As I was doing research for our Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Business Intelligence Platforms, Q4 2010, I couldn’t help but remember a dear old friend of mine, who was/is one of the nicest and smartest people, but often a bit naïve and too idealistic. At one point when we were watching the Olympic Games on TV, she shed a tear and asked, “Why can’t they all win?” Unlike the Olympic Games, though, it’s good news all around for all of the vendors covered in our latest evaluation. Here’s it is in a nutshell.

In Forrester's 145-criteria evaluation of enterprise business intelligence (BI) platform vendors, we found that IBM Cognos, SAP BusinessObjects, Oracle, Information Builders, SAS, Microsoft, and MicroStrategy led the pack because of completeness of not just BI, but overall information management functionality. Actuate came out as a Strong Performer on the heels of the Leaders offering equal — or in some cases superior — BI functionality, but it mostly relies on partners for the rest of its information management capabilities. TIBCO Spotfire also came out as a Strong Performer offering top choices for analytics, even surpassing other Strong Performers in the overall information management arena based on its traditional strength in middleware and application integration. Last but not least, QlikTech and Panorama Software moved up from Contenders and into the Strong Performers category based on the continuous improvements in their analytical capabilities.

Our evaluation uncovered a market in which:

  • IBM Cognos, SAP BusinessObjects, Oracle, and SAS continue to lead the pack.
  • Information Builders, Microsoft, and MicroStrategy move into the Leaders category.
  • TIBCO Spotfire and Actuate maintain their Strong Performer status.
  • QlikTech and Panorama Software move into the Strong Performer category.

Some of the individual vendor highlights are as follows:

  • IBM Cognos wants to be your one and only BI provider, from hardware to desktop.
  • SAP BusinessObjects believes in and delivers the "best BI tool for each job."
  • Oracle's BI platform leapfrogs some competitors in 11g release.
  • Information Builders offers a full BI stack alternative to large software vendors.
  • SAS continues to amaze the market with uninterrupted 32-year growth.
  • Microsoft BI gets a unique pervasive advantage from SharePoint and Office products.
  • MicroStrategy introduces significant multisourcing and in-memory ROLAP upgrades.
  • Acquisitions and integration with TIBCO products edge Spotfire closer to a full BI stack.
  • Actuate muscles into OSS BI, leveraging its large-scale BI application development strengths.
  • QlikTech takes its rightful place among larger BI vendors with a successful IPO.
  • Panorama Software gets a Strong Performer upgrade based on a broader data access platform.

Obviously, it’s not all that simple. So please be sure to drill into the details (forgive the pun), especially our 145-criteria evaluation and individual vendor results and scores.