Review: Amazon Quicksight

 In Technology

Quicksight is one of Amazon’s web services to provide cloud-based business analytics solution. It provides a fast and inexpensive way to analyze and visualize business data. SPICE (Super-fast, Parallel, In-memory, Calculation Engine) is the engine that powers Quicksight, giving it the ability to run interactive queries on large datasets with quick responses.

We participated in their early preview and continue to use it in as it enters production. We are using it for delivering compelling analytics visualization for the Ratchet Health project. Combining de-identified clinical and patient reported outcomes data, we gain more insights into the performance of the clinics we work with.

Here are 5 things we like:

  1. Quicksight is able to connect to various types of data sources: from AWS’s services such as Redshift, RDS, Amazon Aurora, EMR, Kinesis, S3 to external datastore such as MySQL, Oracle, SQL Server, PostgreSQL, MariaDB, as well as directly uploaded flat files. It is even able to access third party data such as salesforce.
  2. The “Filter” feature in Quicksight is very powerful and flexible. By smartly applying filters, we can focus on and visualize the data we are most interested in. This can help highlight the answers that drive decision-making. Meanwhile, filters could be applied on any fields/columns. Just a few clicks could implement complex logic to form criteria.
  3. “Share of works” is one of most important features in Quicksight. There are 3 levels of sharing: data sets, visuals and dashboard. Each corresponds to different levels of data security and permissions to manipulate analytics and visualization. Thanks to this feature, users can view and edit the BI report dynamically and interactively, not just static reports pre-generated by analysts.
  4. Quicksight also provides a powerful feature to add “calculated field/column” to manage raw data sets. It not only includes a rich “Function list” covering date, string and number manipulations, but also implements decision-making (such as if/then/else) computation.
  5. Amazon is iterating quickly on Quicksight. The improvements we have seen since the early preview phase has been phenomenal. The team has been very receptive to suggestions and we see updates rolled out at on a regular basis.

Here are a few features we are eagerly awaiting from Quicksight:

  1. Providing more visual types such as map, 3-D graph, surface etc.
  2. Better visual formatting such as editing the axis, labels, grid etc.
  3. Ability to calculate and draw the trend line on charts.
  4. Ability to schedule data source refresh automatically. This seems to be a popular request and we hope to see it soon!
  5. Ability to export visuals to PDF/PNG files, and export underlying data to CSV files.

As it matures, we will be utilizing Quicksight in more projects. It only starts at $9/month/user and incremental usage of SPICE capacity is also not cost prohibitive.

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