Forrester evaluates enterprise BI platforms based on differentiation: Where does IBM fall?


A couple of weeks ago, Forrester released The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise BI Platforms With Majority On-Premises Deployments, Q3 2017. They redefined the enterprise BI market into two areas: majority on-premises and majority on the cloud (a report for cloud was also published). Vendors appear in only one report. Taking a novel approach, Forrester evaluated vendors based on differentiation rather than on querying, reporting and data visualization, which they describe as “table stakes.” I’m proud to announce that based on this redefinition and rigorous criteria, IBM was named a leader.

In the report, Forrester explained why they redefined the market: “BI technology (along with all related ones, such as big data and artificial intelligence) has evolved at lightning speed over the last two years.” Recent changes in BI platforms blur the lines between static reports and interactive visualization, so the two are not separate categories anymore. And, although Forrester split vendors between on-premises and cloud, they noted that cloud really isn’t a separate segment, as the vendors in this report also offer cloud deployments.

Forrester looked at all the vendors with more than 50% of their revenue from on-premises BI sales with an eye to current offering, strategy and market presence. In their summary of the 22 criteria used to evaluate vendors of enterprise BI platforms with majority on premises, they focused on differentiation, specifically in the following areas:

  • “Actionable and suggestive BI”
  • Advanced analytics
  • Connectors to business applications and integration with competing BI platforms
  • Data catalog and data governance features
  • Data preparation and profiling
  • “Data visualization certification by an objective third party”
  • Advanced geospatial analytics such as geofencing
  • Hadoop and Spark-based architecture
  • “On-chip computing”
  • Compliance and certification with standards bodies
  • Read and write capabilities


In the report, Forrester writes, “IBM offers a broad and comprehensive BI platform with a touch of AI.” They note that the integration of “long-time BI market-leader” Cognos Analytics with SPSS offers predictive analytics and that “a shot of AI” is provided by Watson Analytics. “Knowledge gaps (or ‘I don’t know what I don’t know’) are a significant missed opportunity in many BI environments, and that’s precisely what Watson Analytics addresses.” Forrester adds that after getting insight without having to know the questions to ask, users can turn it into “comprehensive descriptive and predictive BI applications using Cognos Analytics and SPSS.”

A key factor in any Forrester evaluation or report is what clients have to say. So, what did our clients tell them about us? “Client references gave IBM high scores for quick time-to-value, scalability, stability, security, cloud/hybrid architecture, extensibility, and frequency of upgrades.”

In the report, Forrester noted that “insights-driven businesses will take $1.8 trillion from their competitors that are still running their companies by data.” IBM is committed to ensuring that insight (and not data alone) is the basis for business decisions and understanding performance. After all, the basic premise of IBM business analytics solutions—Cognos Analytics, Watson Analytics, Planning Analytics, and SPSS—is insight to action. Data might be one of the most valuable resources in the 21  century. But, as we have demonstrated in other posts for this blog, insufficient analysis can lead to erroneous conclusions, some of which can have far-reaching effects. To be recognized by Forrester as a leader in delivering BI, which is a “key enabler of insights-driven businesses,” is gratifying.

The report is useful for anyone who is evaluating enterprise BI platforms and wants a detailed explanation of how BI has evolved. All 15 enterprise BI platforms are thoughtfully reviewed. To learn more and get the full details of how IBM scored in each of the 22 criteria, download the report.