A journey from information to insight: Tableau Executive Breakfast

An unusual sight greeted the attendees at Tableau’s Executive Breakfast taking place today in London: blazing sunshine in the usually grey sky.

Off to a good start, EMEA executive vice president, James Eiloart, welcomed over 30 executives from various industries to discover what they can expect from analytics in 2014. The event gave insight into what the must-haves in analysing business intelligence are going to be for the coming year. The audience was also treated to a demonstration as to what Tableau is all about and how it fits into everyday business life.

James Eiloart, EMEA Executive Vice President

Kelly Wright, Executive Vice President, Sales

Who would be better to address the audience than someone who has been with the company since the start? Kelly Wright, VP of sales, was employee number 10 at Tableau. She knows the company inside out and its mission by heart: ‘Help people to see and understand their data’. Kelly is clear why we are all here today: ‘to foster a conversation about capturing information, empowering people and ultimately making the best business decisions.’

Kelly led us back to a Stanford University Campus in 2003 where Tableau was founded as a research project. An Academy-Award winning professor and a savvy business leader with a passion for data came together and challenged the status quo. Up to then, digital graphics and databases coexisted but never touched each other – indecipherable spread-sheets were the norm. But, they asked, isn’t there a way to tap into the power of visualisations to help make sense of data?

Tableau did just that and now, 10 years later, has empowered 15,000 companies to make informed business decisions. ‘Data is at the centre of everything’, Kelly continues, ‘New data is coming all the time and in 2020, the world will generate 50 times the amount of data as in 2011 – inflexible enterprise data warehouses as we know them now won’t be able to keep up. That would be like trying to keep up with today’s ever-connected online world by buying a typewriter!’

90 per cent of executives are aware of the need for a solution and want to use more analytics to underpin their decisions – but why aren’t they? Kelly looks around the audience. ‘Well, she continues, ‘there are multiple reasons and most executives can be bundled in three groups: the Most, the Many and the Few. The ‘Most’, almost 70 per cent of executives, want to do it but find the process to be too complex and expensive. They believe they do not have the right infrastructure for it (assenting nods in the audience). The ‘Many’ use Business Intelligence tools but have questions and all too often still get lost in Excel-sheets (nods are getting fewer…). And then there are the ‘Few’ that have gotten the hang of it and can operate the systems (we have gone from nodding to glancing around wondering who that might be).’

But there is no way escaping the data revolution – it will come and it is essential to know and own the major themes of the future to stay competitive. The major themes for the future are: Big Data Everywhere, Visual Analytics Everywhere, Analystics and Statistics for Everyone, Storytelling and Collaboration and Enterprise+Scale+Performance. So, what are the must-haves to stay on top of Analytics?

Enjoying the view from the Grange St Pauls Skybar

Alys Woodward, research director at IDC, continues the session and transports the audience to the future of the IT industry – the Third Platform. Built on the Four Pillars ‘Social Business’, ‘Big Data’, ‘Cloud’ and ‘Mobile and Analytics’, the Third Platform will transform the IT industry and enable high-value business solutions and innovation. This will considerably influence the impact, and role, of consumers.

Alys starts out with one of the most important data sources of our time – social media. ‘Social Business Intelligence is the essence of big data and delivers great value if you mine for it’, she begins, ‘ Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and web forums provide us with real time data and an invaluable amount of information about the most important asset of our company – the client. Customers sharing a problem on Twitter, giving the reasons on Facebook and discussing the matter in detail in web forums deliver excellent business intelligence.’ However, there are challenges in social data analysis, i.e. how to extract sentiment and how to avoid overanalysing?’

With Cloud, appliances and mobile solutions on the rise, more than one solution might be required to meet a company’s requirements. So, what do companies urgently need to focus on, what are the musts for the next few years? Alys makes two things very clear – Business Intelligence from cloud and mobile and personalisation based on Social Business Intelligence are the key points to gain value from information and solve the pain points from users.

With this, the presentation ends and a fruitful discussion session follows, debating the question ‘Is there a single version of truth? And does it even make sense to strive for it?’ Well as we said: It is a journey from information to insight.

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