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Latest ThoughtSpot BI capabilities target new personas

With the addition of Data Workspace, the analytics vendor aims to enable power users within organizations to develop and deploy applications.

New capabilities designed for data analysts, engineers and developers make up the latest addition to the ThoughtSpot BI platform.

The vendor, founded in 2012 and based in Sunnyvale, Calif., unveiled ThoughtSpot Data Workspace on Nov. 15, the day before Beyond 2021, its virtual user conference, and the same day it revealed a new $100 million venture capital funding round.

Data Workspace is an environment that enables data analysts, engineers and developers to build and operationalize interactive, real-time analytics assets.

Historically, the ThoughtSpot BI platform has been geared toward business users, enabling them to work with their organization's data using a search-based suite built on augmented intelligence and machine learning capabilities that eliminate the need to query data using code.

Data Workspace, however, expands ThoughtSpot's target audience to a different set of personas, those power users within organizations whose primary roles involve working with data.

Included in the ThoughtSpot Data Workspace are SpotApps, which are prebuilt applications for SaaS offerings such as Salesforce, ServiceNow and Snowflake. The SpotApps are powered by prebuilt packages of code and connectors called ThoughtSpot Blocks that can easily be deployed.

"Data engineers and developers should have unfettered access to insights at any level they want to infuse it, so Data Workspace is our new offering targeted to data analysts and developers," said Sudheesh Nair, ThoughtSpot's CEO. "What we are doing with Workspace is going upstream [in the analytics process] and impregnating ThoughtSpot into products before they get built."

A ThoughtSpot Data Workspace screenshot.
A ThoughtSpot Data Workspace screenshot displays prebuilt applications for SaaS offerings that users can download and deploy without writing code.

Regarding SpotApps, he added that ThoughtSpot plans to develop an array of prebuilt applications for specific SaaS offerings, and the ones currently available are just the start.

"Our goal is to build an app marketplace where a massive amount of applications are available for customers to consume with one click without having to worry about learning ThoughtSpot," Nair said. "ThoughtSpot is infused inside the product."

In addition to SpotApps, Data Workspace enables users to model their data with custom SQL and support for DBT, an open source development framework.

Analysts' perspective

By including Data Workspace in the ThoughtSpot BI platform, the vendor is targeting an important new audience of Power users, according to Doug Henschen, an analyst at Constellation Research.

"With the announcements, ThoughtSpot is focusing on the few -- data analysts, data engineers and developers -- and putting more power and productivity in their hands," he said. "ThoughtSpot has to win over this contingent. Analysts and developers working with consistent data models can easily replicate success."

With the announcements, ThoughtSpot is focusing on the few -- data analysts, data engineers and developers -- and putting more power and productivity in their hands. ThoughtSpot has to win over this contingent.
Doug HenschenAnalyst, Constellation Research

Henschen added that the new capabilities are a sign that ThoughtSpot is evolving to meet the demands of the market.

The addition of Data Workspace comes after ThoughtSpot spent a year repositioning its entire BI platform, making it cloud-first after it had initially been geared toward on-premises users.

"Between this year's cloud moves and what they're now doing for analysts, engineers and developers, I see ThoughtSpot listening closely to market demands and working hard to ensure the company's continued growth," he said. "Talking up SQL and data modeling is not something they would have done two years ago, but it's a sign the company is maturing."

But while showing growth, the new capabilities targeted at a new audience are still in their early stages, according to Donald Farmer, founder and principal at TreeHive Strategy.

He noted that the SpotApps powered by ThoughtSpot Blocks are similar to what Looker has been doing for years with Looker Blocks, and to catch up to Looker and other vendors offering low-code/no-code application development tools, ThoughtSpot needs to address data preparation and add more compute power.

"The Blocks concept is great, but these … off-the-shelf analytics need a powerful engine behind them to perform with the responsiveness and scale that users are accustomed to with more thoroughly developed solutions," Farmer said. "Existing ThoughtSpot users will love the feature, but it is difficult to say if it will win over new users who have a wide choice."

One way ThoughtSpot might quickly catch up to vendors with a longer history of offering low-code/no-code application development capabilities -- and add a more powerful engine -- is through an acquisition, Farmer continued.

ThoughtSpot made its first acquisitions in the spring of 2021, buying SeekWell at the end of March and Diyotta in early May. With its new venture capital funding and a valuation now at $4.2 billion, ThoughtSpot could be in position to make another acquisition.

"With this money they may start to address one of the few barriers to success with ThoughtSpot -- the need to do quite extensive data preparation before their AI and automated features can really get to work," Farmer said. "Especially when accessing diverse, federated data, the performance can hold users back."

A vendor like Dremio, which offers a platform that enables organizations to organize and query cloud data lakes, could be a good fit for ThoughtSpot, according to Farmer.

"That could be a win all round and would give [ThoughtSpot] a powerful, high-performance back end," he said.


Following the introduction of the Data Workspace, driven by a goal of becoming the vendor that defines how analytics is done, ThoughtSpot plans to add new BI capabilities in three main areas, according to Nair.

First, the vendor is focused on enabling users to mine insights using AI. Next, ThoughtSpot aims to deliver insights wherever users work rather than in a separate BI environment. And finally, the vendor is working to drive action through applications and APIs.

"Those three things will each have their own roadmap," Nair said.

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