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Big Data Discovery may put Oracle back in BI Magic Quadrant

Oracle didn't make it onto Gartner's 2016 BI Magic Quadrant, but analyst Josh Parenteau says new products like Big Data Discovery and Visual Analyzer show modernization for next year.

After being in Gartner's Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms Magic Quadrant 10 years in a row, Oracle didn't make the list in 2016. In this question and answer session, Josh Parenteau, research director at Gartner specializing in business intelligence and lead analyst on the 2016 BI Magic Quadrant, explained how the loss of Magic Quadrant standing might affect Oracle's future choices and what Oracle users can learn from the situation.

What were the criteria for inclusion in the Gartner BI Magic Quadrant?

Josh Parenteau: This year, we made a pretty dramatic change to the underlying nature of the Magic Quadrant in response to a shift we've been observing over the past four years now, where IT is not the primary buyer, and IT is not the primary audience. It's really shifting to the business, and it really has been for quite some time. So, this year, we decided to focus in on where buying is happening in the market, and, as a result, we basically modernized the definition. And the way we established that definition was basically anything that requires up-front heavy IT involvement, IT modeling or is enterprise reporting focused was not included in the assessment. So, for Oracle, it means that their OBIEE, the platform that most of their install base is using, was not included.

What we did include in the assessment and evaluation for them is Visual Analyzer and Big Data Discovery, which are their new products just this year. Unfortunately, there was not enough traction yet in those products. Part of the requirement for the MQ is that you need to provide at least 40 production customers, 40 customers who have deployed in production. And they didn't have that. So, generally speaking, they were late to the market with those products and didn't have enough traction in the market to satisfy those requirements for the Magic Quadrant.

It sounds like the change isn't coming from something Oracle did, but from Gartner.

Parenteau: Right, OBIEE is still there. It's still being sold as their platform, but it does not meet the modern definition of the Magic Quadrant right now. It does require up-front involvement from IT. You do have to predefine a data model, which IT does. And it's focused on enterprise reporting. So all things we moved to a separate document this year called a Market Guide, because, frankly, that's not where active buying is. If you look at where most of the net new buying is happening, it's not in those types of tools. It's in the tools that we're covering the Magic Quadrant this year.

Traditional BI has always been about large-scale consolidation efforts, so single source of truth; building a warehouse; and really having a centralized, consolidated approach to reporting and dashboarding. It was really intended to reign in some of the silos and people who were out doing their own work in Excel and Access in a disconnected way. [What] we started to see, about five years ago or so, are companies like Tableau and Qlik and Spotfire to a certain extent circumventing that and sort of breaking the mold of what BI is and starting to sell to the business, circumventing IT, and starting to sell to the line of business buyer and the analyst in the organization. Initially, that was viewed as a sort of renegade approach to BI. The mantra was about centralization and IT being the producer and business being the consumer. This disrupted the model, and it has been accelerating ever since.

Do you see Oracle succeeding in other areas or does the Magic Quadrant only show Oracle as problematic?

Parenteau: Since they didn't fully participate, it's difficult to say whether they're improving on some of the things we called out -- more vendor-specific things, not so much product specific. I can comment on their product direction. I do think that they're investing in the right places. I do think that they're late to the game by quite a bit. This is a transition that has been going on for some time, and to just introduce something last year kind of indicates that they've missed some opportunities.

But, again, I don't think it's too late. It's a rapidly evolving space. If they fully recognize that there is a new buyer, and they do have the capabilities and capacity to meet the needs of today's buyer and maybe even position for the next wave of disruption, then I think they have an opportunity. They're realizing that. They understand that. I think Big Data Discovery is a case in point there. They are one of a couple vendors that have a product that is specifically geared toward Hadoop, and Discovery natively against Hadoop is indicative of the fact that they get that's where the market is going, and they've made investments there. I think it's a positive.

What are the big take-home lessons for Oracle and Oracle users?

Parenteau: For Oracle, it's recognizing the signals a bit earlier. It's responding to customer needs and, I think, realizing that it's not just about product. You can have the best product in the world, but if customers don't want to work with you because they don't like the relationship, it's not going to matter. So, it's two things. It's bolstering their reputation on the customer side and also continuing to invest in some of the things that are modern in BI. It's about really striking that balance and using their footprint from a traditional BI perspective as a strength and using that as a foundation to build upon, which I think they've taken steps to do. But the biggest piece is, honestly, in my mind, really changing the perception of how it is to work with Oracle from a customer standpoint.

From an Oracle customer perspective, we're not saying throw everything away. It's not specific to Oracle. We're not saying that everything that used to be measured on the Magic Quadrant is no longer relevant. That's not what we're saying. Basically, we're saying that for new projects -- and given the fact that we have a lot more data than we used to have, and it's sitting in a lot of different areas -- you need a more agile way to attack those problems. For a new project, start with what we've got on the Magic Quadrant.

But I would say that, if you are a member of the install base of Oracle, know that they do have offerings in the space. They just didn't have enough traction to get on the quadrant. If you have a big data Hadoop initiative going on, of course look at Big Data Discovery, because that's exactly what it's focused on. If you are looking for a tool to do data discovery, of course look at Visual Analyzer, which is part of the cloud service. If you have an initiative to get into the cloud, look at BICS.

I wouldn't say that, just because they're not on the Magic Quadrant, if you're an existing Oracle customer that you shouldn't continue to look at them for solutions. This doesn't mean that they are gone forever or off the MQ forever. It's a transition. We're in a market that is transitioning. Next year, it may be a new ball game.

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