Gartner's BI-platform definition

Definition containing 13 items in 3 categories

BI platforms allow users to build applications to help them get to know, understand and optimize their business. Gartner defines a BI platform as a software platform that offers 13 different functionalities.

These functions are organized into 3 categories: integration, information supply, and analysis. In 2009 many large suppliers have focused on improving integration of BI platform components to achieve better collaboration between their often externally acquired tools. Information supply continues to be the core focus of most BI projects today, however Gartner sees an increase in demand for tools that enable more simple and intuitive analyses of data to gain new insights.

Gartner's BI platform definition has largely stayed the same as in former years, however this year a 13th functionality was added for “search-based BI”.

(Quoted and interpreted from below source.)

Category: Integration

  • BI infrastructure — All tools in the platform should use the same security, metadata, administration, portal integration, object model and query engine, and should share the same look and feel.
  • Metadata management — Not only should all tools leverage the same metadata, but the offering should provide a robust way to search, capture, store, reuse and publish metadata objects such as dimensions, hierarchies, measures, performance metrics and report layout objects.
  • Development tools — The BI platform should provide a set of programmatic development tools and a visual development environment, coupled with a software developer's kit for creating BI applications, for integrating them into a business process and/or embedding them in another application. The BI platform should also enable developers to build BI applications without coding by using wizard-like components for a graphical assembly process. The development environment should also support Web services in performing common tasks such as scheduling, delivering, administering and managing. In addition, the BI application should assign and track events or tasks allotted to specific users, based on predefined business rules. Often, this capability is delivered by integrating with a separate portal or workflow tool.
  • Collaboration — This capability enables BI users to share and discuss information and/or manage hierarchies and metrics via discussion threads, chat and annotations either embedded in the application or through integration with collaboration, analytical master data management (MDM) and social software.

(Quoted and interpreted from below source.)

Category: Information Supply

  • Reporting — Reporting provides the ability to create formatted and interactive reports (parameterized) with highly scalable distribution and scheduling capabilities. In addition, BI platform vendors should handle a wide array of reporting styles (for example, financial, operational and performance dashboards) and should enable users to access and fully interact with BI content delivered to mobile devices.
  • Dashboards — This subset of reporting includes the ability to publish formal, Web-based reports with intuitive interactive displays of information, including dials, gauges, sliders, check boxes and traffic lights. These displays indicate the state of the performance metric compared with a goal or target value. Increasingly, dashboards are used to disseminate real-time data from operational applications.
  • Ad hoc query — This capability enables users to ask their own questions of the data, without relying on IT to create a report. In particular, the tools must have a robust semantic layer to allow users to navigate available data sources. These tools should include a disconnected analysis capability that enables users to access BI content and analyze data remotely without being connected to a server-based BI application. In addition, these tools should offer query governance and auditing capabilities to ensure that queries perform well.
  • Microsoft Office integration — In some cases, BI platforms are used as a middle tier to manage, secure and execute BI tasks, but Microsoft Office (particularly Excel) acts as the BI client. In these cases, it is vital that the BI vendor provides integration with Microsoft Office, including support for document formats, formulas, data “refresh” and pivot tables. Advanced integration includes cell locking and write-back.
  • Search-based BI — Applies a search index to both structured and unstructured data sources and maps them into a classification structure of dimensions and measures (often leveraging the BI semantic layer) that users can easily navigate and explore using a search (Google-like) interface.

(Quoted and interpreted from below source.)

Category: Analysis

  • OLAP — This enables end users to analyze data with extremely fast query and calculation performance, enabling a style of analysis known as “slicing and dicing.” This capability could span a variety of storage architectures, such as relational, multidimensional and in-memory.
  • Interactive visualization — This gives the ability to display numerous aspects of the data more efficiently by using interactive pictures and charts, instead of rows and columns. Over time, advanced visualization will go beyond just slicing and dicing data to include more process-driven BI projects, allowing all stakeholders to better understand the workflow through a visual representation.
  • Predictive modeling and data mining — This capability enables organizations to classify categorical variables and to estimate continuous variables using advanced mathematical techniques. BI developers are able to integrate models easily into BI reports, dashboards and analysis.
  • Scorecards — These take the metrics displayed in a dashboard a step further by applying them to a strategy map that aligns key performance indicators with a strategic objective. Scorecard metrics should be linked to related reports and information to perform further analysis. A scorecard implies the use of a performance management methodology such as Six Sigma or a balanced scorecard framework.

Source: Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms, Rita L. Sallam, Bill Hostmann, James Richardson, Andreas Bitterer, 29 januari 2010. Interpreted by John Geerlings MSc.

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