Gartner Blog Network

BI Bake Off and the Best BI Tool

by Cindi Howson  |  March 23, 2016  |  10 Comments

By Cindi Howson

Hi, all! I know—you are hoping I will reveal the ultimate winner of last week’s BI bake off from the Gartner BI Summit. But I can’t. Any more than I could declare that chocolate cake is better than chocolate chip cookies (they are both great)!

The purpose of the BI bake off is to allow for a side-by-side comparison of leading modern BI tools, via scripted demos.  Customers must decide which requirements are more important:  governance or agility? Visual data discovery or scheduled reports?  Maybe it is all of the above.

Last year, we used public data sets based on homelessness and shelters.  This year, we used a new data set released, the College Scorecard. It is a fascinating dataset, culled from multiple reporting institutions.  We asked vendors to answer key business questions:

  • Which schools offer a good education that considers test scores, cost to attend, size of school, and salary?
  • Are there certain schools or states where student debt and loan default rates are high compared to earnings?

Four vendors were selected to participate in the main event based on customer interest for data discovery disruptors and two traditional BI providers who have newly added data discovery capabilities: Qlik, Tableau, Microsoft, and MicroStrategy. Exhibiting vendors were offered the same data set and demo script to show case during exhibit hours, which have been recorded below. It is a tough, tough session to demonstrate in front of hundreds of people, against your competitors, but our panelists rose to the challenge (thank you Jen Underwood, Chris McNabney, Josh Good, and Francois Ajenstat – so calm and smiling before the session!) Gartner BI bakeoff panel

Some highlights from the bake off (disclaimer, data is presented as is and I do not guarantee its reliability):

  • Microsoft used its mashup capabilities to bring some March Madness to the academic data, allowing dashboard users to select by top winning teams and SAT scores. Microsoft Power BI - BI Bake Off


  • MicroStrategy showed its mapping capabilities to highlight SAT scores by state, but also a scatter plot that shows how higher cost to attend universities do not necessarily relate to higher income; instead there is a stronger correlation to SAT scores.MicroStrategy BI Bake Off


  • Qlik found that default rates are highest for lower-income households, but also for certain states such as Kentucky and Hawaii.Qlik BI Bake Off


  • Tableau showed how enrollment and student debt has changed overtime at three prestigious universities. Rice University in Texas has gotten more selective overtime, but student debt has stayed mainly the same. Tuition rates have steadily increased for Rice and Stanford, but stayed fairly flat for Princeton. Tableau BI Bake Off

As attendees rated vendors on each demo, indeed we clearly saw the strengths and weaknesses. This is why Gartner advocates considering your use case and mapping the requirements to the use case. Our just published Critical Capabilities for BI and Analytics Platforms lets you do that.  It provides a side-by-side scoring table for 24 vendors, with insights on strengths, weaknesses, and ideal use cases. Let me know what you think of this new research note – either by rating it, or comments below.

I continue to strive to help you figure out which is the best BI tool for you!

Regards, Cindi

Scripted demos from participating vendors (listed alphabetically):









Additional Resources

View Free, Relevant Gartner Research

Gartner's research helps you cut through the complexity and deliver the knowledge you need to make the right decisions quickly, and with confidence.

Read Free Gartner Research

Category: business-analytics  business-intelligence  

Cindi Howson
Research VP
1 years at Gartner
25 years IT Industry

Cindi Howson is a Research Vice President at Gartner, where she focuses on business intelligence (BI) and analytics. Her work includes writing about market trends, vendors and best practices and advising organizations on these subjects. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on BI Bake Off and the Best BI Tool

  1. […] Cindi Howson By Cindi HowsonHi, all! I know—you are hoping I will reveal the ultimate winner of last […]

  2. Bill Anton says:

    Hi Cindi, any plans for live-streaming this particular event in the future?

  3. […] Les gjerne mer om selve Bake Off’en her. […]

  4. This is indeed very informative. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Hey, We have build a patent pending BI tool. I hope you would have some time to check it out. It’s highly interactive and It lets you interact with data through simple English. Please check it out –

  6. […] showcase how the data and analytics community can do good with data. We’ve analyzed homelessness, college debt, and this year, the rise in traffic fatalities using Department of Transportation data (full data […]

  7. […] College tuition, value, and salaries […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management. Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes, with attribution to Gartner. This content may not be used for any other purposes in any other formats or media. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. Gartner shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.