Tableau Conference 2023 - changed days for data?

Stuart Lauchlan Profile picture for user slauchlan May 10, 2023
Day 1 of this year's Tableau Conference and it's a new day for data, according to Chief Product Officer Francois Ajenstat.


Tableau might be two decades old, but that didn’t stop its Chief Product Officer Francois Ajenstat from declaring that yesterday was ‘a new day for data’. 

Hyperbole aside, what that means in terms of the product set is two new offerings: 

  • Tableau GPT to give access to AI-powered analytics that can make data digestible for a wider range of users, regardless of data literacy.
  • Tableau Pulse to provide automated insights and a personalized analytics experience to business users and data consumers.

As per the formal announcement: 

Tableau GPT is a re-imagining of Tableau and makes it easier for everyone to tap into generative AI to better understand and interact with their data in a trusted and secure way. Users can surface insights in a conversational way by simply asking questions within the console, which helps power smarter data experiences for analysts, consumers, admins, developers, and more. 

Tableau Pulse helps people make better, faster decisions with automated, personalized analytics. Driven by Tableau GPT, Pulse surfaces insights in both natural language and visual format, so users get the information they need in a digestible way. And, with tight integrations with collaboration tools like Slack and email, users can interact with and collaborate on these insights directly in their usual flow of work.

Changed days

Kicking off the Tableau Conference 2023 in Las Vegas, Ajenstat declared that looking back over the firm’s two decades, that the world of data had come a long way:

Today we're using data in completely new ways. I mean, think about it - 20 years ago, data was boring tabular reports. Together, we've made it visual and interactive. Today data is everywhere. It's gone mainstream. Throughout the pandemic, we were looking at data every day to see where the cases are. But data is also powering new experiences. Look at Netflix - the recommendation feed is powered by data and AI. And data is changing sports. Look at baseball. Baseball is now completely data-driven. Data has completely completely changed the game. With new technologies like the cloud and generative AI, we're gonna change the game again, together. 

But there are still challenges to be overcome, he warned: 

We all know that data is still too hard, not accessible to everybody. There are still too many people that don't have access to data to make better decisions. Only 30% of people in organizations use data to make decisions. What do the other people do? Just make it up or make decisions based on gut feel? We have to help everyone.

Part of the challenge is a lack of skills, a lack context to make the right decisions, or lacking trust in the data. Tableau is about empowering everyone. This is why our mission, to help people see and understand data, is more relevant today than it's ever been. Because our mission is about empowering all people to get insights and generate meaningful data about getting the best out of everyone that we can have impact on the world together. 

We still have more work to do. We still have to push forward to help everyone with data. This is why today is a new day for data. 

Continuous innovation is critical, he added: 

We're continuing to advance our mission to help people see and understand data. Last year, we delivered over 120 new capabilities of Tableau,  platform capabilities for analysts, consumers, IT and developers. 

The move to the cloud is helping, he argued: 

We're seeing existing server customers transition to the cloud. You know why? We're seeing better performance. Seeing better scalability, they're able to spend more time doing analytics instead of messing with infrastructure.

New CEO 

This year’s conference was also the first outing for the firm’s new CEO Ryan Aytay, who also picked up on the cloud migration theme:

The reason [customers] want to be focused on cloud and migrating to cloud is this opportunity to have better performance, the opportunity to also make sure that you're getting cost efficiencies in your business.

Aytay also pitched the power of generative AI, now being rolled out across the entire Salesforce portfolio: 

I would say the future is amazing in the sense that we have so much to look forward to with generative AI and the way we're trying to do things your way. 

My take

One strong takeaway from the keynote was the emphasis placed on the importance of data skills, a topic that everyone on diginomica has returned to far, far too many times across our careers. Salesforce’s own research found that only 39% of organizations train their employees in data skills.

Back in 2021, Tableau pledged to help 10 million people around the world become data literate by 2027. According to Ajenstat, that goal is ahead of schedule, with nearly 2 million people having gone through the firm’s digital skills program to date. That’s very important and very encouraging. Keep on track and we might indeed be looking at a new day for data. 

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