We'd rather focus on getting the right data to the right people, CEO tells CBR
The current trend for business intelligence (BI) companies to focus on the visual aspect of their platforms - led by the likes of QlikTech and Tableau Software - is little more than "eye candy", Pentaho's CEO Quentin Gallivan has told CBR.
When speaking to CBR earlier this year, Christian Chabot, CEO and co-founder of Tableau Software, said that visualisation is key when presenting data to an end-user; it helps users better understand what the data means and improves decision-making.
"We all agree that pictures are almost always your end destination of analytical work - you want to turn it into a picture so you can understand it," Chabot told us. "So why is that saved to the end? Why not start with it?"
QlikTech too has been beating the visualisation drum. Rene Batsford, head of IT at sandwich chain Eat, recently told CBR of his company's experience of using QlikView's business intelligence platform.
"It can be a slog to get information out of data," he said. "There may be different sources and different versions. Now we can get a real-time view of stock levels and so on. Data analysis is far more interactive, and visual, so it's far easier for the whole business to understand it. It's about moving beyond data crunching to actually doing something with it."
However, speaking to CBR Gallivan said that while making the data easy to understand and interpret from an end-user perspective is important, his company would rather focus on getting the right data to the right people.
"The idea of visualisation is like eye candy," he said. "How visual do you want the data to be? It's not an arms race. Many customers want a simple way to look at data but it's a question of eye candy versus what's actually being used."
Gallivan continued: "We want to be the best at delivering a BI platform, not the best at visualisation. If there are lots of different data sources they will need to be integrated and that's a job for IT, where we sell to, and not the end-user. You need all structured and unstructured data in one place to be able to get the right decision. The end-user doesn't care about that. Yes, right data is important and you need to help IT to get it."
Gallivan, who took over from Richard Daley as CEO in October 2011, also outlined Pentaho's product roadmap with two big releases planned for next year. In June 2011 the company released version 4.0 of its Pentaho BI platform, which focused on user-driven BI as well as Big Data analysis.
Versions 4.5 and 5.0, both scheduled for release during 2012 will bring "big enhancements" in cloud BI and Big Data analytics, Gallivan said. Pentaho has not revealed when the new versions will be released.