Overall Satisfaction with TIBCO Spotfire Platform
As a field consultant I deploy TIBCO Spotfire, develop data visualization reports/dashboards/templates, and provide on-site training and mentoring. Most of my clients use Spotfire as an enterprise reporting solution. I have also helped the vast majority of those same organizations deploy ad hoc analysis environments. The ad hoc use cases are typically inter departmental analysis projects.
Almost all of my clients select TIBCO Spotfire for it's ability to easily visualize data, merge disparate data sets, scale across an expanding enterprise, and handle data loading in a variety of methods. Additionally, I work with a large number of clinical research and life sciences firms who have read about the growing number of Spotfire extensions (custom add-ins) that are geared specially to their industry. This level of customization generates a great level of interest in Spotfire.
- Data transformation. Pivoting, un-pivoting, aggregation, and numerous other data transformations can be achieved through a simple "Information Link" GUI or through custom SQL. Additional transformations, joins, calculation expressions can be achieved within the client as well.
- Standardized visualizations. Spotfire provides all of the typical types of visualizations (bar charts, scatter plots, tree maps, geo, dashboards, etc.) in a clean standard format that is easily recognized by users.
- Strong SaaS capabilities. Strong web-player out of the box that can be embedded and manipulated in your own site.
- Robust use of data structure. Spotfire provides a range of options from importing spreadsheets to connecting to existing databases. Data can be merged within Spotfire via the GUI, pushed to the database, or return select data sets based on user actions.
- Simple web and client interface. Intuitive interface for users and visualization report developers. Visualization options are limited for the sake of standardization
- Depth of reporting capabilities. Simple enough for a casual user to develop simple reports, but powerful enough data transformation and calculation expressions to build complex reports.
- One the greatest improvements with the latest versions of Spotfire (v6 and v7) is its ability to load enormous data sets. Spotfire was already the industry leader as an in-memory data visualization tool (as well as a hybrid data on-demand method), but it now supports numerous "big-data" data connections. This allows Spotfire to push demanding data processing into the database and return only the necessary metadata to build a visualization.
- Visual user interface customization has improved dramatically with the latest Spotfire versions. Version 6 allowed for much more custom HTML/CSS/Java Script to produce unique visual solutions. Version 7 took that further by allowing a GUI (point and click) to modify nearly the entire user interface. Essentially you can alter the UI to the point that Spotfire begins to look like any webpage you like.
- Error handling. The data engine and expression builder have almost no organic error handling or troubleshooting capabilities. Program errors, while minimal, are vague and appear spontaneously.
- Training for data transformation user interface. On-site and online training for visualization report development is good, but data engine training is minimal at best.
- Flexibility of visualization design. Design options are very limited and are not as powerful as Tableau or MS Excel 2010+.
- While version 7 has provided extensive flexibility in modifying the user interface, the amount of flexibility in adjusting data visualizations is still limited.
- Auto-save or version control. There is no auto-save or automated version control. The client will crash sporadically and all work is lost since the last file save.
- Progressiveness of visualization designs. Spotfire lags behind its competitors in the range of visualization types and the options available to manipulate the current visualizations.
- Standardization of design controls. Report authoring options that you would expect to be ubiquitous are not and those that are available are sometimes found in different locations.
- Resource hog! Spotfire requires a good deal of memory, processing power, and efficiently tuned data sources. Spotfire v7 is especially demanding on memory and processing power. All versions will demand efficiently tuned in database sources. Poorly tuned databases will become a bottleneck in performance.
- Upgrading can be challenging if you have custom extensions or Spotfire reports using complex operations (eg. large in-memory data, large number of tabs, complex logic, multiple data sources merging, etc.)
Tableau, Qlik, and MicroStrategy seemed to have a shorter learning curve and a more appealing user interface, but none of them touched Spotfire's data capabilities.
-Ad hoc analysis is possible throughout the enterprise using business author in the webplayer or the thick client.
-Low level of support needed by IT team. Access interfaces with LDAP and numerous other authentication methods.
-Ability to standardize data logic through pre-built queries in the Information Designer. Everyone in the enterprise is using the same logic
-Tagging and bookmarking data allows for quick sharing of insights.
-Integration with numerous data sources... flat files, data bases, big data, images, etc.
-Much improved mapping capability. Also includes the ability to apply data points over any image.
Spotfire also has multiple methods to load data into an analysis. Data can be loaded into memory, fetched from a database on demand based on a user's actions, or push all of data integration into an external data source.
Using Spotfire's Information Designer allows non-technical users to build their own queries against data bases. It also allows for central management of queries. In other words, the data and logic being used across all analyses can be centrally managed, thereby standardizing your results.
Additionally, the webplayer can be integrated into existing web portals. The webplayer can be further configured to interact with a web portal.
The business author license in the Spotfire webplayer grants limited ability for webplayer uses to edit analyses.
- External and internal revenue growth. SaaS program has been developed using Spotfire. Internally, any employee has the ability to quickly develop reports by tapping into enormous data sources.
- Rapidness of reporting vast amounts of data. Reports are easy to construct, publish, share, and update.
The greatest strength of Spotfire is its ability to merge data from numerous data sources and easily visualize said data. Additionally, Spotfire allows several methods to load data to achieve optimal performance while also being able to analyze across data sets.
TIBCO Spotfire Feature Ratings
Using TIBCO Spotfire Platform
Administrative functions can be learned quickly with initial training from Tibco or existing experienced staff. Depending on your organization's development process you will need to closely coordinate the migration of development reports and dashboards with the development team.
Spotfire development can be accomplished by anyone who wants to use the tool. Initial use can become proficient in a few weeks. Advanced use will take at least six months. Typically your MS Excel power users will learn Spotfire quickly. The creative aspect of data visualization comes with experience. Recommend reading some Edward Tufte, Stephen Few, or any other the other data viz gurus. Spotfire v7 makes it easier to select appropriate data vizes with its Recommendations engine, but it won't build a properly flowing dashboard/report.
- Mobile reporting. The current Spotfire mobile solution is half-baked and the existing Spotfire data visualizations do not represent well on mobile devices. The data visualizations display satisfactorily on tablets.
- SaaS / enterprise product. Spotfire is used to visualize data and then published over the webplayer. This allows any user to see their clinical trials' progress in near real time.
- Internal reporting. Any employee can tap into any formal or ah hoc data source within the company and quickly develop their own visualization reports. Spotfire has seen use in nearly all facets of the company.
- Standardize reporting throughout the company. Much quicker than Excel and much easier to produce clean, standardized reports.
- We built a SaaS program that allows internal and external clients to dynamically load their specific data and monitor the progress of their clinical trials.
- Pre-filtering capability allows users to jump straight to their pertinent data set. This also helps manage load times when dealing with massive data sets.
- Changes the way that status meetings are held. A proficient user can pull in live data and answer questions as they are asked. Updating a report to a client's question as they are asked builds trust and engagement.
Evaluating TIBCO Spotfire Platform and Competitors
Previously I developed reports in MS Excel with VBA, while using Tableau and Minitab for academic/side-work purposes.
TIBCO Spotfire Platform Implementation
- Vendor implemented
- Implemented in-house
- Professional services company
TIBCO Spotfire Platform Training
- Online training
- In-person training
TIBCO Spotfire Platform Support
Using TIBCO Spotfire Platform
TIBCO Spotfire Platform Reliability
Integrating TIBCO Spotfire Platform
- Integrated into a portal environment to support SaaS product
Upgrading TIBCO Spotfire Platform
Highly recommend employing the Spotfire Qualification Tool and Application Profiling Tool to test visual/data differences between Spotfire files and performance.