What is ThoughtSpot and How Does it Work?

Data Visualization
Mar 13, 2024
What is ThoughtSpot and How Does it Work?

Founded in 2012, ThoughtSpot is one of the younger data analytics alternatives to giants such as Tableau or Microsoft’s Power BI. Boasting an impressive annual recurring revenue and famous customers such as Apple and Walmart, ThoughtSpot deserves its spot in the world of BI and data analytics.

But what is ThoughtSpot really and what makes it stand out in this highly competitive field? Is it really worth the hype and what are some of the downsides that are not so widely known? Let’s find out.

What is ThoughtSpot?

ThoughtSpot is a business intelligence and data analytics platform that businesses use to analyze, explore, and visualize their data. From small businesses to enterprise companies, they all use ThoughtSpot to make data-driven decisions based on the data they collect and store.


What sets ThoughtSpot apart from the rest of the analytics tools is its focus on artificial intelligence for data analysis. They promise their users the ability to explore data and get insights using nothing but plain English. In other words, load a dataset, ask ThoughtSpot questions about the data, and get answers. We’ll find out if this is really the case in a second.

Why is ThoughtSpot a popular choice for BI and data analytics?

There are a few reasons why ThoughtSpot rose to popularity and won over huge customers in the enterprise sector. These are some of the many factors that sway businesses to choose ThoughtSpot.

Data democratization

The premise of their relational search engine is that anyone can have access to data. You don’t need a degree in data science or data analytics or to be proficient in SQL to be able to create visualizations and extract insights from them.

For example, if you have a team with a handful of data analysts and a sales leader needs some information, they don’t have to wait for weeks to get those insights. They can use natural language to create interactive dashboards on their own. This AI-powered analytics setup can empower small teams without data specialists or lighten the workload for larger teams.

Search-driven analytics

Getting actionable insights and making data-driven decisions is tough when you have to start out with large datasets that don’t make much sense. ThoughtSpot uses natural language speech to help you harness the power of search in data analytics.

Simply type what you want to search for and this functionality helps you get to data insights faster. For example, you can type in “who is our top performing sales representative in Q3 in terms of the deal size won?” and ThoughtSpot can provide the answer and appropriate data visualization. In theory, this ad hoc analysis should work well.

Data visualization

The natural language search is just the beginning of the story. You can use these commands to create visualized analytics experiences. Translate company datasets into charts, graphs, histograms, and more, for easier decision-making.

You can also embed their visualizations in your SaaS product, allowing your end-users to benefit from ThoughtSpot’s analytics features in real-time.

Connectivity with a large number of tools and platforms

You can connect ThoughtSpot Analytics with your favorite cloud data warehouse, CRM and a variety of other business and data apps. Some examples include Databricks, Snowflake, Amazon Redshift, Oracle, Talend, Fivetran, Salesforce, Hubspot, Slack and others that may belong in your data stack. 

User-friendly interface

Your typical data platform does not have the UX of a Doordash app, which is a problem that Power BI and Tableau often struggle with. ThoughtSpot is a business intelligence app that is fairly easy to use, even for someone who never worked with BI tools before.

So far, ThoughtSpot sounds like a dream come true for the average business user: data analysis, visualization, AI-driven analytics, and more… But that’s not everything.

Why ThoughtSpot may not be for you - the cons

While it does many things well and seems like an amazing BI tool on paper, the reality is a bit different. Based on insights from our customers, and hours upon hours of research, we found that there are some downsides to ThoughtSpot too.

The AI analytics use case

The promise of AI-driven analytics seems nice, but as ThoughtSpot users who have tried this feature can attest, it’s not exactly perfect. You can ask questions in plain English for only the most basic queries. Anything that is more complex and requires detailed data analysis is a stretch.

thoughtspot review on reddit 1

In other words, it’s only an add-on to your existing data analytics stack. If you already have data scientists and engineers using ThoughtSpot Analytics, this feature is a handy way to allow people outside of that team to tap into that.

thoughtspot review on reddit 2

If you jump into ThoughtSpot hoping that you’ll go from zero to hero and understand complex datasets immediately… This is not the right tool for you.

The pricing

We’ve covered ThoughtSpot pricing in another place if you want a detailed read. To sum up, if you just need ThoughtSpot Analytics, you can accurately predict how much it’s going to cost you. 

thoughtspot pricing

If you want to use ThoughtSpot Everywhere, the embedded dashboard part of their offer, you’re in for a surprise. Their consumption-based pricing means you’re charged for every query, and ThoughtSpot runs queries randomly, racking up your bill.

We recently talked to a customer who used to use ThoughtSpot and as they said, “it costs you a Happy Meal every time a user loads a dashboard”. If you value transparency in pricing, ThoughtSpot may not be the right fit for you.

Limited data visualization options

If you’re switching from an enterprise-grade tool such as the Tableau ecosystem, you won’t be satisfied with the visualizations in ThoughSpot. 

Whether you build the dashboards yourself or use the AI-driven features, the number of choices and the way they are presented is fairly basic and akin to what you get in Excel. If you want to offer self-service analytics with detailed metrics for your end-users, this can be a dealbreaker.

Issues with data modeling

If you think that ThoughtSpot causes issues for beginners only - it’s not the case. Many users report that data modeling can be nerve-wracking.

thoughtspot data modeling

This is especially the case if your data engineering team is coming from something like Tableau, which although complex, has a huge community to help with troubleshooting.

The ThoughtSpot alternative your data team will love

If you don’t want to take a gamble with ThoughtSpot’s visualizations, data modeling, and finicky AI features, we have just what the doctor ordered. Luzmo is the embedded business intelligence tool for SaaS apps - allowing you to connect just about any data source and tool with our capable API.

Analyze, explore, visualize, and embed your data on your own terms. Luzmo is built for SaaS teams like yours. Book a free demo today to find out how we can help you unlock actionable insights faster.

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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