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Augmented intelligence capabilities including a new natural language query feature and low-code/no-code tools for embedded application development are at the core of the latest Sisense BI platform update.
Sisense, founded in 2004 and based in New York, unveiled the new capabilities on April 15. All of the features included in the Sisense BI platform update are now generally available except the natural language query tool, which is in beta testing and will be made available to the general public in May.
Sisense Natural Language Query is a natural language generation tool built to give non-technical users the same ability to search data and get insights from their information as data scientists, but without having to write code. Meanwhile, Sisense Natural Language Query is built on what the vendor is calling its Knowledge Graph, a graph analytics engine Sisense developed that has studied more than 650 billion past analytic events and informs the machine learning capabilities of the query tool.
"That graph structure that underpins the product manifests itself in many different ways throughout the AI features in the product," said Harry Glaser, chief business officer at Sisense. "We know who you are, we know what people like you do, what you might want to do based on the context that you're in right now. That Knowledge Graph helps the AI be more sophisticated than it would be otherwise."
Beyond the new natural language query tool, the Sisense BI platform update includes the release of what the vendor is calling its Embedded Playground, a hub where application developers of all levels can access embedding and customization capabilities without having to write code.
"If you want to do something low-code/no-code, you just want the code generated for you and you just want to play around, then the embedded playground is a good place for you," Glaser said. "If you're a hardcore developer, the embedded playground is one more tool in your tool set. Moving it into your development environment … will be really nice for you to iterate fast."
While neither the natural language query tool nor the hub for application development break new ground, analysts said they are strong additions to the Sisense BI platform.
Sisense's most recent update, which was released in December 2019, also featured new tools fueled by AI, including a modeling tool that uses machine learning to predict future outcomes and a low-code/no-code tool for data preparation.
"They're embracing two of the major trends that are happening in the market," said David Menninger, research director of data and analytics research at Ventana Research. "All of the vendors in this space are going down these two paths, and the two major themes I would highlight are natural language interfaces and embedded analytics."
And both trends, he added, address ease of use.
David MenningerResearch director of data and analytics research, Ventana Research
"Natural language is about reaching people who aren't necessarily data literate or aren't necessarily schooled in how to structure a query, and embedded analytics is about not having to switch context to get to analytics," Menninger said. "They're both about making analytics available to broader swaths of the organization's workforce."
Similarly, Wayne Eckerson, founder and president of Eckerson Group, said that Sisense BI platform update includes intriguing new features.
"Lots of interesting tidbits here," he said.
He added that other vendors already have natural language query capabilities and Sisense is reacting to them, but that the Knowledge Graph is something he hasn't previously seen.
The April Sisense BI platform comes about 11 months after Sisense agreed to acquire Periscope Data, a 2012 startup based in San Francisco. In January, Sisense rebranded Periscope's capabilities, naming them Sisense for Cloud Data Teams to go along with Sisense for BI and Analytics Teams and Sisense for Product Teams.
As part of the latest update, in addition to Sisense Natural Language Query and the Embedded Playground which are components of Sisense for BI and Analytics Teams, Sisense added three new connectors that are now part of Sisense for Cloud Data Teams and are aimed at helping organizations more easily access their data.
"Sisense for Cloud Data Teams is the Periscope Data products but integrated into the Sisense platform," Glaser, who was the founder and CEO of Periscope, said. "Every quarter we announce many updates for all our packages, and Sisense for Cloud Data Teams added a bunch of premium connectors and other things to enhance its enterprise-grade quality." Glaser said continuing to integrate Periscope into Sisense will be a focus in the future, as will adding to the AI capabilities that have been at the heart of the recent Sisense BI platform updates.
Specifically, the Knowledge Graph is expected to play a significant role in future Sisense BI platform updates.
"You can expect the investment in AI to accelerate," Glaser said. "The Knowledge Graph announcement, now that we've been working on that for many years and could have announced at any time, is a tip off that you can expect to see an acceleration of the things built on that over the next couple of quarters and beyond."