Microsoft accelerates away from the pack in Gartner Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms 2019.

Gartner has positioned Microsoft Power BI as the leader in the modern analytics race for the past three years, and 2019 sees the product extending its domination. The analysts cited three main strengths as their reasons for awarding Microsoft the yellow jersey:

  • Low priced incumbent -almost every organisation on the planet will have Microsoft licenses somewhere in their environment, so adding Power BI to existing product bundles or Enterprise Agreements is very easy, and the low monthly subscriptions are barely noticeable. Gartner don’t mention it, but Microsoft has also significantly reduced pricing for Power BI Premium, which includes mechanisms for allowing external users access to dashboards and reports.
  • Ease of use for complex analysis – Microsoft want new users to be wowed within five minutes, and Power BI really is a great tool to just pick up and start working with. The good thing is that it’s still easy to use when things get complex – although I have to say I would prefer the DAX formula editor to be a bit friendlier.
  • Comprehensive product vision – bringing out a new version every month is an amazing achievement for the Power BI development team, and the changes are almost always significant. Gartner gives particular credence to Power BI’s easy access to Machine Learning capability for Citizen Data Scientists, but I think the ongoing work to integrate Power BI with pretty much every Microsoft product, from Teams to Dynamics 365, is also worth mentioning.

Gartner does offer some cautions (as they do with every vendor), but the most significant is the fact that Power BI does not service Model 1 needs (scheduling and distributing reports), so developers have historically had to use a separate product, Reporting Services. The good news is that this capability, now called Paginated Reports, is already in preview in Power BI Premium since late 2018, and is coming soon to the standard Power BI Service.

Gartner Magic Quadrant Analytics and BI 2019

To understand where the other tools are positioned in the race, I built the above Power BI scatter chart, with clustering added to the execute and vision scores; apologies and credit to Gartner for using their visuals as a background. Tableau accompanies Power BI as an outlier at the top of the leader board – I find this heartening, as having a strong competitor just behind Microsoft’s back wheel is a great incentive for them to continue pedalling at pace. The three other clusters could be labelled Upper Niche, Lower Niche and Visionary, and it’s interesting to see the cluster algorithm absorbing Qlik into the latter pack. My own observations have been that long-time Qlik-supporting organisations are starting to question why they have ended up building so many proprietary data models that no other tool can access. The only new entrant in this years’ quadrants was GoodData – otherwise the racers were the same as last year.

So, it’s official – Microsoft Power BI has won the Gartner race clearly in 2019, 2018 and 2017 (2016 was a three-way tie). Three-time winners of the FIFA World Cup get to keep the trophy – maybe Gartner should provide recognition in the same vein to three-time winners of their Magic Quadrants!

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