At its Beyond user conference in Dallas today, search-as-query business intelligence (BI) company ThoughtSpot is announcing version 6 of its core product, bringing a range of new and enhanced capabilities. It's also shining a spotlight on its recently launched mobile application.
In a briefing with ZDNet, Andrew Yeung, ThoughtSpot's senior director of product marketing and Sean Zinsmeister, the company's head of product marketing, provided deets on v6. All in all, ThoughtSpot is going beyond search has invested heavily in intelligent assistance, cloud storage integration, in-database query technology and some smaller editions.
Answer Explorer, a contextual search suggestions facility, available in pinboards (ThoughtSpot's term for dashboards), is perhaps the headline feature for this release. ThoughtSpot is known for its capable natural language query facility, which can make gaining insights from data easier than with tools which require users to select specific tables and columns for analysis. The search option has a democratizing effect on analytics and ThoughtSpot's thorough orientation around the search paradigm is noteworthy. But even natural language query can still pose users with the problem of the blank page, and it can be intimidating for less-experienced users to formulate their own search. Answer Explorer provides assistance here by providing suggested searches.
All of this puts ThoughtSpot in the position not just of accommodating a search-based approach to analytics but helping users formulate what to search for. ThoughtSpot says Answer Explorer is machine learning-driven, using a collective intelligence approach, and based on search terms frequently used against the relevant data set. It provides iterative suggestions; for example, using a specific filter, adding a dimension or a comparing specific metrics, as shown in the figure above.
Speaking of metrics, ThoughtSpot is introducing another new capability, called ThoughtSpot Monitor, as a beta feature. Monitor allows users to follow specific metrics, charts and data sets, view how they are trending over time, and even provide automated alerts when they change. ThoughtSpot says Monitor is powered by SpotIQ, its AI-driven automated insights engine.
Enhancements and mobile
Beyond Answer Explorer and Monitor, ThoughtSpot 6 adds some fit-and-finish enhancements as well. The additional capabilities in ThoughtSpot 6 include:
- General availability of ThoughtSpot Embrace for Snowflake, which allows in-database querying by ThoughtSpot on that data warehouse platform, eliminating the requirement to ingest the data into ThoughtSpot's own repository. The company says that Embrace support for other data warehouse platforms will be forthcoming
- Ease-of-use improvements for chart authoring and editing
- Support for data persistence in Google Cloud Storage (GCS), which joins similar existing support for Amazon Web Services' Simple Storage Service (S3)
- Portability of worksheets between different ThoughtSpot clusters, via download from one and upload to another. This feature can be useful for migrations or for replicating content from development servers to those for testing and production
While ThoughtSpot 6 is being announced today, general availability of the product likely to come in November.
Though it was launched previously, ThoughtSpot is also promoting the availability of its new mobile application. The app provides a full-featured consumption experience for content authored on the conventional ThoughtSpot platform. It provides offline data access and is compatible with various mobile device management platforms. ThoughtSpot Mobile is available only for iOS (for both iPhone and iPad devices); an Android version is slated for next year.
There's been much consolidation in the BI space recently, with Salesforce's acquisition of Tableau; Google's acquisition of Looker, the merger of Sisense and Periscope Data, Logi Analytics' acquisition of ZoomData and Cloudera's intention to acquire Arcadia Data. Arcadia Data features a substantive search facility as does Microsoft's Power BI, with its Q&A feature, which was just massively updated.
All this leaves ThoughtSpot in a sel-service BI space dominated by hyperscale cloud providers, a couple of indies and the last Big Data distribution vendor left standing. That means ThoughtSpot will need to win on independence and innovation, because its chief competitors are trading on incumbency, and in many cases quite strongly.
Suggested searches and monitoring/alerting are good moves, as are integrations with Snowflake, Amazon and Google Cloud. But mobile and in-database querying are table stakes features, where ThoughtSpot is playing catch-up. And with the likes of Power BI being updated on a monthly basis, competition is fierce. ThoughtSpot's doing great, but it may need to accelerate if it's going to play and win in the consolidated BI landscape.