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Tibco analytics platform keeps pace through innovation

Tibco has remained one of the more active business intelligence vendors while some of its competitors have lost some momentum.

The Tibco analytics platform has been around a long time, and Tibco says it is still innovating by continually advancing its business intelligence suite.

On Aug. 27, the Palo Alto-based vendor added native support for Snowflake Data Warehouse for cloud analytics to Spotfire, its main analytics platform.

Tibco, founded in 1997 and based in Palo Alto, Calif., offers a variety of BI tools. The vendor was among the first to develop data visualization, helping move BI away from spreadsheets to a more easily digestible form.

And now Tibco is keeping pace with modern BI-analytics industry technologies such as augmented intelligence and machine learning.

"Looking at the past used to be enough," said Shawn Rogers, Tibco's senior director of analytic strategy.

With AI and machine learning, however, as the amounts of available data increases exponentially, Tibco is aiming to help organizations better understand what is happening now as well as predict what's to come.

"Because of the size and amount of data, companies need AI and ML to figure out what they don't already know," Rogers said.

A Tibco data visualization reveals when an organization's errors and accidents are most likely to happen.
A sample Tibco dashboard visualizes the timing of an organization's errors and accidents.

Spotfire was its own company up until 2007, when Tibco acquired it. Initially, Tibco positioned Spotfire as middleware rather than as a standalone analytics tool.

"When Tibco acquired Spotfire … they had a narrow understanding of how to use it to add analytics," said Rita Sallam, an analyst at Gartner. "In 2011, they invested in Spotfire and made it more of a standalone."

In the years since, the TIBCO analytics platform has shown itself to be among the vendors moving the capabilities of BI products forward.

The product is very strong -- it rates high in critical capabilities. They added advanced processing, and they're one of the few platforms that supports real-time analytics. Tibco as a product has really differentiated itself.
Rita SallamAnalyst, Gartner

"The product is very strong -- it rates high in critical capabilities," Sallam said. "They acquired stuff to add to Spotfire. They added advanced processing, and they're one of the few platforms that supports real-time analytics. Tibco as a product has really differentiated itself."

Similarly, Doug Henschen, an analyst at Constellation Research, noted that the Tibco analytics platform is close to vendors such as ThoughtSpot and Microsoft that are taking BI into new places with augmented intelligence and natural language querying.

"They've very recently stepped up their augmented intelligence capabilities in [Spotfire X] with some machine learning and suggested insights," he said. "They have visualizations with explanatory text. They added natural language query capabilities with [Spotfire X] that are keyword-oriented but not conversational -- it's a start."

He cautioned, however, that the Tibco analytics platform has a somewhat limited reach.

"They're for data-savvy users but not for the non-trained business user -- for a lot of engineering types," Henschen said.

Rogers, however, said the Tibco analytics platform is evolving in that respect to be more accessible.

"It's important to interact with the sophistication and maturity of our users," he said. "The trend for the future is to address the growing personas wanting access to data."

The Tibco analytics platform also faces a challenge Sallam traces back to the years just after the Spotfire acquisition. It was around that time that BI exploded into the mainstream, and other vendors gobbled up the biggest market shares.

"Tibco as a product has really differentiated itself, but the challenge is that they missed some of their opportunity when the market was taking off from 2010 to 2012," she said. "They're not on the top of people's minds -- people are thinking about Power BI and Tableau."

Meanwhile, recent mergers and acquisitions have absorbed some leading BI vendors into much larger tech companies.

"We're demonstrating how to keep up," Rogers said.

He noted that Tibco has recently made strategic acquisitions of its own, adding Statistica, Alpine Data and Orchestra Networks, among others.

"We're adding the right parts and pieces," Rogers said. "You have to stay on target. That helps you compete in a smart way."

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Beyond AI and ML, what can Tibco do to keep up with the pace of innovation in business intelligence?
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