Tableau’s Data Visualization Helps Customers, Partners Deliver Big Data, BI Insights

Just two months after its IPO, Tableau Software continues to build out an impressive partner ecosystem that leverages its Tableau 8.0 data visualization platform. The big picture goal is to help non-technical users tap into diverse company data to easily and cost-effectively discover insights -- and even predict future trends.   IDN speaks with Tableau’s director of product management Francois Ajenstat.

Tags: API, BI, big data, BigQuery, Cloudera, data virtualization, Hadoop, Hortonworks, Tableau, expert voice,

Francois_Ajenstat
Francois Ajenstat
director of product management

 


“Companies have to change how they think about data and make it available to a broader audience, not just data scientists”

Just two months after its IPO, Tableau Software continues to build out an impressive partner ecosystem that leverages its Tableau 8.0 data visualization platform. The big picture goal is to help non-technical users tap into diverse company data to easily and cost-effectively discover insights -- and even predict future trends

“Today companies have more and more data coming in faster and in more formats than ever. And so, the world of data has increased where people that want it have an excess of data and now bring that together for more and more users. So, the challenge is companies will have to change how they think about data and how they make it available to a broader audience, not just the well-trained data scientists,” Tableau’s director of product management Francois Ajenstat told IDN. .

Tableau’s partners include top innovators in cloud, big data and integration, and include Amazon Web Services, Google BigQuery, IBM, Informatica, Cloudera, Hortonworks. 

As an example, Tableau in partnership with Google BigQuery, is helping retailers better understand how weather (and weather forecasts) affects customer buying patterns. Google's BigQuery service allows users to run near real-time queries using millions or even billions of datapoints. 

By comparing data on in-store purchasing against weather events, the retailers were able to track customer behavior, including items such as what and how much of an item they would buy (20% to 200+% more), what store they would visit and even when they would shop (at the last minute).

So, what used to be available to the biggest box of the “big box” retailers is now less costly and less complicated. But these targeted successes are also creating a new set of challenges as more and more companies look to get on-board the data visualization train, Ajenstat noted.

This growing need for broader skills is creating what Ajenstat called “a mismatch between data and the people trying to use it.” Tableau’s approach through technology and partnerships looks to bridge that skills gap. “Tableau focus on a visual approach, some call it visualization, is revolutionizing how people work and understand data. We’re building a tool that is easy to use and will change how non-technical users think about using data,” he added. 

And it’s not just easier-to-use technologies. Cultures about data also need to change. More and more top performing companies are promoting deeper data sharing across a wider range of employees to generate a data-driven culture, according to a recent survey sponsored by Tableau and conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, a unit of The Economist magazine.

tableau8_03The EIU survey also found while data scientists will remain “essential” to analytics projects, they are just too hard to find (or afford) for many firms that want to expand their use of analytics. In fact, the survey of company execs found more than 75% of respondents said it was  “somewhat” or “very” difficult to recruit and retain effective data analysts. Hence Tableau’s focus on using technology to cut down the learning curve, Ajenstat added.

Speaking of the technology side, Tableau 8.0 works with more than 30 different data sources, with further support for NoSQL, XML and unstructured datasets are all in the works, Ajenstat added. Tableau 8.0 sports more than 90 improved or new features to help individual, non-technical users go deeper into using diverse data sources from all over their companies – and even outside company walls – to get insights and even make predictions about future trends.

Tableau 8.0’s latest improvements include:

  • Web and Mobile Authoring, to extend simple-to-navigate drag-and-drop and in-browser capabilities to users especially when remote or on-the-go with wifi, smartphones and tablets. 
  • Better Visual Analytics, including Treemaps, let users more easily drill down into data to go deeper and uncover unseen patterns – and exceptions. The improved sets, groups and forecasting capabilities extend the analytical depth of the application.
  • Faster Insights using Higher Data Volumes Thanks to in-memory analytics and a new visualization engine, users can create and share results-rich dashboards as much as 50% more quickly. 
  • More Data Connectors and APIs, to make it possible to interactively integrate and analyze enormous amounts of data across on-premise and cloud source. The latest connectors let users work with Google Analytics, Salesforce.com, and Google BigQuery, to access any data source. In addition, the new Javascript API and Data Extract API let users integrate Tableau more deeply into existing on-premise data and applications.


How APIs Will Drive Tableau’s Partner Ecosystem
Tableau’s focus on connectors and APIs will likely drive a growing wave of partnerships.

Case in point: This month Tableau partnered with Rapid Insight to make it easier for users to perform predictive modeling and data visualization. Rapid Insight’s technology lets users quickly extract and transform data from multiple disparate sources into predictive models, which can then be  passed directly to Tableau for visualizations, according to Rapid Insight’s President and COO  Ric Pratte.

This partnership is a direct result of the Tableau Data Extract API, which made it easy to incorporate Rapid Insight models into the Tableau visualization products, and later share them with others, Pratte added.

At the time of Tableau 8.0’s release in May, Tableau’s chief development officer Chris Stolte summed up the company’s goals this way. “Tableau 8.0’s feature set offers revolutionary new tools for helping people see and understand data, enabling powerful analytics and storytelling,” he said. “We’re making analytics fast and easy, beautiful and useful. We’re transforming the way people use data to solve problems.”




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