The winner of Gartner’s first BI Bake Off was …. it was a tie!
Or more accurately, the winner depended on whom you asked and what their requirements were. This is, of course, as it should be. I mean, it’s like having Rita and I sample chocolate cake and fruit tart and asking us to pick the winner. I will choose chocolate, every time. Rita, the fruit tart. Meanwhile, Kurt wouldn’t choose either because he’s a mint chocolate chip ice cream man!
With the BI Bake Off, our goal is to have you think about your requirements as we help reveal the strengths and weaknesses of each product. Visual data discovery tools all fit in the same BI category (just as cakes and pies are desserts), but their differences in architecture, analytic power, data connectivity, use of visual perception and ease of use all vary substantially.
There were some amazing discoveries with the data and business question. We asked the vendors to use the same sample data on shelters, homelessness and population trends, facilitated by Posiba, an organization that helps charities leverage data. The data was somewhat messy, a norm for anyone dealing with external data, acquired companies, and so on. But it’s a departure from BI tools that access nice, cleansed data in a central data warehouse. State and county information was stored in one column that needed splitting, counties combined facilities over time, and years were in multiple tabs on spreadsheets. This kind of messy data is why we are seeing a rise in start ups for self-service data preparation tools as well as so many data discovery vendors baking this into their products (check out the Market Guide for Self-Service Data Preparation and Best Practices in deploying).
The SAS dashboard showed the differences in number of beds in shelters versus homelessness. California has the biggest lack of shelters, but it has shown modest improvement. Michigan meanwhile seems to have closed the gap. I wonder if this is at all related to differences in climate in each state?
TIBCO, meanwhile, focused on Massachusetts where there are more beds than homeless people. At first blush, that’s the good news! But it seems the beds are not located where the homeless people are. Just south of Boston, there are more homeless people than beds. TIBCO also used their location intelligence to show where some can be supported through Veterans Administration facilities (more on their blog here and video of demonstrations here -reg required.)
In the last demo topic, we let the vendors choose a cool innovation to showcase, and Tableau chose to publish live to the cloud so that anyone can explore homelessness in their own state, here. As a New Jersey girl, I was disheartened to see the shifts in homelessness by county following hurricane Sandy where homes and shelters were damaged or destroyed, and more people needed temporary housing. Union County, for example, has one of the highest portions of homeless children.
Answering the business question is job one, and technology enables that. Sometimes we have to dig under the covers to see which tools provide the right fit and how they work. Qlik focused on governance, and you can read more on their blog here.
For this initial bake-off, we selected panelists based on number of inquiries but many more vendors participated by using the same sample data and demonstrating capabilities at their booths. MicroStrategy posted a video of what’s coming in version 10. (Note to vendors: feel free to post your link below if you also participated.)
While we had some technical difficulties during the bake off with the video (HDMI and 4 panelists seemed a stretch!), attendee feedback was overwhelmingly positive. So I hope this track will become a mainstay at future Gartner BI summits. Beyond the bake off, if you are looking for analyst opinion on the strengths and weaknesses of many more BI vendors, I see that our new “Critical Capabilities for BI and Analytics Platforms” is in final edit. So watch Twitter or create an alert on Gartner.com for when it publishes! I’m hoping any day now!
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