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What is ThoughtSpot and why should I care?


If you do a Google search for “What is ThoughtSpot?” the answer that you are likely to get is “a search and AI driven analytics platform”, which is a really nice marketing one liner. This article is intended to take you deeper and answer the question “What is ThoughtSpot and why should I care?”


Before we get started I want to touch on my experience with ThoughtSpot. I first heard about ThoughtSpot in March 2019. At the time I was a Director of Workforce Analytics. One of the big issues that we were tackling at the time was how do we get more people across our 400,000 strong organisation using data in their everyday work. We were a Qlik shop at the time and had a number of dashboards, but they just weren’t delivering the outcomes we were looking for.


So we saw a demo of ThoughtSpot. In that 45 minutes, I was blown away. That demo showed how easy it was for the typical business user to ask and answer their own questions using search. That demo made such an impact on me, I could see that ThoughtSpot was not just another BI platform, it was something special.


Fast forward to today, I am the Managing Director of Pivot Analytics. We are the APJ ThoughtSpot partner of the year. Although we do work across many sectors, we specialise in working with the retail sector to make data driven decision making a reality across the entire organisation.


So what is ThoughtSpot?

ThoughtSpot has been designed primarily for the business user to be able to answer ad-hoc data questions. The thing about a dashboard is that it has been designed by an analyst based on what they think a user is going to want to know. Dashboards are great for monitoring the same metrics over time, but the thing for retail managers is, they want to know what is happening, what is under/over performing, they want to dig into the why, they want to take action and then they want to monitor to see if the action had the desired impact. It’s really hard for a dashboard to be able to handle each of the variations that occur when you work across thousands of product lines and hundreds of stores. This is why you are frustrated with your dashboards.


This is the absolute sweet spot for ThoughtSpot, take a look at this short video to see how the simple search interface of ThoughtSpot enables your everyday business user to self-serve.



After watching the video, it is probably pretty clear that while ThoughtSpot is a BI platform, it is wildly different from Tableau, PowerBI and Qlik. If you want to understand in more detail how it differs, I have previously written an article which explores that in depth.



As with any data question, there is always a follow up question. So at the start you asked “What is ThoughtSpot?”, is your next question “Can business users actually self-serve with ThoughtSpot?” I think the best way to answer that one is from a ThoughtSpot customer. This is from Canadian Tire, a large North American retailer, who have 1,100+ unique monthly users conducting over 400,000 searches every month. So, yeah it works.



So, what is ThoughtSpot?

A business tool that enables everyone in your organisation to make data driven decisions everyday.



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