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Sisense unveils Extense Framework to enable embedded BI

After rebranding its platform early in 2021 to reflect a heightened focus on embedded analytics, Sisense introduced a set of new capabilities to enable developers.

Nearly six months after rebranding its platform to reflect an emphasis on embedding BI into the everyday workflows of users, Sisense unveiled the Extense Framework, a set of capabilities that enable customers to infuse augmented intelligence-driven analytics into work applications.

The vendor, founded in 2004 and based in New York, renamed its platform from Sisense to Sisense Fusion in February 2021 to reflect its focus on embedded analytics.

Sisense's platform enabled developers to build embeddable BI applications before its rebranding, but as a sign that infusing analytics into everyday workflows had become a priority, at the time of its rebranding the vendor increased the number of application programming interfaces (APIs) in its platform to more than 450.

Included were APIs intended not only for experienced developers but also for no-code application development.

The Extense Framework, introduced July 21, will be part of Sisense Fusion. It is expected to be generally available to customers in late 2021, and once generally available will make application development with Sisense quicker and easier than before, according to Ashley Kramer, chief product and marketing officer at Sisense.

It will enable customers to both build customized AI-infused BI applications that can be implanted in the workflows of end users, eliminating the need to toggle between a work application such as Microsoft 365 or SAP and the Sisense BI environment, and also take advantage of prebuilt APIs to embed BI in common workplace tools.

In the meantime, Sisense is releasing an initial set of prebuilt infusion applications now available on the Sisense Marketplace. Included are Infused Analytics for Slack (which was recently acquired by Salesforce), Infused Analytics for Salesforce, Infused Analytics for Google Sheets, Infused Analytics for Google Slides and Infused Analytics for Google Chrome.

An organization's revenue data is displayed in a sample dashboard from Sisense.
A sample dashboard from Sisense displays an organization's revenue data.

"There are thousands of applications people use every day -- we launched five on our own -- and we wanted a framework for other people to start building their own," Kramer said. "This is one step forward in allowing people to build these applications to infuse in daily workflows, in daily tools that are used across the business."

She added that more prebuilt infusible applications will be developed, and that the five released this week will serve essentially as a beta test for the Extense Framework in its entirety as Sisense prepares it for general availability.

"Once we have it completely refined, the strategy is to launch it to the world so they can build apps for all the tools that exist," Kramer said. "The intent is for everybody to be using Sisense in these collaboration and work tools in a deep way."

Meanwhile, the Extense Framework represents important progress for Sisense as it attempts to enable customers to easily work with analytics in their everyday workflows, according to Doug Henschen, principal analyst at Constellation Research.

I think it's a good first step to making it easier to bring concise analytics into the context of everyday applications such as Slack, Salesforce, Google Sheets and Google Slides.
Doug HenschenPrincipal analyst, Constellation Research

The five new prebuilt infusion applications show the promise of the framework, but the effectiveness of the capabilities as a whole won't be known until the Extense Framework is generally available.

"I think it's a good first step to making it easier to bring concise analytics into the context of everyday applications such as Slack, Salesforce, Google Sheets and Google Slides," Henschen said. "The value of the framework will increase as they add more prebuilt integrations with other popular productivity and enterprise apps."

He added that given its ease of use, the Extense Framework has the potential to remove some of the barriers to the combination of analytics and everyday workflows.

"Sisense is correct in observing that truly concise embedding of just the right insight in just the right place within another application can be difficult, so I applaud their effort to make it easier and to try to break down the walls between day-to-day applications and analytics," Henschen said.

The Extense Framework, meanwhile, represents a measure of innovation in analytics, Henschen continued.

Prebuilt integrations are nothing new, particularly with some of the most popular workspace applications such as SAP and Salesforce, but ones for Slack and Google's suite of tools are rarer, he said.

In addition, the approach -- an entire framework for embeddable application development -- is uncommon.

"In the past, you tended to see collections of prebuilt integrations and maybe a general-purpose option or two rather than a framework approach that's intended to be extensible," Henschen said. "I like the idea, but the ultimate proof will be in just how many integration options Sisense ends up supporting out of the box and how easily partners and customers can take the framework further."

With five prebuilt embeddable applications now generally available and the Extense Framework in the refinement stage, Sisense is planning to unveil new capabilities over the final six months of 2021, according to Kramer.

Among them are a focus on updating its architecture, which includes its Knowledge Graph, first introduced in 2020, adding to its AI-powered tools and continuing to infuse analytics throughout everyday workflows.

The introduction of the new framework "was a big step in that direction because people are spending a lot of their time in those apps that they'll use with the Extense Framework," Kramer said.

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