Trip Report: Tableau #data15

November 11, 2015

By Radiant Advisors Staff

Tableau Software hosted its largest ever user conference in October, as 10,000 data enthusiasts flooded the MGM Grand Las Vegas with palpable excitement and energy for Tableau Conference #data15.

The conference theme of “Data + You” infused the event, spreading the message about what ordinary people can do with data – particularly when they have the right tools, in this case, the analytic and visualization tools that Tableau offers. The message was clear: numbers don’t speak for themselves; they need humans to interpret them. More to the point, Tableau believes it can help anyone see and understand data through its data user-oriented platform. This was exemplified through case studies of how Tableau customers are using the power of data visualization to tell stories focused on breaking the cycle of poverty, sustain small-town USA, protect endangered species, and open government transparency in Argentina through data journalism.

But Tableau CEO Christian Chabot says the gap continues to grow as opportunities to use data for good are growing faster than people with skills. “We need to make data processing easier, more approachable, more pervasive,” says Chabot. “Everyone should be a data person to some degree.”

To address the analytic skills gap, the company is investing heavily in research in development aimed at giving people with all levels of analytics familiarity the tools to make informed decisions. In fact, Francois Ajenstat, Tableau VP of product management, announced that the company is investing more in R&D over the next two years as it has in the past 10 years combined – a similar statement to the same promise made at the Tableau User Conference in 2014.

To announce features and advances, a handful of core developers were invited to the stage during the opening keynote to demonstrate the features and functionality that users could expect to find in coming releases – particularly on Tableau’s latest efforts in data prep, visualizations, analytics, self-service capabilities, dashboards, and mobile. Often received with applause, in many cases the features and advances seem to lean more toward optimization or expansion of functionality – in ways that bring value and/or ease of use to users – rather than outright innovation. For instance, among the many developments discussed, speakers touted data wrangling, a data highlighter to compare data in context, more global post codes than ever before, MapBox Integration, the option to insert sheets to show a viz within a viz, advanced analytics features such as outlier detection, self service advances including the popular announcement of version control, global formatting for dashboards, and an emphasis on mobile.

One exception, however, is the new Vizable app for iPad, officially launched at the event. Formerly referred to as Project Elastic and introduced at last year’s conference, this new visualization and analysis product works with any data residing on a user’s iPad or accessible through other apps, such as DropBox. Optimized for responsive touch with intuitive motions such as pinching, swiping and scrolling for interactive analysis, Vizable is targeted toward use for business or pleasure. The app also makes visualizations easy to share. Vizable is available only for iOS at present, and is limited to only a few visualization types designed to work with already prepared data.

Tableau is clearly targeting the broad market of anyone with spreadsheet data – and curiosity – and it is focusing its resources to meet the needs and varied skill levels of all types of data people.


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