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Sisense jumps on the smart data discovery trend with new update

Sisense is betting that machine learning algorithms can improve its data discovery experience, a move that could soon become the new standard in self-service analytics.

These days, whether we're talking about phones, watches or refrigerators, everything is "smart." So, business intelligence should be, too.

That's the operating assumption in a new update from software vendor Sisense Inc. The New York-based company has added a new package, called Pulse, to its BI and analytics software. Pulse is a smart data discovery engine that leverages machine learning algorithms to review data sets and automatically generate reports for users, highlighting potentially interesting information, such as outliers.

Sisense is a cloud-based software-as-a-service offering that lets users import data from a variety of sources and set up dashboards to track key performance indicators. The new functionality allows users to put things on autopilot. They can subscribe to reports and be notified automatically when trends in the data start to change or predefined thresholds are passed.

Since the Pulse tool is built using machine learning algorithms, it tailors notifications to user preferences and data sets over time.

Envision Technology Advisors LLC, an IT consulting firm in Pawtucket, R.I., has been using Sisense for about a year -- both for internal operational purposes and helping clients get up and running on the tool. Internally, managers use it to track workers' hours to ensure they line up with billings and track the impact of marketing spend, among other use cases.

Envision's owner, Todd Knapp, said the smart data discovery functionality from Pulse has lowered the bar to advanced analytics insights and made it possible for anyone at his company to get useful information from data.

"It's a level of visibility that's unprecedented at my company," he said.

The BI world is increasingly heading in the direction of this kind of smart data discovery. Over the last decade, BI vendors looked to take advantage of the self-service trend, and simplifying tools was the top priority. But now that easy-to-use self-service tools have become the standard, vendors are looking for new ways to stand out.

Recent advances in machine learning capabilities have made smart data discovery a potentially hot field. The most recent Gartner Magic Quadrant for BI and Analytics Platforms predicted that by 2020, about 50% of analytical queries will be generated using advanced search or natural language processing, or will be auto-generated. All three methods lean heavily on machine learning.

Gartner analyst Jim Hare, speaking about this trend, said BI vendors will soon face significant pressure to embrace this kind of functionality or risk falling behind. "This market is being disrupted by smart data discovery," he said. "There's potential for vendors to disrupt or be disrupted."

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