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Analysts reports and rankings: Seeing the Forrester through the trees.

Analyst Rankings are a funny thing.  Vendors seem to sing their praises when they’re ranked well and proclaim “irrelevance” when they’re not. So, my commentary may split the middle; “The Forrester WaveTM: Agile Business Intelligence Platforms, Q3 2014,” named MicroStrategy among the leaders in Agile BI—however, there is room for improvement (as there always is)—both in our feature set and how the analyst firm perceives it.

According to the report, we’re now in the “age of the customer,” where companies have to shape their priorities to meet the ever-changing requirements of an empowered customer base. Companies must be agile; agile business intelligence solutions are a major part of this equation.  The report reviewed 16 Agile BI vendors in the market and highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of each of these high-value solutions.  It identifies and evaluates eight leading vendors (including MicroStrategy) and seven ‘strong competitors.’ Forrester cited several areas where MicroStrategy shines, including (but not limited to): agile business user self-service, advanced data visualization (ADV) functionality, high scalability, and product vision.

The Forrester Report provides useful market insights.  Author Boris Evelson, an authority and leading expert in the BI in the field,,  has over 30 years of real-world experience in the enterprise software space. Boris has a keen instinct to ask insightful questions of both vendors and clients to get at the root of the specific value the software provides to an organization.

As such, most analysts I speak to loathe that readers blow past pages of valuable commentary and survey methodology to see ‘the graphic.' It’s natural to want a concise picture of where each vendor is and who came out on top, behind, or in the middle. That said, this visualization isn’t as strong as a ‘Visual Insight’ graphic – much of the important nuance is missed. It doesn’t tell the whole story.

In this case, that’s because the needs of an average client typically extend beyond just an agile BI platform; most want a comprehensive analytics solution. Looking across the market, there are a range of data discovery vendors, generic desktop intelligence, and advanced analytics (only) platforms. MicroStrategy is an end-to-end business analytics platform, designed to grow with users as they grow in sophistication and desire to add more advanced analytical capability to their business intelligence experience.

Comparing a product that is only an analytical tool for statisticians, or a basic data discovery tool for desktop, single-server consumption, can be somewhat confusing.  This is why it’s important that Forrester Clients use the Wave Tools to customize the analysis to their needs.  For enterprise-grade applications, where users need trusted information and a degree of data governance, MicroStrategy is the clear leader in the space. This is shown by our Leadership designation in the Forrester Enterprise BI Platform Wave, which rates vendors across a more comprehensive set of enterprise BI criteria including full BI system management and ability to integrate in an optimized and seamless way with any of an organization’s internal systems.

Therein lies the room for improvement.  As discussed at the MicroStrategy World Futures Keynote session in Barcelona, significant updates to the user experience, interface, administration, management, and other aspects of MicroStrategy will make the product more intuitive, functional, and even fun to develop in. New features like Data Wrangling bring a new level of flexibility to the fingertips of admins and users alike.

In addition, the analyst community continues to evolve their thinking around scalability and accessibility.  Some of the vendors in this assessment may struggle at 50 or 100 users; MicroStrategy, however, has proven implementations with thousands of users across tremendous data sets, performing mission-critical analytics functions. While these client testimonials are an important part of the Wave criteria, weightings sometimes reflect point functionality over this broader requirement for Big Data scale.

We’re proud of the leadership position MicroStrategy enjoys in this year’s Forrester Wave for Agile BI Platforms. The most important measure of success will always be the impact we have on our clients’ business, delivering on their requirements for analytics that grow with their needs.  At the same time, we will continue to educate and inform key industry analysts like Forrester of our innovations and progress. 

I encourage you to read the Forrester report for yourself! Check out a complimentary copy on our website  here.

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