Tableau Deepens Cloud Capabilities, Salesforce Integration

The company, which is holding its Tableau Conference 22 this week, unveiled Tableau Cloud, highlighted its new ‘Data Stories’ and Model Builder capabilities, and outlined plans for Tableau integration with Salesforce Customer 360, Flow and Einstein.


Tableau Software launched a new edition of its cloud-based data analytics and visualization software Tuesday and detailed ongoing work to integrate its analytical platform with cloud applications from parent company Salesforce.

Tableau, which is holding its annual customer conference in Las Vegas this week, also previewed new capabilities in the company’s data analytics platform including automated AI-based “Data Stories” and new predictive data modeling tools based on Salesforce Einstein.

“There has never been a more critical time for everyone, everywhere to see and understand data,” said Mark Nelson, Tableau Software president and CEO, in an online press conference prior to the kickoff of the conference. Noting efforts by businesses and organizations to navigate the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, “geo-political instability” and “once-in-a-generation inflationary effects,” Nelson (pictured) said: “More than ever, this is the time for data.”

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Nelson became Tableau’s chief executive a little more than one year ago after his predecessor, Adam Selipsky, left to become CEO of Amazon Web Services. Tableau was acquired by Salesforce in 2019 for $15.7 billion.

Like other data analytics software developers, including Qlik and ThoughtSpot, Tableau is seeing increasing demand for cloud-based data analysis capabilities: Tableau said that today 70 percent of new customers are choosing the fully hosted Tableau Cloud – previously known as Tableau Online – over on-premises or hybrid deployments.

“Cloud is the fastest way to make data work and cloud is the future of analytics,” Nelson said.

The new Tableau Cloud release, available now, is connected to the Salesforce Customer 360 system and underlying Salesforce Customer Data Platform, making it possible to analyze customer data – including sales data, service case data and data from marketing campaigns – and then use Salesforce Flow workflow automation applications to act on the analytical results.

“If nothing is more valuable than your customers, then data about those customers is the most precious asset a business can have,” Nelson said.

Tableau and Salesforce are also planning to offer an enterprise cloud software bundle that will link Tableau Cloud with Slack, the online collaboration application that Salesforce acquired in July 2021 in a blockbuster $27.7 billion deal.

In conjunction with the Tableau Cloud launch, Tableau and data cloud service provider Snowflake are running an extended promotional trial that includes Tableau Cloud licenses for Snowflake customers and possible Snowflake credits if they become a Tableau customer.

Nelson, in response to a question from CRN, said Tableau Cloud provides “amazing opportunities” for Tableau’s channel partners, despite the shift cloud brings in how Tableau software is acquired and installed.

“I believe there will be lots and lots of opportunities for all of our partners that continue to work with us as we move into the cloud,” the president and CEO said. He specifically pointed to the need for DevOps capabilities in configuring Tableau for specific environments and for vertical industry expertise. “We couldn’t do everything we do without our amazing partners.”

Tableau is adding a number of new capabilities to the Tableau platform that the company says are designed to help bring data analysis to a wider audience.

“Our mission is to help people see and understand data and we want to bring data everywhere for everyone,” said Francois Ajenstat, Tableau’s chief product officer, during the press conference.

Ajenstat cited studies that show that 70 percent of workers in businesses don’t have access to data and business intelligence. “That’s a huge challenge that we have to overcome,” he said.

A new capability currently in preview and expected to be generally available shortly is Data Stories, an AI-based augmented-analytics feature that adds automated, plain-language explanations to Tableau dashboards at scale. That’s expected to help users understand and interact with data more quickly by automating data analysis and the building and communicating of analytical insights in a story format, according to a company description.

Also in preview and expected to be generally available later in 2022 is Model Builder, powered by Salesforce’s Einstein Discovery AI and machine learning technology, for building predictive analytical models.

Ajenstat said it’s not enough today to understand what happened in the past – the output of traditional business intelligence tools – but to predict what may happen going forward and act on those predictions. Tableau’s goal, the executive said, is to make data science accessible to a wide range of users in the same way it did with data analytics.

“We’re bringing the power of Einstein and integrating it directly inside of Tableau and opening up that technology to dramatically more use cases and dramatically more users, anywhere,” Ajenstat said. “We want to democratize data science.”

(Tableau announced integrations between Tableau and Einstein in March 2021. But this week Ajenstat said those initial links still required significant configuration work while Model Builder will automate much of the integration.)

Tableau continues to expand its lineup of Accelerators – pre-built dashboards that provide analytical results to information workers. Today the company has more than 100 Accelerators on the Tableau Exchange, some built by developer partners in the Tableau Partner Network.

The company also unveiled Advanced Management, a new toolset that IT administrators use to manage, secure and scale Tableau analytics across an organization. The toolset includes Customer-Managed Encryption Keys for helping Tableau owners meet organizational compliance standards and add a layer of protection for their data; Activity Log, which provides administrators with information about how individuals are using Tableau and manage permissions; and Admin Insights, which retains data for up to a year for tracking dataset usage, license adoption and visualization load times.