All major analytical companies are publishing yearly analysis of business software solutions for individual areas, Business Intelligence field included. Graphs surely look a bit different from the previous years and the names of the providers have mixed up slightly, but nothing is new at the top – the king of the BI domain remains the MicroStrategy platform. And rightfully so.
I am aware that companies do not follow the field of business intelligence solutions to the smallest detail. But I do. That's why I decided to analyze the reports and research papers of BARC, Dresner, Forrester, Ventana research, Forrester, and Gartner and share my findings with you.
Let's start with Gartner’s report 2019 CIO Agenda: Secure the Foundation for Digital Business. Of more than 3,000 surveyed CIOs who participated in the survey this year, 45% declared that their companies will increase their investments in BI as well as analytical solutions the most. So, BI & analytics are again the most important area for many years now. Next, I chose BARC BI Trend Monitor 2019 study, which is known to be the most comprehensive survey of BI solutions in the world. Here is how some of the most important features of BI solutions were ranked: Master Data/Data Quality Management (1st), Data Governance (4th), Data-Driven Culture (5th), Data Preparation for Business Users (6th), Data Warehouse Modernization (7th), Real-Time Analytics (9th), Big Data Analytics (10th), Using External/Open Data (16th), IoT Analytics (20th).
Do you see anything interesting, even surprising here? All these features are not direct functionalities of BI solutions, but they fall into the field of data capture, preparation, and storage. This certainly shows that BI should be considered a part of a comprehensive analytical system and that the characteristics of data preparation, processing, and storage have a significant impact on the usability of BI-tools themselves.
Very similar are the findings of Dresner Advisory Services 2019 Edition - Analytical Data Infrastructure Market Study. It shows that the key features that users expect from the analytical infrastructure are the following: performance, security, usability, and flexibility. Analytical functionality only came in at the 6th place of business priorities. Like the BARC analysis, the Dresner Report also notes that the analytical system far more favors other features than the analytical functionality of the BI platform itself.
Performance Counts – On Premise Or In The Cloud
Mass migration of analytical solutions to the cloud is slowing down. Dresner's report finds that companies are increasing investments in on-premise solutions while reducing the use and costs of similar cloud services. The latter is even more apparent in industries that are not a natural choice for the cloud, such as manufacturing, banking, insurance and telecommunications. As analytical loads pile on, cloud-based solutions also become more expensive than on-premise solutions, with less predictable costs and plagued with ever-present concerns about the security of processing sensitive data in the cloud. Companies also say that the security of their industrial solutions and data is too exposed to the risk of data falling into the wrong hands. An additional reason for shifting analytical loads in the on-premise is the progress of analytic database technology with in-memory, column-based solutions delivering extreme performance as Exasol, that can deliver results 100 or more times faster than conventional solutions.
On the bucket list: top data visualization and self-service
Let me focus now on pure BI functionalities again. BI platforms actually represent true contact with business users. In the aforementioned BARC study, the users of pure-bred BI tools ranked these among the first 20 most important features: Data Discovery/Visualization (2nd), Self-Service BI (3rd), Agile BI Development (8th), Mobile BI (12th), Embedded BI and Analytics (14th), Data Storytelling (15th), Visual Design Standards (19th).
Gartner also prepared an excellent but slightly different study: Critical Capabilities for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms 2019. In it, analysts identified key features of analytical systems while users evaluated 19 different BI-platforms. The report also contains six examples of typical use of these solutions and user ratings.
In almost all categories (17 out of 19), MicroStrategy's BI platform proved to be the best. Its score is 4,2 out of five, while the average among all analyzed platforms is 3,4. Or in other words: on average MicroStrategy beat all other platforms by at least 34%. What's more, even MicroStrategy has significantly improved on last year's performance, when it also celebrated the victory in this study. This means that the platform is developing quickly and has a great vision. I am sure that it will continue to be at the very top in the future as well.
Looking at the two categories in which MicroStrategy did not beat all competitors also tells an interesting story. It fell behind in categories of cloud solutions and augmented functionality. The first, as I mentioned before, is already in decline while the second hasn’t yet been established as only a few solution providers are focusing on it. Of course, there are also companies that need these characteristics of analytical systems to do their business, but according to Dresner's report, these are primarily cloud-based and public sector companies.
Other Analysts put MicroStrategy on the top in their latest reports too
Ventana Research in Embedded Analytics and Business Intelligence Value Index 2019 positioned MicroStrategy in No.1 position
Forrester in its The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise BI Platforms With Majority On-Premises Deployments from September 2017 also put MicroStrategy on No. 1 position with the comment that "A Significant Reshuffling Of Vendor Positions In A Changing Landscape" happened.
One has to win in practice
There is theory and there is practice. Well, I am particularly pleased with the Gartner's Critical capabilities of BI analysis where users evaluated BI platforms and tools according to their usefulness in practical cases. Here, again, MicroStrategy won in five (Agile, Centralized BI Provisioning; Decentralized Analytic; OEM or Embedded BI; Extranet Deployment) out of six categories (excluding Augmented Analytics).
The decision regarding the selection of the BI platform is also greatly affected by the requirements and needs of each company of course, but no matter what BI solution the company needs, it is practically impossible to go wrong with MicroStrategy.
View from another angle
In one of my last year's reports (Consolidation of Reporting and BI Systems saves time and money), I assessed the need to consolidate BI environment. There are several red-flags that are pointing to that claim, such as the huge number of reports, data silos, BI-silos, etc. I have found that among the key features of a successful analytical system, in addition to the features listed in the paragraphs above, are also centralized metadata, centralized security, and user management. Do you know which solution is exceptional in these areas as well? I do. It’s called MicroStrategy.