|Type||Public (NASDAQ: TIBX)|
Spotfire's origins trace back to the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory at the University of Maryland, College Park where, in the early 1990s, Christopher Ahlberg, a visiting student from Sweden, worked with Ben Shneiderman to develop applications of dynamic queries. Ahlberg returned to Sweden and developed an enhanced UNIX implementation of his visual data analysis tool, the Information Visualization and Exploration Environment (IVEE). Spotfire was launched in mid-1996 by IVEE Development, which was renamed Spotfire Inc.
Software and use
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TIBCO Spotfire is a software platform that allows customers to analyze data using statistics. The latest release, 5.5, includes integration with "Statistics Services" and the ability to develop dynamic analytic applications that run on the web through a client called TIBCO Spotfire Web Player. In addition, TIBCO Spotfire delivers enterprise-strength self-service predictive analytics to speed decisions and help customers achieve a two-second advantage™. The new TIBCO® Enterprise Runtime for R engine within TIBCO Spotfire 5.0 brings scalability and stability to R language and enables users to adapt and implement enterprise-grade predictive models. Tibco Spotfire is already a popular product for finding the proverbial needles in the haystack, but customers are telling Tibco that the haystacks are getting bigger. Oil and gas operations, for example, are gathering more information from well sensors. Manufacturers are grabbing more production data off of shop floors. And marketers are gathering more customer analysis and segmentation information through click streams and social networks. As the data stacks up, the nature of the analysis changes, according to Steve Farr, a Tibco Spotfire senior product marketing manager.
"It's tempting to think you can identify the important trends in a small subset of the data, but big data analytics is about considering all of the data so you also see the exceptions and outliers," Farr told InformationWeek. "It's in the outliers that you find fraud, risk, and the things that are growing wrong." You can also find latent patterns in that bigger picture that reveal opportunities.
Spotfire competes with the likes of Tableau Software on data visualization and QlikTech on delivering analytic dashboards and applications. All three vendors are growing quickly on the appeal of fast and intuitive in-memory analysis. To deliver that capability at a bigger scale, a rewrite of the in-memory engine in Spotfire 5.0 takes better advantage of high-capacity, multi-core servers, according to Farr. "We're seeing very little degradation of performance as we add rows of data because we've rewritten in a way that throws all the power of the hardware at the data analysis,". But in-memory capacity takes you only so far. When it comes to truly high-volume data analysis up into the tens or hundreds of terabytes or more, in-database analysis is the emerging analytical approach. It lets you apply analytics within the powerful database platforms in which large data sets reside. Users benefit because they don't waste time extracting and moving data, handling analyses on under-powered analytic servers, and then returning result sets back to the database platform. It all happens inside the database.
Tibco is a latecomer to this approach, as SAS, SPSS, Alpine, and other analytics vendors have already ventured into in-database analytics. But Spotfire customers don't want to be left out, according to Farr, so the 5.0 release supports in-database analysis in conjunction with Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, and Teradata data warehouse platforms. Support for in-database analysis within EMC Greenplum, IBM Netezza, and SAP Hana is also being discussed, but they didn't make the first cut.
The customers most likely to take advantage of in-database processing are those with the largest data volumes. Procter & Gamble, for example, uses Spotfire to serve up data visualizations to some 60,000 employees. It currently uses SAS for most predictive analyses, but the 5.0 release appears to have opened the door to use of Spotfire's predictive capabilities. "We are excited by the prospect of Spotfire 5.0 being able to efficiently analyze and visualize extreme data volumes by executing analytics directly within our database architecture," said Alan Falkingham, P&G's director, business intelligence, in a statement from Tibco. P&G's database platform is Oracle Exadata.
- Dynamic queries, starfield displays, and the path to Spotfire (By Ben Shneiderman, February 4, 1999, updated July 26, 2007) Accessed May 18, 2009
- TIBCO kauft Spotfire
- Datta, Saheli S.R. (October 1, 2006). "Spotfire's predictive technology helps companies mine data". CNNMoney.com. "Spotfire, a Business-intelligence software company based in Somerville"