TIBCO Spotfire Review

Build everything from data discovery , to enterprise reports, to simple dashboards, to predictive analytics and beyond


What is most valuable?

  • Data engine: numerous methods to load load, transform, and merge data from every major data source.
  • Web player: out of the box ability to share analysis through web browser. Advanced web functionality to customize with portals.
  • Analytics: basic stats functionality out of the box and ability to connect to all major analytics vendors/languages (SAS, MatLab, R, etc.).
  • Visualizations: equally suited for data discovery and reports.

How has it helped my organization?

  • Tibco Spotfire analysts from building Excel and PowerPoint reports and allows them to start analyzing information.
  • Standardizes metrics and flow of information within organizations.
  • Simple enough for non-tech users to use, but powerful enough for power users to produce advanced analytics.

What needs improvement?

  • Integration with a custom web portal is still challenging.
  • Version control should be included to aide development processes.
  • Further the out-of-the-box ability to customize visualizations.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using it for over five years, starting with v3.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

Initial deployments are normally issue-free. Spotfire supports numerous data sources, authentication methods, load balancers, and other IT environment configurations. Spotfire v7.5+ is a significant change in architecture and will require a different configuration and additional admin training.

Upgrades normally require minor adjustments to some Spotfire analyses. There are Spotfire tools to assess differences between files in each version and the change in performance.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The most common issue is insufficient resources on host servers or laptops. Most other issues arise from custom applications integrating with new versions of Spotfire.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I’ve worked with deployments and upgrades at small organizations and all the way up to 20,000+ user organizations. Spotfire can be scaledeasily, but requires planning and is dependent on the underlying technology (as with any software).

How is customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

Improved dramatically in recent years with rapid releases of updated versions.

Technical Support:

Professional and timely support. The Spotfire upgrade roadmap is a bit opaque though.

Which solutions did we use previously?

Previously I have used Tableau, Business Object, SAS JMP, MiniTab and Excel. Spotfire is most commonly compared against Tableau, Qlik and MicroStrategy. Spotfire is typically selected for its data engine, web player and advanced analytics capabilities.

How was the initial setup?

It's generally straightforward except for when custom applications, e.g. in-house developed software, are to be configured with Spotfire.

What about the implementation team?

Usually large scale implementations are done by a vendor, but small scale deployments are possible with an internal team. Beyond the basic requirements, the key is to understand scalability needs, community use cases, authentication needs, and data architecture needs. Upgrades can be handled in-house.

What was our ROI?

ROI can be measured by how much time is saved by your analysts no longer needing to build reports. Typically, a core group of users build the Spotfire templates and everyone else in the organization analyzes information in the templates. Other than upkeep, once a template is built in Spotfire, your organization can analyze information and take action. Also, the time and sanity saved in no longer sharing PowerPoint slides or Excel spreadsheets throughout the organization can be priceless.

ROI can also be measured by the fact that Spotfire can integrate with existing IT infrastructure and existing IT expertise. Eg. Spotfire can make use of your existing SAS environment to apply SAS models and SAS expertise to data in Spotfire (which is then visualized).

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

I recommend training a core group of analysts to build your Spotfire templates. The rest of your organization can use the less expensive Web Player licenses to analyze the data through their web browser.

What other advice do I have?

I also recommend the Spotfire Automation Services component. It allows Spotfire to automate certain tasks like loading data at defined times, sending automated emails, sending alerts, etc.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: I work for the vendor PerkinElmer. PerkinElmer is the exclusive life sciences vendor for Spotfire.
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