The Best Analytics Software – 2014

We’re here today to talk about the Magic quadrant for business intelligence and analytics platforms, which is published annually by Gartner.

We hope to answer questions like –

  • Is SAS the best software in Analytics ?
  • What is the standing of Microsoft when it comes to Analytics (Excel , Access , SQL)
  • How good is Tableau in the eyes of the Analytics world?

(What is Gartner?  Gartner is the world’s leading IT research and advisory company which delivers technology related insights from CIOs and senior IT leaders in corporations to the general public .All of us use Gartner and its reports to come to conclusions about the various software suites we would like to buy.)

Over the last decade, the world of business intelligence and analytics has undergone a change. As organisations have adopted business intelligence and started looking at the data for measurement and reporting purposes, the next level was to try and do prediction forecasting and optimisation on the same data. Because of this growing importance of advanced analytics, the organisation started looking at solutions which could deliver end to end services. Over the last few years we see software suits which have both BI and predictive analytics capabilities.

Thus Analytics software as of today are expected to be able to provide services across 17 categories

  1. Reporting
  2. Dashboards. What is the difference between reporting and  dashboards ? It is a style of reporting that uses a lot of graphics to show performance measures
  3. Ad-hoc reports and queries
  4. Microsoft Office integration
  5. Mobile BI-  which enables organisations to develop and deliver content on mobile devices
  6. Interactive visualisation -which enables the exploration of data via the manipulation of chart images. This includes an add in of visualisation options that go beyond the normal pie chart, bargraph etc. and could include heat and tree maps scatter plots other special-purpose visuals etc.
  7. Search-based data discovery – this applies a search index to structured and unstructured data sources
  8. Geospatial and locational intelligence- which is specialised analytics and visualisations that provide a geography, spatial and a time context
  9. Embedded advanced analytics -which will enable users to levitate statistical functions library embedded in the BI server
  10. Online analytical processing or OLAP- this allows users to analyse data with fast query and calculation performance enabling slicing and dicing of data
  11. BI infrastructure and Administration -which enables all tools in the platform to use the same security , meta data , query engine etc. That platform should support multi tenancy.
  12. Meta data management
  13. Business user data modelling- which would be free drag-and-drop user driven data combinations
  14. Development tools
  15. Embeddable analytics -which would be tools including a software developer’s Kit with APIs for creating and modifying analytical content, visualisations etc. and embedding them into a business process
  16. Collaboration -which would enable users to share and discuss information analysis chat etc.
  17. Support for big data sources -which is the ability to support and query hybrid, columnar and array-based data sources, such as MapReduce and other NoSQL databases


(source:- )

What does Gartner say about SAS ? I am sure this is the question that’s in your mind . Since I started my Analytics journey with SAS , it is the most important question in my mind .

  1. 1.      SAS

SAS’s analytics portfolio spans platforms for BI, performance management, data warehousing, in-memory databases, data integration, data quality, decision management, and content and social analytics, with a core strength being advanced analytics. SAS also offers industry- and domain-specific analytic applications built on its product portfolio.


  • SAS’s analytics portfolio spans platforms for BI, performance management, data warehousing, in-memory databases, data integration, data quality, and content and social analytics. However, unlike most other BI platform vendors, SAS’s core strength is in its advanced analytical techniques, such as data mining, predictive modeling, simulation and optimization, for which it is acknowledged as a Leader in “Magic Quadrant for Advanced Analytics Platforms.”
  • Historically, SAS tools have been used primarily by power users, data scientists and IT-centric BI developers. That this remains the case is shown by SAS customers placing it above any other vendor in the Magic Quadrant survey in terms of support for complex types of analysis, but giving it one of the lowest scores for ease of use. During the past five years, SAS has been investing heavily in revamping its user experience to change this situation and encourage more mainstream user adoption. This aggressive and unmatched strategy is part of the reason for SAS’s favorable Completeness of Vision position.
  • SAS also differentiates itself from most other BI platform vendors by productizing and selling industry- and domain-specific advanced analytic applications that are focused on specific business problems and built using many of its technology platform products. This enables it to sell “value,” rather than components.
  • Data access and integration and the ability to support large volumes of data are the main reasons customers choose SAS, according to the survey. In fact, while SAS deployments support a below-average number of users, its data volumes are among the highest in the survey.


  • SAS customers consider its software among the most difficult to use and most difficult to implement, with ease of use for business users being identified as a limitation on broader deployment by a higher percentage of customers than for any other vendor.
  • Although SAS has exploited its core competency in predictive analytics to encapsulate and automate advanced analysis for business-user-oriented guided data discovery in Visual Analytics, it will face competition from data discovery and BI and analytics platform vendors with leading-edge data discovery capabilities, such as Tableau and Tibco.
  • Despite SAS’s success as a Leader in the predictive analytics space, the company still faces a challenge to make it onto BI platform shortlists, unless customers already use its other advanced analytic capabilities and require integration and leverage of skills.
  • SAS’s reference customers rated functionality used in traditional BI areas (reporting, dashboards, OLAP, interactive visualization and so on) lower than for most of the other BI Leaders


Microsoft Excel 2010 with its analysis toolpak has been quoted by me as being one of the most easy-to-use analytics tools. Let’s see what Gartner says about Microsoft.

  1. 2.      Microsoft

Microsoft offers a competitive and expanding set of BI and analytics capabilities, packaging and pricing that appeal to Microsoft developers, independent distributors and now to business users. It does so through a combination of enhanced BI and data discovery capabilities in Office (Excel) 2013, data management capabilities in SQL Server, and collaboration, content, and user and usage management capabilities in SharePoint.


  • Of the megavendors, Microsoft has made the most progress toward delivering a combination of business user capabilities with an enterprise-capable platform. Microsoft delivered business-user-oriented data discovery and other BI capabilities in Excel 2013.
  • Microsoft has made early investments in its cloud-based BI offering, Power BI. Microsoft’s strategy is to use the cloud to increase adoption of its new and most competitive BI capabilities in Excel (starting with Excel 2013), and to accelerate enhancements to Excel to every six months.
  • n the customer survey conducted for this Magic Quadrant, more Microsoft customers cited TCO and license cost as their main reasons for selecting Microsoft as a BI vendor than did those of most of the other vendors.
  • Microsoft composite product score was above average across the 17 capabilities, when weighted for use. Microsoft customers appreciate its strong BI infrastructure and development tools. They also rated its reporting, ad hoc query, Microsoft Office integration, business user data mashup, embedded BI, collaboration, search BI and OLAP capabilities higher than the survey average. Importantly, unlike those of its megavendor competitors, Microsoft’s customers rated customer experience (support and product quality) above the survey average.



  • Although Microsoft’s functional ratings have improved and it can offer a wide range of functions, it also has one of the highest percentages of users who say that absent or weak functionality is among the main reasons limiting broader deployment of its software. Mobile BI, interactive visualization and metadata management remain product weaknesses reported by customers.
  • Multiproduct complexity remains a challenge, now primarily for on-premises and hybrid deployments. Because Microsoft’s BI platform capabilities span three different tools (Office, SQL Server and SharePoint) that also perform non-BI functions, the task of integrating components and building applications is left mainly to the customer.
  • Although Microsoft’s partner-driven sales model drives global growth for the company, Gartner’s inquiries suggest that this approach often makes it difficult for customers to find their Microsoft sales representative. This causes frustration .


I increasingly see Tableau becoming an integral part of the reporting structure in most KPOs. Let’s see what the Gartner’s report has to say about this software.

  1. 3.      Tableau

Tableau’s highly intuitive, visual-based data discovery, dashboarding, and data mashup capabilities have transformed business users’ expectations about what they can discover in data and share without extensive skills or training with a BI platform.


  • Tableau offers an intuitive, visual-based interactive data exploration experience that customers rate highly .Its core differentiator — making a range of types of analysis (from simple to complex) accessible and easy for the ordinary business user, whom Tableau effectively transforms into a “data superhero.
  • Tableau has a focused vision with an evolutionary road map for enabling users to meet enterprise requirements for reusability, scalability and embeddability. Tableau’s strong survey results for customer satisfaction, coupled with its market momentum, are behind its dominant Ability to Execute position.
  • Tableau provides purpose-built, business-oriented data mashup capabilities with data connectors that use Tableau’s VizQL technology. Direct query access has been a strength of the platform since the product’s inception. Tableau offers a broad range of support for direct-query SQL and MDX data sources, as well as a number of Hadoop distributions, native support for Google BigQuery, and support for search-based data discovery platforms, such as Attivio.


  • Although Tableau’s average user count continues to grow and was above the market average in this year’s customer survey, its products are often used to complement an existing BI platform standard; only 42% of its customers considered it as their BI standard.Ttraditional BI platform vendors with substantial installed-base market shares but lacking in growth momentum, including IBM, Microsoft, MicroStrategy, SAP and SAS, are aggressively investing in their own data discovery capabilities to reverse the trend.
  • Tableau’s customers report a below-average sales experience, which includes the entire sales life cycle from presales activities to contracting, pricing and the ongoing sales relationship.
  • Tableau continues to expand its international presence, but the majority of its customers are likely to be large (often international) companies located in North America. Tableau has opened sales offices in Europe and Asia (for example, Singapore) and introduced support in Asia; it also plans further global sales expansion with live, time-zone-appropriate support in local languages.

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Selling Concept V/s Marketing Concept

As per the definition, “The selling concept holds that consumers and businesses, if left alone, won’t buy enough of the organisation’s products.” In simple words, the selling concept means selling what the organisation makes by advertising, door-to-door selling, discounts and promotions, etc. Evolving from production concept and product concept, selling concept gained significance as one of the earlier marketing ideas.

‘Sell what you make’ sounds familiar. Think about the insurance business. It’s been weeks and you have left an insurance agent hanging to buy an insurance policy for yourself to secure your wife’s and children’s future when you won’t be around. You might feel, what is the need to cover whole life? Accidents? Medical treatments? All these get covered, so why have life insurance. But the agent is not ready to budge. You tell him to call some other time and he does not fail to call you. This is ‘Hard Selling’. Yes, it is hard because neither you are ready to buy it promptly nor you feel the need. It is also hard selling for the agent as he has to sell the policy, because his chance to earn extra commission depends upon your purchase.

The selling concept adopted by companies, cash in on its numerous benefits. Firstly, Cost. You’re going to sell a product which gives you cost advantage. A firm with the intention of becoming a cost leadership firm will practice selling. Secondly, Profits. Lower costs, higher profits. Hard selling leads to higher sales volumes. Your selling team will put in more efforts to increase your sales when you reward them handsomely.

After the three benefits listed, now think of me as an agent, who has come to your doorstep to sell you a water purifier from XYZ Co, a new company trying to make its mark in India. The moment you look at me, you tell me you don’t need a water purifier. Still I insist you to see a demonstration, you let me in, I give a demonstration and based on its benefits you buy the product. The use the product for a month and your electricity bill shoots up due to the new device. Now you’re bad mouthing the XYZ Co., complaining about the product. Hard selling has its own share of risks. I have diluted XYZ’s brand value, even before it was created.

Many of us mistake selling concept with the product concept. Yes, you sell what you make. Here, you pull the customers to buy your product, unlike in selling concept, where you are pushing the product in the face of the customers. The product concept brings in continuous innovation whereas selling brings in cost leadership. Consider Apple’s IPod, a unique product, introduced in the era of MP3 players. It brought in invention and innovation through its features and portability. MP3 players and IPod had the same use. It cannibalized sales for MP3 manufacturers i.e. wiping off competition from its rivals (Sony, Phillips), entering a new segment and building brand value for its new product. 13 years from its launch and no imitations.

Today, firms want to create a long lasting relationship with their customers. They want their customers to buy their product throughout their lifetime, also, recommend the same to others. These firms believe they can create brand value for their firms only if they focus on customer satisfaction. Thus they manufacture what the customer wants i.e. they make what sells in the market. In 1960, Theodore Levitt, lecturer at Harvard Business School introduced a new concept ‘The Marketing Myopia’. He pointed out the short-sightedness of the firms practising the selling concept. These firms believed in selling what they make ignoring their customer needs. Marketing Myopia brought in the Marketing concept. Levitt said, selling focuses on the needs of the seller and marketing on the needs of the buyer. It is about finding the right product for your target group and not the right people for your product.

According to the marketing concept, you find the needs of your target group. Design and manufacture a product which is exact to your target group’s needs. When you are aware of the demand for your product, your inventory is low. The probability of your product failing is zeroed down. Also, it’s an answer to the increasing competition. If you produce a product according to the specifications of your consumers, your customer are not leaving you and going to your competitors. You will build up customer loyalty. If your company is to launch a new product, it can do that under the brand name and take advantage of this customer loyalty.

Marketing concept helps you in coming up with your own Unique Selling Proposition (USP). It also helps in creating brand value for the particular product. For instance, Tanishq, one of the leading jewellery selling brands in India, under the house of TATA, has created its own brand value. Avoiding irrelevant costs and demand forecasts are outcomes for the firms following marketing concept. Another aspect is the focus groups. The discussions led by these groups will help you realise if your product is upto your customer expectations and how much are they willing to pay.

Dell is respected as the industry leader in the segment of personal computers. Their marketing strategy involves making the product according to the specifications of the customer and delivering them personally. This has helped Dell to build customer loyalty and reduce costs. Customization of products also helps in charging a premium price. Its competitors (HP, Lenovo) have focused on reducing prices of their personal computers by reducing costs. However, Dell has been able to save its highest market share in the segment by not focusing on reducing the cost, thus, not comprising its product.

In the recent years, we have seen a gradual shift towards societal and holistic concept. Companies have now started adopting these concepts for the greater good of their customers and the society. They indulge in CSR (Corporate Social Responsibilities) activities to interact with its customers and the society at large. This helps in gaining visibility, understanding the changing customer needs and increasing the customer base.

Article by Divyanka Gangurde

Anxiety before Interviews

Anxiety is not new to us. Remember the first time you climbed the stage to perform at your school’s fancy dress competition or a recital. The heavy lump you felt in your belly, making you sick and sweat. Anxiety before the interview is exactly the same thing.

Anxiety occurs when you know you have to give your best shot, often referred to as performance anxiety. When you have an important decision to take which is going to affect your life. When you have an interview which is going to get you closer to your dream, you tend to feel anxious, because you want to make no mistakes which will ruin your chances.

Anxiety is an emotion. You’re bound to feel anxious, when you have an action plan but don’t know how to execute it. When you know you have to do certain things, but are not able to do the same as worry creeps in. What does one really worry about before an interview- his/her inability to answer an asked question, feeling awkward or conscious while being scrutinized by the interviewers from content to fluency to body language, one’s unpreparedness or cognizance, fear of committing mistakes from past interviews, when it’s your dream job and don’t want to mess things up, when you have inadequate or vague information about the job description (responsibilities), when you feel under-qualified for the job specifications (KSAs) the post demands?

Stand in the waiting area, you will see a number of candidates reading current affairs or going through the answers they have prepared for specific questions or asking others questions to clear their own doubts. Yes, your fellow interviewees are feeling anxious, too. Anxiety is common and exists in every human being. Only the level of anxiety and the way to manage/hide it differs from person to person.

In fact being anxious is a good sign. It reflects that you are aware of yourself and in control of your actions. It also shows that you are looking forward to something and don’t want things which are out of your control, to get in the way.  Though little anxiety is always good to keep things in control, but higher level of anxiety may lead to nervous breakdown, shaking one’s confidence, forgetting the little things which do matter a lot, such as greeting the interviewers or shaking hands or even forgetting to smile. I may say that anxiety is good but do not show it to your interviewers. They may take it as the sign of unpreparedness or even low level of confidence.Your interviewers will not take time to gauge if you are nervous as the symptoms are obvious such as feeling nausea, fumbling during hand-shake or handing over documents or talking, sweating, choking (or losing your voice while answering), answering in a low voice (will show disinterest towards the particular job or lack of confidence), taking a lot of time to think on a question, freezing (not able to think on the questions asked), forgetting important documents, not able to sit stable, fidgeting or not looking at the interviewers while answering their questions.

Avoid the above to beat the interview blues. But at the same time, it is also the interviewer’s first responsibility to make the candidate comfortable. When the interviewer begins the interview asking you about your hobbies/interests, your journey to the venue and questions which are not related to the job, s/he is trying to make you comfortable. What’s in for the interviewers? Talking about interests/ hobbies helps in finding whether the candidate is a good fit. So my advice is that you should answer their questions with complete honesty.

It is not possible to eliminate anxiety completely, thus, you should focus on minimising it. To overcome and manage anxiety, I suggest the following-

  1. Be Prepared- Practice interview sessions with your peer or family members or a person who has conducted interviews before. Handover company description, industry background and the job profile you have applied for. Also, provide them with questions you are preparing for. Ask them your areas of improvements to work on and any other questions which may be asked. Also it is important to ask them if you make any common mistakes which appear while answering the questions and tell them to observe your body language. Ask for their suggestions. Take this practice very seriously.
  2. Practice commonly asked questions-Interviewers have common questions in place, such as tell me about yourself, what are your hobbies/ interests, what is your dream job, where do you want to be ten years down the line and many others. List down the most common questions and try answering them in 200 words. Practice them well but do not memorize the answers. If you memorize them and happen to forget a line in between, you will try and remember the answer in front of the interviewer which will create a bad impression.
  3. Back answers with your  experience and how it will fit the desired job description-The common questions asked by employers in this context are what major challenges and problems you faced, how did you handle them, tell us a situation where you had to show your leadership qualities, which is your biggest achievement so far. Remember to back every answer with an instance from your previous job, the situation you faced, how did you handle it, how has it helped. Also, try to link the same with the job profile you are applying for and how will it help in the future.
  4. Understanding that unexpected questions will also pop up-If the interviewers happen to ask questions which are not prepared by you, try not to act very surprised. If you are not able to think on the same lines, ask for a few seconds without hesitating and think upon the same and then reply calmly. Do not take a very long time to reply. If you feel you do not know how to answer the question, tell them you don’t know, but do not do it for every question.
  5. Understand what the job asks- Make sure you have complete idea of the job, its responsibilities and KSAs required. Connect to the people who are working at the same position and ask about their work. Questions asked related to the job must be answered properly.
  6. Research about the company- Many a times, interviewers asks questions related to their companies and the latest news surrounding them. You should be able to handle such questions as it shows your level of interest in working for the company.
  7. Know your resume- It is crucial that all the things mentioned in the resume are true. The most likely resume based questions to be asked are- run me through your interview, your hobbies/interests, what were the roles for the post you held.
  8. Keeping Asked and Required Documents in place- You should make it a point to gather the asked documents as soon as you receive the call letter. Arrange the documents, so when asked for a particular document you are able to hand it over without a minute’s delay.
  9. A good nap- Have a goodnight’s sleep so you will wake up fresh for your interview. Do not avoid breakfast. Avoiding sleep and food leads to insomnia and nausea, respectively.
  10. Wear comfortable clothes- Dress formally but choose clothes and shoes in which you will be comfortable. If you are uneasy wearing a tie, then carry one with you and wear it if the other candidates wear it too. Avoid dark colours which will make you sweat.
  11. Reaching venue before time- Start from your place early to avoid reaching late due to traffic or difficulty in finding the venue or any such reasons. Reach before the stipulated time to look around and relax yourself.
  12. Waiting time- The Waiting time is more stressful. Utilise this time to interact with other candidates, to loosen up and relax!Ask them where they worked before, what are their qualifications. Asking the ones’ interviewed before you the questions that interviewers asked, it will help you to understand what the interviewers are looking for.
  13. Be Honest- During the interview do not answer any question with incomplete information. Get your facts and figures right. Your resume should not contain anything which is alien to you.

Think Positive, be Confident, be Yourself!

Article by Divyanka Gangurde