Thoughts on the Tableau Conference Keynote
My third Tableau anniversary is soon coming up. Three years of working with Tableau almost daily has brought me a lot of joy and has immensely increased my visualization and data analysis skills. But as with any long-term relationship, it also comes with its frustrations. I’ve recently been reflecting a lot on where Tableau as a tool is going and how my personal relationship with it will evolve. That’s why I’ve been very interested to hear the opening keynote speech at this year’s Tableau Conference. Well, #data22 is done and I have some thoughts…
Read about the new features and innovations introduced in the Tableau Conference keynote 2022 here.
Tableau’s place in the enterprise infrastructure:
Tableau’s acquisition by Salesforce and its integration into the Salesforce environment remains an important topic. I understand the vision of having all enterprise analytics needs combined in a single environment. Slack integration is along the same lines. I see why those topics are being heavily pushed as they are also a necessary counterpart to what Microsoft is doing. Personally, however, I remain utterly uninterested in any of that, and the main reason is that none of my customers use Salesforce or Slack. I realize that both tools are big players in the US which is also Tableau’s biggest market. But for the first time, it feels as though we as European customers are at a disadvantage since so much energy is spend on something we will not benefit profit from.
Up in the cloud:
The push towards the cloud makes complete sense to me. It is a clear trend with many tools and companies making the move to the cloud. However, I hope Tableau will keep its on-premise possibility. In my experience from working with customers, the ability to work 100% on premise this is still a huge selling point and distinguishes Tableau from many competitors.
The first innovation presented in the keynote was the new automated data storytelling feature. I’ve been waiting for this ever since Tableau acquired a company specialized on this. Smart Analytics features are a very hot topic that all the big analytics providers are pushing right now. My first impression is – I’m intrigued. I can see my clients using this in their business dashboards. However, it will all depend on how well it actually works. I’m a big fan of Explain Data as well but the truth is that it often doesn’t work as well as one would hope. A smaller concern I have is that it will probably only be available in English which makes for some very awkward, not at all natural-sounding sentences if your data is not in English. In any way, I’m excited to dig into this more once it is available.
Data Science for everybody is another idea Tableau has been pushing for a while – an idea I am totally on board with and am excited about in theory. However, we’ve had similar-sounding announcements in the past that ended up being only available to Salesforce users (or as part of ridiculously expensive add-ons). That’s why I’m holding back my excitement about this until I have more details about how it will actually be executed.
New features in the “Devs on stage” section of the speech:
“Devs on Stage” is always one of the highlights of Tableau conference and this year it was integrated as part of the keynote speech. The new features presented in this section were: new data modeling capabilities with shared dimensions (or “pasta salad” as I like to call it), new connectivity to web data and Python/R code, some new features for Tableau Prep, improvements for Ask Data, a new data orientation pane and dynamically rendered images.
How do I feel about these new features? I guess the data and connectivity features will be useful in some specific cases. The improvements for Prep are probably much needed. Personally, I am not convinced that Tableau Prep is a viable data prep option on an enterprise level. The data orientation pane could be useful and I’m excited to see it in action. The rest of the new features are also… fine, I guess? Overall, I’m not mad about these new features, but I’m also not blown-away. I feel like Tableau Desktop (or authoring if you want to call it that) features got the short end of the stick. Where are the new tools that make life easier for me as an author and that will save me time? Where are some new UX features that will make the experience better for dashboard users (without authors jumping through hoops and implementing a hundred hacks)?
– CONCLUSION –
Tableau is making some important steps towards bringing advanced analytics capabilities to everyone and improving Tableau’s enterprise readiness. It remains to be seen whether these will only be useful for a certain customer base or if everyone will be able to benefit from these improvements. I feel a bit disappointed with the lack of improvement in the daily life of Tableau authors. I remain convinced that Tableau has the best user community of any BI tool out there. But I start to think that maybe it has become too good. The #datafam is so full of talent and creativity that they are able to solve any dashboard challenge and create the most amazing visualizations. Maybe because of that Tableau is starting to forget the need for software improvements that would render some of the trickery unnecessary.