TIBCO Spotfire Review

Simple to use out-of-the-box features, but customization is difficult

What is our primary use case?

My daily tasks are related to data mining and TBICO Spotfire is one of the products that I use. We are a small group of geologists operating in a niche area who are analyzing geochemical data. Our backend database is MySQL and we use products such as Power BI, Tableau, and Spotfire to display data for the geochemists.

How has it helped my organization?

If we get dirty data in, we might use Spotfire to see what it is we actually have. This might include how many files we have and the file types, in the case where we have this massive data purchase or something similar.

We use Spotfire to slice and dice and see what we're looking at. But then at the end of the day, we end up just taking the data and loading it into Oracle tables. After we have figured out what we have, we might connect Spotfire to those data tables, to better display the different analyses that a geochemist needs.

What is most valuable?

The out-of-the-box features are simple and easy to use across the board. Some of the features that we use are bar charts, pie graphs, and cross tables. They are simple dashboards to show the different metrics on the data, and sometimes data quality, as well.

What needs improvement?

Personalising Spotfire, as a whole, is painful and is something that could be made easier. As a result, I'm not doing much coding.

The background process is something that I find difficult to work with, although that may be more related to company policy and procedures than it is to Spotfire. Specifically, having it on the servers for development and then moving to acceptance in production is not user-friendly. I understand why it's got to be done, so you don't mess up anything that's in production, but to me, it's a little bit antiquated. I think it could be more robust in how you pull in your data, from a database level. Using data in spreadsheets is very simple but when you start connecting to databases, it can be clunky and difficult to do.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been working with TIBCO Spotfire for approximately six years. My company has had a license for much longer than that.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Spotfire is stable, although sometimes it is slow. That may be related to the company and how the data is being rendered, and where our servers sit for the databases. I don't think that its' a fault of Spotfire because I've seen it work with real-time data really fast. It seems, however, the implementation can cause it to lag a little bit.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

This is a scalable solution if you're not trying to customize it too much. If you can use what it comes with out of the box, I think it's very scalable and very simple to use. It's when you start having to make custom coding adjustments and whatnot, that it could be a pain because then only one person can fix it typically, and that's the person who initially worked on the coding.

How are customer service and technical support?

We don't connect directly with TIBCO because we have our own technical support in the company. 

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We also use Microsoft Power BI and Tableau to create views of the data.

As of last year, my company has been starting to move away from using Spotfire and focus on Power BI, only because it is part of the Microsoft Office Suite. This means that it's easier to integrate. However, for now, we are still using both products.

Spotfire X was a big improvement from the previous versions. They now have an export option to PowerPoint, which was a large pain point in the past. Generally, this is not something I use personally. I create a web service and I give the links out for people to access it directly.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is pretty simple. All we have to do is request a license, download it, and start using it. You can start bringing spreadsheets in, for example.

We are a small group within the company and we have dedicated groups within our organization for Spotfire support. We just tell them that we need a place on a server and they set it up. For the most part, deployment is straightforward.

What about the implementation team?

We have an in-house team for deployment and maintenance, and they provide technical support to the rest of the company. It used to be a large team and they are very helpful. My understanding is that there was a reorganization and we now have only two people who are contacts for Spotfire support. At least in the past, if we needed help then it was easy and they were great.

Additional people have been brought in to assist us with Power BI, although I have not yet been using it regularly.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The cost is a few hundred dollars per user per year.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

As a data analyst, I am not in operations and don't have a say in which products we use.

What other advice do I have?

My advice for anybody who is implementing Spotfire is to first speak with TIBCO to make sure that your data model and everything that operates in the background is implemented correctly. If it is done improperly then it may render slowly.

Don't assume that you know everything, the way we do in my company. There are times when we get something new and because it has to be done our way, we end up breaking it.

I would rate this solution a seven out of ten.

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

Spotfire X
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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