Tableau has announced a record-breaking quarter, generating more than $100m in revenue.
The data visualisation vendor reported a 71% year-on-year growth, clocking up $104.5m (£65.54m) in revenue. Tableau said the impressive results were down to strong customer growth and product adoption. The emerging visual analytics company added 2,500 customer accounts and closed 200 sales above $100,000.
Tableau Software, based out of Seattle, Washington, comes from the same Stanford University lineage as the likes of Google. Co-founded in 2003 by Chris Stolte, a prodigy Ph.D. student; Professor Pat Hanrahan, a founding member of Pixar and Christian Chabot, an entrepreneur with a flair for data, Tableau certainly has the right pedigree to be the next success story born out of the Stanford labs.
MicroScope spoke to co-founder and CEO
about Tableau’s explosive success, the channel and what the future holds for data visualisation.
Why all the success?
“We are one of the fastest growing technology companies in the world. We are flourishing because for most of the companies that want to work with data and can work with data, the vast vast majority have nothing but a spreadsheet. For these people, Tableau is like water spilling into the thirsty, parched cracks of a starving landscape,” Chabot said, half-joking.
“There is just this incredible thirst from everyday thinking people. Me, you, people in marketing, teachers – in every field there are people with all this data and they would love to harness it, poke at it and try to use it to make fact-based decisions but their only tool is a spreadsheet. Tableau really is just a blast of fresh air for these guys.”
A dying breed
In the world of data visualisation, there are essentially two camps. There are solutions like Tableau, native to the world of Big Data and born with the objective of democratising data.
And then there are traditional business intelligence solutions, many with technology harking back to the 60s. Most BI vendors have attempted to integrate Big Data and visualisation capabilities into their offerings but the reality is their solutions were built for a different paradigm to the one that exists today.
These legacy vendors warn that tools such as Tableau do not fully address the needs of the enterprise – big business requires a big solution that takes into account the intricacies of a corporate environment. Chabot says that these claims are “utterly ridiculous”.
“They are the dying gasps of dying man,” Chabot laughs. “Name one task that you can complete in those systems that you can’t complete in Tableau. You will find there are none. Quite the opposite – Tableau is a much richer system, capable of a much broader range of questioning and answering with data,” he says, adding: “You just look at our financial results to see it’s just patently false and - at this point - out of touch.”
Power to the people
Another piece of (what Chabot would call) misinformation floating around is that putting the power of analytics in the hands of an untrained business user, rather than relying on a data scientist or the IT department is just plain risky.
Go tell a nurse he or she doesn’t understand the data of his or her field – let me know how that goes
Christian Chabot, Tableau CEO
“I’m going to offer you a fresh perspective on this. Various companies have been labouring for decades under a false belief system. The situation is exactly the opposite; in our experience, the business users know the data better than the IT group,” he explains.
“And therein lies the decades of utter frustration. You have inspired people sitting at their desks – teachers, nurses, risk managers, pricing specialists, journalists – these people know their data cold! Go tell a nurse he or she doesn’t understand the data of his or her field – let me know how that goes.”
“The revolution that we are witnessing here is much deeper than a visual tool; the revolution is putting the power into the hands of the people who actually have the questions and who understand their domain and that is an unshakeable revolution that will never turn back,” he adds.
Sales coming through the channel for Q3 were just shy of 25% but, Chabot says the figure is growing.
“We are mostly direct sales but the channel is hugely important to us,” he explains. “In the US, it’s an important contribution, but in Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America, it’s a crucial contribution. Channel partners help us with geographic reach and with local language. But more importantly, they are solution providers who help to build an entire solution around Tableau’s analytics offerings.”
So what’s next for the giant slaying visual analytics company? Chabot says that investment in research and development is the name of the game for the next couple of years.
“I think it’s really important that we stay ahead from a R&D development perspective. What Tableau does is really at the crossroads of all the major trends in computing – Big Data, mobile computing and cloud – they all intersect with analytics. So we’re investing as much in R&D in the next two as we did in the first ten years of our life as a company. We’re very excited about it and you are going to see a lot more from us.”