Analyzing Gartner’s 2019 Magic Quadrant for Analytics

Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Analytics

On February 11th, 2019, Gartner released its latest magic quadrant for analytics and business intelligence platforms. As we’ve done since 2016, we will highlight who Gartner considers the market leaders to be, as well as any notable changes and constants from previous quadrants. Before we do that, let’s cover some of Gartner’s most interesting assumptions and thoughts on the market as a whole.

AtScale’s Intelligent Data Virtualization seamlessly connects any BI tool to any data platform. We’ve been fortunate enough to help our customers get the most out of their data regardless of which BI tools they utilize. While each tool has its pros and cons, let’s look at the BI landscape and how Gartner views its evolution in the enterprise.

Bi-Modality, Execution, Vision and Key Trends

Gartner takes a bimodal approach to categorizing Business Intelligence vendors, and heavily uses this framework in describing the different quadrants and how various vendors perform. Mode One is defined as “continuing to develop clear best practices, with well understood business objectives and a focus on security,” while Mode Two is considered more exploratory and involves experimenting to solve new problems and problems that might arise in the future. Put in a less esoteric fashion, mode 1 encompasses traditional BI processes such as preparing data, scheduling and sending recurring reports, and querying multiple fact tables and complex schemas in a single data source. Mode 2 refers to modern and next-generation processes such as visualization, agility, and self-service BI.

A couple of key trends that Gartner sees in the BI market as a whole are:

  • While “modern” analytics and BI tools continue to grow, growth has slowed due to a switch to subscription licensing and a downward pricing pressure caused by vendors who can offer modern capabilities as part of maintenance fees.
  • Next generation technologies such as machine learning and natural language processing are becoming increasingly critical to vendors in the Business Intelligence space.
  • Data literacy and scalability are becoming critical to today’s enterprises.

The Microsoft-Tableau Duopoly

The 2019 magic quadrant highlights Gartner’s increasing view that the ideal business intelligence environment for today’s enterprise involves a combination of the two modes. Indeed, Gartner refers to a combination of both mode 1 and mode 2 capabilities as “the holy grail.” However, Gartner has kept Tableau and Microsoft as the only two vendors firmly in the leaders quadrant, which is interesting as the report makes clear that neither of these vendors have mastered combining the two modes of BI in their products. Gartner considers Tableau and PowerBI to operate solely in mode 2, but Microsoft appears to be closer to layering in mode 1 capabilities through integrating PowerBI with SQL Server Reporting Services. It is likely this distinction that distinguishes Microsoft’s completeness of vision from Tableau, and results in Microsoft being alone in the rarified air of the top right corner of the leaders quadrant.

Interestingly, Gartner considers Tableau’s vision roughly as complete as Qlik’s and Thoughtspot’s, the other two members of the leaders quadrant. Where Tableau separates itself in the leaders quadrant is its ability to execute, which is only matched by Microsoft. Tableau’s strong visualization capabilities is the key technological component of its execution prowess. From a business perspective, Tableau’s continued high growth and stratospheric levels of customer satisfaction indicate superior execution to virtually every other vendor in the space. Tableau is the only vendor that many consider to be ubiquitous at both large and small companies, and despite the lack of mode 1 capability can feel confident about continuing to expand its stature in the market.

Thoughtspot and Qlik: Two Challengers?

Thoughtspot represents the first new addition to the Leaders quadrant since six vendors were dropped in 2016. Gartner moved Thoughtspot from the visionaries quadrant due to “strong execution, high customer satisfaction scores and rapid innovation.” Gartner cites Thoughtspot’s server and data-volume based pricing as a major differentiator providing more flexibility than the majority of its competitors, who largely price per user. Additionally, Thoughtspot’s ability to provide data insights to individuals who have never dealt with business intelligence is considered valuable. The weaknesses Gartner highlighted for ThoughtSpot are fairly typical for a small, rapidly growing company. For example, ThoughtSpot has few global partnerships, and has product gaps around visualization and data preparation. Perhaps the most glaring weakness ThoughtSpot has is that according to Gartner, “56% of ThoughtSpot’s reference customers use its product along with multiple standards”, indicating that at this point it can’t fulfill the full spectrum of analytics needs. Despite these drawbacks, the fact that Gartner has placed ThoughtSpot into the leaders quadrant indicates their backing of ThoughtSpot as one of the likeliest challengers to the Microsoft-Tableau duopoly.

The final vendor in the Leaders quadrant, Qlik, has been a mainstay in that quadrant since we began doing these analyses in 2016. In the 2016 quadrant, Qlik was right next to Tableau and Microsoft in the leaders quadrant, but since then has fallen behind the two clear market leaders. According to Gartner, Qlik now has the second most complete vision among vendors in the leaders quadrant. Gartner highlights Qlik’s strong product roadmap, geographic penetration, and understanding of the market as reasons why it remains in the Leaders quadrant. Conversely, Gartner finds Qlik’s position in the market to be less prominent than Tableau and Microsoft, based on a combination of data from Gartner’s own clients and social media analytics. Retaining a spot in the leaders quadrant for the better part of a half decade is a substantial achievement for Qlik, but Gartner’s reporting does not indicate that they will make the leap to challenge Tableau and Microsoft, and may be susceptible to losing market share to newer vendors like ThoughtSpot and Looker.

Visionaries and Niche Players — Vendors to Watch

There are a few notable developments in the other three quadrants. This year’s magic quadrant sees the continued decrease in numbers in the Visionaries quadrant. In 2016, there were ten vendors that Gartner considered Visionaries, now there are only five. It’s likely that the paring down of the Visionaries quadrant implies an increased maturity in the BI market. Interestingly, three of the remaining five Visionaries are established companies — Salesforce, SAP, and TIBCO. Sisense and SAS round out the Visionaries quadrant. Two more large and established companies, Oracle and IBM, find themselves in the Niche Players quadrant, likely because neither organization’s BI application is their primary product.

Perhaps the most interesting member of the Niche Players quadrant is Looker. Looker has enoyed rapid growth and recently closed over $100M in funding for their Series E round. Gartner acknowledges this momentum, as well as the fact that 73% of Looker’s reference customers report Looker being their only enterprise analytics and BI standards. However, Gartner is concerned about Looker’s narrow geographic coverage, reliance on coding, and limited product roadmap. These concerns strike me as similar to what Gartner conveyed about ThoughtSpot; they are not uncommon for a growing company. Looker’s momentum and rapid growth make it perhaps the leading chaser of the Tableau-Microsoft duopoly, and one of the most compelling vendors to watch in the business intelligence space.


The 2019 Magic Quadrant is in many ways a continuation of Gartner’s previous quadrants on the Business Intelligence market. Microsoft and Tableau continue to be the runaway leaders in the market and show no signs of losing their dominant market position to other long-time vendors such as Qlik, SAS, or Oracle. There are a few newer players to watch, and it will be interesting to see whether they are able to leapfrog traditional vendors and challenge the market leaders.

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