• February 1, 2007
  • By Colin Beasty, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

SAS Tops Gartner's BI Magic Quadrant

Business Objects, Cognos, Oracle, Hyperion Solutions, and SAS Institute are setting the standards in BI, according to Gartner's "Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms, 1Q07." The companies are listed as leaders, with all five offering a range of capabilities across reporting, analysis, performance management, and data integration, according to the report. Microsoft, Information Builders, and SAP are listed as close challengers, while MicroStrategy and QlikTech are listed as visionaries, or those companies with the potential to become leaders.

The report cites SAS as having the most comprehensive BI platform in the industry, with no other vendor in the Magic Quadrant matching its advanced analysis capabilities, though the company must shed the perception that it lacks usability and has strict licensing policies, according to the report. Cognos receives positive scores for the release of Cognos 8, which offers customers a single BI metadata model to support multiple capabilities such as reporting, ad hoc query, online analytical processing (OLAP) reporting, and scorecards.

Business Objects is noted for its strong offerings that encompass a wide range of platform capabilities and for being the market leader in terms of revenue and the first vendor in the market to break the billion dollar revenue milestone, but the company must maintain the right balance of partnerships and provide adequate support levels on its existing products as it expands into new product areas and markets. Hyperion, which has traditionally offered strong analysis but weaker reporting and integration capabilities, broke into the leaders quadrant by addressing those issues with the release of System 9.

Finally, Oracle entered the leaders quadrant after spending time as a visionary. Its numerous acquisitions have given the company a large, heterogeneous applications and infrastructure installed base, but the newly branded Business Intelligence Suite Enterprise Edition helps address that. "It's given Oracle a new opportunity to create a compelling BI platform strategy and become a significant BI platform and applications vendor in 2007 and beyond," writes Kurt Schlegel, research director at Gartner, in the report. "However, there are still product road maps and product integration issues that remain to be delivered over the next 18 months."

Overall, Gartner expects the BI market to grow at a steady pace during the next three years, with software revenue experiencing a compound annual growth rate of 9.5 percent through 2010. Schlegel says the long-term prospects for the market look solid, especially as large organizations invest in performance management initiatives and employ BI to comply with stringent regulatory reporting requirements, such as Sarbanes-Oxley.

The increasing scope of BI platforms to include more users and access more data sources also will perpetuate market growth, according to the report. Traditionally, BI was for senior executives and analysts, but many companies are now extending BI capabilities throughout the organization to operational workers and managers, and increasingly to external customers and business partners. Additionally, BI platforms are increasingly relying on data from a broader array of applications and data sources, as opposed to just databases.

Moreover, the scope of BI deployments is expanding beyond just reporting, ad hoc query, and OLAP to include other capabilities such as scorecards, dashboards, advanced visualization, and predictive modeling. These two growth drivers--more users and more capabilities--will be diminished by more flexible vendor pricing policies that will, in Schlegel's words, "inevitably result from increased competition by the large application and software infrastructure vendors in the BI market."

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