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At its Beyond 2022 conference yesterday, independent business intelligence (BI) player ThoughtSpot announced the salient points of its revamped Modern Analytics Cloud platform, including new capabilities and new editions available for small teams, medium-sized entities and large enterprise organizations.
ThoughtSpot’s Series F fundraising round, back in November, garnered $100M and a $4.2 billion valuation for the company. The valuation reset accompanied a change in business model, too. While the platform premiered on the market with a monolithic, on-premises natural language-focused business intelligence platform and a six-figure price tag, ThoughtSpot completely switched gears, moving to a fully-SaaS model.
The technology has changed along with the deployment model. While the original ThoughtSpot platform required all data to be ingested into, and modeled within, its own storage platform, it now leverages major data warehouse and lakehouse platforms — including Amazon Redshift, Snowflake, Databricks, Google BigQuery, Starburst, Dremio and Microsoft’s Azure Synapse Analytics — for the actual storage of data.
Essentially, ThoughtSpot is now implemented as an analytics engine, with its own modeling language, and no longer seeks to be the physical repository for the data. This avoids lengthy data movement and inefficient, risky data duplication, taking a customer-driven approach rather than a vendor-centric one.
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New editions to its analytics platform
Yesterday’s announcement rang in further changes to the pricing model, making ThoughtSpot’s analytics platform available in three editions, which differ in data volume/capacity limits, but which impose no restrictions on number of users. A Team Edition is available for $95/month, with a data volume limit of 5 million rows. While there is no limit in the number of users, there is a limit of one group of users, making the Team edition a departmental solution, with appropriate nomenclature. Team Edition offers unlimited queries, and support is community-based.
Pro Edition starts at $2500/month, with a limit of 100 million rows — increasing both the price and the data capacity by about 20x — although the rows:dollar ratio actually decreases a bit. For Pro, the number of user groups increases from one to five, making it a solution more appropriate for small and medium-sized organizations or as a divisional solution for larger ones. 24/7 direct support by ThoughtSpot is part of the package, with certain service-level agreements (SLAs). The actual monthly billable amount for Pro will vary by query activity; however, startups, nonprofits and educational institutions, with less than 100 people and under $10 million in annual revenue, are eligible for a special variant of Pro that eliminates per-query charges.
The top-of-the-line solution is Enterprise Edition, which eliminates caps on data volume and number of user groups. Here too, pricing is based on actual queries, and capabilities include higher-grade SLAs, enhanced data encryption, support for AWS PrivateLink/Azure Private Link, single sign on (SSO) and VPN support.
ThoughtSpot offers features galore
In addition to the new editions and pricing, ThoughtSpot announced several new core capabilities. These include new “CodeSpot” searchable repository of open-source ThoughtSpot blocks and code samples; ELT Live Analytics templates (custom ELT jobs built to work with Matillion); new third-party data blocks; integration with dbt Labs‘ SQL-based data pipeline platform, and new SpotApps, with templates for ServiceNow, Snowflake, HubSpot, Okta, Google Analytics, Google Ads, Jira, Redshift and Databricks.
Compare and contrast
For my own purposes, I like to analyze new offerings relative to others in the market, both to determine value, but also to observe industry trends. The availability of three pricing tiers for ThoughtSpot’s platform, as well as its cloud orientation, begs some comparison to Microsoft’s Power BI. The latter offers three major tiers as well: Free, Pro and Premium, with the last of these starting at $4995/month and aimed at enterprises, much like ThoughtSpot’s Enterprise Edition.
There are key differences, though. While Power BI Premium doesn’t limit the number of consumption-only users, it does have additional per-seat pricing for users who need authoring capabilities. On the other hand, it offers dedicated infrastructure and doesn’t have any usage-based fees. Of course, the higher the usage, the more compute capacity a customer may want, which would mean adding dedicated infrastructure nodes, with a commensurate increase in monthly pricing. One way or another, you get what you pay for, or vice versa.
Meanwhile, Power BI lets users import data in their BI models or leave it in the source system. It also provides for so-called compositie models, where data storage for a single BI model can be split between the local and remote.
Trends, not fads
The point here, though, isn’t to measure parity between ThoughtSpot and other BI platforms, but rather to discern some trends of consensus in the market. What we can see overall, is that business intelligence, which has been around since the 1990s, maintains its core tenets of slice-and-dice analytics but has modernized with the sea changes in database technology and computing overall. Today, it’s all about the cloud, integrating with other platforms in the ecosystem, and leveraging data from a variety of sources, without requiring the data to be moved.
The barriers to entry for BI have been lowered, with simplified getting-started experiences, and very accessible pricing for smaller organizations. Large organizations will still pay handsomely, but will ostensibly see comprably handsome ROI, in terms operational efficiencies and competitive differentiation. The doctrine of data-driven operation and digital transformation is enabled by BI, which needs to be low-friction and accessible at the low-end, while facilitating robust rewards, usually accompanied by equally robust pricing, at the high-end.
ThoughtSpot and its platform have changed immensely since the early days, as has the BI space, with so many players having been acquired in the last few years. ThoughtSpot is now well-aligned with industry trends and seems driven by them. If the remaining independents like ThoughtSpot are to succeed, they’ll need to conform to these trends and even get a bit ahead of them. Some will do well there; others less so. ThoughtSpot is clearly all-in on retooling and revamping for today’s analytics workloads, despite the business intelligence market’s evolution into a very crowded, competitive space.
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