About Business Intelligence, reporting, dashboards and hybrid systems for Business Awareness Support


the Gartner Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms is overcrowded.

Judging by the candidate list just underneath this is not likely to improve. Making the quadrant 4x as large will not make a huge difference. Gartner consultants have their work cut out to map and include any of these new players based on vision, ability to execute or innovation value.

This year has shown an explosion of new tools for monitoring our KPI’s. Lots of those had at least one interesting angle to bring to the table: scalability, improved security, platform availability, price, cost of ownership or whatnot.

For Gartner not to include them would be based on lack of space for dots on the paper, or lack of time or funding to get this done. Based on value and vision, Gartner would be forced to add at least twice as many to the exisiting collection.

Of course, none of the new products out (none) can deliver on all requirements. Same goes for the existing players IBM, SAP, Microsoft, SAS, or the rising stars already shining in the quadrant.

I repeat: none.

So, as no single BI product is capable of providing ALL capabilities for ALL users within ALL organisations, most of us run hybrid systems.

The sales guys like using Tableau on iPads. Marketeers prefer QlikView for trending portal dashboards. Finance people will always use Excel to create, crunch & consolidate, need to use a paper format (word, pdf, powerpoint) for the reports to the  board. SAP users use BO wether they like it or not and all major players have OEM agreements which enable them to get foothold and add value in many other ways.

And – of course – everyone has some Microsoft technology somewhere and Excel everywhere.

I am not saying there is no product out there capable of doing many of the things we all need today, I am just saying that as new idea’s and values pop up with the new product vendors, it will not be easy for any of them to keep up with requirements. Integrated platforms like TARGIT, SAS or Cognos may be better fit to add capabilities over time, yet they all acknowledge the need for coexistance with Excel spreadsheets.  Microsoft has repeatedly tried to push Excel beyond it’s lilmits and try to convince us that the future version will kill the need for all others, but if that were true, I would think that would have happened – a long time ago.

Fact remains: it did not.

‘Ok, mister Business Unit manager, you need this new product, and are willing to invest resources. How can we work together so I can make sure you are working with the right numbers, while you get the flexibility you need. We will need to be able to take care of security, data and system compliance, but once we have done so – the floor is yours. – oh, and please let us know whenever you decide to swap this stuff out for the next best thing, we will be happy to help you streamline the process.’

Pragmatists think different – they embrace fact and build the systems to support it. Fact is that different users need different platforms and no platform will cover all current, let alone future needs.

Maintaining different platforms has it’s own challenges, but cost does not way up to the business value some of them bring.

If we agree to live with the ever changing needs of Business  instead of creating IT blacklists for their unsupported projects, we will be able to think differently as on the ‘who-to’ or ‘who-by’ when maintaining individual systems.

Multi-Frontend strategy (MFS) and approach should then be part of your overall BI vision, and how to manage data and meta-data feeding these multiple platforms / user communities or howto manage security cross platforms should be – in my view – very high on the priority list.

Interested in your thoughts and experience.

Please RT (oops, wrong forum) and have a nice weekend