World Economic Forum

Empowering ideas and enabling logistics at Davos with Salesforce and Tableau Cloud

Event-wide analytics collected in Tableau Cloud at the annual Davos meeting

Insights across 120+ data sources consolidated into one warehouse using MuleSoft

75% reduction in reporting complexity—from 100+ dashboards to 25

Tableau allowed us to draw interesting conclusions from our data that we couldn’t have done before.

Every year in Davos, Switzerland, the World Economic Forum hosts a gathering of the world’s greatest minds to discuss issues and ideas that ultimately shape global, regional, and industry agendas. Leaders in government, business, and civil society all join forces to tackle the latest challenges with moral and intellectual integrity, with topics ranging from cross-cultural cooperation and economic growth to ethical AI development and the climate crisis.

As organizers of this 5-day annual meeting, and as globally renowned agents of public–private sector collaboration, the Forum relies heavily on having the best possible access to and insights from data. Starting in 2021, the Forum has used Tableau and Tableau Public to wrangle its data sources and make insights available to its participants, planners, and other staff.

“Data analytics is central to the Forum’s operations and determining the right strategic direction,” said Malte Godberson, Head of Technology and Digital Services at the Forum. “Tableau’s ease of use and seamless connection to other datasets are helping everyone embrace the Forum’s data-driven mindset.”

Embracing new data method sheds light on hidden insights

Before Tableau, the Forum was challenged to simplify the ways their people access data and derive insights. As the Forum grew in size and scope, it came to rely on more than 100 different dashboards. This volume made it difficult for Forum executives and staff to see, understand, and interpret insights residing in the data.

“As the data analytics team, our mission is to support internal teams and our external stakeholders with their decision-making,” said Sébastien Daniel, Head of Investment and Analytics at the Forum. “However, the proliferation of dashboards meant insights were hidden.”

Salesforce is a Strategic Technology Partner of the Forum, so when Daniel’s team became aware of the Tableau acquisition, they were excited to use the Tableau platform. “I was already a passionate fan of Tableau,” said Daniel. “We then tested Tableau and quickly realized it would be a massive improvement on the way we do analytics.”

Migrating to Tableau meant the Forum could take big steps forward in its strategy of empowering its user community to succeed in new ways. This strategy included:

  • Embracing data to gain new insight into ongoing operational and worldwide problems
  • Using analytics as a storytelling device to inspire new levels of curiosity and engagement
  • Cultivating new data communities where data is a common denominator across cultures

In a 9-month program to streamline analytics and centralize on Tableau, conducted during the pandemic lockdown, the team reduced the number of dashboards by 75% from 100+ to 25. The consolidated visuals are now used to monitor key performance indicators against which the Forum manages its operations and measures its success. Data associated with everything from finance and planning to sales and partner relationships is analyzed using this single shared view of data.

I was already a passionate fan of Tableau. We then tested Tableau and quickly realized it would be a massive improvement on the way we do analytics.

Consolidating the data behind the dashboards enables insights from a single data layer

To further the consolidation, the Forum recently connected its data sources through a central platform with MuleSoft. This new unified platform lets the organization send and receive data from more than 120 systems—including event bookings, lodging information, and member communications—all in one place. The team also adopted Heroku, a platform that helps Forum developers build, deliver, and monitor websites and mobile apps at scale. The Forum also adds an extra security layer by using Salesforce Shield to encrypt the data and control access.

Throughout this journey, Tableau Cloud remains the primary tool for enabling high-quality insights. “We started to see possibilities, because we have Tableau connected on top of the data warehouse,” said Florin Costea, Integration and Data Enterprise Architect at the Forum. “Tableau helps us draw interesting conclusions from our data in ways we couldn’t have before.”

Having a single source of the truth frees up time to create value from the data. For example, Tableau gives us complete, near real-time insight into our 1,000-partner community, including their status, engagement, and the projects we’re working on with them.

A new level of analytics helps support decisions that can change the world

By simplifying its analytics with Tableau, the Forum achieved a platform for supporting better, faster decision making by executives and staff. For internal sources, including financial data and event attendance statistics, having navigable data allowed better cross-team communications, such as enabling the finance team to standardize fields across grant-funded and Forum-funded projects, enabling wider liquidity and cashflow management. Externally, data explorers could now do more for outside stakeholders, such as provide raw survey data used in flagship reports, increasing transparency and the use of Forum data in non-Forum research projects.

Now, with a single source of truth for both internal data and external data, stakeholders can quickly find the answers they need to take action. And they do so using a highly usable interface that clearly and dynamically presents relevant analytics

“The transition to Tableau resulted in a much improved look and feel of the Forum’s dashboards,” said Roberto Tinnirello, Head of Business Strategy and Service at the Forum, and a member of the World Economic Forum Executive Committee. “It ensured critical stakeholders are able to promptly and expeditiously ascertain the latest status of the Forum’s financial and business performance.”

This ease of use and access to insights extends beyond Forum operations all the way to Davos itself. Since 2022, the Forum has used Tableau-based analytics at the annual meeting to collect insights across the event journey of participants, from preregistration to post-event-feedback. Among other benefits, Daniel said, “this helped us to balance attendance across over- and under-subscribed sessions. The events team was impressed when we showed them this capability.”

The ability to push new ideas to our users quickly and not worry about where we’ll host our applications or who's going to manage them is probably the most important thing for the scalability of our platform.

One possible future: Tableau Pulse fueling further innovation at Davos with AI

The rise of AI in analytics highlights the many exciting directions Forum attendees and organizers can go in the near future, especially when thinking creatively to get work done. ”We want everyone at the Forum to be united behind our shared goals to ask questions, challenge ideas, and use data—not just intuition—to make decisions,” said Daniel.

In their ongoing pursuit of these goals, the Forum is looking at using Tableau Pulse for natural language querying of their data, letting users ask questions plainly and directly, enabling AI-powered, personalized insights to an even wider audience than before. Generative capabilities can further assist the organization with searching and analyzing more easily using this natural language capability.

Incorporating AI is a likely next step in transformation for the Forum, a journey that has used Tableau and Salesforce to continuously enhance the exchange of ideas at Davos, now and into the future. "Moving to Tableau has allowed us to efficiently visualize progress of our events and anticipate event trends,” said Marketa Skrivankova, Event Production Lead at the Forum. “And we can report both of these on an institutional and operational level in a user-friendly way."