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ThoughtSpot launches integration with Google Sheets

The combination of the analytics vendor's NLP-based platform with the spreadsheet is designed to help joint customers derive insights from their data and take action.

ThoughtSpot on Thursday unveiled an integration with Google Sheets that enables Google Sheets users to analyze data with ThoughtSpot's analytics tools.

The integration is free for Google Sheets users, but not all ThoughtSpot capabilities are available at that level. Users can begin a 30-day trial with ThoughtSpot that allows full access to the vendor's capabilities, and subscriptions to ThoughtSpot beginning at $95 per month for a single user group.

Founded in 2012 and based in Mountain View, Calif., ThoughtSpot is an analytics vendor whose platform uses natural language processing (NLP) to enable users to search and query their data much the same way Google enables users to explore any information by typing words into a search field.

In 2020, ThoughtSpot launched a cloud-native version of its platform, signaling a shift from prioritizing tools geared toward on-premises users to an emphasis on the cloud. Its most recent platform update, unveiled in May 2022, featured new analytics application templates and added automation capabilities.

Google Sheets, meanwhile, is the tech giant's spreadsheet program, similar to Microsoft Excel.

In need of assistance

According to a survey of 1,001 office workers conducted by Sapio Research and sponsored by ThoughtSpot, 40% of spreadsheets users find it difficult to make sense of their data.

To respond to that predicament, ThoughtSpot developed ThoughtSpot for Sheets, a new plugin that integrates the analytics vendor's platform with Google Sheets and lets spreadsheet users analyze the data they have in Google Sheets with ThoughtSpot's NLP capabilities.

Google Sheets is the second most used spreadsheet program with just more than half of users spending at least some of their time using the tool, according to the survey. Excel is the most popular, with 85% of respondents using Microsoft's spreadsheet program.

Apple Sheets and Zoho Sheets were also used by more than 10% of respondents.

Because of how ubiquitous the deployment of Google Sheets is in offices, combined with the difficulty many users have understanding the data in the spreadsheets, the integration between ThoughtSpot and Google Sheets is significant, according to David Menninger, an analyst at Ventana Research.

"ThoughtSpot has invested heavily in making analytics more approachable and easier to access, [and] these attributes may be appealing to many who are using Google Sheets," he said.

A ThoughtSpot dashboard
A ThoughtSpot Monitor dashboard automatically explains an organization's change in sales.

He noted, however, that ThoughtSpot is not the first analytics vendor to develop an integration with a spreadsheet program.

An integration between Google Sheets and Looker -- Google's own analytics platform -- is in preview. Microsoft Excel integrates with Power BI, which is Microsoft's analytics suite.

In addition, Tableau and MicroStrategy are among those that have integrations with Excel.

"The integration between analytics and spreadsheets goes back decades," Menninger said. "Not surprisingly, most analytics and spreadsheet integration is with Microsoft Excel. There are fewer integrations with Google Sheets."

While not exclusive, ThoughtSpot's integration with Google Sheets builds on a partnership between the analytics vendor and tech giant that dates to 2018 and includes the launch of ThoughtSpot Embrace for Google Platform to enable users to access the analytics platform directly in Google's BigQuery cloud data warehouse.

How it works

ThoughtSpot for Sheets enables users to work with whatever data is kept in Google Sheets.

Google Sheets users can go into a particular spreadsheet, select ThoughtSpot from a dropdown menu, and then -- by typing keywords into a search bar -- customize queries that are automatically translated into charts and graphs for analysis.

In addition, ThoughtSpot for Sheets is compatible with Connected Sheets, Coefficient and Supermetrics.

Connected Sheets is a spreadsheet interface for viewing data in BigQuery. Coefficient is a platform that lets customers upload data from their cloud data warehouse into Sheets. The Supermetrics platform lets users upload data from sales and marketing applications into Sheets.

ThoughtSpot has invested heavily in making analytics more approachable and easier to access, [and] these attributes may be appealing to many who are using Google Sheets.
David MenningerAnalyst, Ventana Research

Development of the integration follows the launch in May of new pricing options aimed at small- and mid-sized businesses. It's part of the vendor's attempt to reach a broader array of potential users, according to Sean Zinsmeister, senior vice president of product marketing at ThoughtSpot.

Beyond ThoughtSpot Enterprise and ThoughtSpot Everywhere, which are enterprise versions of the vendor's platform, ThoughtSpot added Team and Pro editions in May.

The Team edition is available for a flat fee of $95 per month for a single user group with unlimited users. The Pro edition starts at $2,500 per month for up to five user groups.

"About a year ago, we were trying to think of what a free version of ThoughtSpot would look like," Zinsmeister said.

The vendor experimented with different ideas but found connecting to data -- frequently done in a cloud data warehouse -- a hindrance. In addition, if offering a free version, ThoughtSpot wanted to expose its platform to a large audience of potential new customers, Zinsmeister continued.

"We looked at where that connection was happening with the least amount of friction, and the answer was Google Sheets," he said. "We also wanted to make sure we could expand into a very big total addressable market so we could expose them to a new user experience."

The vendor also wanted to meet potential users in their familiar work environment rather than force them to leave Google Sheets, according to Zinsmeister.

The rate at which organizations have implemented analytics has remained static for years. While more organizations are deploying analytics tools, studies show that only about a quarter of employees in most of those organizations use analytics. ThoughtSpot said it hopes that by meeting potential users where they work, a larger percentage of employees within organizations will use analytics, thus increasing the vendor's addressable market.

"Our customers are pushing us to have a play on spreadsheets," Zinsmeister said. "What we're trying to do is advance data and analytics adoption in any way possible. It's been slow to adopt, and [analytics vendors] have been trying to make people learn [in a BI environment]. This flips that and builds analytics in their environment."

Plans in the works

With the initial iteration of ThoughtSpot for Sheets now generally available, Menninger said he'd like to see ThoughtSpot add more capabilities to the tool as it gets updated.

He noted that some integrations between analytics vendors and spreadsheets include the ability to automatically refresh data and let users not only view a file but also write back to it.

"There are capabilities in many of the Excel integrations that I would expect to see added to ThoughtSpot's Sheets integration," he said. "For example, automatically refreshing the data, read/write connections to the data source -- it is read-only now -- and the ability to intersperse rows, columns and formulas with the data that has been retrieved and inserted into the spreadsheet."

According to Zinsmeister, ThoughtSpot plans to augment users' ability to link data visualizations to slides for presentations, add new chart types, improve the user experience and enhance the overall performance of ThoughtSpot for Sheets.

Now that the integration with Google Sheets is available, Zinsmeister noted that ThoughtSpot plans to develop similar integrations for Microsoft Office 365, which includes Excel; Google Chrome to enable work with internet files; and SaaS applications.

"What we've built is an application framework that we can take to lots of different mediums," he said.

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