Why ThoughtSpot’s BI and Search-Driven Analytics Falls Short

Juluan Alvarado

Sr. Content Marketing Manager, Sigma

One of the most popular business intelligence (BI) trends in the last year has been the promise of analytics offerings powered by artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and natural language processing (NLP). These solutions claim to surface unidentified challenges and untapped opportunities while saving companies time and resources by automating insight generation.

But businesses are quickly realizing these tools are still in their infancy. And while they claim to be the future of self-service analytics, they have yet to prove their ability to consistently deliver relevant, actionable insights. ThoughtSpot, a data analytics and BI platform, is an example of such a tool that doesn’t live up to the promise of search-driven analytics.

In this post, we’ll explore why ThoughtSpot’s “Google-like” approach to analytics will leave you searching for answers — and how Sigma can help.

Empty Promises & Unanswered Questions: Exploring the Allure of ThoughtSpot and AI-driven Analytics

ThoughtSpot uses a search interface to automatically run thousands of queries in search of statistical anomalies in customers’ data. Although this is sure to surface the occasional insight, randomly identified anomalies don’t point directly to the business opportunities that come from the result of complex analyses like:

Uncovering truly meaningful business insights requires analyzing data in the context of business processes, market trends, and company goals. Interpreting data through the lens of tacit knowledge and previous experiences is also highly impactful — and something search-driven AI simply can’t do.

Who Said Dashboards Are Dead?

When a BI tool offers limited, lackluster dashboard functionality that does not allow business users to drill into the data supporting them, it is easy to claim that “dashboards are dead.” But in truth, that statement is only part of the story.

Point-and-click dashboards were great when being “data-driven” meant reporting out on a limited, predefined set of business metrics. At best, these traditional analytics dashboards offer surface-level reporting on what is already known, and worse, leave their consumers without the ability to ask follow-up questions without going back to the BI team for help.

Dashboards aren’t dead, but the novelty of point-and-click dashboards is wearing off. Business teams require the ability to  search and dig directly into data – often at the most granular level — to make critical decisions on-demand, and ThoughtSpot’s dashboards fall short.

With Sigma, teams can drill down into dynamic dashboards to explore the underlying data in a few easy clicks. Every detail is at users’ fingertips in Sigma’s familiar interface to pivot, filter, calculate and sort data using spreadsheet-like formulas they already know.

Data Speaks Louder Than Words: Why the World of Search Analytics Is Far from Here

ThoughtSpot claims its search-driven interface allows users to surface new challenges and opportunities while saving time and resources with automated insight generation. For example, a VP of Sales could use ThoughSpot to ask “What was our monthly sales by region in Q2?”

But even a question this simple requires significant upfront data modeling and fine tuning from BI and data teams. What’s worse, is that if a business expert had any additional questions, they would need to return BI team to model the data for them, delaying critical insights and time to action.

Sigma offers a flexible approach to data modeling, allowing non-technical users to query the cloud data platform directly, join tables, visually curate datasets, and collaborate with minimal reliance on BI and data team expertise.

Cloud Data Exploration: Put Business Users In Control of Their Analytics Workflow

Data-driven organizations invest in cloud data platforms to seamlessly manage massive volumes of data from across hundreds of sources in a centralized, secure, fully-governed repository.

But since ThoughtSpot was originally designed for on-premises data warehouses, it slows down or crashes when working on large datasets – especially when trying to get to the lowest level of granularity. BI teams are forced to extract and aggregate or summarize large datasets prior to analysis.

Sigma is the perfect single pane of glass into cloud data platforms and gives organizations the ability to directly access, search, prepare, analyze, and take advantage of live data at cloud-scale. Teams can analyze up to hundreds of billions of rows of data at a high-level, as well as drill down to row-level detail – no copies or extracts required.

Sigma also allows users to create secure, interactive dashboards that can be embedded into internal or external applications. Application builders can focus on building great user experiences, not on reporting and analytics infrastructure.

Big Data and Search-driven AI Has Potential, But Can Your Business Wait That Long?

While AI-driven analytics is likely to evolve and become more capable, the reality is that it will be a while before it can replace human-directed data exploration. Leading companies need an analytics solution that empowers business domain experts to incorporate their contextual knowledge and proven experience into complex, iterative analysis.

Unlike ThoughtSpot, Sigma turns data exploration into the iterative process it was always meant to be – no manual coding required. With Sigma, users can explore data in search of untapped opportunities, run rapid what-if analyses to uncover potential risk, and schedule automated alerts if specific events occur uncovers truly relevant and impactful insights in seconds.

Ready to try Sigma’s data exploration capabilities for yourself?