Company Building, Product and Engineering

The Next Era of Answer Explorer: New Developments & Improvements

Ask questions with AI-assistance right from your pinboards.

At ThoughtSpot, we believe that every business user, regardless of skill, should be able to ask questions of their data themselves without depending on IT or BI teams. We built Answer Explorer to empower users at all skill levels to easily ask follow-up questions on answers in pinboards by leveraging the combination of AI and intuitive design. Answer Explorer allows users to better understand the “What” or “Why” for the data right from their pinboard and without requiring them to know how to create a new answer using search. 

With Answer Explorer, users can choose an AI-recommended question with just a single click or use the search bar to ask a custom question. The recommendations are designed to help users discover interesting questions they hadn’t thought of asking and also reduce work for questions that they ask frequently. The underlying technology ranks candidate questions based both on popularity across users as well as frequency of usage by the current user. 
 

Hover over any chart on your pinboard and the “Answer Explorer” button appears

Use Answer Explorer’s Smart Suggestions or add your own filters to dig deeper into the data

We’ve seen customers get tremendous value from Answer Explorer since it launched in GA in version 6.0 of ThoughtSpot. Users add Filters to personalize charts to show data for just their department or region. They use Breakdowns to quickly cycle through many different ways of segmenting their data. They use the Back button in combination with Drill-downs to understand the “Why” behind the data. Even first-time users succeed with many tasks with zero training! BI teams love Answer Explorer because, by making their users more self-sufficient, it frees them up to focus on the more important (and complex) analytical questions.

“Having weeks or sometimes even months to develop a report isn't good enough in this day and age. I wanted to change what my team does and how they do it, put more people into the data creation side and then let everybody do the analysis and the deep dives that they want to do instantly.” - Anthony Spence, Head of Management Information & IT, Robin Hood Energy

With 6.2, we’re making significant improvements to Answer Explorer to make it even more intuitive and powerful. There are three big enhancements in 6.2:

  • Improved design: 6.2 comes with a much cleaner tabbed interface with intuitive options like “Filter”, “Add”, “Replace” and “Compare”:
    • Filter allows users to add or modify filters (e.g. add a filter for region “west”). 
    • Add allows the addition of measures (e.g. add Profit to a chart that contains Revenue already) and attributes (e.g. add Department to a chart that is showing Revenue broken down by Region). 
    • Replace allows replacement of measures (e.g. replace Revenue with Profit), attributes (e.g. in a chart that shows Revenue by Region, replace Region with Department), date buckets (e.g. replace monthly with weekly) and date columns (e.g. replace Ship Date with Sale Date). 
    • Compare allows doing a “vs” comparison of 2 values (e.g. for a chart that shows Revenue by Region, compare departments ‘clothing’ and ‘shoes’). 
  • Expanded ability to ask your own questions: We’ve expanded the types of questions that users can ask and also made it easier to ask these questions: 
    • More types of questions: Each of the sections described above comes with the ability to ask custom questions in addition to AI-generated recommendations. Users can now add custom filters, add and replace with custom measures and attributes, and do custom comparisons.
    • Easy to ask questions: We’ve designed this feature to be simple enough for anyone, regardless of training or technical skill, to succeed with it. For example, many users often don’t know the exact value name (e.g. “emea westerneurope”) that they want to use in a filter or comparison, but do know the attribute column name (e.g. “Account Region”). This is why we have created a guided experience that helps users easily scan the most popular 50 values for a column and search for the value they want without the need to know any syntax.
  • Powerful AI-driven assistance: Users love the 1-click recommendations in Answer Explorer and we believe that we are just beginning to leverage the power of these intelligent “search chips”. With 6.2, we’ve made them more relevant and useful:
    • Date filter suggestions: When users look at a chart (e.g. showing Revenue for last quarter), they may want to zoom in (e.g. look at “last month” instead of “last quarter”) or zoom out (e.g. look at “last year” instead of “last quarter”) on the time-frame for the data. Now users can do so with a single click.
    • Relevance Improvements: We’ve improved the scoring function to present even more relevant suggestions. 

Let’s take a look at Answer Explorer in action:

 

We’re really excited about the new version of Answer Explorer and how it can empower every user to easily ask questions of data and make better decisions. If you’re an existing customer interested in offering it to your users, please discuss upgrade timelines with your ThoughtSpot customer success team. We look forward to your feedback and continuing to make business analytics accessible to everyone. 

 

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