Sisense targets hardcore developers with new toolkit

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Six months after unveiling Compose SDK for Fusion in preview, Sisense has now made its new code-first set of application programming interfaces generally available.

The software development kit, which was first introduced in September 2023, is designed to enable developers to use APIs to quickly build customized data products such as dashboards and models that can be embedded into the workflows of business users.

The launch is part of Sisense’s Fusion Winter 2024 release, which was released on March 12 and also includes improved natural language query capabilities.

Meanwhile, the general availability of Compose SDK for Fusion and the overall Fusion Winter 2024 release come after a time of transition for Sisense.

Longtime CEO Amir Orad stepped down in April 2023 and was replaced by Ariel Katz, who had been the vendor’s chief products and technology officer. Two months after his appointment, Sisense, like many other technology vendors over the past couple of years, began cutting staff.

In July 2023, Sisense reportedly laid off about 100 workers. In January 2024, the vendor reportedly cut another 60 employees.

Based in New York, Sisense is an analytics vendor specializing in embedded BI. In 2021, the vendor renamed its platform Sisense Fusion to demonstrate its focus on embedding data products within the workflows of business users, a strategy that aims to simplify access to insights and expand the use of data to more workers within organizations.

In addition to Sisense, Domo and Logi Analytics, now part of InsightSoftware, specialize in embedded analytics.

New capabilities

While many data management and analytics vendors are focused on providing business users with tools featuring natural language processing (NLP) capabilities to simplify interactions with data, Sisense is adding a code-first set of tools to its platform with Compose SDK for Fusion.

Sisense has historically enabled business users with low-code and no-code capabilities such as natural language query. Therefore, a code-first set of tools for application development enables the vendor to target a new audience of sophisticated developers.

In particular, code-first tools provide developers with the agility needed to embed data applications within business processes and feed those applications with continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines, according to David Menninger, an analyst at Information Services Group’s Ventana Research.

“Code-first is about both agility and embedding,” he said. “For analytics to be used broadly throughout an enterprise, they need to be embedded into business processes. In addition, those business processes and applications are constantly changing to keep up with the market. As a result, CI/CD methods have become the norm for agile software development.”

Compose SDK for Fusion is a toolkit that provides developers with more than 500 APIs, data libraries and prebuilt data visualizations. Using those, developers can take a composable approach to building data products so they can tailor charts, reports, dashboards and models to the needs of end users.

In addition to simplifying development by providing building blocks, one of the benefits of Compose SDK for Fusion is that it saves developers the time and cost it takes to construct the elements of a data application on their own.

But despite simplifying development by providing prebuilt components, the toolkit does require developers to write code. While seemingly anathema to ongoing data management and analytics trends that reduce coding requirements for business users, the development of a code-first toolkit strengthens what Sisense can provide developers, Menninger noted.

In fact, like Sisense, Domo in March 2023 added code-first capabilities in addition to features that reduce coding requirements.

“Compose SDK is not really about users; it’s about developers,” Menninger said. “Given that Sisense has focused on the embedded analytics market, Compose SDK — or something like it — is critical to its audience. It enables them to continue to use the DevOps practices to which they have become accustomed.”

Similarly, Mike Leone, an analyst at TechTarget’s Enterprise Strategy Group, noted that Compose SDK for Fusion builds on what developers were already able to do with Sisense’s platform, providing them with new options for building and embedding data applications.

In particular, by taking a composable approach, the new toolkit should help developers work more quickly, he noted.

“Sisense knows data-rich, analytic application development as well as anyone,” Leone said. “This announcement serves as a great way to further empower developers to do more with confidence. And for me, it’s really all about speed.”

That speed extends to responding to requests from end users about existing applications in addition to building new applications, he continued.

“This combination of speed with the inherent flexibility that developers desire will create an ideal environment to quickly act, iterate and personalize analytics apps,” Leone said.

Ayala Michelson, Sisense’s chief product and technology officer, said that Sisense used the preview process to refine Compose SDK for Fusion based on customer feedback. The vendor worked closely with users to discover what worked well and what needed to be honed before the toolkit was ready for general availability, she continued.

One of the results was adding support for Angular, an open source web application framework, and Vue.js, an open source JavaScript library. Another was the addition of more prebuilt filters and formulas.

Meanwhile, the response from the hardcore developers Sisense is seeking to attract with code-first capabilities, was positive, according to Michelson.

“They reported improved visualizations that were aligned with customer design principles and greater functionality by being able to query data once to render multiple visualizations from different perspectives,” she said.

While Compose SDK for Fusion was unveiled in September and went through the preview process, it is only on part of Sisense’s Fusion Winter 2024 platform update. In addition to Compose SDK for Fusion, the release includes the following:

  • Improved data modeling capabilities that include column customization, the ability to transfer the data an application depends on to new applications when the old one is deleted and security notifications.
  • Displaying asset names in projects developed with GitHub to enable better tracking.
  • Upgraded filtering in Simply Ask, a natural language query feature, to result in more relevant responses.
  • Seconds-level support so users can track and display data down to the second.
  • Configurable dashboard loading so customers can more easily customize dashboards.

On their own, none of the capabilities beyond Compose SDK for Fusion are spectacular, according to Leone. But taken together, they address challenges faced by customers and make for a functional upgrade.

“This is an example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts,” Leone said. “In a world of [generative AI]-first announcements, I appreciate the fact that Sisense took a practical approach here, addressing challenges customers are facing today. These are features, capabilities and updates that can immediately move the needle for customers.”

Menninger similarly noted that the Winter 2024 update includes features that build upon existing Sisense capabilities, including generative AI.

“The release continues to refine and expand the generative AI capabilities for users,” he said. “It also supports more collaboration for those creating dashboards. Dashboard authoring often involves more than one person, so I am sure users will welcome this feature.”

Next steps

While AI doesn’t feature prominently in Sisense’s latest platform update, traditional AI and generative AI are both part of the vendor’s roadmap, Michelson said.

The vendor’s platform already includes a conversational experience and AI capabilities aimed at enabling developers to work more efficiently and build advanced analytics applications for end users. In addition, Sisense was one of the first to analytics vendors to integrate with ChatGPT after OpenAI released the platform in November 2022.

Compose SDK is not really about users; it’s about developers. Given that Sisense has focused on the embedded analytics market, Compose SDK — or something like it — is critical to its audience.
David MenningerAnalyst, Information Services Group’s Ventana Research

Going forward, Sisense is developing more advanced data exploration capabilities featuring NLP that are now in private preview, according to Michelson.

“We are heavily investing in more advanced data exploration tools, such as conversational experiences based on NLQ and NLG, leveraging LLMs to enable end users to query and access insights and recommendations in simple language,” Michelson said. “Additionally, we’re investing in other areas of AI to drive more insights and actionable recommendations.”

Among them are providing customers with AI-assisted experiences, she added.

Menninger, meanwhile, noted that text-to-code translation capabilities would benefit the developers who use Sisense’s platform.

While the platform now includes code-first capabilities that cater to hardcore developers, Sisense could improve their efficiency be adding features that translate natural language to SQL and other coding languages.

Vendors such as Dremio and MicroStrategy have already introduced such capabilities.

“I would expect that Sisense would incorporate text-to-code capabilities using generative AI to support its code-first approach,” Menninger said. “It is becoming ubiquitous across the industry.”

Eric Avidon is a senior news writer for TechTarget Editorial and a journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He covers analytics and data management.

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