TIBCO Spotfire puts data analytics capabilities directly into the hands of the average business by bringing data discovery to a broader audience. I recently spoke with Lou Bajuk-Yorgan about their Spotfire 4.0 release. Spotfire has provided a self-service data analysis tool for several years to enable business users to apply their own domain expertise that is not filtered through analytic tool experts. This enables them to more easily discover the unexpected. They now have direct control over the tool and the ability to decide what is relevant to them and explore areas of interest.
Now Spotfire 4.0 provides a greater ability to put structured data in context, offers increased social collaboration capabilities, and has enhanced data visualization features. Lou mentioned that most of their users do not spend hours hunched over the analytics. Rather they are busy business people who want to be able to quickly get an overview of what is happening and then drill down to explore the anomalies. They have designed their dashboard accordingly. The interface designs and visualizations allow users to quickly see all relevant information in a single screen. Below is a sample dashboard.
The new visualization capabilities improve the user experience by allowing analysts to tailor interactive dashboards that replace dozens of static dashboards. These smarter flexible dashboards allow users to determine what they feel is important and drill down as needed without leaving the page. The dashboards can be easily created without programming or IT support. Lou showed me how you can change the focus of data visualizations to look through different filters such as time or location. You can also change the data formats used to get a different perspective. These drill down capabilities are available out-of-the-box and can be selected from drop down menus or right clicking on a visualization.
I have written elsewhere about the need to put tools within the context of work. This is what TIBCO has done with the integration of Spotfire 4.0 with SharePoint and tibbr, TIBCO’s own collaboration platform. Below you can see Spotfire operating within SharePoint. Part of their new interface design was to make it look more compatible with SharePoint.
With Spotfire 4.0 users can also:
- Embed Web pages, such as wikis, within a Spotfire analysis to provide access to online information that relates to the analysis.
- Much more easily link to Spotfire analyses from other websites or blogs.
- Embed live, threaded discussions from social media, such as tibbr, within a Spotfire analysis, to provide contextual discussions relevant to the decision.
Below is a sample screen showing a tibbr activity stream connected to a Spotfire dashboard.
Spotfire 4.0 provides new social capabilities to allow collaboration around data analytics such as the tibbr connection shown above. Lou said they are enabling the tool to facilitate global discussions with both synchronous and asynchronous capabilities. With Spotfire 4.0 users can:
- Actively “follow” an analysis subject or author and spontaneously create a new discussion “workspace” around an insight or decision and invite others to join.
- Embed a discussion thread into an analysis, so users see the discussion that prompted the analysis directly within Spotfire. They can also save an analysis to a discussion thread where others can see and discuss it. Discussion participants can simply click to open the analysis within a Web browser.
- Access the discussion around an analysis and be alerted to changes through each member’s preferred channel of choice including Web, text, or mobile (including iPhone, iPad, Android™ platform, and BlackBerry® devices).
- Initiate video conferencing or desktop sharing via a single click to initiate a live “Spotfire Meeting.” Automatically record and repost discussions and presentations with accompanying analysis and resulting decisions.
I really like what they are doing by bringing data analytics directly to the business decision makers in an intuitive manner that allows for collaboration around the business decisions that are impacted by what the data provides. Taking out the middleman transforms the tool into a meaningful discovery vehicle. People are better than computers about deciding where to look next. Content experts are also better than tool experts about this same decision. Here is a tool that fits the needs of its audience.