Last month Tableau and Qliktech both declared that Traditional BI is too slow (I am saying this for many years) for development and their new Data Visualization (DV software) is going to replace it. Quote from Tableau’s CEO: Christian Chabot: “Traditional BI software is obsolete and dying and this is very direct challenge and threat to BI vendors: your (BI that is) time is over and now it is time for Tableau.” Similar quote from Anthony Deighton, Qliktech’s CTO & Senior VP, Products: “More and more customers are looking at QlikView not just to supplement traditional BI, but to replace it“.

One of my clients – large corporation (obviously cannot say the name of it due NDA) asked me to advise of what to choose between Traditional BI tools with long Development Cycle (like Cognos, Business Objects or Microstrategy), modern BI tools (like JavaScript and D3 toolkit) which is attempt to modernize traditional BI but still having  sizable development time and leading Data Visualization tools with minimal development time (like Tableau, Qlikview or Spotfire).

Since main criterias for client were

  • minimize IT personnel involved and increase its productivity;

  • minimize the off-shoring and outsourcing as it limits interactions with end users;

  • increase end users’s involvement, feedback and action discovery.

So I advised to client to take some typical Visual Report project from the most productive Traditional  BI Platform (Microstrategy), use its prepared Data and clone it with D3 and Tableau (using experts for both). Results in form of Development time in hours) I put below; all three projects include the same time (16 hours) for Data Preparation & ETL, the same time for Deployment (2 hours) and the same number (8) of Repeated Development Cycles (due 8 consecutive feedback from End Users):


It is clear that Traditional BI requires too much time, that D3 tools just trying to prolongate old/dead BI traditions by modernizing and beautifying BI approach, so my client choose Tableau as a replacement for Microstrategy, Cognos, SAS and Business Objects and better option then D3 (which require smart developers and too much development). This movement to leading Data Visualization platforms is going on right now in most of corporate America, despite IT inertia and existing skillset. Basically it is the application of the simple known principle that “Faster is better then Shorter“, known in science as Fermat’s Principle of least time.

This changes made me wonder (again) if Gartner’s recent marketshare estimate and trends for Dead Horse sales (old traditional BI) will stay for long. Gartner estimates the size of BI market as $13B which is drastically different from TBR estimate ($30B).

BIDeadHorseTheoryTBR predicts that it will keep growing at least until 2018 with yearly rate 4% and BI Software Market to Exceed $40 Billion by 2018 (They estimate BI Market as $30B in 2012 and include more wider category of Business Analytics Software as opposed to strictly BI tools). I added estimates for Microstrategy, Qliktech, Tableau and Spotfire to Gartner’s MarketShare estimates for 2012 here:


However, when Forrester asked people what BI Tools they used, it’s survey results were very different from Gartner’s estimate of “market share:


“Traditional BI is like a pencil with a brick attached to it” said Chris Stolte at recent TCC13 conference and Qliktech said very similar in its recent announcement of Qlikview.Next. I expect TIBCO will say similar about upcoming new release of Spotfire (next week at TUCON 2013 conference in Las Vegas?)


These bold predictions by leading Data Visualization vendors are just simple application of Fermat’s Principle of Least Time: this principle stated that the path taken between two points by a ray of light (or development path in our context) is the path that can be traversed in the least time.

Pierre_de_Fermat2Fermat’s principle can be easily applied to “PATH” estimates to multiple situations like in video below, where path from initial position of the Life Guard on beach to the Swimmer in Distress (Path through Sand, Shoreline and Water) explained: 

Even Ants following the Fermat’s Principle (as described in article at Public Library of Science here: ) so my interpretation of this Law of Nature (“Faster is better then Shorter“) that  traditional BI is a dying horse and I advise everybody to obey the Laws of Nature.

AntsOn2SurfacesIf you like to watch another video about Fermat’s principle of Least Time and related Snell’s law, you can watch this: