Christopher Ahlberg, founder of Spotfire and now president of TIBCO’s Spotfire division, discussed Spotfire’s capabilities and what’s been done with integrating Spotfire into other TIBCO products.
Timely insights — the right information at the right time — is a competitive differentiator for most businesses, and classic business intelligence just doesn’t cut it in many cases. Consumer applications like Google Finance are raising the bar for dynamic visualization techniques, although most of them are fairly inflexible when it comes to viewing or comparing specific data in which you’re interested. In other words, we want the data selection and aggregation capabilities of our enterprise systems, and the visualization capabilities of consumer web applications. Ahlberg sees a number of disruptive BI technologies transforming the platform — in-memory processes, interactive visualization, participatory architecture, mashups — and starting to be able to link to the event-driven world of classic TIBCO.
He did a demo of copying and pasting the contents of a spreadsheet directly into Spotfire, which automatically used the column headers as metadata and created a scatterplot. He filtered and colored the chart dynamically, set thresholds and played around with the data to show what could be extracted from it, then showed a pre-built dashboard of charts that still allowed quite a bit of interactivity in terms of filtering and other view parameters. He also showed a mashup between Spotfire and Microsoft Virtual Earth that allowed a subset of the data to be selected in Spotfire, causing a shortest route between the geographic location corresponding to the data points to be plotted on Virtual Earth.
This puts a much more configurable face on standard analytics, not just in display parameters but also in area like selecting the dimensions to be compared on the fly rather than having them pre-defined in OLAP cubes. Since TIBCO is focused on real-time event processing, the logical step is to see how those events can be visualized in Spotfire: instead of just raising an alert to someone, give them a view of the analytical context behind the alert that makes it easier to close the loop on problem resolution. They’ve packaged this as Spotfire Operations Analytics, which fits most closely into a LEAN Six Sigma manufacturing environment.
There’s a session on Thursday about BPM with analytics which I’ll likely attend to see what they’re doing in that area.