For most subscription data products we've seen, however, the approach to data manipulation can be described as "you're on your own." Subscribers are allowed to download data in spreadsheet format, and they can analyze it any way they want with whatever tools they want.
This sounds like a perfectly reasonable compromise, and it is, but at the end of the day it remains a compromise. With competition strong and customer expectations high, it's increasingly risky to push customers to use your data outside your application. The more you do for them, the more value you provide, and the happier your subscribers will be.
That's why we were intrigued by the tour we got recently of a newly launched site called GraphPortal.com. GraphPortal offers a powerful capability for quickly and easily building interactive graphs of your data. Even more exciting, you can embed these graphs on your own website, all free of charge. If you want the world to know about your data, you can optionally publish your charts to the GraphPortal site, where they are available for others to use on their own sites, a graphic form of viral marketing.
Keep in mind these graphs are not static; users can filter and manipulate them for different views of the data (Excel users: think pivot tables). Click here or on the image above to get a sense of the power of these graphs -- which can be chained together to form a presentation "deck." There's even a way to add annotation to each graph.
And yes, the folks behind GraphPortal have a revenue model: they'd like you to buy the underlying software, which you can run in-house or use on a hosted basis. The software, which is more powerful than the features available in GraphPortal, even allows the development of interactive "data dashboards."
Is GraphPortal for everyone? No. If you've got a graphing capability as part of software you already use, GraphPortal doesn't bring much to the party. But if you're dabbling in graphic presentation of your data and would like to get your feet wet without a big up-front investment, it's well worth a look.