What Does “Microsoft” as a Leader in the Gartner “Magic Quadrant for Analytics and BI” Mean?

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I don’t usually comment on the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Analytics & BI other than to congratulate vendor teams on their work, but I would like to encourage people to at least skim the report. Reprints are available free from many of the vendors.

Why bring this up?

I’ve seen a few misleading comments about how Gartner judges vendors as a whole and not specific products. In particular, comments have been aimed at Power BI — as if the entire range of Microsoft products from Azure, O365, etc. is what puts Microsoft in the Leaders quadrant.

As with Power BI from Microsoft, it’s clear from the text that larger multi-product vendors like SAP are really being evaluated on offerings like Analytics Cloud and not everything in their ecosystem.

Here’s one opinion that could potentially be cleared up by reading the report:

Here are two others:

People inclined to comments like this may not have read, are ignoring, or are misreading what the Gartner report actually says.

Gartner evaluated this quadrant across 15 categories, and it’s clear in the text of the report and in reality that Power BI checks these boxes:

  • Security
  • Manageability
  • Cloud
  • Data source connectivity
  • Data preparation
  • Model complexity
  • Catalog
  • Automated insights
  • Advanced analytics
  • Data visualization
  • Natural language query
  • Data storytelling
  • Embedded analytics
  • Natural language generation (NLG)
  • Reporting

You don’t need to purchase anything additional in Azure or Office 365 to get these capabilities (although, you should purchase Azure for enterprise-level data solutions and hire partners like BlueGranite, but that’s another discussion).

Where can Microsoft bring its weight to bear with products outside of Power BI though? Cross promoting in other products and incorporating shared features without additional licensing on top of what you pay for Power BI.

For example: “massive market reach through its Microsoft Office channel” doesn’t mean Microsoft leads in BI because OneNote is somehow included in the criteria. Rather, fortuitous licensing & prompts for Power BI within other products “increase its exposure further”.

Another example: AI-powered services “are available within Power BI and draw on Azure capabilities”. This does NOT mean that you need to explicitly consume & pay for Azure to use them in Power BI. These are currently native in Power BI.

It might be difficult for some to see “Microsoft” in the Leaders quadrant again because their preferred vendor doesn’t have the same reach and resources available.

Fortunately for Microsoft, this isn’t a data visualization quadrant. In fact, according to Gartner, “ABI platforms are no longer differentiated by their data visualization capabilities, which are becoming commodities” [emphasis mine]. Like it or not, Microsoft is a leader on the merits of Power BI as a complete end-to-end business intelligence platform.

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