Tableau expands data ‘viz’ toolsets & extensions

Tableau has been acquired by Salesforce, but you wouldn’t know it if you attended the organisation’s annual data-developer conference this month. Why wouldn’t you know it? Because the firm is continuing to roll out product enhancements and partner connections as normal.

Okay, you would know it, swaggering Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff took part in the event’s opening keynote engaging in a ‘fireside chat’ with Tableau CEO Adam Selipsky.

In predictable style, Benioff dominated the chat in his trademark steamroller style addressing the [adoring?] audience almost as directly as Selipsky himself, all without even taking his trilby off. Maybe he was cold.

Regardless of CEO standoffs, Selipsky and team delivered a series of technology-rich keynotes detailing higher-level ‘data culture’ vision and product-centric functionality extensions during each morning of the Tableau Conference 2019.

Selipsky highlighted Tableau Blueprint, a methodology that helps companies create a data culture within their organisations. Tableau says that today, research suggests that only 8% of companies achieve analytics at scale.

“By building a data culture and empowering more people with analytics through improved data literacy and analytics proficiency, companies can realise an entire workforce that makes better decisions with data. Focused on agility, proficiency and community, Tableau Blueprint creates a roadmap for businesses that want to transform their organisation with a data culture to weave analytics in the fabric of their organisations and achieve better outcomes with data-informed decisions,” notes the company, in a press statement.

Organisations including the World Food Programme (WFP) use Tableau Blueprint to build a working data culture. Following Blueprint’s prescriptive guidance, WFP developed a data strategy, introduced a formal governance framework and built an engaged community of data advocates that encourage learning, sharing and exploration at every level.

“This has been a monumental year for Tableau and our customers,” said Jackie Yeaney, executive vice president of marketing at Tableau. “We’ve seen incredible enthusiasm and adoption of our smart analytics and enterprise capabilities as companies continue investing in a data culture.”

The company used its annual conference to demo new features in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and self-service data management. Key product updates were announced in Tableau Catalog and Tableau Prep Conductor intended to puts Tableau at the centre of an organisation’s data strategy.

The company also introduced Netflix-style, AI-powered, visualisation recommendations to help users find relevant visualisations and major updates to Ask Data, Tableau’s natural language processing solution, which can now interpret more complex questions including year-over-year and geo-spatial comparisons.

Tableau also demonstrated Explain Data, which uses sophisticated statistical algorithms to allow people to instantly uncover AI-driven insights about their data. During the keynote, Tableau also introduced Metrics to help users keep an eye on performance indicators. Metrics can be individually curated and personalised to identify KPIs in a mobile-first view.

“We are building an open and extensible platform that enables our partners to build solutions for our joint customers that leverage the full power of Tableau.” said Francois Ajenstat, chief product officer at Tableau. “We’re thrilled to see the partner ecosystem expanding, giving customers the most choice and flexibility to solve their unique needs.”

Integrations highlighted at the conference included: Alibaba Cloud, which released native connectors to Tableau. The Chinese public cloud provider says it is helping customers connect to all the data they need as efficiently as possible, no matter where it resides.

Tableau 2019.4 introduced three native connectors for MaxCompute, AnalyticDB and Data Lake Analytics – built with Tableau’s Connector SDK.

Other partner connections included Data science company, Alteryx, which released a new integration with Tableau’s Hyper API. This is meant to enable joint customers to input data from .hyper file types, which supports faster analytical and query performance for larger data sets, into Alteryx processes.

Also in the lineup was the new Databricks Connector, which claims to offer enhanced performance and an optimised connection directly within Tableau. By allowing customers to more easily tap into data lakes and analyse massive datasets, the connector will power new insights based on the most up-to-date and real-time data.

Overall, Tableau Conference was a full-on couple of days extending over most of the week if we include the pre-conference tracks and the wrap up inspirational speaker session which all companies seem to include these days.

More of the same inside Salesforce next year? Sure thing… set the table.

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