Your Questions Answered: Highlights from Q&A at Tableau Conference 2024

Tableau’s leaders answer questions they heard from the community at Tableau Conference 2024.

Every year at Tableau Conference, we’re lucky to hear from our passionate community members about what you love about Tableau. We also get feedback about areas where we could improve through individual conversations, roundtables, and our town hall-style event “True to the Core.” Listening to you is critical to our success–thank you for sharing with us.

While not everyone is able to attend the conference in-person, ask questions and hear responses—we believe it’s important to share more broadly the key themes of the conversations with all our customers and continue to earn your trust–our #1 value at Salesforce. We hear you, and we are listening. Below is a summary of questions and themes we heard from our customers while at Tableau Conference—and our leaders have shared their responses, with their names shared after the question below.

Thank you, DataFam, for advocating for what you love about Tableau and working with us to continually make Tableau better for everyone!

– Ryan Aytay, CEO, Tableau

Q: What is Tableau doing to address open ideas in the community forums?

Two things we regularly hear from the community related to their ideas for improving the product  are: first, you want us to deliver features that make your life easier; and second, with almost 7,000 open ideas, you want visibility into what ideas are and aren’t being prioritized. We’re making progress on both things. And one area we need to work on is our communication about this progress.

When it comes to making the improvements you want, we care deeply about this. Last year, our Tableau teams worked to implement 31 ideas from the Ideas Forum across 20 features—adding to a total of 1,167 ideas released since we started the Ideas Forum. These include transformative ideas like Dynamic Axis RangesDashed and Dotted Lines, and Multi-Row Calculations in Tableau Prep. Each of those ideas had more than 3,000 points in the forums. We’re committed to doing more–multi-fact analysis (the “meatball”), address geocoding, Apple Silicon support, and native sankeys are all in the works!

When it comes to transparency, we hear you. We need to do better. Last year we updated the status of more than 1,100 ideas in the forums. We also published insight into how our product teams work to include the community in its product development cycle. If you missed that blog, be sure to check it out. We know that we need to keep the momentum going, which is why we’ve set a goal to provide updates on more than 2,000 ideas this year. In Q1 2024 we updated the status of 727 ideas. We also increased the granularity of our reporting status categories for the community ideas, so that you can better understand where your ideas stand.

Moving forward, with each product release, we will summarize our progress against this goal so you can hold us accountable to our commitment to you–look for the first such update in our 2024.2 blog post announcement coming up this summer.

We are so thankful to have a community like you all who share your ideas and advocate for what you want in the product–thank you for helping us get better!

–Dan Jewett, SVP Product Management

Q: If Tableau is continuing to invest in Tableau Server, why aren’t all features released in Tableau Cloud available on Tableau Server?

We know that not all of our customers can move to the cloud and we remain committed to continuing helping our customers thrive on Tableau Server. As noted in the picture above, we are continuing to invest in ensuring that our Tableau Server deployments stay up to date with OS, security, performance and scale updates. In addition, we are committed to investing in features for our core analyst audience for both Server and Cloud deployment environments, such as Subrange Refreshes of Incremental Extracts, Composable Data Sources, and Shared Dimensions. As new analyst features come out, we will deliver them to all our users.

With the rapid change in the data and AI landscape, cloud environments lend themselves better to rapid AI innovation. Hence, our investment of AI capabilities are being focused on Tableau Cloud, while ensuring that we are doing so in a way that continues to build trust. We’re releasing new features for Tableau Pulse and Einstein Copilot beta every couple of weeks based on customer feedback. This is exciting as it gives us a great way to deliver innovation to a pace they expect.

Most of our Server customers aren’t comfortable with deploying and releasing new capabilities–especially those that connect to generative AI models–at such a rapid cadence. We are exploring the potential of incorporating generative AI models–including ones built by our customers–into Tableau Server, but don’t have any announcements to make at this time.

–Padmashree Koneti, SVP Product Management

Q: How do Tableau Pulse and AI support the analyst in their data exploration journey?

Tableau's AI strategy focuses on our mission of helping people see and understand their data by integrating advanced AI capabilities to empower users at all skill levels. By leveraging AI to augment human creativity and decision-making, Tableau aims to enhance data analysis, visualization, and storytelling processes. The strategy focuses on providing personalized, contextual, and intelligent insights through tools like Tableau Pulse and Einstein Co-pilot. These tools support intuitive data interaction, and integrate generative AI to automatically detect, generate, and summarize insights. This approach not only enhances productivity and decision-making but also ensures a unified, governed, and trusted view of all data, positioning Tableau as a leading platform for self-service data exploration and visual analytics innovation.

With the introduction of Tableau Pulse and Co-pilot, the role of the Analyst and Creator becomes even more critical. Analysts are now tasked with creating workflows, building dashboards, and cleaning up data, which are essential for deriving meaningful insights and making informed decisions. This expanded role is acknowledged and supported by ensuring that these tools not only facilitate their tasks but also enhance their productivity and efficiency. Integrating GenAI within our features helps generate and summarize insights, enabling analysts to focus on higher-level analytical tasks and creative problem-solving. Tableau supports the needs of the Creator in their critical role in the analytics process, furthering self-service data exploration and visual analytics innovation.

Trust is a key part of our AI strategy. We incorporate mechanisms to check the validity of outputs from these models. Guardrails are added to ensure analytical reasoning and provide reliable starting points for analysis and narrative construction. While AI-powered assistants enhance and automate many aspects of data analysis, they are not replacements for human ideas or decisions. Instead, they augment human judgment and creativity, facilitating more effective decision-making processes. Tableau Pulse and Einstein Co-pilot are unique in their approach to AI integration. Tableau Pulse harnesses both predictive AI and generative AI to provide personalized, contextual, and intelligent analytics. This dual approach enables the automatic detection, generation, and summarization of insights, helping users discover new opportunities, get ahead of issues, and make better decisions based on a curated set of metrics tailored to their needs. Einstein Co-pilot provides a flexible, natural language-first exploratory analysis experience, enabling them to dive deeper into data lowering the barrier for learning advanced features within the tool. Tableau's unique capabilities, including a unified, governed, and trusted view of all data, further reinforce its position as a leading analytics platform for self-service data exploration.

– Southard Jones, Chief Product Officer, Tableau

Q: What is Tableau doing to improve the visualization authoring experience?

Improving the authoring experience in Tableau is critical to our mission of helping people see and understand data. At Tableau Conference 2024, we announced the following product features that will significantly benefit anyone creating content in Tableau:

  • Viz Extensions enable users natively and easily build sankeys and many other chart types in Tableau
  • Composable Data Sources enable richer analytical models, unlocking richer analytical models and therefore enabling self-service at greater scale
  • Einstein Copilot will help new authors learn how to use the product and enable anyone to perform any analysis, no matter how complex
  • Spatial Parameters operate just like regular Parameters, but specifically for spatial data; they enable a new class of dynamic geospatial exploration and analysis, driven by user interaction such as selection
  • Support for Google Fonts will enable you to select from a greater variety of fonts that work on Tableau Cloud, providing greater flexibility in dashboard design and legibility
  • Custom Themes lets you quickly apply formats to your dashboards and spend fewer clicks getting everything to look just right–so you can spend more time on your analysis and less time formatting.

These product announcements show that Tableau is committed to improving the authoring experience. We can’t wait to hear how these features impact you!

We’re also committed to unlocking the power of the Tableau Community to innovate on top of the world’s leading AI-analytics platform and help deliver game-changing product innovations. For people authoring in Tableau, this means that they can tap into a Figma to Tableau Plugin from LaDataViz, curate and search all their analytical content with Curator AI Search, deliver custom viz experiences like PowerKPIs from Infotopics, and many more listed on the Tableau Exchange.

– Matthew Miller, Senior Director, Product Management

Q: What is Tableau doing to improve the performance of its products?

Improving the performance and scalability of our products in order to provide the best user experience to our customers is a top priority for us. Tableau is continually monitoring the performance of Tableau Cloud and improving how we scale cloud resources. We have recently delivered capabilities such as reduced session timeouts for improved memory and session management and throttling (user and site-level) to address excessive resource usage by individual sites. We’re also improving Tableau Cloud’s autoscaling capabilities to better dynamically increase pod resources during high-demand periods in order to increase the total number of concurrent users and workbook views that Cloud can support.

There are planned enhancements to caching resource-intensive vizzes on Tableau Cloud in an effort to improve overall viz load performance. Tableau supports view acceleration which loads views faster by precomputing and fetching the workbook's data in a background process. View acceleration can now be managed both via the UI or with a REST API for greater flexibility. In 2024.2, we are introducing Subrange Refresh/ Incremental Extracts on Tableau Cloud, Server and Desktop. This capability allows customers to avoid doing full extract refreshes that can be time-consuming and performance intensive when all that is needed is to refresh a far smaller set of data for a definable timeframe, thereby speeding up extract refreshes and improving overall performance.

Today, customers can use Tableau's performance evaluation tool called the Workbook Optimizer which identifies if a workbook follows certain performance best practices. We are evaluating enhancements to this tool for improved performance recommendations. We also continue to educate customers on efficient workbook design, through other available resources (Workbook Design Whitepaper, Cloud Dashboard Load Times Accelerator, all cataloged on a customer-facing Dashboard Load Times Improvement Homepage).

–Mousumi Bose, Senior Director, Product Management

Q: What is Tableau doing to improve the accessibility of its products?

Everything we do is driven by our mission to help people see and understand data, and we do mean everyone. Digital accessibility that addresses societal barriers is an important part of this mission. When we think about making accessibility improvements, we break it into two buckets: pebbles and boulders. 

A pebble is an accessibility defect that can be addressed without a feature. Examples include adding visible labels, improving color contrast, or updating the structure of an element. In the last two years, Tableau has addressed more than 200 pebbles across the Tableau Cloud, Server, and Public products.

A boulder is an accessibility defect that requires a feature to be fixed. In 2023.1 we added automated alternative text or alt text to all online visualizations, ensuring that visualizations have descriptions available to people who use screen readers to explore data. In 2023.2 we added the ability to edit this automated content on Tableau Cloud and Server and followed that with editing in Tableau Desktop in 2023.3. But alt text is just a starting point.

This year we’re focused on bringing independent data exploration to everyone. In 2024.1, we introduced visualization navigation for text tables. In 2024.2, we’re expanding the types of visualizations that can be explored using assistive technologies to include heatmaps, highlight tables, line graphs, bar charts, and combo charts. In 2024.3, we’re adding navigation to all visualizations.

At Tableau Conference, we heard that there are still lots of opportunities to explore accessibility in our products. The most requested feature at TC was the ability for authors to change the focus order in a dashboard so that it matches the reading order. We’re exploring this and other feature level improvements for Tableau Cloud and Server.

Accessibility is a journey and a practice; there isn’t a finish line. Instead, we’re focused on listening deeply to our Community and making consistent forward progress for all members of the DataFam. Thank you for your passion and dedication to accessibility!

– Blake Burgess, Product Management Director, Accessibility

Q: What is Tableau doing to make more TC sessions available to both in-person and virtual attendees?

We’ve heard from our community how valuable the content from Tableau Conference is for them and this year we made a lot of progress in making more sessions available. At the event, we offered repeated sessions for our most popular content and we added more of the hands-on content our community requested.

Virtually, we expanded the number of sessions on Salesforce+ and YouTube by +50% in 2024,  shared more sessions after the conference, andmade Session Summaries by Einstein available on the event website so that you can get key takeaways from sessions you may have missed. In addition, we offered Hands on Training sessions (HOTs) on Salesforce+ for four weeks following the conference to attendees that may not have had a chance to engage with HOTs at Tableau Conference. And building on this, we are looking at ways to improve all our training and learning resources outside of TC, increasing the accessibility of the content we offer, and working with Tableau Community leaders to help more people learn Tableau through community-generated blog and video content.

We’re committed to doing more though, including improving the in-person session attendee experience. Many of our sessions at Tableau Conference 2024 were filled beyond capacity which wasn’t a great experience for people who waited in line. We followed up with those who were turned away to provide on-demand access to training. For next year’s event, we are exploring ways for you to better plan for popular sessions in advance.

– Elizabeth Maxson, Chief Marketing Officer, Tableau

Q: What is Tableau doing to teach, certify, and help users connect with each other?

Data literacy is fundamental to Tableau’s mission of helping people see and understand data and we’re committed to enabling 10 million people with data skills by 2027. We’ve taken the following steps to help more people learn about data in the way that works for them:

  • First, we are continuing to focus on our Academic Programs with free software and learning resources for teaching data literacy and Tableau in the classroom.
  • Second, we added Local File Save to Tableau Desktop Public Edition. This capability allows all learners the ability to explore data on their terms using public or private data.
  • Third, we are leaning into Trailhead with more free online learning and Tableau Hands-on Challenges. Anyone can now explore data in the Tableau Public embedded web authoring environment hosted natively in Trailhead.
  • Lastly, as Elizabeth mentioned above, we have kicked off a large initiative to improve the accessibility and depth of our free training resources, and provide more ways to learn and be successful with Tableau.

We also know that certification is an important resource that helps you build your resume, advance your career, and validate your Tableau knowledge and skills. We want Tableau’s certifications to be accessible, thoughtful, and respected designations that help show the world your talent! That’s why we are working on several exciting changes to this program that will improve your certification experience. We value this community's feedback and will share more details soon.

Finally, we know that many of you want to connect with each other outside of Tableau Conference. In case you missed, we are excited for our first ever DataFam Europe this November. Make sure to sign up to get notified about all of the details. Many of you are also finding ways to connect with events led by the Community, for the Community, such as last year’s VizIt Sydney and VizIt Berlin, and hundreds of virtual and in-person Tableau User Groups every quarter to network, learn, and connect on all things data. We have a dedicated team helping User Group Leaders create and promote their events, and implementing program enhancements such as the improved onboarding with in-language resources, content and speaker support, and forums to share best practices. Join a User Group today, or apply to lead your own. 

Thank you to our community for sharing your feedback on the need to support the growth of data literacy and data people everywhere. We’re excited for what’s next!

– Larissa Amoroso, Vice President, Tableau Community

Our commitment to you: Listening, responding, and improving

This blog post was inspired by you, our Community, and our conversations with you. You shared that the dialogue from Tableau Conference 2024 should be documented to ensure accountability. I hope this blog shows that we listened and took the first step by following up!

We are committed to continuing to listen, respond, and improve moving forward. Learn more about how we approach community-driven innovation and how you can help improve our products here. Thanks for your support.

–Ryan Aytay, President & CEO, Tableau