Here’s where the sum’s greater than the parts.
When TIBCO combined the titan-like powers of Spotfire 4.0 and Microsoft SharePoint, they unleashed more than they bargained for with SharePoint WebPart. I’ve found that the integration of these platforms has more going for it than just leveraging visualizations and sharing them across industry-wide teams.
The real revolution is in data analysis and collaboration.
A New Relationship
Spotfire is a platform used for analytics and visualization. Quickly growing to be an industry leader in the BI arena, its drag-and-drop style environment can point at various data sources enabling the design of powerful interactive dashboards. In addition, because TIBCO has an Open API Exchange that is integrated with TIBCO Spotfire analytics, there is a broad range of applications which can be used with Spotfire that have yet to be developed. Recently, however, more companies are starting to realize the benefits and advantages of the merging of Spotfire with SharePoint.
SharePoint is the enterprise tool for creating websites that allows storing, organizing, and accessing information in a secure collaborative environment. I’ve been an analyst/consultant in the oil & gas industry for five years and almost every corporate company I’ve worked with uses SharePoint. It truly is a great application for knowledge management, file sharing among team members, and collaboration among cross-functional groups.
In the Industry
In Spotfire, as long as data is in the form of a table it can be imported for analysis. Because it is a tool meant for visualization and not storage of data, one of Spotfire’s limitations is not being able to dynamically edit values in the tables. For certain sets of data, if SharePoint’s list data is directly loaded into Spotfire the workflow for performing analysis can be completely reinvented.
- One example of this integration is with analog analysis. For reservoir engineers, performing analog analysis generates many possibilities that need to be stored and discussed. Instead of generating multiple charts and reports in Excel and sharing via email, Spotfire allows the reservoir engineers to quickly find those analogs and push that data to be stored as a list in SharePoint and shared for discussion.
- Another example is with tracking an approval process. The process may require multiple levels of approval across managers but the evaluation needs to be done in Spotfire. Having a central dashboard gives managers at all levels quick access to the data and the integration enables linking out to SharePoint for comments and approvals.
- Additionally, organizations could reduce their number of desktop licenses by leveraging the web player instance. For users who don’t necessarily need full stack author capabilities, the SharePoint integration is a nice solution for ad-hoc analyses on smaller sets of data that require dynamic edits.
These are just a few examples of the many broad applications of a Spotfire and SharePoint integration.
Undervalued and Powerful
I think SharePoint is underutilized in some ways because its designers are usually limited to SharePoint site administrators. Although these IT admins are the ones who have been trained on site, page, and web part design, they are usually not the end-users who perform the workflow to access the information that is captured. Additionally, users who have been given permission to have a little more control on their team SharePoint may only be able to create a custom list by uploading content or make edits to forms designed by the admins.
Because of this, the value of storing data in SharePoint lists may not be maximized. In my experience with SharePoint, I’ve seen the need for users to be able to do more than just display and edit the data in their SharePoint Lists. The need to design a workflow around the list data for dynamic editing, further analysis, and cross-functional collaboration points directly to a Spotfire integration solution.
Across the breadth of the industry, I believe there is a promising future for the combined strength of these two tools, Spotfire and SharePoint.