Gartner BI Summit: Data Discovery and the Cloud Reaching a Tipping Point

LAS VEGAS, NV—Cloud-based business intelligence and data discovery have long been hot topics in the BI world, but according to Dan Sommer, Gartner principal analyst, the two features are reaching a tipping point. In 2014, data discovery will drive half of new license spend in the BI market. Similarly, half of all organizations will consider cloud BI deployment this year, either completely or as a point solution for certain areas. By 2016, 25 percent of new BI and analytic platform deployments will use the SaaS model, according to Gartner research presented by Sommer.

Sommer made a point to contrast the deployments of cloud-based or data discovery–heavy models with a more hyped new frontier, big data. Only eight percent of respondents to a Gartner survey had actually made technology adoptions encompassing big data, while roughly a third had no plans for deployment, which Sommer described as "confusion" on their part. In contrast, BI in the cloud and data discovery, with their larger deployments and intent levels, have arrived.

"The BI platform market grew eight percent this year to $14.1 billion," said Gartner Research Vice President Rita Sallam at a panel discussing changes in Gartner's Magic Quadrant. "Among the traditional BI players in the leader quadrant, growth was flat. Much of the growth in [players who do] data discovery, and the placement of Magic Quadrant reflects those dynamics," she told the audience. Gartner's analysts have emphasized "governed data discovery" as a goal that no vendor has yet achieved. While data discovery has the potential to enable self-service BI, it often lacks the deep capabilities and rigorous control of data that have been hallmarks of traditional BI tools.

The emphasis on data discovery tools, which help bring analytics to more end users through better user interfaces and more compelling visual design, has benefited new vendors while leaving older ones scrambling, Sommer told the packed room at one of the Gartner Summit's breakout sessions. Traditionally, there was a separation between capability-rich analytics tools with big learning curves, which were sold on an enterprise scale, and more user-friendly BI solutions, which might be deployed to a specific business unit. Now vendors in the niche user-friendly areas are moving toward the enterprise world, creating a battle ground as they compete for users who want the best of both worlds.

Companies that focus on the cloud, such as Birst and LogiAnalytics, earned high spots in Gartner's Magic Quadrant for BI and Analytics platforms. However, Sommer cautioned that "megavendors are sharpening their stories," including players such as Microsoft and Oracle, while "Microstrategy, Jaspersoft, Tableau Software, and others are also in the running." An even newer flurry of cloud-based start-ups, including GoodData, Looker, and Domo, are raising millions in venture capital as financiers bet on cloud-based BI.

However, even as companies move to embrace the cloud and enable data discovery, Mark Beyer, a Gartner Research vice president and analyst, reminded attendees that establishing or maintaining a strong foundation remains a priority. "Traditional data warehousing has come back in a big way," Beyer said. Customers are saying, "I'll worry about big data later; I've got to get my warehouse in order."

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