ThoughtSpot Prepares for Next Decade of Data
ThoughtSpot turns 10 next month, a birthday that seems at odds with the enormous changes the data analytics company has lived through the past three years. Here at its Beyond 2022 conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, ThoughtSpot is charting out a course for itself and its customers not only for the next year of analytics, but the next decade.
Progress is a funny thing, ThoughtSpot CEO Sudheesh Nair said during his Beyond 2022 keynote yesterday. “The pace of change happens gradually,” he says, paraphrasing Hemmingway, “and then suddenly.”
He was ostensibly talking about the world of cloud, AI, and wireless telecommunications, which have made quantum leaps the past 1o to 15 years. When those technological dominos were lined up, it precipitated a chain reaction that we’re living through at the moment.
“Today, you talk about smartphones–the entire history of human civilization, experience and knowledge is in the palm of your hand,” Nair said. “The beauty of all this, is [powering] it all is data. That’s why we are so lucky…because if you get it right, you have the opportunity to own the next decade, because we are entering a defining decade of data.”
Fast Cloudy Pivot
ThoughtSpot developed a reputation for providing an easy-to-use, search-driven analytics experience for users. The company’s mantra could be summed up as this: There are too few trained analysts and there is too much data in the world to require extensive training programs on classical BI products before users can extract insights.
Product designers who cut their teeth at Google delivered ThoughtSpot’s natural language query (NLQ)-driven user experience, which has resonated with large enterprises like Verizon, Disney, and MasterCard, who have adopted ThoughtSpot to empower users with self-service access to data. That UX simplicity belies what’s going on behind the scenes, however, as the company uses an array of techniques, including AI, to prepare the data for analysis.
The strategy to replace older BI products with an easier-to-use analytics experience was resonating in 2019, when the company raised $248 million in a Series E round at a valuation approaching $2 billion. Everything seemed to be going well. And then COVID-19 struck.
Nair, a former Nutanix president who was hired in 2018 by ThoughtSpot co-founder Ajeet Singh–himself a former Nutanix co-founder–had decisions to make. The COVID-19 pandemic was turbocharging the shift to the cloud. ThoughtSpot, however, was still selling traditional on-premise software. Something had to give.
Nair responded by re-orienting the company around the cloud. As part of that shift, he laid off 85 employees. By the fall of 2020, the company had released its first software-as-a-service offering, which quickly became the dominant revenue stream for the Palo Alto, California company.
“I was thinking, is there a worse time to do this?” Nair told Forbes in 2021. “But if we did not do it, we would not have been able to change the company’s course to become a cloud company, and COVID could have wiped us out.”
Modern Data Ecosystem
The cloud pivot worked, and armed with a $100 million Series F last November at a $4 billion valuation, the company raised the cash needed to continue investing in growth. Today, the company is fully embracing the cloud data ecosystem as the primary way it goes to market, which it calls the Modern Analytics Cloud.
As part of that shift, ThoughtSpot is de-emphasizing Falcon, its in-memory database, which it still supports but which is not being enhanced or actively sold. Instead, ThoughtSpot is looking to build stronger connections to the industry’s largest cloud data warehouses, which have become the gravity centers of today’s analytic universe.
The changes that began in 2020 continued in 2021, when the company launched Data Workspace, a new offering designed to bring engineers, analysts, and developers together to streamline the technical work required to integrate and create new data-driven apps in the emerging “modern data stack.” That worked continued at this week’s Beyond 2022 conference as the company solidified its partnerships with several of these cloud giants, including:
- Snowflake with support for the Snowflake Data Marketplace;
- with AWS for simplified provisioning of Redshift Serverless clusters;
- and with Databricks for a rapid rollout of a ThoughtSpot environment from the Databricks console.
ThoughtSpot also rolled out new connectors for Starburst and Dremio, which deliver SQL query engines that can tap into a variety of data stores running in the cloud or on prem. It also rolled out integration with dbt, the popular data transformation tool offered by dbt Labs, to enable users to translate dbt models to ThoughtSpot Modeling Language (TML), the YAML-based language used by data analysts and engineers to prepare data for analysis.
The company also used its first in-person conference in three years to roll out a host of other enhancements, including the launch of:
- ThoughtSpot Sync, which enables customers to automatically trigger actions in other applications and services through APIs;
- CodeSpot, a searchable repository of open-source ThoughtSpot blocks and code samples;
- Monitor, which allows users to create KPIs that continuously scans for changes, outliers, and anomalies in data;
- And multiple new SpotApps that include templates for ServiceNow, Snowflake, HubSpot, Okta, Google Analytics, Google Ads, Jira, RedShift, and Databricks.
The strategy, Nair said, is enabling customers to build the right products to deliver the right experiences for engaging with customers. It’s not just about collecting data, he says, but ensuring that the data leads to action. And the key to taking action from data, he said, is the delivery of personalized insights within the context of live data.
“When the data is alive, your analytics must be alive,” Nair said during his keynote. “Business users with the context of the questions they’re asking will be empowered to do live analytics on the data….Live analytics is about closing the gap between intent and ability to act.”
Beyond 2022 continues today. Stay tuned for more updates from the show.