By now firms are deep into their big data investments — and frustrated. Too many new and rapidly evolving technologies are built on an open source and named after a bunch of zoo animals. The term insight platform has struck a chord with technology buyers exactly because it offers a path out of this mess. In fact, insight platform was the number-one emerging technology in terms of investment and interest in Forrester’s Q3 2016 Global State Of Enterprise Architecture And Portfolio Management Online Survey.

What exactly is an insight platform though? I introduced the term in my May blog post Insight Platforms Have Arrived and then refined it and explained the vendor landscape in my August post Tame The Beast: Forrester’s Insight Platform Vendor Landscape. Over the last few months, we have been conducting a Forrester Wave™ evaluation of the most mature segment of the market, enterprise insight platform suites, which are:

“…Integrated or partially integrated suites of data management, analytics, and insight execution components that require some integration and configuration to form a platform.”

We looked at seven vendors in our evaluation — IBM, Oracle, Pivotal, SAP, SAS, Teradata, and TIBCO. All of these vendor have the proven ability to meet the most demanding requirement for enteprise data management and analytics; however, our standards for insights platforms were very high were very hight. Not only did we expect the vendors to have performed well in Forrester Waves on individual products, we wanted them to have top-notch reference customer ratings, and we actually expected their suites to behave more like platforms, not just a bunch of tools.

  • Our one Leader had almost everything but needed to make progress modernizing. The ideal insight platform features enterprise data management, a breadth of integrated analytics, and tools to help you turn insights into action. They are also built on scalable big data foundations, and they unify security, metadata, and governance. This is a high bar for most enterprise suite vendors that have a bevy of legacy and aging products to unify. We found one Leader in our evaluation that checked most of these boxes, which gave it a top current offering. Furthermore, its road map was set to deliver on gaps in 2017, which gave the vendor a good strategy score.
  • Three Strong Performers had deep integrations and simplified platform strategies. These vendors were very different, but they all had a focus on insights execution, with data management positioned as a component, not a raison d’être. One vendor nearly made it to the Leader category based on its integration between visual analytics, predictive model runtimes, and real-time data management. Another was not nearly as mature, but its strategy for simplified, microservice-based development architecture was impressive. A third was similar to our Contender pack but had outstanding customer references that elevated it to the Strong Performer category.
  • Three Contenders need to simplify their offering and educate their customers. All of our Contenders scored as Leaders and Strong Performers in various other Forrester Waves, which makes them solid choices in some situations. We held them to a new standard as an insight platform, and they all struggled a bit. First, Contenders typically had very complex product offerings in need of simplification. Furthermore, their suites need to install, work together, and enable management as a platform better. Finally, we found that buyers are often not aware of the progress that Contenders have made in recent releases and are still dealing with issues where they don’t need to be.

What should you do? First, understand this emerging category of data and analytics technology; then create a road map to evolve your current tool stacks into one or more insight platforms. Get a copy of our report The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Insight Platform Suites, Q4 2016 to help you understand how the enterprise software vendors are approaching insight platforms.