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        David Menninger's Analyst Perspectives

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        Tableau and Salesforce bring New Look to Business Analytics

        Businesses are transforming their organizations, building a data culture and deploying sophisticated analytics more broadly than ever. However, the process of using data and analytics is not always easy. The necessary tools are often separate, but our research shows organizations prefer an integrated environment. In our Data Preparation Benchmark Research, we found that 41% of participants use Analytics and Business Intelligence tools for data preparation.

        Sophisticated analyses often Ventana_Research_Benchmark_Research_Data_Prep17_03_Primary_DataPrep_tool_171010-croppedrequire specialized skills and specialized tools. Our Machine Learning Dynamic Insights Research shows that one-third (34%) of organizations prefer to acquire machine learning capabilities embedded in business intelligence tools, making it the most common strategy, and presumably to make it easier to analyze data.

        Tableau is an analytics software vendor focused on making it easier to create and interact with data visualizations. Already successful in its own right, Tableau was acquired by Salesforce in August 2019. Initially, very little was shared about how the two company’s products would be integrated, but we are now starting to learn more of their joint plans. Einstein Discovery in Tableau is the first in a series of planned integrations that will eventually include connecting Tableau natively to the Einstein Analytics data store, enabling users to take advantage of performance optimizations and native Salesforce security. There will also be data preparation capabilities that read and write to both Tableau and Einstein Analytics, as well as upcoming content portability features.

        Einstein Discovery helps organizations democratize data science with AI-powered analytics that enable business users to automatically discover relevant patterns based on their data—without building sophisticated data models or engaging teams of data scientists. Planned for the first part of 2021, Einstein Discovery in Tableau enables real-time predictive modeling and recommendations capabilities across the Tableau platform. Einstein Analytics, renamed to Tableau CRM, will provide an integrated analytics and AI experience within Salesforce’s CRM workflow, and be a key part of Salesforce Customer 360.

        Tableau follows a quarterly release cycle. The recent releases, 2020.3 and 2020.4, provide new capabilities including enhanced data preparation, predictive modeling, natural language capabilities and geospatial analyses. Tableau 2020.3 also broadens the connectivity of the Tableau platform through the introduction of Connectors to the Tableau Extension Gallery, a new collection of partner-built integrations that let customers access data sources in addition to those natively supported by Tableau. The 2020.4 release brings more capabilities to the web including Tableau Prep Builder as well as web authoring enhancements such as creating extracts, highlight actions and filters. It also includes multiple layers of markers in maps and spatial support in Tableau Prep.

        With these new releases, customers are now able to make their data preparation process more governed and scalable, as well as more deeply integrated with the rest of the IT infrastructure via the new Write to Database feature in Tableau Prep. The tool utilizes a drag-and-drop, visual experience that, coupled with Prep Builder on the web, makes it easier for organizations to create and publish data flows without coding, third-party tools or specialized training. There are also updated mobile apps for iOS, Blackberry and Android, which also make Tableau’s analytics more accessible.

        Doing complex analysis like predictions or spatial joins is now easier for Tableau users. New predictive modeling functions are built into the table calculation process so customers can build and update the models without leaving the platform. Two new types of regression analyses are now supported as well.

        Tableau also added new features to its natural language capabilities. While Tableau has built its reputation around making visualizations easier, natural language enables even easier access to data. Tableau’s Ask Data now allows for more customization to incorporate specific language that your organization uses in searches. You can type a question with natural language and get an answer in the form of an interactive visualization.

        Ventana_Research_2020_Assertion_Natural_Language (1)While it would be nice to see Tableau and other vendors add more voice-based interactions, we assert that through 2021, conversational experiences involving analytics will remain primarily text-based rather than voice-based.

        If they are to use data to inform decision-making in a turbulent market, organizations need to make their analytics both more accessible and more sophisticated. This will not only enhance the ability to make strategic decisions faster, but also will improve communication and cross-team collaboration. Check out Tableau’s data preparation and visualization products, and explore its enhanced predictive modeling capabilities to see if the vendor can help your organization maximize the value of its data.


        Dave Menninger


        David Menninger
        Executive Director, Technology Research

        David Menninger leads technology software research and advisory for Ventana Research, now part of ISG. Building on over three decades of enterprise software leadership experience, he guides the team responsible for a wide range of technology-focused data and analytics topics, including AI for IT and AI-infused software.


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