Qlik, a vendor mostly known for its popular enterprise business intelligence (BI) platform and as a Strong Performer in The Forrester Wave™: Augmented BI Platforms, Q3 2021, has been on an acquisition spree for more than a decade, mostly going “down the stack” — acquiring data fabric platforms. Qlik’s most notable data fabric acquisitions were Expressor Software in 2012, Podium Data in 2018, and Attunity in 2019. Today, on January 5, 2023, Qlik announced another data fabric vendor acquisition, that of Talend, a Leader in The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Data Fabric, Q2 2022 and a Strong Performer in The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Data Catalogs For DataOps, Q2 2022.
The acquisition confirms two significant trends that Forrester has been observing in the world of data and analytics.
First Trend: The Pendulum Is Swinging Toward Single Stack
In the continual swing of the pendulum (a swing that has been happening every 5–10 years for the last three decades) from “best-of-breed” to “single-stack” platforms, the pendulum is currently swinging toward single stack. Forrester sees this swing manifesting in several ways:
- Hyperscalers — AWS, Google, Microsoft — offer the components needed to address all the needs of the end-to-end data/analytics cycle. As hyperscalers acquire more companies to fill out their stacks and build out native capabilities, there’s less and less need for enterprises to look elsewhere. This is a significant trend, as according to Forrester’s Data And Analytics Survey, 2022, 58% of data and analytics decision-makers this past year reported that they deploy at least 50% or more of their analytical apps in the cloud and 60% reported that they deploy at least 50% or more of their data assets in the cloud.
- Business applications platforms — Oracle, Salesforce, SAP — similar to hyperscalers, offer most of the components needed to address the needs of the end-to-end data/analytics cycle, with a big caveat: The capabilities are largely limited to their business applications. It’s not a technology limitation but rather a process challenge — mapping external data to Oracle or SAP taxonomies, delta updates, etc., is often like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Whether recently announced Salesforce Genie will break this limitation, and challenge and entice users to consume all enterprise analytics within the Salesforce environment and user experience, remains to be seen.
- Single-stack data/analytics platforms — Domo, GoodData, Incorta — offer natively integrated full-stack data/analytics components. The main advantage? You don’t need to chase multiple components to make a change; updates to data sources, data models, semantic layers, metrics, etc., are made in one place. Data lineage and impact analysis are a breeze.
And then there’s Qlik. Not unlike IBM or TIBCO (it has also been on an acquisition spree), Qlik positions itself to offer an alternative to buyers who are not comfortable with any of the three above scenarios. These are enterprises that:
- Will continue to operate in a hybrid cloud environment for the foreseeable future.
- Are looking to deploy enterprise (vs. one business application domain) data/analytics solutions.
- Want to have their cake and eat it, too — they want the option of having a full-stack platform from a single vendor or substituting individual components with partner solutions.
Second Trend: Data Fabric Rules
The acquisition also confirms a second key trend that Forrester has been observing for at least three years: The commoditization of BI technology and platforms is motivating BI vendors to go down the stack and invest in data fabric capabilities. Forrester expects more BI vendors to acquire (or natively build) components such as enterprise-grade data catalogs, data virtualization, data pipelines, data governance, knowledge graphs, and other data fabric elements.
These two trends, plus the Qlik/Talend M&A, are a classic instance of the good, the bad, and the (not so) ugly story.
- The good. The trend toward single stack is favoring enterprises with a critical mass of data on one public cloud. It is highly likely that you will find most of the data/analytics components on that provider.
- The bad. Large enterprises with a hybrid environment will have to deal with competing platforms that don’t integrate well and a shrinking ecosystem of small best-of-breed vendors, that are being rapidly gobbled up by hyperscalers, and the likes of IBM, Qlik, and TIBCO.
- The (not so) ugly. There’s no immediate negative implication for either Qlik or Talend users. Qlik tends to only loosely couple/integrate products it acquires, so the short- to medium-term risk that Qlik/Talend will stop supporting the stand-alone solutions is very small. In the long term, Qlik will have to reconcile/consolidate some of the overlapping data integration, data movement, and data catalog products.
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