tableuaFor the third year in a row, Tableau has been positioned as a leader in Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms and that for good reasons. In fact, Gartner placed Tableau highest in ability to execute.

JY Pook, Vice President, Asia Pacific Sales, Tableau Software explains the company’s success, by saying: “We love helping people become data heroes, so we strive to offer products that are easier to use, accessible to everyone, and simple to integrate with existing systems.”

Tableau is a trailblazer in delivering analytics and business intelligence that helps people see and understand data. Its award-winning software allows creating visualizations and dashboards in minutes that can be shared easily and conveniently. To no surprise, their solution is already being used by more than 26,000 organizations worldwide.

Gartner expects the market for BI and analytics platforms to remain one of the fastest-growing software markets, however, emphasizes in its recent report that “Business Intelligence (BI) leaders should track how traditionalists translate their forward-looking product investments into renewed momentum and an improved customer experience”.

The technology research firm affirms further that the BI and analytics platform market is undergoing a fundamental shift: “The transition is to platforms that can be rapidly implemented and can be used by either analysts or business users to find insights quickly, or by IT to quickly build analytics content to meet business requirements to deliver more timely business benefits.”

Gartner estimates further that more than half of net new purchasing is data-discovery-driven. This shift to a decentralized model that is empowering more business users also drives the need for a governed data discovery approach. Traditional BI platform vendors have tried very hard to meet the needs of the current market by delivering their own business-user-driven data discovery capabilities and enticing adoption through bundling and integration with the rest of their stack. However, their offerings have been pale imitations of the successful data discovery specialists, like Tableau, as the following graphic shows.

Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms


Source: Gartner (February 2015)

Indeed, business users’ requirements for ease of use is growing and support for users to conduct complex types of analysis is expected. These business benefits are not being well met by vendors that own the large, IT-centric installed base market share. Tableau's intuitive, visual-based data discovery capabilities have transformed business users' expectations about what they can discover in data and share without extensive skills or training with a BI platform. Therefore, Tableau has a strong position on the ‘Ability to Execute’ axis of the Leaders quadrant, not to mention that the company's successful "land and expand" strategy has driven much of its growth momentum. Many of Gartner's BI and analytics clients are seeing Tableau usage expand in their organizations and have had to adapt their strategy.

Hence, Gartner expects that Tableau will continue to expand its partner network and to improve international presence during the coming years, due to the following strengths:

  • Tableau has clearly defined the market in terms of data discovery, with a focus on "helping people see and understand their data." It is currently the perceived market leader with most vendors viewing Tableau as the competitor they most want to be like and to beat. At a minimum, they want to stop the encroachment of Tableau into their customer accounts.
  • Tableau rates among the top five vendors for aggregate product score, with particular strengths in the decentralized and governed data discovery use cases. In particular, analytic dashboards, free-form exploration, business-user data mashup and cloud deployment are platform strengths. Tableau's direct query access to a broad range of SQL and MDX data sources, as well as a number of Hadoop distributions, native support for Google Big Query, Salesforce and Google Analytics has been a strength of the platform since the product's inception and often increased its appeal to IT versus in-memory-only options. As a result, customers report having slightly below-average deployment sizes, in terms of users, but among the highest data volumes (in this Magic Quadrant).
  • Tableau has managed its growth and momentum well. The company has been able to grow and scale without a significant impact on discounts extended or customer experience. Most technology companies struggle to manage this balance between growth and execution.
  • Tableau customers report among the highest scores in terms of breadth and ease of use along with high business benefits realized. Gartner inquiries and customer conversations reveal that Tableau users report an enthusiasm for the product as a result of being able to rapidly leverage insights from Tableau that have a significant impact on their business. Customers also report faster-than-average report development times.
  • Tableau is an R&D-driven company. It continues to invest in R&D at a higher pace (in terms of percentage of revenue — 29% in 2014) than most other BI vendors.

On the other hand, Gartner considers as weak points that Tableau has a limited product line focused on data discovery and offers limited advanced analytics capabilities. In addition, IT-developed reports and dashboards, traditional styles of analysis, metadata management, development and integration, BI platform administration, embedded BI and collaboration are rated as weaker capabilities of the platform, making it less well suited for centralized and embedded use cases. Last but not least, Tableau's enterprise features around data modeling and reuse, scalability and embeddability still seem more limited than IT-centric system-of-record platforms.

Tableau has market momentum because of excelling at delivering on current market and customer experience requirements, making it easier and simpler for more users to author content, as well as exploring and discovering patterns in data wherever they are. Besides that, Tableau is executing on demands customers care most about and are growing from new analytics project investments, although enterprise features for governance, administration, embeddability and scalability are always a work in progress, Gartner concluded.

Gartner warns that it is very likely that 2015 will be a critical year in which democratizing access to analytics will continue to dominate market requirements and stress the need for governance. With the added complexities introduced by new data sources, such as the cloud, real-time streaming and multi-structured data,  and new types of analysis (such as link/network and sentiment analysis, and new algorithms for machine learning), new challenges and opportunities will emerge to integrate, govern and leverage these new sources to build business value. Leaders of BI initiatives will be under pressure to identify and optimize these opportunities and to deliver results faster than ever before.

By Daniela La Marca