Of course, these "exploration" tools are also not intended to be full enterprise BI platforms. Instead, they are complementary to more robust products. You will not replace your existing BI products (SAP Business Objects, IBM Cognos, IBI WebFOCUS, MicroStrategy, etc.) with the limited scope of visualization software but you might consider supplementing them.
The main data exploration products on the market today include:
- QlikView ($204 million revenue in 2011)
- Spotfire ($105M 2011) acquired by Tibco in 2007
- Tableau ($62M 2011)
- ADVIZOR Solutions ($10M?) which is also sold as WebFOCUS Visual Discovery
- Tableau Desktop (authoring/publishing tool)
- Tableau Server (web hosting component)
- Tableau Reader (web viewing tool)
Several of about twenty-four "Show Me" options light up for the user. Simply clicking on one, such as a geographic map or a stacked bar chart, does all of the work. There is no coding and no macros, just an easy to use graphical interface.
Within an hour after downloading a Windows desktop copy, I had used one of their accompanying demo files to generate a report, pie chart, bar chart, and geographic map.
If you have "spreadsheet jockeys" trying to perform data visualization with just Excel, then Tableau is a perfect holiday gift.
Organizations that rely upon end-user spreadsheets for reporting and analytics will bring in Tableau Desktop without much consideration.