Business Intelligence Job Landscape

While my personal specialization is in dashboard design and data visualization, I’m finding that there are a lot of tools and options to choose from. Although I have focused on several of these, it is important to understand the overall market trends and the benefits/comparison to the alternatives. Gartner’s 2013 BI Magic Quadrant is a great place to start, but I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the corresponding job market for some of these tools. To accomplish this analysis, I used the trends feature on For a current snapshot, the following chart shows the number of listed openings by term searched. I’m sure that there are duplicated positions and such, but it gives us a nice order of magnitude demand for these skills. The accompanying comments and opinions below are my own.


BI Mega Vendors

Overall, we can see that the mega vendors are on a bit of an uptick, but certainly down from the number of job postings that we saw over the past few years. I’m sure that this is in part due to off-shoring, maturation of the BI space, but also due to market pressure from the niche players. Make sure to scroll down to see that section as well!

SAP Business Objects

While Business Objects goes by many names/products (eg. Business Objects, BusinessObjects, BOJB, Webi, WebIntelligence, SAP Dashboards, Xcelsius, Explorer, Lumira, Crystal), searching for Business Objects in quotes seemed to return a substantial volume of jobs compared to my other searches. For my purposes, Dashboards still has life (especially with the mobile export), Lumira has potential (but isn’t ready to stand on it’s own), and I have hopes for DesignStudio’s next release that will work with Universes to build HTML5 BI applications without needed to be a software developer (although there is certainly an element of javascript coding here).

I know from experience that I can get the Dashboards/Xcelsius program to do just about anything, and replicate (more or less) nearly any chart type and most web application designs. Yet, it is clear that the mobile functionality is more limited and at some point in the future we should be making a choice between Lumira (for quick dashboards built by the business) and DesignStudio for more robust BI Applications (built by technical/IT folks).

While I have been hearing good things about building ad hoc queries in Cognos 10, I’ve never seen a good looking dashboard come from the product. To double-check, I did a quick search of Google images and still don’t see anything that tells me Cognos can compete well in this space. ManyEyes has great data visualizations, but to my knowledge that is a public based service and I don’t think that it integrates into the corporate environment. I’d love for someone to prove me wrong however, so if you feel otherwise, I invite you to WOW me!

Microstrategy seems to follow the general trend of BO and Cognos. In general I hear that people using the newer versions are generally pleased with the application, but it has a steep learning curve. Some of the classic dashboard examples don’t impress me, but I have seen a few images that suggest that there may be potential here for a good designer. In general there tends to be a shortage of design focused BI developers, so maybe there is potential here for someone to have a substantial impact on this market. I need to point out though that there are currently more Tableau posted job openings than there are for Microstrategy.

Data Visualization Niche Vendors

Times appear to be changing, and the niche vendors are again on the rise, while the Mega Vendors attempt to provide similar functionality as part of their enterprise-wide solutions.


Tableau is clearly the niche vendor most on the rise at this point and with many great publicly available examples, it’s pretty easy to understand why. Dashboards designed with the tool are not as open-ended as those built with Xcelsius, but the standardized elements and integrated visualization best practices are powerful indeed. It will be interesting to see how the Mega-Vendors keep up with this trend.

While I know the tool is intuitive, I caution companies who think that this replaces the value of experience, business acumen and design/UX skills in the dashboard development process.

Tibco’s Spotfire

Sportfire has similar dashboard output to Tableau and arguably better integration to R than SAP’s Predictive Analysis. I understand that it is expensive, but in this market that is a very fluid and relative concept. While the trends are very positive, it will be interesting to watch the job growth surrounding this product over the next few years. Between SAP partnering with SAS, and the trend for everyone to integrate R (e.g. Tableau’s upcoming features), it will be interesting to see if they stay ahead of the pack.

While there are several drops in the job posting trends, it almost looks cyclical. Perhaps this the direct result of quarterly sales cycles?


I’ve seen some great Qlikview dashboards and there are certainly a few strong advocates for the product in the data visualization community. Yet the job trends here show some mixed signals. While growing rapidly, thing really leveled off in 2012, but appear to be on the rise again. It would be really interesting to have more insight into this change and if the renewed upward trend will continue.

Analytic Staples


SAS was the leading analytics tool when I first started working in healthcare insurance over 10 years ago. While I have seen it persist as the choice tool for power analysts, particularly those performing complex predictive and cost modeling tools, it hasn’t been a first choice for most dashboards and data visualizations. The near constant trend shows that SAS will continue to be an important skill regardless. It will be interesting to see if the SAP Hana/SAS team-up will have an impact on the demand for this skill.


I think that it’s always important to keep an eye on the love/hate relationship with Excel. Approximately 10% of all job postings include the word Excel and I’m sure that there are many other positions that don’t. This is a lot of people who need and use data as part of their job, and a constant need for business intelligence.

Related Searches

Before ending this train of thought, I decided to check out a few related terms/tools to see how they are trending.


D3 had a lot more results than D3.js, so I used that. There is certainly a drastic increase in the trend here, but in my opinion there is still a significant gap in using D3.js for business intelligence dashboards. Between browser compatibility issues, and the fact that it takes about 3 pages of code to produce a bullet chart, it just isn’t a cost/time for most typical BI dashboards. That level of customization is great for external productized data solutions and highly-specialized visualizations, but ultimately needs some sort of GUI interface for typical analysts.

Data Visualization

I searched on both Visualization and “Data Visualization.” While data visualization is on the rise, visualization in total appears to have plateaued. I’m not sure what to think of this, but perhaps the demand is fixed, and the question becomes which tools do we use.


Since adding R support is a big deal for most of the vendors mentioned above, I thought that it would be interesting to see how many jobs were looking for this skill. At approximately 2%, I was very surprised by the number of positions listed. Concerned that I might be getting junk in the search, I went through several pages of the results. While there does appear to be some garbage in there, most of the positions appear to be valid for the desired skill set.

Data Scientist

While R has been going strong for a while, the concept of the “data scientist” in job descriptions if fairly new, but certainly on the rise.

Well that concludes my post for today, but could be interesting to expand. Possibly adding OBIEE, Netezza, HANA, SQL… I’d also like to run all of these searches by state to see how these jobs differ geographically! Feel free to add your own observations and comments.