What is a ThoughtSpot Liveboard and How to Use it

Data Visualization
Jun 15, 2024
What is a ThoughtSpot Liveboard and How to Use it

ThoughtSpot is a popular business intelligence tool known for its wide range of AI features. But before it became known for its AI-based interface, ThoughtSpot was renowned for its liveboards. With these interactive dashboards, business users can explore data on their own terms and save time compared to traditional data analytics.

Today, we take a look at Liveboards - what they are, how they work, and if they’re worth your time.

What is a Liveboard?

In ThoughtSpot, a Liveboard is a live dashboard you can create using data from your data sources. You can access, configure and create these dashboards in the cloud, through the ThoughtSpot app.

In essence, it’s a typical dashboard that you can expect in any other BI tool such as Microsoft’s Power BI, Tableau, Qlik, and many others.

thoughtspot liveboard - sales
An example of a sales Liveboard

Liveboards are collections of widgets, charts, metrics, and different visualization formats that the end-user can view and access.

Speaking of which, there are different levels of access:

  • Edit mode - for creating dashboards using drag-and-drop workflows
  • View mode - for viewing dashboards, applying Liveboard filters and exploring data

One team member can create a Liveboard and then give everyone else View access to it so they can explore each Liveboard visualization on their own terms, and do ad hoc reporting and ad hoc analysis.

To learn more about using ThoughtSpot for business intelligence, take a look at our ThoughtSpot review.

Understanding worksheets

Before creating Liveboards, ThoughtSpot users should create a data model. When the data is modeled properly, you can not only visualize it properly but also make use of the AI features in this tool.

After modeling, you need to create something called Worksheets, which ThoughtSpot calls logical views of data. These include data transformations such as table joins, changing data types, derived, renamed, and selecting fields, and many others. This complements the primary data and makes it effortless for the end user to get fast insights from underlying data.

Different ways you can use Liveboards

You’ve created a data model, completed your worksheets and now it’s time to see what you can do with the different chart types and visualizations in ThoughtSpot. Their home page will help you find a variety of tutorials for different ways you can use Liveboards. There is always ThoughtSpot support if you get stuck.

You can also embed these dashboards into your SaaS product, but that’s a topic for a different time.

Liveboard tabs

ThoughtSpot connects to a wide variety of data sources, such as Snowflake, Amazon Redshift, Google Bigquery and others. You can connect one data source and one dataset, and then create multiple Liveboard tabs from that data. Even simple CSV files will do.

thoughtspot liveboard - tabs

For example, you just finished a quarter and you have your sales data in one dataset. In one tab, you can create a Liveboard for sales with the performance data. In the other tab, you can create a Liveboard with marketing data split up by channels.

It’s essentially having multiple dashboards at once that are in sync, which is a feature that just about any BI tool has. However, having them tied together in one place is neat when you want to share the same dataset with different views. Speaking of which...

Drilling down into data

Within ThoughtSpot, you can explore dashboards as you would in any other tool. For example, you have a marketing chart showing your campaign’s return on investment. You can then tap into organic marketing, then go into organic search and find individual pages that bring in the highest number of sales.

You can use the search bar to find the info you need, pin the views and charts you find the most useful and adjust the Liveboard to your unique preferences. Once again, this is a feature that just about any modern BI tool has. In ThoughtSpot, it’s fairly easy to use. You can even set up notifications and alerts for data changes.

Using Liveboard filters

If you have edit access to a Liveboard, you can use filters to determine which data will (not) be shown. For this to work, your data needs to be properly modeled and prepared first.

thoughtspot liveboard - filters

For the filter feature to be used, the end user needs to have a basic knowledge of how data modeling works. Not only that, but they need to know which dimensions and metrics they want to use.

With some instructions, anyone on your team can learn how to get the most out filters and prepare the datasets for further exploration.

Using the Answer Explorer

This is the bread and butter of ThoughtSpot’s offer. The Answer Explorer lets the average user learn more about the data behind the dashboards. The AI feature is called SpotIQ and it works just like that: you type in a question and get an answer from the chatbot.

Under the hood, the natural language query is translated into SQL and then executed on a database. If it sounds simple, it’s really not, for one reason.

For all of this to work properly and the AI to give meaningful answers to queries, the underlying data needs to be thoroughly modeled and prepared. For the end-user to get access to easy ad hoc analysis, a data engineer or scientist needs to do the hard work beforehand.

If you use other tools, you can integrate them with ThoughtSpot to get AI-driven answers too, such as Amazon AWS.

Are ThoughtSpot Liveboards easy to use?

In theory, anyone can open up the admin console and add, modify and delete charts using the drag-and-drop builder. Also in theory, anyone can use the AI Answer features to unearth actionable insights from data sets.

In reality, you’re going to need a data scientist, engineer or developer to model and prepare the data for exploration. Someone with the knowledge of SQL to tie things together first. Your average business user won’t know a thing about row-level security (RLS) or how to connect an API to a dashboard. 

The AI Answers are a nice idea, but it takes a lot of preparation, time and money before it can be used by the average company and person.

The better alternative to ThoughtSpot

If you need a BI tool that truly makes it easy for your end users to explore their data, ThoughtSpot is okay. But you want more than okay.

At Luzmo, we help SaaS companies create dashboards that are easy to create, embed and explore. Your developers and end-users will love exploring data through Luzmo’s dashboards and reports.

Get your free demo today and learn how we can help empower your end-users to make better business decisions.

Mile Zivkovic

Mile Zivkovic

Senior Content Writer

Mile Zivkovic is a content marketer specializing in SaaS. Since 2016, he’s worked on content strategy, creation and promotion for software vendors in verticals such as BI, project management, time tracking, HR and many others.

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