One of the top experiences when working at a company like Tableau is showing off the product to those who've never seen it before. The reactions are always varied, but more often than not, there's always a sense of "Wow, that's cool."

A small group of us at Tableau just wrapped up attending the INFORMS 2011 conference in Charlotte, a largely academic conference with a heavy focus on operations research and management sciences.

We were also joined by Professor Charmont Wang of the College of New Jersey, who has written some widely-read papers about data visualization and its increasing use in the academic world for different industries. That topic also happened to be why we came to Charlotte: to see Tableau grow in the academic world, though we'd be lying if we didn't admit to sneaking out to enjoy some good southern soul food.

(Tableau eating with Professor Charmont Wang)

We got to shake hands with different people at INFORMS, from professors to supply chain managers to government logistics personnel. Quite a few had never heard of Tableau, but stopped when they saw our sample visualizations. Others had been told to come check out our booth, and once they saw Tableau in action, they realized why.

Responses are always all over the board, but everyone usually latches on to one thing. For some, it's dashboard filtering, or the easy drag-and-drop interface, or even just the visuals, though our automatic geomapping ability almost never fails to impress.

Our Tableau for Teaching program also built quite a bit of buzz. Many professors stopped by exclaiming how they could use Tableau in the classroom, or how they wish they could have years before. With free use of Tableau Desktop Professional, curriculum support and personal live webinars, news about our program elicited even reactions like:

"Wait. What's the catch?"

Is it too cliche to say there isn't one? Because there really isn't. It's our goal to see data visualization adopted in more organizations across more industries. And what better way to do that than to expand Tableau in classrooms? For that reason alone, we're glad to have attended. The food is also a nice bonus.

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