Datawatch Combines Data Visualization, Data Preparation Tools In New BI Platform

Datawatch, a player in the hot market for data visualization applications, has developed a new software platform the company said offers advanced "self-service" data preparation capabilities and visual data discovery tools.

The new Datawatch Managed Analytics Platform is the latest in a stream of new software from business analytics technology vendors that bring to everyday information workers the kind of sophisticated capabilities more commonly used by analysts and IT developers.

A new generation of data visualization tools, such as Tableau and QlikTech, are designed for business users with a minimum amount of help from IT. "The BI market has changed dramatically," said Dan Potter, Datawatch marketing vice president, in an interview.

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But Potter said data preparation processes, which format data and make it ready for use by front-end BI tools, are still a hurdle because IT departments "own" the data and remain responsible for managing it and preparing it for business users. And that can slow down the whole business analysis process.

The new Datawatch Managed Analytics Platform is designed to get around that problem by bringing self-service data preparation capabilities to everyday business users, according to the company. The software makes it possible for users to manipulate, filter, and combine structured and unstructured data from disparate data sets for analysis.

"There's always some kind of data integration work that's needed. That's where the Datawatch platform is going to facilitate that process and make it much easier," said Craig Thier, president of Blue Line Planning, an Allentown, N.J.-based solution provider that offers business analytics and performance management consulting services.

Blue Line resells Datawatch's software and uses it to work with customers. The new platform "brings us a lot of capabilities that other tools don't have. We're absolutely going to work with it," Thier said. The product's broad capabilities and ease of use will create new opportunities for the company with current customers and help recruit new prospects, he added.

At the core of many of those capabilities is Datawatch's Monarch data access and preparation software. The Monarch technology underlies the Datawatch Managed Analytics Platform's automated data extraction, and preparation capabilities and governance tools for controlling access to data used in workflows.

Datawatch's Potter said most big data software vendors are still struggling with the issue of data preparation and optimization for business users. "We're ahead of the curve," he said. "Anyone doing any kind of analytics is going to need this." He also cited a recent Gartner study that concluded that only 10 percent of all business intelligence initiatives through 2016 would have governance capabilities.

The new platform provides visual data discovery tools that can work with realtime streaming data. That functionality is based on technology Datawatch acquired when it bought Stockholm-based Panopticon Software in 2013.

The software can work with multistructured data, including PDF files, text, HTML data and BI reports built using other vendors' tools. It also offers advanced data enrichment capabilities such as realtime data scoring, time series interpolation, and data redaction features for removing or obscuring sensitive information.

The Datawatch Managed Analytics Platform, which is available now, will compete with a wide range of big data products, including data discovery tools from Tableau and QlikTech, as well as data preparation tools from Trifacta, Paxata and Informatica. The company sells its software direct, as well as through solution providers and systems integrators.