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First Look – Spotfire 4.0


I got a quick update on Spotfire 4.0 recently (announced today – I last reviewed Spotfire in February). This release was aimed primarily at getting analytics to a wider audience through analytic dashboards and social collaboration. As we all know, many people work with others in different locations and time zones. This requires strong context for understanding analysis, multi-channel support and an ability to collaborate. Spotfire has historically been focused on helping individuals to apply their own skills to an analysis and this release makes it easier for organizations to add their collective intelligence. Specifically:

  • It is easier now to take a Spotfire analysis and embed it in a SharePoint or other portals/websites.
  • You can also embed other content into the analysis such as wikis.
  • Social integration is through integration with tibbr (TIBCO’s social platform for the enterprise that allows chatting, threaded conversations, multi-channel support, including apps for various smart devices, and is geared to following a subject rather than just a person).
  • You can share analyses from Spotfire through tibbr and discuss it or open it in Spotfire for further analysis.
  • Companies have been using Spotfire for dashboards but this release improves the presentation of data to make it crisper and quicker to get understanding – making it match the expectations of a dashboard user who is going to glance/skim while still supporting the interactivity when needed. You create new visualizations specifically designed for display in a Web browser to make it look like a dashboard while still allowing access to Spotfire.
  • The release also focuses on continuing to improve the environment for data discovery as well as for sharing analysis.

I found a couple of things interesting in this release, even though collaborative decision-making is not really my thing.

Being able to present analysis and drill-down in the context of an application or Web page is always more interesting to me than a standalone application. This kind of embedding allows a Decision Management System to embed a visualization in a transaction when it is referred to someone for audit review or because it cannot be handled automatically by the system. Combined with Spotfire’s existing automation services for creating analyses programmatically it would allow a Decision Management System to generate a useful visualization for every transaction that required manual review.

Some Decision Management Systems never make a final decision but are focused instead on reducing the degrees of freedom of a human decision-maker to just those that make sense for a specific decision. The ability to present a generated visualization to help the user make the final decision is also interesting and would be improved by this release.

The ability to show data in the collaboration view that changes as the visualization is interacted with would allow, for instance, the rule logs for specific decisions to be reviewed as you analyzed your overall decision results. This could be very useful in a decision analysis context. You could also present this in the context of a results dashboard and that would help folks using a Decision Management System see how they got the results they got. You could presumably also allow the tibbr thread to be accessed both from the results view and from a rule editing Web page that allowed the rules behind the results to be added, allowing collaboration between those reviewing the results and those working on the rules.

Finally, I think this release would make it easier to develop some analysis (using S+ say) that got embedded into a Decision Management System as a predictive analytic model or a set of rules and re-use that analysis when a transaction is referred out of the system for manual review. When you can’t automatically decide you want to be able to present the same analysis (customer segmentation, risk) but using a visualization not a score. This release makes this much easier.