Companies have stabilized their software spending plans for the rest of 2020 after several months of turbulence. As near-term plans become more concrete, businesses are shifting their focus away from COVID-19 adjustments towards long-term strategy and planning. The graph below shows expected increases in spending in March, followed by expected spending cuts in April and largely no change to spending as of May.
Now that the initial shock of the pandemic is over, business intelligence technologies are returning to the forefront as crucial tools for mid to long term planning. Below we’re diving into the impact that COVID-19 had on business intelligence tools and exploring the historical and real-time trends of this pivotal market— including the most popular BI tools to date and the long-standing race between Microsoft and Tableau.
Historical Interest in Business Intelligence Tools
Business intelligence has been an in-demand technology for large businesses and enterprises long before COVID-19. This demand has generated sustained search interest for the term “business intelligence” for well over a year according to data from Google Trends, barring seasonal dips in search activity around the holidays.
According to Google Trends, search interest in business intelligence peaked in late February. Since then, the COVID-19 pandemic reorganized companies’ short term priorities and resulted in a slight dip in interest in March and April. However, This COVID “trough” was within regular variation for “business intelligence” search terms within the last year. As search interest picked up again leading into May, business intelligence software’s value proposition has remained robust even as businesses experience unprecedented instability and uncertainty.
The Growth of Business Intelligence on TrustRadius
While Google Trends shows relatively consistent market interest in business intelligence over the past year, the category has been growing rapidly on TrustRadius since the beginning of 2020. Traffic to TrustRadius experienced a slight dip in traffic similar to the broader market during the COVID transition period. After that period in March, traffic to the BI category on TrustRadius continued to grow. In the first 6 months of 2020, since the beginning of January, we’ve seen a 324% increase in BI traffic.
Looking more long-term, traffic to the business intelligence category on TrustRadius has increased over 2X year over year. Much of that growth has emerged since early January. Traffic has more than recovered from the initial COVID-19 slump that business intelligence tools experienced market-wide. The highest weekly BI traffic to date was in late May, with 14,488 pageviews in that week alone.
The initial growth in traffic to the business intelligence category prior to COVID-19, and its rapid recovery, can be attributed to TrustRadius’s investment in SEO and improvements in category coverage. Over the past year, we have invested heavily in ensuring our user reviews, dynamic comparisons, product descriptions, feature lists and ratings, and pricing information are high-quality, in-depth, and immediately useful to software buyers. Google rewards this quality content with higher SERP rankings and featured snippets like the example shown below. This, combined with other content initiatives and technical SEO strategies, results in increased traffic to the BI category and our site as a whole.
Who’s in the Market for Business Intelligence Tools?
Based on True Intent signals, we identified trends among the companies that are most actively researching business intelligence. The majority of BI-related visits to the TrustRadius site since the beginning of 2020 (January 1st to May 30th) were from enterprise buyers.
The large enterprise market share reflects a historical focus on enterprise customers within the business intelligence space. BI tools were traditionally very heavy, intensive products to deploy and manage. In the past, BI frequently required IT resources to maintain the software and data structures used. Larger companies were also the first to have to work with exceptionally large amounts of data creating a greater need for BI tools in the enterprise space than among SMBs.
However, as data collection and integration methods have improved over time, smaller companies have begun working with larger data loads and required better tools for analyzing and reporting on it. That’s why we now see small businesses and mid-sized companies making up 40% of the visits to our BI category.
To serve this audience, some BI vendors like SAP Crystal and Sisense have made their offerings more accessible to smaller companies. This trend gives rise to self-service business intelligence tools, which are designed to be accessible to non-technical users. This capability allows business users to utilize data-based decision-making without IT bottlenecks. Following the pandemic transition phase, we have seen rapid growth in SMB buying activity on TrustRadius in the last two months.
The rising buyer activity among SMBs is likely caused by several factors. Over the long-term, business intelligence tools are much more accessible than they used to be. Improved accessibility stems largely from the normalization of cloud-based BI, which requires far less maintenance from users and can be more cost-effective. The more recent growth may also be attributable to growing SMB concerns about their resilience through unpredictable economic winds. They may now place higher value in business intelligence in a post-COVID era in order to better plan and adapt to rapidly shifting economic circumstances.
Top Tools in Today’s Business Intelligence Market
Today’s top BI tools are led by a couple key giants in the market. There is a more competitive field beyond the top few vendors, with a range of niche players. The business intelligence category leader on TrustRadius in the post-COVID era is Microsoft Power BI, which currently accounts for 19.8% of category traffic. Tableau Desktop follows on Microsoft’s heels, with 11% of the traffic. The rest of the field is more evenly distributed, with no product claiming more than 7% of category traffic.
|Top Business Intelligence Products||Pageviews|
|Microsoft Power BI||9,053|
|SAP Analytics Cloud||2,486|
|SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence (BI) Platform||2,086|
Beyond Microsoft and Tableau, BI vendors specialize in a variety of ways that help explain the wide distribution of market share. Some, like SAP, TIBCO, and IBM, trade on enterprises’ ability to source most or all of their software needs from a single vendor’s ecosystem and scale more efficiently. Others focus on certain capabilities or usability advantages. For instance, Qlik reviewers highlight its support for self-service BI, and Alteryx specializes in its data preparation capabilities.
Business Intelligence is a Crowded Space
Unlike other categories where interest is concentrated only in the top 5 products, the TrustRadius BI category receives widespread monthly interest across a wider variety of players. The 11-20th most popular products speak to more niche use cases and business environments. Some, like Salesforce Einstein Analytics and Google Charts, cater to the desire for “all in one vendors” that serve a range of software needs, from CRM capabilities to collaboration technology. Google Charts also speaks to the market’s efforts to make business intelligence more accessible to SMB users. Other products, like Looker, Domo, and ThoughtSpot, stand out as point BI solutions for businesses looking for a standalone BI platform.
Microsoft vs. Tableau
The two most ubiquitous names in the business intelligence space, Microsoft and Tableau, have been contesting the top spot for years. Recent traffic data would suggest that Microsoft Power BI is leaps and bounds above Tableau Desktop. However, a long-term view of the data shows that this is a more recent change. Over the past year, Tableau Desktop and Microsoft Power BI were fairly neck and neck until a large spike in traffic in January put Microsoft ahead.
There is a range of potential explanations for this breakaway interest in Power BI. On one hand, Microsoft Power BI is often perceived as a more accessible tool for companies below the “large enterprise” level and those who already live in a Microsoft 365 ecosystem. Power BI reviewers point to pricing as one key differentiator, as well as how easily Power BI integrates into and works with other Microsoft products. Especially for smaller organizations, unifying as many applications and systems under one vendor as possible can make management and training on their BI tool much easier.
However, Tableau still stands as a strong competitor against Microsoft Power BI. Many reviewers argue that Tableau is more scalable for large enterprises. This scalability manifests itself in features like a higher number of data inputs and sources the platform can handle. Some reviewers also point to superior support as a competitive advantage for Tableau.
Buyers can conduct a side-by-side comparison of the Microsoft Power BI vs. Tableau Desktop here.
Top Business Intelligence Product Comparisons
Microsoft’s market presence is also demonstrated by its near-universal participation among the top comparisons for BI tools on the TrustRadius platform. Microsoft Power BI is featured in 8 of the 10 most popular BI comparisons. Being used as a defacto comparison point with other products in the market shows that Power BI has visibility that other products (including Tableau) may not have.
The average time on page across these 10 comparisons is over 20 minutes. This incredibly long time spent on comparison pages speaks to the complexity of the products at hand, as well as the depth and quality of content found on comparison pages. Our comparison pages provide an analysis of products’ feature ratings in areas like reporting, data visualization, and embedding capabilities. They also provide qualitative views of 8 other topics, such as usability and support.
Buyer Engagement on TrustRadius
Over the last few months, business intelligence buyers have increasingly chosen TrustRadius as the most trusted site for researching BI tools. This is because buyers are looking for high-quality research, customer feedback, and insights. These outcomes ultimately rely on two things:
- A high volume of users
- High-quality content.
The TrustRadius platform currently attracts over 1 million monthly visits, with monthly peaks of over 8,000 pageviews to the BI category in 2020. We’ve also seen increasing engagement with business intelligence buyers over the last year. The average time spent on each page for the entire business intelligence category increased 11% year over year, from 7 minutes in June 2019 to over 8 minutes in June 2020.
TrustRadius also hosts the most in-depth review content available. Across the 2751 reviews of business intelligence tools on TrustRadius, the average word count is 367 words. In comparison, G2 reviews average just 130 words. Detailed answers to key questions, like use case, top pros and cons, and ROI, make TrustRadius the most valuable resource for buyers researching business intelligence software.
In addition to insights into business intelligence trends, TrustRadius also offers vendors the unique opportunity to see which buyers are considering your products or your competitors right now. We’re currently offering 30 days of free True Intent data to all qualified vendors as one of the many ways we’re helping the B2B tech industry work through the challenges of COVID-19. Learn more here.