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The Gartner Magic Quadrant has long been revered as the go-to measurement of the caliber of technology businesses across the globe. With any research and analysis, however, it’s important not to take data at face value. Two critical considerations are context and relevance. With some digging, and insight into the measurements used, factors considered, and scalability of the solutions, true business value can be ascertained.  

The Gartner Quadrant

This year, Qlik has been confirmed as a Magic Quadrant Leader for Analytics and BI platforms for the 11th year in a row. Of course, this is an incredible achievement, and one that certainly gives CEOs and C-Level Executives excellent insight into the range of solutions considered fit for purpose, and which organisations have complete vision and the ability to execute.


The metrics used to come to the Magic Quadrant conclusions provide insight into how and why businesses feature (or don’t). These shift every year. In 2021, analysts reviewed offerings based largely on a key new term; “augmented user base”. While this favours providers who are pushing artificial intelligence, automated solutions, does it speak to true business value?

The ability to execute, for example, is often measured in relation to the scale of reach of the product. This metric holds much weight but could be skewed. Consider Power BI. It is embedded in the Microsoft Office 365 suite. When Gartner considers this reach, Power BI comes out on top, and there are cautions in terms of Qlik’s performance here. Yet Qlik is not a part or a bundle of product as a part of an initial suite – so is it really comparing apples with apples?

From this perspective, the Magic Quadrant is a good C-Level indicator of who the key players are, but not the mechanism to decide which product or application is best to derive true business value.

What Do the Consumers Say?

As the saying goes, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will fail. When considering survey results, it is essential to review results within the context of how the tools are actually used. Real functionality and user experience must play a role in the metrics.


Across the board, users experience challenges from siloed data. When users are allowed to implement and run with their own business intelligence activities without a single version of the truth, it can become extremely difficult to determine which analysis is reliable, or even correct. From a governance and management point of view, this becomes extremely complex. As such, tools that deliver one version of the truth (while still allowing users to do their own analyses) should feature more prominently.


Essentially, for business considerations, it’s less about the natural language and more about business language – or at least, it should be. In the real world, key factors like simplicity, scale, reach, and format are – to me – the core criteria that make a business intelligence tool successful in an actual busines environment.

BARC & User Confidence

The BARC Survey 2021 takes an in-depth look at business intelligence from the user base and customer’s point of view. With this approach and these metrics, real business value can be determined.


This Survey is the biggest global independent survey, first conducted over a decade ago. It considers over 2 500 users and businesses, comparing 33 products across more than 36 criteria. Qlik took up leadership position for 11 of these criteria.


This year, Qlik outperformed every other provider when it comes to business outcomes, including project time frames (project length from time to value). QlikView and Qlik Sense are number one and two ranked for product by BARC, from a business value outcomes point of view. Qlik is the number one recommended product, 93% of users recommend Qlik to be used for similar business problems, and two thirds of those would definitely recommend it.

Each Survey Has its Place

In my mind, the Gartner Magic Quadrant is by industry analysts for analytics leaders; where the BARC Survey is by customers, for customers. I think that this distinction is very important when considering context and relevance.

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By Sean Young

Business Strategist – Western Cape at RIC Consulting

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