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Tableau: Aiming to Empowering the Individual and the Enterprise

by Cindi Howson  |  October 12, 2017  |  5 Comments

I’m just back from Tableau’s 10th annual user conference where 14,000 attendees convened in Las Vegas to share best practices, hear about the roadmap, test drive new capabilities, and party!

BI and Analytics Myth Busters

CEO Adam Selipsky kicked off the keynote with his own set of myth busters:

  • Myth: AI will replace the analyst. Tableau: AI will assist, not replace.
  • My Take: Gartner also believes AI will add jobs, a key theme at Gartner Symposium   Myth Buster AI
  •  Myth: Data is only for analysts. Tableau: Data is for everyone.
  • My Take: Data was never only for analysts; it’s always been for all decision-makers. But arguably, the access to data in the desired format and with interactivity has been largely limited to power users. (See our BI adoption rate note or the blog.)
  • Myth: Data governance means “no.”  Tableau: True governance means secure enablement.
  • My Take: Agreed. The Chick Fil A customer session also described governance as a dirty word. There is a range here, and sometimes it means governance after the fact, watching what people do, giving them a safe space to explore data.  (See this note on Successful Analytics Governance).
  • Myth: There can be one perfect source of truth: one DW, one deployment option. Tableau: We will live in a world of many.
  • My Take: Yep. Gartner also advocates the Logical Data Warehouse and hybrid deployment models. But I’d have to take it a step further and say, there is also not one perfect analytics and BI tool – at least not today, and not for the last 20 years, but who’s to say what the future might bring! (see The Right Tool for the Right User)

For sure, many conference presentations emphasized Tableau’s enterprise and server capabilities. It’s a delicate balance of still empowering individual users – which is the long tail of its customer base – while also appealing to IT. This shift has also put pressure on its successful land and expand model and has been part of its move to subscription based licensing.

Big Things to Come

The two things customers are most excited about are Hyper and Maestro.  Hyper is the new in-memory engine that will replace the Tableau Data Extracts (TDE) (see our Critical Capabilities note).  Alpha customers show a 2X performance boost.  Hyper is now in beta, and Tableau’s betas have historically been short windows.  It already powers Tableau Public. Maestro, Tableau’s self-service data prep solution, moved from a concept last year to live demos this year.  It’s due out next year.   There were a bunch of other key innovations from Developers on Stage, a conference highlight. Thanks to engineer Marcelo Guerra Hahn from Uruguay, we are all now cow lovers – and I have to say good luck to engineer Shahaf Nuriel in her marathon (I too have a love hate relationship with running, even for shorter distances.). But seriously folks, we are cheering at multi-level sort? Isn’t that a version 1.x capability? This is the great irony or perplexity of the Tableau fan base:  because many people are new to having direct access to data, features that were the norm in traditional BI tools are novelties in some modern BI tools. As Tableau improves its web authoring capabilities, I find myself flashing back to SAP BusinessObjects DeskI and WebI comparison tables.  I do think the viz within a tooltip is nicely done.

The green trend line is actually a tooltip.

The green trend line is actually a tooltip.

From the Personal Side

It was a hard conference to attend given the tragedy of last week. I have often stayed at the Mandalay Bay over the years, and I dreaded seeing the devastation in person and walking the same hallways as evil had walked the week before. Some conference go-ers cancelled at the last minute, but most still came. For Tableau, it was a delicate balance of wanting to honor the victims while also getting on with the conference. Executives opened the keynote with a moment of silence and #VegasStrong displayed as the back drop which I think was done just right. The community as well came together, already last Monday as news of the shooting was just breaking. Vince Baumel started the #Data17donates tag with ideas of a blood drive and contributions to a charity fund. Tableau and some organizations there agreed to match donations, with pledge cards that spanned multiple walls. There was an evening vigil. Others lit candles at the makeshift memorial outside the hotel.  Jeff St. Germaine and others suggested that we all just be extra kind to hotel staff and all Las Vegas workers. In talking with one of the security guards, he told me that Jesus (the security guard who was shot) has had to leave the country for a while because the press have been hounding him. Talk about compounding the trauma. Everyone handles tragedy differently and in their own personal ways. I’d like to offer a poem by Henry van Dyke that has consoled me in times of loss:  “Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.”







Cindi Howson

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Category: business-analytics  business-intelligence  

Cindi Howson
Research VP
1 years at Gartner
25 years IT Industry

Cindi Howson is a Research Vice President at Gartner, where she focuses on business intelligence (BI) and analytics. Her work includes writing about market trends, vendors and best practices and advising organizations on these subjects. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Tableau: Aiming to Empowering the Individual and the Enterprise


    Great recap Cindy! Thanks!

  2. Vince Baumel says:

    Wonderful recap! It was an amazing week, and to see such enthusiasm for helping a community in need really shows the power and beauty of this community. We’re an altruistic group, and it’s so much fun to be a part of something positive like #data17donates was!

  3. Pamela Zirpoli says:

    Nice wrapup, especially for those of us who were virtual attendees….

  4. […] doing some amazing work with Nethope in helping prioritize power restoration in Puerto Rico. The Tableau community rallied in helping Vegas shooting victims with its #data17donates. Salesforce Dreamforce […]

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