Monday, May 18, 2009

TIBCO Spotfire 3.0's features bring strategists closer to real-time human-from-data decision-making

If the last six months have proven anything to business strategists, it's that corporate agility is not just a "nice to have." Being able to adjust massively complex businesses at the drop of a market index is clearly imperative.

But just how to act when the signs point to the need for rapid adjustment? Quality -- not necessarily quantity -- determines the winning response to unanticipated market and economic shifts.

So TIBCO Software's release today of Spotfire 3.0, the visualization analytics solution, comes at a great time. The platform's new features are designed to significantly improve integration of the structured data sets to be analyzed and viewed, improve how developers build analytics applications, and scales in terms of volume and speed to the demands of global companies. [Disclosure: TIBCO is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

Spotfire 3.0 lets uses expand Spotfire applications into additional business areas, and also allows new classes of users to tap the Spotfire data visualization experience, says the company. The integration benefits include simplified connectivity to SAP, Oracle, Siebel, and Salesforce.com business applications data. Spotfire 3.0 works in tandem with TIBCO Spotfire Application Data Services to bring the data assets from these business applications into the visualization and distribution process.

The types of data views Spotfire produces augment, but don't replace traditional business intelligence (BI) values. Furthermore, these easily customized data visualization applications can be used by many kinds of workers -- or via the web by customers and partners -- whereas BI usually requires the intermediaries of seasoned SQL or other query tools analysts. You'll need and want to be able to do both BI and ad hoc data visualizations.

More and better data put into easily and quickly accessed and understood produces a value that has never been more important. Quick and ubiquitous access to the fruits of data assimilation and analysis (with proper enterprise-class security and access control) not only helps companies and leaders make good decisions, it helps validate and adjust those decisions in near real-time. Nowadays, it's not enough to have a good bead on a strategy or shift, you need to have the convincing data available to prove and re-prove the actions and strategy. And then repeat.

The latest Spotfire release comes on the heels of last year's improvements in mashups support, real-time data and business process integration, new visualization methods and predictive analytics. These have helped companies leverage their investments in complex event processing (CEP) capabilities and enterprise service buses (ESBs). I wouldn't be surprised to see some ability to leverage the Spotfire analytics in the context of business process modeling (BPM) at some point in the future.

So far the visualization benefits of Spotfire apply to structured data, but bringing a richer mix into the visualization landscape can be done via third parties and various data and content assimilation methods. Bringing more content into the process will, of course, grown more important over time, especially as we enter the cloud era -- with valued data and information available from more sources in more formats.

Indeed, the newest Spotfire includes a Web services connector to tap many additional applications and data sources. "An integrated caching layer also dramatically speeds up data access from slow data sources by pre-loading common views and eliminating or reducing the need to create data warehouses or data marts," says TIBCO.

TIBCO Spotfire 3.0 is available now. For more information http://spotfire.tibco.com/Products/Whatsnew-Spotfire.aspx.