Ask Data: Simplifying analytics with natural language

We’re thrilled to announce that Ask Data is available in the Tableau 2019.1 beta. Join our pre-release community to try it out for yourself today!

Update: This feature is now available! Check out the latest release of Tableau.

Now more than ever, we need data to make better decisions. Ask Data, Tableau’s new natural language capability, allows people to get insights by simply conversing with their data. Modalities such as natural language will help lower the barrier to analytics and unearth the next generation of self-service analytics.

With Ask Data, you can ask questions of any published data source and get answers in the form of a visualization. It allows you the ability to explore data at the speed of thought. We want to provide anyone, regardless of their role, a simple way to achieve powerful insights—empowering every individual in an organization with the ability to get quick answers and make better, data-driven decisions.

We’re thrilled to announce that Ask Data is available in the Tableau 2019.1 beta. Join our pre-release community to try it out for yourself today!

Ask your way through the full analytical workflow

Using Ask Data, anyone with a question can start typing and instantly get a response. Ask Data is fully embedded into the Tableau Server or Online experience. Simply select a data source and type in a question. No setup is required.

Here’s how Ask Data makes it even easier to analyze your data:

Easy and powerful analytical capabilities. Analyze your data with a simple statement or question. Rapidly iterate with additional questions by adding follow-up queries or statements. Our semantic models automatically enrich your data for more natural interactions. You can even add synonyms to your data. For example, if you have an attribute called “sales” you can directly add other synonyms such as revenue, income, earnings, and more. Synonyms can make your data feel even more approachable and relevant.

Not sure where to start? Ask Data will recommend questions based on your data source.

Smart analytics. Natural language can be difficult. For example, in the statement, “six foot doctors came to the hospital,” it’s not clear if we’re talking about really tall doctors or podiatrists. Humans are adept at clarifying ambiguity and intent by understanding the context of a conversation, but machines face a more difficult challenge. Now, with advances in the field of natural language, machines can better handle pragmatics, deciphering context to better understand the meaning behind a statement.

The technology behind Ask Data understands ambiguous or underspecified statements and resolves them by offering helpful recommendations. Let’s look at the example, “profit over time.” Ask Data resolves this statement by suggesting an aggregation for the profit field and uses popularity data to recommend the order date field as a definition of time.

Incorporating data visualization best practices. Ask Data leverages Tableau’s Show Me capabilities and the context of your input to choose the best visualization to represent the most relevant answer to every question. By default, Tableau provides the chart type for analysis based on visual best practices. You can also change the viz type if you need another view. And the viz will sort automatically. For example, “highest average price by country” would automatically sort the bar graph in descending order.

Going from data to decision. After using Ask Data to ask questions, you can share your discoveries with others to encourage further exploration. For example, let’s say I’m an operations manager and I just answered an important question about inbound customer calls. I may want to give the call center a heads-up that there was a huge increase in calls. All I need to do is save the visualization as a Tableau workbook and share over Tableau Server or Tableau Online. From Server or Online, I can even create data-driven alerts or subscriptions from the saved workbook.

Try the beta!

Try the beta today by joining the pre-release community. Ask Data is available on Tableau Server and Tableau Online for live and extract connections. We’ve provided options for you to get started with the beta depending on your needs; spin up a demo or sandbox environment for Tableau Server or use a test Tableau Online site.

We want to hear from you! Feedback is one of the most important levers that allow us to drive delight and continuously deliver more value for you. Our pre-release community gives you the opportunity to engage with the Tableau development team through user research, product discussions, and feedback activities.

What’s next? The first release of Ask Data is loaded with smart features, and we’re not stopping there. Follow and partner with us on our journey to lower the barrier to analytics and bring the power of data to everyone.