At Tableau, we have a confession to make: we aren’t perfect. To be honest, we kind of like it that way. If we were perfect, there would be no improvements and no consistent updates due to user input. We realize that sometimes the creativity of our users can often surpass our own, which is why we love hearing the multitude of feature requests our customers have. Some of those features are coming soon, and we're working hard on the rest.
If you need any proof, see our recently added Pace of Innovation page where we highlight landmark additions of our various major releases. We're not in the habit of being satisfied with the status quo, which is why we're shaking up the BI industry. We're a user-driven software company, and as such, your ideas, requests, and feedback have enabled us to create a product that we are incredibly proud of. At a recent meeting we were given a sneak-peek of the progress on 8.0 and I can say without question that it does an incredible job of building on the existing foundation. We relish your feedback, and in the same way that we work hard to not be stagnant in our industry, we are asking you to do the same.
Deeper analytics, filled maps and a mobile app; just three new features we've added in the past year
Seeking Continual Improvement
As a Business Consultant with Professional Services, I come into contact with a large number of businesses and all the different milieus that accompany them. Understandably, everyone wants something slightly different to fit their specific needs. Here are a few of the recent additions that I have been able to show customers on recent calls/on-site visits.
- Locales and Languages – I was recently on a call with a customer who was designing dashboards which would go on the company server and be seen by employees in Mexico and the United States. They were worried that employees without English fluency might have trouble understanding some of their graphs. I pointed her to the language functionalities in Tableau Server that would automatically detect the user’s browser settings and adjust the dashboard accordingly.
- Quicker Development Cycles – While 24-months was often a standard length for development in many old-BI companies, Tableau has a much shorter development cycle. We whole-heartedly believe this is an advantage for Tableau users, because releases add valuable features, and allow us to implement fixes in a timely manner. Furthermore, Tableau upgrades are relatively easy to perform. I was on-site for a 5-day engagement with another customer who had an aggregation issue with her data source. I was able to talk to our support team, confirm that it was slated for a fix in the next release, and was even able to oversee the upgrade of Tableau Desktop and Tableau Server, because the release came while I was on-site.
- Android – After seeing our iPad app, a customer in June asked me when we planned on including Android support. One month later, I was able to point to the Tableau application in the Google Play Store. They were thoroughly impressed that this had been added so soon after an iPad app release less than a year ago.
The point of these examples is this: Tableau is constantly innovating its feature set and is not content to remain immobile in a space that requires so much fluidity to meet customer needs.
Recent locale additions let you view a workbook in different languages and number formats.
A few weeks ago, I re-watched Bret Victor’s talk “Inventing on Principle”. The crux of his speech was his personal principle: creators need an immediate connection to their creations. The attempt to remedy these perceived “injustices” which violated his principle have made many creators’ lives easier.
Similarly, at Tableau we have a principle that governs our ideas and thought processes: to enable Tableau users to ask questions of their data, to have results at the “speed of thought”, and to make this process simple. This ties in to our mission - the oft-repeated “help people see and understand data.” If the world only had awkward and difficult data visualization tools, many users would undoubtedly give up on the journey of data discovery before it began. This is an injustice that violates our principle and is something we seek to remedy one convert at a time.
The Implications for Tableau Users
While the “We need you!” mantra is a bit overused, for us it is true. Not because otherwise our business would not exist, but because without you, this “data revolution” and our mission cannot occur on a large scale. Business intelligence and visual analytics have the potential to make a massive impact on everything from our every-day productivity to our level of education and comprehension on important issues. The implications to having data analyzed faster and better are huge – just read a few of our customer stories and testimonies. Our goal is to bring Tableau to as many users as possible – not because it is in our best interests as a company, but because we believe it is in the best interest of everyone.
Ben Neville is a Business Consultant on Tableau's Professional Services team.