic. Alteryx takes hits for similar reasons.

I briefly tried out PowerBI for a little while last year, but I think the report (and @Spencer‘s insistence on jumping on the PowerBI train) are going to make me give it another try.

Luke: Tableau and PowerBI are in a league of their own. PowerBI has up-front cost and ability to integrate so well into the tech stack (@Spencer) mentioned this, BUTTTTTTTT it also has the ability to fold seamlessly into the analyst toolkit. Things export into Excel. It’s already on a user’s desktop. It’s using Tableau’s sales model almost against them (certainly going head-to-head).

As for Tableau–you can make anything and analysts love it. But it’s got to find a way to bring down the up-front cost of ownership.

Spencer: #HotTakeFromAZen

Luke: But that’s the reality. We’re out working with clients: the enterprise needs a more flexible model than what’s offered right now.

Alex: Microsoft has Tableau beat in cost of ownership. That is a huge component that Gartner looks into and they factor it into scores.

It has already been mentioned here, but PowerBI’s integration into the entire analytics stack with Microsoft is amazing.

The integration between power apps and PowerBI alone can do absolutely amazing things for creating custom analytics apps, and in my opinion, isn’t much more difficult than making a PowerPoint.

Luke: It still remains a two-horse race between PowerBI and Tableau. Tableau clearly has the better overall product.

Shaun: Both are leaders in their respective markets and this is a good thing for us as analysts and developers. Competition only helps grow the offerings we have.

The key thing is for us to recognize the value each tool brings to the table as we approach analytical opportunities. We don’t always need the tool with every single gadget (Tableau), we just need the one that will work best in a given setting.

Katrina: It seems like Gartner’s “leadership” status is heavily weighed toward out of the box capabilities.  I think with companies moving toward democratizing data, any tool that can simplify the analysis process is a win-win for everyone involved.

Alicia: I think it is very interesting that Tableau and Microsoft have been identified as such clear leaders compared to all other tools. As a potential client, I would look at that and wonder what other criteria could be used to compare the two. They seem evenly matched to me. That’s where price or support comes into play. As noted above, PowerBI/Microsoft wins the price battle. But, as of right now, my belief is that Tableau can provide better support because it has such an active community.

Nick: For being on a quadrant about a BI Platform, I think the only reason Tableau is close to the upper right with Microsoft is because of their great work and investments in Tableau Prep, Conductor, Ask & Explain data. Happy that it doesn’t start and stop with data visualization anymore for Tableau as a product. I think Microsoft will have some serious competition with their placement next year, as it appears Tableau & Salesforce will join forces on the quadrant, as they did as a company this past year. There are two powerhouses of communities coming together this year with Trailhead & the #datafam, and I can’t wait to see these two groups push Einstein & Tableau to build solutions for analysts to explore and analyze data!

John: Do you see any other interesting results from this year’s Quadrant? What about movement over the last few years?

John: Over the years, it seems that the scoring criteria for the Magic Quadrant must have changed. Products bounce around considerably, making year-over-year comparisons difficult.

Spencer: TIBCO Spotfire had a better showing than I expected. I have a soft spot in my heart for Spotfire after using it for a year or so during a previous role. It definitely has its issues in terms of development, but I don’t think its marketing ever kept pace with the leaders in the category.

Aidan: Looker jumped up to be a Challenger this year. Based on their synopsis of Looker, it seems like some of the recent technical improvements pushed them up in Ability to Execute (S/O to the dev portal and Custom Fields). They also listed Looker’s In-Database design as a top strength, which I have mixed feelings about. On one hand, an In-Database design offers some big-time benefits for security and governance. It also can lead to performance improvements…. if, major IF, you have a high powered reporting data mart. Connect it to Snowflake, and you’re going to love the in-database model. However, in my experience with Looker without a cloud-based data mart, performance can be a huge bummer.

Alex: Keep on eye on ThoughtSpot. They have done some really cool things with search and AI-driven analytics. Honestly, things that larger companies, like IBM, have tried and failed at. Of all of the companies on the report, they have the clearest vision of where they think the market is heading in the future.

Will search/AI-driven analytics be a fad, maybe… but if it takes off we will be seeing ThoughtSpot overtaking Qlik, and maybe Microsoft and Tableau next year.

Luke: I echo ThoughtSpot. Definitely one to watch. They are certainly focused on one niche of the market–and it’s winnable.

Shaun: It’s surprising how few companies are in the “Challengers” category. Overall, we’re in a phase of consolidation. This is exciting, because it means the next wave of analytical tools is setting up to challenge the existing ones. We only benefit as users and developers.

John: The only other tool that I’ve used that hasn’t been mentioned yet is Qlik. I did not enjoy using it. I thought it was difficult to write complex formulas, the community was small, and I felt I didn’t have much flexibility in building dashboards. If that is my experience with one of the “Leaders,” I’m very curious about what any of the lower-left products are like.

… maybe Tableau has spoiled other tools for me.

Shaun: @John Emery It’s hard to not be a homer for the tool we all learned on.

It’s definitely spoiled us from the ease of development. Hopefully it hasn’t blinded us to the value of other tools in the market.

Luke:  Technically PowerBI can be somewhat complicated with DAX.

Aidan: Definitely agreed to being spoiled by starting with the “Leaders”. To your point about wondering about the lower-left, I’ve only worked with one tool in the “Niche Players” — Domo. I tried it out after rolling off a project using Looker. Honestly, I actually enjoyed making dashboards and visualizations in Domo significantly more than with Looker, who is in the top-left.

Though I suppose the bottom-line for those products aren’t necessarily the same, so it may not be fair to compare them on the dashboarding experience alone.

Katrina: My first reaction was to think that the objective is to move toward the top-right corner of the Quadrant.  But maybe that shouldn’t be the goal? Every company can’t be a powerhouse. I think there’s some good and bad about each quadrant so I think it is difficult to say if all the bouncing around is a good thing or not.

Alicia: I’m a bit surprised that Salesforce is in the “Visionaries” quadrant and not in the “Leader” quadrant. According to Gartner, “Visionaries understand where the market is going or have a vision for changing market rules, but do not yet execute well.” Is Gartner suggesting that Salesforce doesn’t execute well?

Nick: I really love that the focus isn’t on visualization tools, but a more focused value on other aspects of an enterprise’s analytics suite. Gartner says, “ABI (Analytics & BI) platforms are no longer differentiated by their data visualization capabilities, which are becoming commodities. Instead, differentiation is shifting to integrated support for enterprise reporting and augmented analytics.” The focus in my experience (and opinion) has always been on the former, and I am very happy to see the latter holding more value.

I think we’ll find some major shifts when this is weighted even more so in the future on this quadrant. As by @Alex & @Luke, especially in a company like ThoughtSpot. If Gartner is right in saying “by 2025, data stories will be the most widespread way of consuming analytics, and 75% of stories will be automatically generated using augmented analytics techniques…” then I believe the conversations of which tool has the best dashboards will be over. It’ll be focused on “Which PLATFORM offers my business the best insights the fastest.” Which is where the conversation should be today in every company.

What are your thoughts on the Magic Quadrant? Chime in on the conversations at @AskTessellation.

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