It’s February and as every year around this time Gartner publishes its Magic Quandrant report on Analytics and BI Platform vendors/solutions. So it is always interesting to see how SAP is doing compared to the other big names in the industry, especially Tableau (Salesforce) and PowerBI (Microsoft) as those are the parties that I hear most about in the field.
What I also find interesting (and kinda funny) is that almost all vendors seem to be happy with their place on the quadrant, regardless of their position as a leader (obviously), challenger, visionair or even niche player. Look at all these press releases!
When I compare the quadrant to last year’s version, SAP is still in the same position as a visionaire, while Tableau and MS PowerBI are clearly way ahead as industry leaders. With Sisense, Oracle and Yellowfin moving to up it is getting crowded around SAP…
So let’s first have a look at the comments on SAP and SAP Analytics Cloud. Just as the last two editions Gartner is ignoring the SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform and its capabilities, but that is nowadays nicely in line with the SAP strategy for analytics.
SAP is a Visionary in this Magic Quadrant, thanks to its improved product functionality and strong vision, but it remains of interest predominantly to the wider base of SAP enterprise application users.SAP Analytics Cloud is a cloud-native multitenant platform with a broad set of analytic capabilities. Most companies that choose SAP Analytics Cloud already use some SAP business applications.
Yup, one of the major challenges of SAP is how to get any traction outside of the SAP bubble with SAP Analytics Cloud. On the one hand we see SAP-oriented companies choosing Tableau or PowerBI for their frontend on top of SAP HANA, while on the other hand a lot of the classic BOBJ customers run reporting platforms where SAP is just one of the many data sources, which makes the tie-in weaker.
In 2019, SAP continued to strengthen the product’s core capabilities in data connectivity (via SAP Cloud Platform Open Connectors) and visualization. It also added a set of open APIs to support the OEM/embedded use case for the first time. As the strategic analytics offering for all SAP applications and data sources, SAP Analytics Cloud is offered as the embedded analytics and planning solution for the SAP Intelligent Suite, which includes SAP SuccessFactors, SAP C/4HANA and SAP S/4HANA.
Nothing but truth here. A very smart step by SAP.
Strength: Augmented and advanced analytics: Reference customers for SAP Analytics Cloud scored its advanced analytics functions highly. SAP included augmented analytics in its design approach some years ago, and SAP Analytics Cloud offers strong functionality for NLG, NLP and automated insights. SAP has continued to develop its augmented capabilities by adding support for automated time-series analysis and explainable findings.
This is indeed an area where SAP Analytics Cloud could differentiate itself from other solutions. Broadening the SAC platform capabilities is probably a smarter strategy than trying to close the “tooling” gap with competitors.
Strength: Breadth of capability: SAP offers a library of prebuilt content that is available online for SAP Analytics Cloud. This content covers a range of industries and line-of-business functions. It includes data models, data stories and visualizations, templates for SAP Digital Boardroom agendas, and guidance on using SAP data sources.
Meh, it is nice that there is something like business content to get started, but I still see this as sample material and not something you’d want to use for real.
Caution: Perception by potential users: SAP’s brand has long been associated with traditional BI, and the legacy of that is a perception among potential users that does not reflect SAP Analytics Cloud’s capabilities. The effort of convincing internal users that SAP Analytics Cloud is worth considering puts it at a disadvantage versus the competition.
Caution: Scale of user deployments and number of data sources: Consistent with data gathered for the 2019 edition of this Magic Quadrant, SAP Analytics Cloud user deployments (although growing) were among the smallest reported by reference customers surveyed for the present edition. They were also connected to a relatively low number of data sources. These findings may be not indicative of the entire SAP Analytics Cloud installed base, however.
Caution: Cloud-only focus: SAP Analytics Cloud runs in SAP data centers or public clouds (on AWS infrastructure). For organizations that want to deploy a modern ABI platform on-premises, SAP Analytics Cloud is not a viable choice. SAP Analytics Cloud can, however, connect directly to on-premises SAP resources (SAP BusinessObjects Universes, SAP Business Warehouse and SAP HANA) for live data and to non-SAP data sources for data ingestion as a hybrid option.
Last year Gartner also came with this comment and I still don’t see this as a weakness at all. The live connections work in such a way that the data is not going into SAC/”The Cloud”.
Let’s also have a look at what the report is stating about market leaders Tableau and PowerBI:
Tableau: In 2019, Tableau significantly broadened the scope of its product offerings, particularly their augmented analytics and governance capabilities. For augmented analytics, Tableau introduced both Ask Data and Explain Data to provide natural language query and automated insights. For governance, Tableau improved Tableau Prep Builder (which comes with Tableau Creator) and introduced Tableau Prep Conductor to schedule and monitor data management tasks. Tableau Prep Conductor comes bundled with Tableau Catalog as part of the Data Management Add-on. Tableau also introduced the Server Management Add-on, which provides server management, content migration and workload optimization. Tableau also moved a significant portion of its customer base to the cloud with Tableau Online.
That is a lot of new stuff. And that in a year where the whole company was acquired by Salesforce!
Tableau strength: Customer enthusiasm: Customers demonstrate a fanlike attitude toward Tableau, as evidenced by the more than 20,000 users who attended its 2019 annual user conference. Reference customers scored Tableau well above the average for the overall experience. These users serve as strong champions for Tableau.
That’s very impressive and it is almost sad to see how there is almost nothing left from the once legendary BusinessObjects community…
Tableau weakness: Governance: Despite new data and server management product releases that added governance and administrative capabilities in 2019, perceptions of weak governance and administration persist among some of Tableau’s reference customers.
This is clearly an area where SAP is very strong and should use that more in its marketing.
Microsoft PowerBI: Strength: “Viral” spread: Although the price of Power BI Pro, at $10 per user per month, has helped the product’s market traction, this is secondary to its inclusion in Office 365 E5, which makes it “self-seeding” in many organizations. Prompts in other Microsoft Office products, like Excel, encouraging users to “visualize in Power BI” increase its exposure further — its reference customers claimed more deployments with more than 1,000 users than those of any other vendor in this Magic Quadrant. Power BI is now almost always mentioned by users of Gartner client inquiry service who ask about ABI platform selection.
Yup, very smart strategy by Microsoft to use MS Office and Windows as a vehicle to introduce PowerBI.
Microsoft PowerBI Weakness: Connectivity: Power BI offers a very wide range of data connectors, but feedback from users of Gartner’s client inquiry service indicates that the query performance of on-premises data gateways is variable and requires effort to optimize. Connectivity to SAP BW and HANA direct queries is problematic — a known issue that Microsoft is working on. Customers generally choose to load data into Power BI instead, which is more performant.
This is of course a major plus for SAP Analytics Cloud, especially in the SAP-rich environments.
So looking at all of this, the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence 2020 does’t really differ that much from the 2019 version. Let’s see if the strategy to include SAC as the analytics solution for all the SAP business (cloud) tools improves its position in 2021!