Insights from Tableau Conference 2019

Tableau held its 12th annual User Conference in Las Vegas where 18,000 people who love data gathered to learn and share their enthusiasm about data and analytics. The energy was once again contagious in the keynotes and sessions, and CEO Adam Selipsky rallied social enthusiasm in a stellar opening message celebrating moments when the use of data has made a significant impact on the world.

Highlighting examples from history, many of which were brought to light in the book “Code Girls” by Liza Mundy, Selipsky shared how rethinking the workforce force during World War II opened the door for smart, focused women to demonstrate the power of data and intelligence – and the result impacted the course of history as US military intelligence made great strides due in part to their work. Selipsky’s point was that by training everyone – yes, everyone! – to be proficient with data we can make a transformative impact on the world around us.

Selipsky emphasized an inclusionary mindset and the necessity for organizations to cultivate a data culture that trains people of all backgrounds to be comfortable working with data. In this age of digital disruption and differentiation based on informed insights, making data and analytics ubiquitous is essential, and data culture is at the heart of these efforts, Selipsky stated. Accordingly, Tableau Blueprint is a methodology designed to help companies assess and grow their data cultures. To drive this point home, Danielle Beringer, North American Data Officer for Nissan, shared Nissan’s journey to cultivating a strong data culture, beginning with awareness, literacy, and advocacy. At Nissan, Tableau acts as a bridge between people and data, and the momentum of people using data helps the culture thrive.

The keynotes continued with product announcements and innovation details, as Chief Product Officer Francois Ajenstat elaborated that data culture requires agility, proficiency, and community – based on the right technology – to deliver trusted data, smart analytics, and relevant insights. Tableau delivers these through continued innovation of its analytics, including AI-powered Ask Data (which uses natural language functionality for queries and exploration) and Explain Data (which suggests or recommends possible reasons for what the data visualization is showing), and an increased emphasis on overall self-service data management capabilities, beginning with Tableau Catalog, and Tableau Prep.

In later industry analyst sessions with Tableau executives, they shared more about Tableau’s progress and growth, with glimpses into the roadmap for the near future. Ajenstat’s session elaborated on the keynote examples, as he shared innovations and vision for the future for self-service analytics and data management, AI, and an overall theme of a data platform. This seemed to be a shift from Tableau’s messaging of emphasizing visualizations, but the components featured are a logical extension of the Tableau ecosystem. Whether a data platform or visualization/analytics tool, Tableau is committed to its longstanding mission of “helping people see and understand data.”

As Ajenstat was joined by Salesforce Chief Product Officer Bret Taylor, the pair discussed how the acquisition of Tableau by Salesforce is designed to accelerate innovations for the customers. Although the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) “hold separate” order just lifted so collaboration is very early stages, they addressed the elephant in the room and emphasized the mutual excitement about the joining of technologies, and Tableau will likely become a key analytics component within Salesforce Customer 360. Tableau will continue to operate as an independent business unit, and although the executives emphasized that details are scarce because they’ve only recently been cleared to interface cross-company, the visions and company cultures are aligned and committed to innovations for customers.

Radiant Advisors’ Takeaways

  • The natural language of Ask Data and intuitive query ability of Explain Data continue to advance, augmenting the human experience of intuitively exploring and analyzing data.
  • Tableau continues to improve its visualization and analytics capabilities, and “Devs on Stage” continues to be a fan favorite session that highlights the customer-requested improvements in user experience and functionality.
  • As more and more people are enabled with data and analytics, Tableau is emphasizing capabilities that help people govern, discover, trust, and operationalize their data pipelines through their self-service data management offerings, including Catalog and Prep Builder and Prep Conductor.

Looking ahead, the newly announced partnership with Alibaba cloud expands Tableau into other markets in addition to already supported cloud platforms, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. The potential reach through new corporate parent Salesforce will likely sustain Tableau’s market position as a leading analytics provider as the cultivation of more data people and growth of company data cultures. We do expect to see changes from technology evolution and the emphasis on data platform for data management capabilities along with the Salesforce influence.


Radiant Advisors would like to thank the Tableau Analyst Relations team for organizing the in-depth meetings with executives and opportunities to meet with partners and customers.


Julie Langenkamp is SVP, Applied Research for Radiant Advisors. With an primary focus on data enablement, Julie monitors trends and vendors in the industry to deliver research that is educational and informative

Natalie Whitney is VP Client Engagement and Strategy for Radiant Advisors. With an extensive background in consulting, implementation and professional services, Natalie oversees Radiant Advisors’ advisory, implementation and consulting services.

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