12 Enterprise BI Platforms have been evaluated as part of the latest Forrester Wave study: Enterprise Business Intelligence Platforms Q3 2008. (Thanks goes to the Dashboard Spies who posted the findings document.)

Based on their evaluation of 151 criteria, Forrester finds that IBM/Cognos and SAP/Business Objects maintain market leading positions while Oracle and SAS Institute move up into leadership spots in enterprise BI because of their product functionality, scalability and completeness of corporate/product vision and strategy.

Here’s a diagram with the results of the BI platform evaluation:

forrester wave enterprise business intelligence platform evaluation

A look at the relative scoring of the BI platforms compared across various criteria:

Forrester evaluation of enterprise business intelligence platforms

Click on the read more to find out more about the study of these BI platforms:

As explained by Forrester, to qualify for the survey, the vendor (and tool) must provide:

  • At least three out of the four major functional BI components:
    • Production/Operational Reporting
    • Ad Hoc Querying
    • OLAP
    • Dashboards
  • The ability to query databases using SQL and MDX.
  • A self-contained, complete, fully functioning BI environment, i.e. the tool must be a self-contained, complete BI environment or platform that does not have to be necessarily embedded in other applications.
  • Sufficient market presence and interest from Forrester clients, defined as at least 100 in-production customers present in more than one major geographical region, with more than 10 percent enterprise-grade, cross-line-of-business installations with more than 100 users.
  • Significant BI revenues: at least $40 million in BI revenues.

The findings include:


The evaluation uncovered a market in which:

IBM Cognos and SAP Business Objects continue to lead the pack. Even though IBM Cognos
and SAP Business Objects scored very closely, they offer very different approaches to enterprise
BI platforms. SAP Business Objects believes that enterprises need the best BI tool for every
use case, sometimes even at the expense of less-than-complete integration. As a result of such
strategy, the company went on a spree of acquiring and building many different BI tools over
the past few years and ended up with one of the richest BI portfolios on the market in its XI
release. IBM Cognos, on the other hand, offered a different philosophy: It believed that a unified,
integrated platform is preferable, even if it did not address every single BI function and feature
end users wanted. Rather than acquiring multiple technologies, IBM Cognos completely rebuilt
its architecture in release 8, falling a bit behind SAP Business Objects in functionality but
leading in modern unified architecture.

Oracle and SAS Institute move into leadership positions. Indicating that many large
enterprise-grade BI vendors now “get it,” we expect more and more vendors to accumulate
enough functionality to qualify for leadership positions. Oracle moves into the leadership
category as it enriches its BI portfolio, and the company brings the best of its recently acquired
technologies from Siebel and Hyperion into Enterprise Edition Plus. SAS also becomes a leader
by continuing to build on its amazing 32-year success story of uninterrupted growth. SAS
remains the best game in town for fully integrated high-end analytics from a single vendor.

Information Builders, Microsoft, and SAP offer competitive options. Just looking at this list,
I&KM pros can rest assured that contrary to some market consolidation trends, respectable
and rich BI alternatives abound. Information Builders shines with continued innovation,
comparable to much larger BI vendors, and the most comprehensive information access
adapters, easily connecting a large number of very heterogeneous data sources including legacy
mainframe databases. Microsoft is becoming enterprise-grade with dizzying speed, and the
market penetration of key BI components like SharePoint and SQL Server Analysis Services is
hard to ignore. SAP NetWeaver BI offers a unique BI Accelerator appliance, addressing some
current performance issues. While its portfolio of BI products is still best for SAP environments,
the Business Objects acquisition and the converged product road map will change that equation
over the next 12 months.

Actuate, MicroStrategy, and TIBCO Spotfire go after best-of-breed components. There
are more choices still, especially when all one is looking for are best-in-class reporting
and analytical tools, and integration with the rest of the BI stack components is less of an
issue. Actuate continues to differentiate with a sophisticated production report development
environment, offers a unique e.Spreadsheet report delivery option, and is becoming more and
more attractive to enterprises seeking to leverage open source alternatives. MicroStrategy still
outperforms the competition with a truly unified platform and the top ROLAP engine, which
is very competitive — especially in environments with multiterabyte data warehouses or poorly
architected or optimized reporting databases. TIBCO, a recent entrant into the BI market with
the acquisition of Spotfire, leverages its long history of success and expertise in middleware for
integrating visual information analysis with process orchestration and business rules.

Panorama Software and QlikTech still lack breadth, but they shine in specific use cases. Even
though Panorama Software and QlikTech lack the breadth of options and features needed to
be all-encompassing enterprise BI solutions, they offer highly differentiated tools for certain
specific BI use cases. Panorama Software is a great option when 100% of the analysis is done
on OLAP databases, and there’s no need to muddle the waters with other tools and overlapping,
sometimes redundant, functionality of SQL- and MDX-based data access. QlikTech and
TIBCO Spotfire invented “BI without borders” — lightning-fast access to large in-memory data
models, where recalculations, re-aggregations and what-if analysis can be performed with few
limitations. In-memory architectures do not require prebuilt data models, so any element can be
re-examined as a fact or a dimension on the fly.

For similar BI vendor comparisons and product evaluations, please see the Dashboard Spy Business Intelligence White Paper collection.

Also, watch these interesting videos about business intelligence, KPIs, metrics, and dashboards.

Tags: Evaluation of Enterprise Business Intelligence Platforms by Forrester Wave