Tibco Silver Spotfire – Social BI? Why Not?

Tibco, fresh from a Q2 with license revenue up 23% over last year’s, continuing a two year run of beating consensus earnings estimates, has stepped up and out ahead to pursue the long-coveted mid-market customers who don’t use BI but find that spreadsheets don’t do enough.  Tibco believes, like Microsoft, that many are social technology users: they have blogs and use other channels available to them, and they will build and share reports given the chance. So, says Tibco, here it is: building on the Silver cloud platform it’s had in beta for about a year, Tibco is introducing Silver Spotfire, with an offer tuned to the cloud user – a no-cost, no-obligation, no-risk 1-year trial of a Spotfire play in the cloud requiring no IT involvement. “All you need is a browser,” is the pitch, and this is not from a new company you don’t know, but an established  player with a sizable roster of enterprise BI customers. [Edit 8/27 – Tibco has put up a Wiki on “what is Social BI“.]

Spotfire has had a “visionary” reputation for some time now (Gartner has recognized it as such in Magic Quadrant research), and Tibco has steadily grown its market share, though like other portfolio software vendors, it is unwilling to break individual product numbers out for a clear comparison. Its strong visualization, powerful statistical engine, and in-memory performance focus (with load balancing in the server in its latest release) have extended its reputation. Spotfire also leverages Tibco’s long experience with event processing to provide context-aware features that have driven continued expansion. Silver Spotfire confirms its preference for the visionary play with an authoring client, andweb-based sharing and hosting that will be available for a monthly fee after the trial.

Users of Silver are unlikely to leverage Spotfire’s parameter-driven analytic apps or its integrated predictive analytics with solid support for S+ and R for statistics (deploy into an application, register and call a function), but the experience gained on those deployments has taught Tibco the power of its data visualization. Hence its guided analytics, and its already developed APIs for developing mash-ups. And users will be happy to point Spotfire at their spreadsheets, XML data sources, Access files and other sources they can get to – that part of the product architecture has been there from the beginning.

Few of its larger peers and competitors (other than Informatica) have embraced the delivery model used in the cloud as thoroughly as Tibco has here, and it’s really not such a big bet.  The barriers to entry are low, and the product speaks (volumes) for itself. I expect to see a big surge in tier-kicking (no, that’s not a typo); conversion to sales will be the challenge, and Tibco has a sizable sales organization to put to work – execution in the field will make or break Silver Spotfire as a commercial breakthrough. Roll the dice – it’s not a bad bet.

Disclosures: none

Published by Merv Adrian

Independent information technology market analyst and consultant, 40 years of industry experience, covering software in and around the data management space.

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