No Platform Ranked in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant Will Replace Your Data FoundationGartner’s release of their Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms has been the hot topic of conversation among individuals in the BI and Analytics world for the past couple of weeks.The Magic Quadrant ChangesIn the 2016 edition of the BI Platform Magic Quadrant, Gartner introduced a seismic shift in the BI Platform scoring criteria.Gartner said the change in scoring criteria reflects an evolution in the market, where consumers are now demanding reporting via easy-to-use tools that can be used to generate content with little to no involvement from IT. This is in stark contrast to the traditional enterprise reporting solutions which were centered around “centrally provisioned, highly governed and scalable system-of-record reporting,” according to the report. This shift in the Magic Quadrant’s scoring criteria significantly altered the ranking landscape and has driven discussion on this document that easily seems to eclipse past years. As an analytics focused individual, I decided to look into this the best way I know how… with numbers.A quick look at Google Trends showed that the number of searches for the phrase “Gartner BI” is close to 50% higher in 2016 than it has been in the past four years (as of this writing). Google searches for the phrase “Gartner BI” Numbers represent percentage of the max value (2016) After confirming my suspicions were correct, I started thinking about how this priority change and increased attentiveness affects my ability to perform my job.Since I work with many of the tools Gartner evaluated on a day to day basis, I am very attentive to the BI Platform Rankings portrayed in the Magic Quadrant. However, I would caution any of my clients (and my own company) that it is important to focus on the bigger “forest” to this business, not just the BI Platform “trees.”The Trees:The most widely visible aspect of any BI initiative is the method in which data is delivered to the information consumers, such as executives or analysts. To these consumers, the foundation and challenges of the BI initiative are irrelevant. They just want the “right” answers to some of the typical questions surrounding these efforts:Is the data accurate?Can I do it myself?Is it easy to use?How does it look?This type of questioning aligns with the recent paradigm shift alluded to by the Magic Quadrant. And make no mistake, these questions are very important when determining adoption by the consumers.This front end interface can aptly be described as the “trees” in the implementation of a BI Platform. These “trees” are constantly changing. Software vendors release new versions, which bring new features and capabilities online.New products enter the market, providing more competition and driving innovation. In fact, 25% of the vendors on the quadrant made their debut this year, and there are no signs of the competition slowing.The Forest:Now, here is my caution when reading the Gartner report: it’s very easy to focus on the “trees” and forget about the “forest” itself.The forest in this metaphor is the organization’s data foundation that supports these tools. In other words: the organization’s data strategy.As a Business Intelligence consultant, I’ve seen the entire spectrum of BI Platform implementations. From enterprise wide deployments to quickly deployed departmental solutions, I’ve found the most important factor in determining success is the underlying data strategy.Companies who treat their data as the valuable asset that it is tend to have a much higher success rate and they are prepared for whatever “tree” grows next.Taking the time to plan and build your foundation, including a Data Warehouse, Data Lakes, or a Master Data Management program (or any combination) will plant the seeds for long-term success in an organization.I highly recommend anyone in this industry read Gartner’s report and take their recommendations seriously. Properly researching these tools is vital, as they represent a significant investment. However, please remember that the success of your BI initiatives depends on much more than just picking a BI Platform.