BI Trends

2016 Self-Service Shake Up: What the @#$! Is Happening

By Mark Lockwood
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I bet a lot of you are reading this title wondering “Really – a 2016 recap? We aren’t even halfway through 2016.”  Yup, we went for it.  2016 is only four months old, but more has happened to the self-service analytics market in the last four months than arguably all of 2015.  Case in point:

  • The Gartner Magic Quadrant is barely recognizable from last year’s
  • Tableau stock has already dropped 52%
  • Qlik is for sale

It’s not hard to argue that there’s been a fundamental shift.  At Logi HQ we’ve had countless discussions by the water cooler (read: happy hour) about what these events mean for the self-service analytics market.  As we try to piece these all together, these are our two cents.

The 2015 Magic Quadrant Disappears

First, good luck comparing this year’s Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for BI and Analytics to the last.  The 2015 Gartner MQ and Gartner Summit keynote emphasized the importance of taking a bi-modal approach to self-service, where companies balance the need for IT governance with business agility.

It made sense–the ultimate goal of analytics is getting people to use it.  The broader the adoption of BI, the more likely it is that a company will require some sort of data governance and security.

And yet, this year’s Gartner MQ is distinctly uni-modal. It looks essentially like a Data Discovery quadrant.  It’s a brave new world, and IT is nowhere to be found.  I’m pretty sure I even heard a reference to “Robo-bosses” during of the sessions at the Gartner conference.  I was looking around the auditorium thinking, “Whoa, one of these companies is addressing the robo-boss market?”  I just learned how to spell “robo-boss.” I was feeling pretty lonely without my hoverboard.

But is free-range self-service without IT really what the market is demanding?  Let’s look at how the largest vendors in that market are performing:

Tableau’s Stock Tanks

On February 4th, Tableau’s stock price plummeted over 50%.  How does that even happen? Well, Tableau’s growth projections, and thereby stock price, are dependent on its “Land and Expand” strategy.  “Land” with a few business users, typically without IT knowledge. Then covertly “expand” to other parts of the business, creating a groundswell of support that forces IT to adopt the data discovery tool as an expensive enterprise platform.

Turns out a great desktop data discovery tool makes for a poor enterprise analytics solution. The more people using the tool, the more likely the need for IT security and governance.  And while data discovery tools are very easy to use for a small number of users and static requirements, they’re incredibly expensive to scale and don’t provide the security or extensibility of a true enterprise solution.

After years and years of waiting, Tableau’s “expand” strategy isn’t panning out.  On February 4th, Tableau shareholders were disappointed when the company announced their 2016 growth projections.  So how does a company you lose over $3B in 24 hours?  By taking the “expand” out of their “land and expand” revenue forecasts.

Qlik Looks to Sell

The other major vendor focused on the solo business user sans IT, Qlik, is also in a rather precarious situation.  Recently, an activist hedge fund with a history of agitating for the sale of portfolio companies just snagged a 10% stake in Qlik.  This is the same hedge fund that sold EMC to Dell (among many others).  The broad sentiment is that a sale is just a matter of time. In fact, it seems as if Morgan Stanley has already been tapped to shop Qlik around.

Although I would imagine the executives at Qlik would like to continue to operate their company independently, their growth rates don’t support an independent valuation.  Ultimately, Qlik’s CEO answers to the Chairman of the Board.  Who does the Chairman answer to? The shareholders.  And the shareholders have spoken.

Tableau and Qlik have gone public on the promise of delivering self-service to the masses. And yet their uni-modal approach to the self-service market isn’t delivering on the promise of widespread adoption.  In reality, most users in a company aren’t the advanced analysts that Tableau and Qlik have built their products around – and shareholders are noticing.

Logi Continues to Believe in Bi-model

At Logi, we’ve decided to take a more sustainable, bi-modal approach to the self-service.  If the ultimate goal of analytics is widespread “expand” adoption, than organizations need to an analytics solution that balances the need for business agility with enterprise security and governance.  Instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach, we provide a scalable platform that delivers purpose-built applications to a broad range of end users’ roles and skills through the Continuum of Self-Service.

So that’s what we’ve taken away from this mayhem, but we want to know about the perspective that matters the most – yours. If there’s one takeaway we’ve had from the last four months, it’s that understanding to the customer’s varied needs is the only way to build a sustainable self-service strategy.

For more information, check out our thoughts on the shifting BI landscape.


Originally published April 28, 2016; updated on May 21st, 2021

About the Author

Mark is the Director of Customer Account Management at Logi Analytics, where he is responsible for customer success, market development, sales enablement and thought leadership. Prior to joining Logi, Mark was a Lead Strategy Associate at the management consulting firm Booz & Company, where he helped create the firm’s first Big Data service offering. Mark earned a dual degree in Industrial Engineering and Economics from Northwestern University and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.