SiSense Prism

February 18, 2009


I was recently approached by SiSense to have a look at their product SiSense Prism. The product gives you a solution for “Dashboards, Reports, Guided Analytics, Business Presentations and everything in between”, as SiSense would put it, and I dare say the definition is quite correct.  
The tool enables you to build a dashboard really within minutes the application is quite simple to get used to. Even if you do get lost along the way, there is also a collection of shorts videos to guide you through. The products dashboard and reports are based on widgets. The data sources to the widgets can be from various different places, ranging from SSAS 2005, MySQL, CSV files, Google Spreadsheets and more.
The beauty in creating the dashboard in this tool is how easily all of these widgets from different data sources can be connected:



The product also gives you the ability to easily see their alignment:

And define them as multi selects:

Moreover, once you buy the tool, there’s no need to further buy charts and gauges, as they are also provided, so you get all you need for a very pretty dashboard:

I think the visualization part of the tool is really good and user friendly. And yes, in my opinion, visualization is a key part for making a good BI tool. 

Also, I have to admit I’ve been playing around with Excel as a cube viewer lately. I found out that if you want to add a member to an existing group you defined there, then you need to break up the entire group and redefine it (which can be very tedious). In SiSense Prism you can add a member to an existing group without breaking it apart.

Still there are some points that I have noticed while working with SiSense Prism:

  1. The product still does not support calculated members but only calculated measures.

  2. The product still does not support translations and so if you used translations rather than friendly names in your cube, then you won’t be able to see them. 

  3. All the calculations in the product are with a syntax which is quite unique to the tool. This means that you and your user don’t need to know SQL (to work against tables) or MDX (to work against OLAP cubes). Still, you do need to go over the User Guide to learn the syntax for this language. The calculations can vary from looking like something in Excel to something like MDX (though only like and not exactly).

Points 1 and 2 (as well as others) are documented in the company under Prism Issues and are given a proper follow up from the development team. Point 3 is really by design and so it’s up to you to decide if it’s a plus or a minus. In any case, you have a very detailed User Guide on the product – be it for basic use or for learning how to use the query language.

I admit I have left out the most interesting part about SiSense Prism which is its Question part. I think this is where SiSense really found a niche that never got answered before. Still, to read more about that I would recommend you read Chris Webb‘s post about SiSense Prism as it details that part.
All in all, I would also join Mr. Webb in recommending SiSense Prism as an easy to use and easy to understand BI tool for your reports and dashboards – so give it a look!

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  1. JerryFebruary 19, 2009 ב 10:05

    Great article, I would definitely try this product.

  2. David Z.November 4, 2011 ב 21:41

    Having tried this product unsuccessfully over the years, I just can not seem to get it to work. It looks cool and an excellent alternative for my purposes.

    I downloaded again today, the 64 bit version. Cannot load Excel or Text files and am limited to SQL Server or MS Analytical Services.

    Since downloading and installing have not been able to get any of the demo dashboards to work or even get back on the companies web site. Very frustrating.