What is Tableau?

Business Analytics is a hot topic right now and is changing the way that companies do business. Business Intelligence Software revenue has spiked in the last few years and companies are jumping on the train to provide these useful tools. So what is Tableau and what separates it from any other form of software available?

Put simply, Tableau does an excellent job at bring a great UI and data computation onto one simple to use platform. Tableau allows companies to essentially drag and drop very large amounts of data onto a digital “canvas” and have graphs made instantly. The idea behind how Tableau works is that it is easier to manipulate what is going onto the interface so you can see what you’re doing right and by extension what you’re doing wrong. Tableau has been compared to a more advanced form of excels pivot table, but specifically “Pivot-Table on steroids”. But don’t think that only enthusiast are using this product, Coca-Cola, Yahoo and Time Inc are some of the big players who are using Tableau to improve their business processes.

To quote Fortune.com and give a brief history of Tableau, it ” began as a research project at Stanford; in 2003, Hanrahan, former Ph.D. student Chris Stolte, and venture capitalist Christian Chabot spun the project out of Stanford and formed Tableau. (Hanrahan, 56, is Tableau’s chief scientist; Chabot is CEO.)

The company last year had revenue of $34 million. It offers a free version of its software, aimed mainly at bloggers and media companies, which use it to create interactive graphics. But it charges $1,000 and up for more sophisticated versions. Its biggest drawback? The program is only compatible with PCs an irony not lost on a guy who used to work for Apple”.

So why are people turning to Tableau and other pieces of software that offer this kind of visualization? Well the answer is because the tools they are currently using just aren’t meeting their needs. For example, Microsoft Excel is a great tool. Its good for accounting, financing, and setting up small amounts of data in a logical format. The problem, however,  is that it can only do so much with its built in tools. I have heard of companies today that still use Excel as its storage for its “Databases”. Besides the glaring flaw in this idea, Excel just wasn’t built to be a place to dump large amounts of data. You need actual database software for that purpose and having another tool like Tableau lets you visualize that data in a constructive way.

A recent study was conducted, by the Economist Intelligence Unit, found that organizations that use data well performed better financially than organizations that didn’t. What does that mean? Since data is becoming a staple of information for organizations, the ones that are using it effectively are able to gain a huge edge in Customer Analytics, Financial Analysis and much more. With data being the commodity that it is, it is interesting to see companies capitalize on these advances and see others fall behind due to outdated or sluggish methods of making decisions.

Here is a little snippet of what Gartner has to say about Tableau, and if you don’t know who Gartner is definitely google them. Long story short, they are a global leader in technology research.

“The 2016 Gartner annual report for the Business Intelligence and Analytics market carries a greater significance because it reflects a transformational shift to modern analytics. With remarkable innovations expanding and propelling the BI market, leaders must demonstrate excellence in current execution, and also show progress toward a future mission.

The trends Gartner discusses in the report are familiar but with a greater emphasis on deployments of self-service analytics, where little-to-no support from IT is required. More than ever, customers are demanding products that are easier to use, accessible to everyone, and simple to integrate with existing systems.

Since Tableau’s inception, our work in these areas has pioneered the innovations to drive self-service at scale, and we’re pleased that Gartner re-affirms our position as a leader for 2016.

In this report, we believe Gartner recognizes Tableau for the expansion of the range of data source connectivity, an increase in the analytical depth of the tool, the flexible choice between server and online data interaction, and the high variety of use-cases it can be deployed against.

We are committed to our investments in R&D to help drive the innovations that our customers expect from us. With these investments, we intend to remain a leader for years to come.”

For a company a little over a decade old this is pretty impressive to be commended by a name and organization like Gartner. The next time you want to encapsulate your data and have it visualized in a creative and informative way, look to Tableau!



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