• Business Intelligence
  • Experfy Editor
  • JUN 21, 2014

Information Builders versus Tibco Spotfire: Another BI Duel

A point to note is that comparative literature on Tibco Spotfire versus Information Builders is practically non-existent—apart from the two authoritative works provided by Gartner and Forrester, which have already been used for other comparison posts on BI tools on this blog. Both Gartner and Forrester acknowledge Information Builders to be a Leader in the BI ecosystem. Gartner maintains the same classification for Tibco Spotfire, but Forrester has labeled Spotfire as a strong performer, rather than a leader.

While reviewing this post comparing Information Builders versus Tibco Spotfire, you will particularly notice that the BARC Summary Report, used on earlier BI Tools comparison posts, proved redundant here because of two reasons: None of the peer groups in the BARC survey included Tibco Spotfire, and the BARC Report was specifically compiled for Information Builders.

For detailed analysis of individual products under discussion in this post, please refer to:

  1. The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Business Intelligence Platforms, Q4 2013
  2. Gartner Magic Quadrant for BI and Analytics Platforms Q1 2014

If you review the following graphics, you will get a fair idea of: 

  • The relative market positioning of Information Builders and Tibco Spotfire
  • The relative ranking of Information Builders and Tibco Spotfire, based on the number of product inquiries at Forrester.
Source: Forrester Wave

Source: Forrester Wave


Source: Forrester Wave

Source: Forrester Wave

Information Builders 

Information Builders combines some neat capabilities: Data integration and application support. Its WebFocus BI is specifically suited for Web-based analytic applications that require low latency and disparate data sources; and it can easily substitute the production-level scalability of a data warehouse. This product’s broad capabilities make it stand apart from pure BI platforms. Information Builders received above-average ratings in sales and customer experiences, product quality and support. The reference customers of this vendor reported about double the survey average for size of deployment reflected by numbers of users. A hefty two-thirds of its customer base is considering Information Builders for their enterprise BI standard.

Plus points

The Magic Quadrant reports that customers are generally satisfied with Information Builders, reporting below-average incidences of problems.  This product received one of the highest scores for usage of parameterized reports and dashboards by report consumers and casual business users. All these observations underscore Information Builders’ claimed  strength in “operational Bi.”

WebFocus provisions adapters for multiple data sources such as NoSQL and unstructured data sources. The other great capabilities include data federation, profiling and quality, geo-coding, real-time search index management, activity monitoring, complex types of event processing, file-based integration, and master data management. These technical capabilities make this product an analytics platform for organizations without a data warehouse, and great for operational reporting.

The reference customers of this vendor consistently reported strong BI functionality across the BI spectrum, attributing either above-average or average scores for seven of the 17 comparison criteria —including dashboard, reporting, metadata management, BI infrastructure, and administration. Information Builders’ trump card lies in its extensive utilization of highly parameterized reporting at a much higher rate than the survey average. 

Minus points 

Although Information Builders supports functionality encompassing BI, predictive analytics, data visualization, sentiment and text analytics, and social media integration, its adoption rate outside the periphery of dashboard and reporting is severely limited. It offers a wide range of parameter-based reporting features but lacks a suitable data- discovery platform for wider adoption. This restricts the product’s broad use, and may ultimately “limit broader market adoption.” As a preemptive response to this limitation, Information Builders is building an integrated data-discovery platform within it’s the Info Assist toolset, which is expected to be released in the market in the second quarter of 2014. Beyond internal development, Information Builders continues its OEM relationship with Advizor Solutions.

Summing up

As Magic Quadrant has related a BI product’s ability to extend business benefits to its customers to data-discovery utilization and use of complex analytics, Information Builders, lagging behind in both these areas, has received low scores for achievement of business benefits. Information Builders’ position in the global BI market has improved with the acquisition of some reputed customers around the world. Still, its international presence outside the US market is inconsistent—when compared to most of the other Leaders.

Forrester’s view of Information Builders is very similar to the above evaluation, with Information Builders taking the 10th slot in the hierarchy of Forrester BI inquiries.

Tibco Software 

Tibco, a leader in the Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, is best known for its user-friendly data-discovery analysis platform. The Spotfire platform is suitable for publishing interactive, visual dashboards, for building predictive models, and for developing analytics applications.

Plus points 

Tibco Spotfire is considered the “data discovery benchmark” for other BI vendors to emulate. This vendor has attempted enhancing its range of functionality through both acquisitions and in-house R & D. Tibco’s business strategy to integrate expert capabilities through acquisitions involves inheriting process monitoring and event stream analysis from StreamBase Systems, geospatial analytics from Maporama Solutions, and real-time KPIs and enhanced user experiences on mobile devices from Extended Results. Cloud capabilities were developed in house.

Tibco has positioned Spotfire as a data-discovery platform—capable of real-time and bidirectional integration with business processes. Tibco is following the market leads to determine its marketing strategy to position its BI and analytics platform.  According to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, apart from all the technical capabilities, Spitfire’s greatest strength lies in its range of functionality and complete ease of use for end users.

The criteria for which this product ranked above average were product quality, interactive visualization, embedded advanced analytics, search-based data discovery, collaboration, support for big data,  and enterprise readiness. Additionally, Spotfire ranked third for its support for complex analyses, while maintaining ease of use.

Spotfire’s average deployment size at 1,476 users, is above the survey average. 

Minus points 

The biggest drawback reported by Magic Quadrant analysis is Spitfire’s inability to create a complex report from disparate data sources.  Magic Quadrant has suggested that in order to remain competitive in the BI market, “Tibco must invest in maintaining or improving its usability, particularly for developers.” Also, its dashboard scored an average, which is not encouraging for a product known for its data-discovery capabilities.

The features that scored below average were BI infrastructure and administration, development tools, and metadata management. Tibco’s customers identified two major product limitations: support quality, which is a concern for 6% of customers and cost of software, which is seen as a problem by 31%.

Summing up 

Gartner reports that despite Tibco’s solid geographic presence, local support and sales staff in some locations are not adequate, and the product does not receive the same level of sales focus in all geographies. This may be the main reason why customers outside North America and the primary markets of Europe, do not shortlist Spotfire.

Forrester, describing Spotfire to be a “strong performer,” further explained that armed with commendable process workflow and rules engines, cloud offerings, analytics, data visualization, and MDM capabilities, the product occupies the 11th highest position in the Forrester hierarchical chart of BI inquiries.

The following table sourced from Forrester Wave shows raw scores against three types of comparison criteria: Criteria related to the current offering of product components, criteria related to the market strategy of products, and criteria related to the market presence of products.

Source: Forrester Wave

Source: Forrester Wave

Final result

  1. Both Gartner and Forrester have  acknowledged Information Builders as a leader in the BI tools market.
  2. According to the graphic above, Information Builders scores way above Tibco Spotfire in all comparable categories.

Hence, Information Builders wins this race against Tibco Spotfire.


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