March 28, 2014

Tableau to the Top in Gartner’s 2014 Magic Quadrant for BI and Analytics Platforms

The BI and Analytics space has been waiting for a competitor to jump out as a true leader. Last year’s Magic Quadrant highlighted several vendors in the “Leaders” quadrant that were strongly positioned to pull away from the pack.

The following visualization will show where this year’s vendors fell between 2012-2014 as well some of the strengths and cautions (hover over a point) noted in this year’s Magic Quadrant.

After reading this year’s magic quadrant I noticed the three success factors that customers constantly sited when saying why they selected a vendor:

  • Ease of Use
  • Data Discovery Capabilities
  • Cloud & Mobile Based Analytics

Based on the above, it’s easy to figure out Tableau continues to pull away from the rest of the marketplace.

Ease of Use

Tableau has essentially set the standard in the ease of use category. Gartner states: “Tableau offers an intuitive, visual-based interactive data exploration experience that customers rate highly, and that competitors, large and small, try to imitate.” Want to bring in a list of sales numbers from Excel? Easy. How about importing information from an online source? Just as easy. The ability to pull data in from virtually any data source and create visualizations by simply dragging and dropping field labels allows anyone to become a “data superhero”.

Data Discovery Capabilities

Tableau is a Data Visualization tool that empowers Data Discovery. Between the ability to create custom table calculations, add quick filters and parameters, and drill in to specific data points, every user can analyze a “viz” from a perspective that speaks to them. Tableau has acknowledged that each user has their own interpretation of data. For instance, an executive may want a high level view of their department whereas a middle manager would want to see more of the “sausage making”. It is for this reason that Tableau Server promotes collaboration and sharing through the use of web editing and versioning.

Cloud & Mobile Based Analytics

Cloud/Mobile based technology is the hot button topic in all technologies today. Vendors want to simplify a method for end users to access their data from anywhere at any time. Tableau has made major strides in this area since the release of Tableau 8 in early 2013. Users can now access their visualizations on Tableau Server right from their mobile device and experience all the web editing capabilities that they would on a computer. Similarly with the release of Tableau Online in July 2013, users can now experience a hosted version of Tableau Server on the cloud.

My Predictions

So what do I expect of this Magic Quadrant in 2015?

On the Rise

  • Tableau will likely remain atop the industry as they are set to release version 8.2 in Q2 and version 9 in late Q3 (early Q4) of this year, which bolsters an enhanced GUI and more robust functionality to enable “storytelling” with data.
  • IBM has the ability to make a major leap forward in this space with the anticipated release of Watson Analytics sometime this year. If they can effectively market an analytics tool that requires little to no IT knowledge in order to operate they will open the door to a new type of platform in this space.


  • SAP is currently in a good spot with 80% of referenced customers identifying SAP as their enterprise BI standard. However, unless they can enhance the way they visually display data, I believe we will see a slide in their share of the market.

Dark Horse

  • It’s hard to call Microsoft a dark horse, however, they don’t do any of the success factors mentioned above particularly well. I’m looking to see how they can enhance the computational power of Excel with a data visualization tool that fosters data discovery. Perhaps this will be a product of the Microsoft Dynamics application that ties into Sharepoint for collaboration. The fact is that with the broad exposure that Windows and Excel give them you can’t count them out.