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New Tibco Spotfire capabilities add interoperability

The new capabilities added to Tibco's Predict portfolio of BI tools focus on ease of use and their interoperability with other parts of the Tibco platform.

Tibco on Thursday unveiled a set of new capabilities for its Predict portfolio, which includes business intelligence tools Spotfire and WebFocus.

On Sept. 28, the vendor revealed that Vista Equity Partners, parent company of Tibco, acquired robotic process automation vendor Blue Prism and plans to roll Blue Prism into Tibco once the acquisition closes either late in 2021 or in early 2022.

Tibco, founded in 1997 and based in Irvine, Calif., released Spotfire 11 during its user conference in 2020, marking the introduction of a new Tibco ecosystem it calls Hyperconverged Analytics, which represents the blending of visual analytics, streaming analytics and data science in a single environment.

The Predict portfolio

The vendor revealed the latest enhancements to Spotfire during Tibco Now 2021.

They include Spotfire Data Functions, which add to Tibco's Mods framework of prebuilt applications for developers and help enable the development of specialized visualizations without having to write code.

In addition, Tibco added new augmented intelligence and data science capabilities to Spotfire, and an integration with Tibco ModelOps that will enable business users to manage AI and machine learning models without having to write code is expected soon, according to Tibco.

Updates to WebFocus, which Tibco inherited when it acquired fellow analytics vendor IBI (formerly Information Builders) in October 2020, include new cloud-native deployment capabilities with containerized deployment options and a managed offering designed to foster enterprise-wide adoption.

In addition, WebFocus now has upgraded authoring and assembly capabilities, including application development in a single hub, filtering, reporting and styling.

Tibco CEO Dan Streetman.
Tibco CEO Dan Streetman speaks during the vendor's virtual user conference.

Though separate products, both the Spotfire and WebFocus updates are designed for a broad array of users within organizations rather than solely those with deep expertise in data and analytics, according to Mike Leone, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, a division of TechTarget.

"The theme is really centered around democratization -- democratization of high-quality and trusted data, democratization of analytics, and democratization of data science and AI," he said. "Tibco has a powerful solution that, for the most part, satisfies the entire data and AI lifecycle."

Leone added that among the new capabilities, the integration between Spotfire and ModelOps stands out.

I'm particularly excited about the Tibco ModelOps capabilities. Operationalizing AI continues to be the greatest challenge for organizations in their quest to best leverage AI.
Mike LeoneAnalyst, Enterprise Strategy Group

"I'm particularly excited about the Tibco ModelOps capabilities," he said. "Operationalizing AI continues to be the greatest challenge for organizations in their quest to best leverage AI."

Meanwhile, Michael O'Connell, Tibco's chief analytics officer, highlighted the additions to the Mods framework for developers.

"The big effort in Spotfire has been Spotfire Mods," he said. "The extension of the visual palette to bring in domain-specific visualizations is a pretty big deal. We've got a big chunk of capabilities, and we call these add-ins to the software versus add-ons."

Beyond the additions to Spotfire and WebFocus, within its Predict portfolio Tibco also unveiled new features for Tibco Data Science and Tibco Data Streaming.

New Data Science capabilities include enhanced interoperability with Spotfire, more cloud data sources, an integration with Tibco Data Virtualization, added autoML features, new native Apache Spark pipelines and improved collaboration tools.

New Streaming capabilities, meanwhile, include a forthcoming tool called Dynamic Learning that will enable users to continuously update and teach predictions in real time based on streaming data, and no-code integrations with Tibco Cloud Messaging and Tibco Data Virtualization.

A key concept of all of the new capabilities is their interoperability, not only within the Predict portfolio but also with features in Tibco's Connect portfolio for integration and Unify portfolio for data management, according to Doug Henschen, an analyst at Constellation Research.

"A big part of Tibco's strength is that it also has its Connect and Unify portfolios," he said. "It's when you combine all three that you're really able to harness data, derive insights and drive decisions and actions through what might be custom, low-code built applications and business processes rather than just dashboards or reports."

Regarding the ability to derive insights and drive decisions through business processes, he added that the acquisition of Blue Prism is significant and, ultimately, trumps all other news coming out of Tibco's user conference.

With respect to the individual features added to the Predict portfolio, Henschen noted that the new Spotfire Mods capabilities and the coming integration between Spotfire and ModelOps, a capability first unveiled in May 2021, are significant.

"The Spotfire Mods framework … opens things up for developers to exploit D3, Angular, Highcharts and other JavaScript libraries while still taking advantage of the Spotfire development environment and user access and security controls," he said. "I'm [also] looking forward to the integration with ModelOps, which should bring more predictive power within the reach of non-data-scientists."

Beyond Predict

In addition to the new capabilities unveiled in the Predict portfolio, Tibco revealed updates to its Connect portfolio on Sept. 27 and its Unify portfolio on Sept. 28.

Connect enhancements include new automation capabilities for Tibco Cloud, the introduction of Tibco Cloud API Management and Tibco Cloud Messaging.

Unify enhancements, meanwhile, include the introduction of Tibco DQ as a hub for data quality capabilities and an update to Tibco Data Virtualization that makes virtualized data more easily accessible both in the cloud and on premises.

Motivation for Tibco's product development -- what makes up the development pipeline and when it gets released -- comes from customer input, and then once given the impetus from users, the vendor tries to engineer something easy to use, according to O'Connell.

"Our mission is to make data scientists more productive, make business users have easy access to invoke AI methodologies and streamlined methodologies with a point-and-click, and to enable customers to create their own AI and deploy that in their own operational infrastructure," O'Connell said. "I see those three things as guiding our work."

Meanwhile, Tibco's ultimate goal is to have all its products working together, he continued.

"That's our vision for hyper-converged," O'Connell said.

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