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ThoughtSpot: AI-Powered Analytics for Your Modern Data Stack.

Beyond the ‘Dashboards Are Dead’ Rhetoric: Part 5

Evolution

Like Looker, ThoughtSpot was founded in 2012. Ironically, as Looker ended up acquired by Google, one of ThoughtSpot’s founders, Ajeet Singh, had previously worked at Google, which was his and Amit Prakash’s inspiration – having a Google-like search interface for data analytics and business intelligence. This unique approach has put ThoughtSpot in a special position in the BI field and has attracted many investors over the years.

Up to date, TohughtSpot, a privately-held company, had at least 6 rounds of funds, the latest in November 2020 valued the company at $4.2 billion. In March 2021, it acquired a SQL-based analytics software startup, SeekWell, for $20 million, and two months after they purchased Diyotta, a data integration company. In April this year, ThoughtSpot expanded further with another acquisition, this time of an Indian data & analytics consulting firm, SagasIT Analytics, which serves a respectful list of enterprise organizations. Two months later, ThoughSpot went big with its last acquisition of Mode Analytics, a BI company – the acquisition price was evaluated at around $200 million.  

In 2019, Gartner recognized ThoughtSpot as a Leader in the Magic Quadrant for Analytics and BI Platforms. Since 2021, it has consistently been ranked highest in the Visionaries quadrant, underscoring its innovative approach and vision in BI.

Technology and Architecture

Installation & applications

Thoughtspot offers both cloud and on-prem solutions supported by its Server app, and offers a web-based analytics interface known for its search-driven analytics.

Querying Data

ThoughtSpot supports both live querying directly to the data source, as well as an in-memory manner via DataFlow, but unlike other solutions, the data is not being stored within Thoughtspot internal storage, but rather being indexed for search purposes, along with some caching queries results set in ThoughtSpot’s columnar database. In some cases, ThoughtSpot uses a hybrid approach, leveraging the upsides of both methods.

Structure, Entities & Relationships

Thoughtspot structure is pretty straightforward. The data is being presented by Answers, which is a saved query that can be shaped in an appropriate visualization, and running either directly against a data source, a predefined Data Model that can contain custom SQL and additional data transformation, or a worksheet that represents a more simpler subset of a Data Model. Answers from various sources can be combined into a Liveboard, Thoughtspot canvas of visualizations, but can also stand alone as a search result or a designed visual.  

Dashboards Tabs

ThoughtSpot Liveboard is a single-page canvas of Answers and visualizations.

Containers & Organizations

Unlike all other scanned products in this post, Thoughtspot abandons complex hierarchical structures in favor of a streamlined search engine, enhanced with a tagging system and divided between shared and personal spaces. This approach significantly reduces the time users spend searching for data insights, fostering a more dynamic and user-friendly environment.

Diagram

Focus and Strengths

At its core, ThoughtSpot prioritizes search functionality, aiming to serve end-users and analytics consumers directly. This search-centric design, combined with a minimalistic and container-free structure, significantly lowers the learning curve compared to other BI tools. ThoughtSpot’s flexible offerings cater to a wide range of organizations, allowing it to scale and adapt to various market segments.

The Future

If there was any doubt about Thoughtspot’s different approach to D&A, nowadays, no one questions it. If the immediate thought of the D&A future is NLQ, chatbots, and LLMs over organizational data, Thoughtspot has a clear lead. And even with their distinguishable “Dashboards are dead” campaign, they acknowledge the place of data visualizations and dashboards in organizations, alongside ad hoc queries and analyses. 

Unlike the three vendors above, ThoughtSpot is not backed by the resources of a technology giant. Nevertheless, they have already proven themselves with high valuations from their investors and smart investments and acquisitions. Plus, they can continue to focus on their premise and be agnostic to any specific cloud technology, use case, or industry. 

This all leads me to believe that Thoughtspot will continue to partner with the right teams to leverage GenAI and LLM technologies with their own to accelerate their growth more than any other player in this field. 

The main unknown spot is their exploration of embedded analytics, representing a potential growth avenue. However, the company’s commitment to integrating search-based data analytics tools for internal purposes while potentially expanding into embedded analytics suggests a strategic direction that could either accelerate growth or require careful balancing to maintain focus on its core strengths.

Catch Up on the Other Blogs in This Series

  • Read my take on Tableau in part 2.

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