Tableau Software emerged from scientific research at Stanford University and was founded in 2003. The company has achieved strong growth and is now among the best known BI and analytics vendors worldwide. Tableau was acquired by Salesforce in 2019. However, it remains a mostly independent business unit focusing on its target audience. Recently, the vendor acquired Narrative Science, a specialist in the area of natural language generation to boost its ability to provide automated insights in a written-language format that people can easily understand.
Tableau offers a BI and analytics platform which aims to help customers build their data cultures to empower better decision-making. Self-service data analysis is combined with self-service data management to enable companies to harness the power of their data assets. The vendor is committed to developing software that requires little training and allows business users to interpret data, mostly by means of interactive visualization.
The intuitive user interface, built-in intelligence and option for in-memory data processing to optimize performance contribute to the popularity of this solution for visual analysis, dashboards and data discovery. Tableau’s openness to a variety of data sources is one of its strengths, as it is not necessary to rehost data to use Tableau. The solution allows users to query data live from different data sources, to combine data from across these sources, or to move the data into its own ‘Hyper’ in-memory database for analysis.
Data preparation in Tableau can be quick as many manipulations can be made directly while analyzing data, enabling a truly iterative approach to data discovery. With Tableau Prep, data preparation has been enhanced with deeper functionality and a more visual approach with recommendations for data shaping, profiling and enhanced traceability. Tableau Prep transformation flows can be created either on the desktop or in the browser and may be scheduled and orchestrated on the server to operationalize data preparation tasks.
Tableau also continues to focus on improving and growing its self-service analytics platform into a modern enterprise-wide analytics platform. Governance functions such as data source certification and ML-powered data source recommendations have been incorporated. Moreover, with ‘Virtual Connections and Data Policies’ the vendor has started to centralize connection information and security.
Tableau also provides features to help end users in data analysis. The vendor has expanded its platform with AI-driven explanations of data through a feature called ‘Explain Data’ and the ability to analyze data using natural language with the ‘Ask Data’ feature. Additionally, the auto-ML capabilities of Salesforce’s Einstein Discovery have been integrated with Tableau to provide advanced predictions and recommended next best actions. The Salesforce integration does not stop there. Tableau now offers 20 accelerators, shared logins, data connectors, notifications and alerts in Slack as well as the Revenue Intelligence application to supply Salesforce customers with modern analytics. Data science scripts such as R and Python can be dynamically integrated into Tableau’s data prep and analysis features.
The vendor also actively prioritizes the expansion of its community. Tableau Exchange is a platform for its partners to provide a growing catalog of offerings including dashboard extensions, connectors and accelerators (prebuilt dashboards). The vendor recently acquired a company that has built a huge number of additional accelerators.
User & Use Cases
Tableau is popular in medium to large enterprises with above-average sized deployments in terms of median (150) and mean (1,956) numbers of users. Having landed as self-service visualization at many companies, Tableau deployments have come of age and expanded well beyond their initial scope. Hence, they serve a growing share of information consumers as well as an increasing number of users with interactive dashboards built on top of visual analyses. With growing user numbers, the share of information producers who create new reports and dashboards is decreasing. Viewing standardized content such as dashboards and formatted reports is therefore equally important for Tableau’s customers despite the tool’s proficiency in serving individual information needs through ad hoc queries and analysis.
Current vs. planned use
5 products most often evaluated in competition with Tableau Platform
Percentage of employees using Tableau Platform
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