Key Stakeholders: Chief Information Officers, Chief Technical Officers, Digital Transformation Heads, Director of Engineering, Enterprise Architecture Directors and Managers, Application Architecture Directors and Managers, Financial Systems Directors and Managers
Why It Matters: Analytic and business intelligence deployments struggle to bring insights and analytic outputs back to their initial sources or to enterprise applications because analytics has traditionally been a one-way path from the data source out to the data analyst creating the report or visualization. With this acquisition, ThoughtSpot as an analytic solution can now complete this two-way path to bring data analysis outputs directly back to the data environments and software solutions that the entire company uses.
Top Takeaway: We are still in the earliest stages of integrating data, analytics, and business practices. With this acquisition, ThoughtSpot is continuing to take a leading role in making analytics easier to access and consume at scale.
About the Acquisition
On March 31, ThoughtSpot announced the intent to acquire SeekWell, a reverse ETL solution designed to bring analytic insights and processed data back into applications. This bridge is vitally important to the enterprise analytic world for a couple of reasons.
First, one of the biggest problems in the current world of enterprise analytics is that the end result is all-too-often a static dashboard, visualization, or table that stands alone and needs to be entered into another application for other people to see the insight. Without this entry, the value of that new report or insight is limited to the report writer and the people who have access to the business intelligence or analytics solution in some way. Although analytics platforms have made significant progress over the past decade in making analytic results more available and embedded, the vast majority of enterprise analytics environments today still require significant design and development work to bring analytic insights to end users. Seekwell has solved this problem by bringing processed and analyzed data back to either the initial sources or to new applications that can use aggregated data to present better options and context for its users.
From a practical perspective, this brings analytic insights back to business users even faster than an embedded BI approach that requires prior preparation. This is because business intelligence and reporting still require end users to conduct queries and analysis to get to Insights while bringing analytic data back to core applications brings that data to customized applications and logic that are already aligned to employee workflows. As of today, SeekWell capabilities are available for ThoughtSpot users and are still available as a standalone capability.
Second, this acquisition speaks to a broader challenge in the technology world: the deceptive challenge of a “simple” interface. To create a simple experience, technology vendors need to provide an integrated two-way experience between the user and every system involved. The iPhone is the stereotypical example of this challenge, where the combination of touch interface, smartphone, app store, cloud services, and related devices create a seamless ecosystem via a design-based thought process. This design-based ecosystem still does not fully exist in the analytics world. When ThoughtSpot debuted as a text and search-first solution, it broke the paradigm of business analytics being solely the purview of trained data analysts and report writers by bringing analytics into natural and ordinary language.
Recommendations for the Analytics Community
Our key recommendation is a simple, yet transformative one: enhance your standard business intelligence practices as they are not sufficient to create an analytically-driven business. We are still in the earliest stages of integrating data, analytics, and business practices and the vast majority of employees lack relevant data for the time, location, and context of decision. The vast majority of investment, training, and resources placed into data, analytics, and machine learning over the past 30 years have been focused on simply structuring data so that it is accessible and queryable. However, this structure still requires an intermediate layer of data analysts, data scientists, and application developers simply to translate this data into basic business outputs. This paradigm continues to this day and we are just starting to identify and develop the capabilities to translate data into relevant, contextualized, and timely decisions.
In this context, the combination of Seekwell’s reversed ETL to pull analyzed data back into applications along with Thoughtspot’s focus on making data available to all employees through human language is a powerful combination for opening up data for practical consumption.