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What Modern Analytics and BI Means for You

by Cindi Howson  |  September 22, 2017  |  5 Comments

It’s hard to believe that it is already two years ago that Gartner first formally published our definition of modern BI and Analytics. We got a lot right in that first iteration that we recently updated in this note.

One subtle, but important change in this updated note and in the next MQ:  analytics is now the first word in the title, usurping BI. We have seen this shift in our inquiries and search trends. Right or wrong, “analytics” sounds smarter, sexier, and well, more modern.  I had to chuckle during a recent customer conversation with a VP for a line of business wanting better data and analytics; after I kept talking about BI and analytics platforms, she finally asked, “what’s BI?”

The first iteration of the MQ based on this modern market definition published in February 2016. For some of you, it was a painful time, with your view of your existing BI investments upended. For others, who were well on your way to modernizing, it was validation that your strategy was sound.  It’s taken 18 months, but I hope most of you now understand that you need both the mode 1 and mode 2 capabilities within your portfolio. Can you get those capabilities from a single vendor and single product? Sometimes, but for the most part, it’s about augmenting traditional, enterprise BI platform capabilities, with modern analytics and BI capabilities. See this note on how to modernize and this note on positioning the right tool for the right user.

Modern BI and Analytics now reflects mainstream buying. In a webinar last March, 51% of you said you are just getting started on this journey, whereas another 41% say you plan to significantly grow your investments in modern BI.  It’s a growth market, woo hoo! More innovation and more work to do, right? There is innovation, and that’s exciting. But there is also downward pricing pressure and fiercer competition. In addition to figuring out which vendors to place your bets with, power and roles within your own organizations are also shifting.

Modernizing means shifting roles and striking a balance for agility and governance

Modernizing means shifting roles and striking a balance between agility and governance and re-usability.

One of the key features of a modern analytics and BI platform is that it has a self-contained performance layer; this may be a columnar or in-memory engine.  The analytics and BI platform engine can be useful for data mashups or for shielding users from a slow database. This functionality can challenge old work flows and thinking about the need to build an aggregated data model, or star schema, first.  Data warehouse teams and analytics and BI teams need to redefine who does what – and when (see this note.)


Modern analytics and BI also does allow for self-service data preparation, authoring, and exploration. But are all users ready for the full range of these capabilities. No way. You have to walk before you can run, and for some users accustomed to static reports, exploration within a dashboard might be a giant leap forward. Other, more sophisticated users will be banging on your door for more freedom, right now!!! Do you have ongoing training and certification in place? A sandbox concept? Policies on what to govern and what’s safe to allow unfettered access to? If your users are not ready for self-service anything, the benefit of modernizing, then, may be more about giving agility to the core IT/BI team to work smarter or deliver new content faster.

These are just some of the things to consider beyond the tools and technology! If you are well on your way towards modernizing, you might also be ready for the next wave of disruption in the form of augmented analytics described in this note.

As always, there’s a growing team of us at Gartner to support you on this journey!


Cindi Howson

P.S.  We are currently running the Analytics and BI MQ Customer Reference Survey! If you got the invite, I hope you’ll take the survey. Your opinion counts! As a way of thanking you for your time, we also include a free research report.



Additional Resources

100 Data and Analytics Predictions Through 2024

Gartner’s annual predictions disclose the varied importance of data and analytics across an ever-widening range of business and IT initiatives. Data and analytics leaders must consider these strategic planning assumptions for enhancing their vision and plans.

Read Free Gartner Research

Category: business-analytics  business-intelligence  data-and-analytics-strategies  

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 What Modern Analytics and BI Means for You

  1. Bouloton says:

    Hello Cindi. Thanks for your post. Looking at my LinkedIn page, you will notice I’m a BInosaure. Well, I have been in the industry for 20 years and reading your paper it appeared to me that one could have written the exact same analysis in the late 90´s when describing how a MOLAP or even X-OLAP tool is working… So how truly modern is Business Analytics? Thanks in advance for your help. Regards,

    • Cindi Howson says:

      Hi, Jerome… too funny, I guess that makes me a Binosaure too as I started in this space in the early 90s. There are some similar themes here – gosh, think of Essbase and Power Play cubes in their early days. Those were largely business user driven tools. As those products evolved to enterprise grade, they became less flexible, and IT assumed responsibility. Modern analytics and BI tools, though, are different from those MOLAP tools on a number of aspects, outlined in the research note. The self service theme may be similar, but the flexibility of the data model is different, the breadth of data sources, the deployment options, the ease of use, the smarts, to name a few. Regards, Cindi

  2. Neil Raden says:

    Hi Cindi,

    With the migration from IT-Run to DIY analytics, prep, authoring, discovery and exploration in hybrid environments aided by ML, do you see the end of the BICC anytime soon?


    • Cindi Howson says:

      Hi, Neil, thanks for reading and commenting! I gave a couple talks on the evolving role of the BICC at the summits this past year and we do have some notes planned here. I don’t see the end of the BICC, but more, the evolution. If the BICC stays the sole do-er or devolves into just a report factory, that style of work and team will be less relevant. The BICC has to become more of an enabler to distributed work. The BICC or ACE – Analytics Center of Excellence or Analytics Community of Excellence – is a connector and may be the pool of experts that does some of the heavier lifting that business users do not have or do not yet have the skills for. These models will evolve at different paces and in different ways depending on where the organization is today. Politics, power, skills, and readiness all play a role here. Does that answer? Regards, Cindi

  3. Tushar Soni says:

    I have been working for some time in SAP Web Intelligence. However, there are many other tools like Tableau, ClickView in the Business Intelligence space. Can you please let me know if I should stick on to the BusinessObjects tools or shall I expand my skillset to other non-SAP tools looking at the future scope and market trend?

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