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July 31, 2006

The world is waking up!

The world is waking up to analytics - check out this study by Accenture.

http://www.cio.com/blog_view.html?CID=23451

Probably based on the work by Jeanne Harris and Tom Davenport that I'm a big fan of. If you get a chance read Tom's article from HBR here - definitly worthwhile.

http://www.spotfire.com/spotfire_downloads//whitepapers/HBR.pdf

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Posted by at 10:30 PM | Comments (0)

Looking for an answer

Have you ever had the experience when looking for an answer in some data that you rarely (never?) find the answer in the data that you start with? Invariably, you need more information, more observations, more columns of input (from some other department or even perhaps from outside your company) or you need to add additional structure to your data to support your analysis. The cards are stacked against you.

There is an institutional latency embedded into the IT process of delivering structured data to business users. Whether it is the IT department or Stats department, the business users wait-in-line-until-the-specialist-gets-to-their-question! The IT and Stats priesthoods remove flexibility and responsiveness by exerting control over the business users' question-asking capability. Of course, business people find their way around this - and I'd argue that in 80% of the cases the answer is found in the usage of Microsoft Excel. Not only that - I'd argue that 80% of the world's interesting business questions are answered in Excel.

Now that said - can't we do better than navigating table after table of textual data?

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Posted by at 12:45 PM | Comments (0)

July 17, 2006

It's about the experience...

However presumptuous, we believe that the release of the new Spotfire DXP product marks a milestone for Spotfire as well as the industry. What drove the development of Spotfire DXP was the input from our enterprise customers that business professionals are looking for a new experience to interact with data-a way to ask and answer their own questions without programming.

Graphical user interfaces have been around for a long time and are today used everywhere - drawing programs, word processing, CAD/CAM, operating systems (DOS vs. Mac?!), and most significantly, video games. Until Spotfire, no one had done much with a graphical experience for data. SQL is the power user standard and Excel perhaps has been the alternative for the rest of us.

Interestingly, there is a growing emphasis on the user experience as a critical element of software deployment, user acceptance, and the ultimate ROI of any software. Our customers have told us that their businesses perform better when they put intuitive tools in the hands of many rather than so-called sophisticated tools in the hands of a few. The "many" is comprised of a new generation of business managers that are central to this discussion that were raised on video games and have a higher expectation of how their business systems should perform (I will write more on that in another entry).

Let's take a minute to look at the experiences that a business professional bounces between everyday.

Reporting-Business professionals are accustomed to receiving information broadly disseminated across the organization. We are better informed than ever. The systems are efficient and automated. Our email boxes are full. The shortcoming of reporting is that the data is formatted to answer questions that have been pre-determined. In some cases, this is perfect, but in 9 cases out of 10 (or perhap 99 cases of 100?) my questions goes beyond what somebody figured out in a report 100 days ago!

Search-What do we all like about Google? It is easy, fast and forgiving. No punishment for mistakes. However, if you are an information worker and you input a keyword into Google, you (like everyone else) are thankful for the first page of results but you are worried about what is in the million hits that you not seeing. What about if we could provide the speed of Google but with the visual interface of a flight simulator?

How about Excel? It is a square peg that somehow you can make fit every hole. Again, if you are an information worker, you are as frustrated with what you cannot do with Excel as pleased with what you can do with it.

We think that the Next Gen business professionals are looking for a new experience interacting with information that marries the speed and forgiving nature of Google, the analytics of Excel and the broad distribution of reported information into an interactive, visual sandbox where all their questions can be asked and answered on demand. We believe that all reports should be visual and interactive. We don't think that enterprises can achieve the speed that they need to compete without putting new tools directly into the hands of the operational professionals that need to respond to the markets and customers they serve. Organizations need to make confident decisions with consensus in the face of growing data volume and complexity. Enjoy the product. Have some fun with your data.

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Posted by at 5:15 PM | Comments (0)

Open your eyes to the possibilities

I'm Christopher Ahlberg, co-founder and CEO of Spotfire.

It's been an interesting journey from a small sublet office in Göteborg, Sweden 10 years ago, to a global company with some 200 employees. We've worked really hard to make our our idea that it should be possible for anyone to extract meaning from the vast amounts of data available to them - if they were given a way to visualize their questions and see the answers.

Today's business managers are a new breed. They expect their interaction with information to be immediate, intuitive, insightful and I would say, fun! To answer these expectations, Spotfire has now completely and totally raised the bar with the introduction of Spotfire DXP, the next generation data experience.

Forget being stuck in tables, reports, cubes, databases - instead just fly through your data to find answers, insights - on your own or with colleauges. Welcome to a new world where your (not ITs) questions can be answered in seconds.

In addition to the birth of a new generation of Spotfire software, you will notice that we have redesigned and relaunched our website to provide a more active experience for the visitor. Take a look around and let me know what you think.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

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Posted by at 8:00 AM | Comments (0)