The 2015 CRM Market Leaders: Business Intelligence

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The business intelligence (BI) market is in the midst of a transition. According to Gartner, the market grew only 4 percent in 2014 and is experiencing a "dark time" as it reels from the Big Data boom. While the buzz may be subsiding, the potential of Big Data as a business asset is not. Solutions that offer descriptive analytics have become must-haves at businesses across industries, and the demand for prescriptive and predictive solutions has risen significantly as well.

To deliver forward-looking insight, data collection must transform into data "connection," analyst Dan Sommer said at the Gartner Business Intelligence Summit in March. A shift to algorithm centricity is crucial for these connections, Sommer said, as solutions will need to leverage machine learning.


Knocked out of the winner's spot for the first time in eight years, IBM is still a force to be reckoned with, says Ray Wang, principal analyst at Constellation Research. "From leadership in design thinking to Watson, IBM is top of mind for clients," he adds. The vendor received high marks for customer satisfaction and depth of functionality and scored an unparalleled 4.3 in company direction, thanks to its "impressive road map," says Anne Moxie, analyst at Nucleus Research. Still, its low cost score (2.6) hurt the vendor. And there's room for improvement in other areas as well. Though Watson continues to excite analysts, many are calling for better integrations with other IBM BI solutions. "We'd like to see more ties to and a clearer fit with Cognos," says Doug Henschen, principal analyst at Constellation Research.

Oracle has been "upping its analytics offerings" and made significant improvements to data visualization capabilities and user experience, Wang says, but not all analysts are convinced. Oracle offers "highly functional" solutions (scoring a 4.2 in depth of functionality), but "customers report dissatisfaction with the cost and overall usability," Moxie says. Analysts are also concerned about product overlap. "[Customers] are not always sure where to start and which products are really needed," Henschen says. Still, the vendor earned a 3.9 for company direction. "Oracle's strengths are the breadth of the portfolio and its road map, [which contain] extensive and growing cloud and Big Data options," he adds.

QlikTech has returned to the leaderboard after a brief hiatus last year, posting a 4.0 in customer satisfaction and a 4.1 in affordability. Its lowest score (3.6) was for depth of functionality, but analysts agree that improvements may be on the way. At the company's conference, Qlik Connections 2015, QlikTech demonstrated enhancements to its QlikSense and QlikView products, "introduced a long-range platform strategy, and made progress on formative cloud options," Henschen says. QlikTech is "back with innovative products, a revitalized sales team, and a clearer mission of their future," Wang agrees.

Reaping the success of its visualization technology, SAS Institute earned a 4.3 for depth of functionality. "Eye candy pays off. Visual Analytics and Visual Statistics are putting SAS back in the mind-share game," Wang says. And it's "stepping up its self-service game," Henschen adds. The company received a 3.9 for both customer satisfaction and company direction because its customers "love and depend on its products," according to Henschen. The solutions are built on highly scalable infrastructure, ideal for Big Data.


Teradata shot to the top this year in part on the strength of its high depth-of-functionality score (4.4). Early adopters of Hadoop and NoSQL are realizing that their data ecosystems still have a need for traditional data warehouses and are "coming back to Teradata," Wang says. But the company isn't relying solely on its legacy solutions—"Teradata has responded [to the market] with a wide range of competitive offerings in their Unified Data architecture," he says. Analysts also praise Teradata for integrating powerful marketing technology into its BI tools. "As a marketing apps provider, Teradata has rich options for customer segmentations, targeted campaign delivery, and content customization," Henschen says. "Customers report satisfaction [with] the embedded marketing analytics tool," Moxie adds.


Though Infor is in a transformative period, analysts agree it's worth keeping an eye on this promising vendor. The company scored a 3.9 in company direction, and analysts are optimistic about where it's heading. "Infor is now wading into the cloud and Big Data using open-source infrastructure. We'd like to see how the two worlds come together," Henschen says.

[Editor's note: The overall award rating is based on a composite score of analyst ratings for customer satisfaction, depth of functionality, company direction, and cost. For the cost score, analysts gave the highest marks to vendors with the lowest expected costs. Company revenues were also factored into the overall score, but these numbers are not included in the chart above.]

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