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chabot-christian44Microsoft is making a big play in big data, with CEO Satya Nadella noting at the company’s “Insights Await” event in San Francisco last month that he planned to invest heavily in business intelligence tools that are designed to help users make more sense out of data.

That’s squarely in line with Tableau Software’s mission too, so we asked the Seattle data visualization company about Nadella’s remarks. At the time, Tableau didn’t have much to say.

But now we are hearing a bit more about what Tableau really thinks, with CEO Christian Chabot addressing a question about competition in today’s first quarter earnings call with analysts. (For the record, Tableau’ shares surged more than eight percent in after hours trading after the company’s results exceeded analysts’ expectations).

So, what does Chabot think about the entrance of Microsoft, not to mention competition from Oracle, SAS and others? Here’s what he had to say in Monday’s conference call about competition in the data visualization arena:

Well, we’ve seen all of the chapters of this story. In the early days of the company, they all, and by they I mean the big stack providers of technology, the big incumbent providers of traditional enterprise BI systems, we have seen them go from completely writing off the category to saying: ‘Okay, there might be something there, but it’s a niche,’ to finally scrambling and saying: ‘Uh-oh, it’s looks like the entire market is going this way, and we better do something.’

And, so yes, we’ve seen all of them come out with some kind of entry into the market to essentially catch up with Tableau’s work. And that includes Microsoft and MicroStrategy and Oracle and SAS and whole lot of them. And that’s been going on for — it started about four years ago I would say and every quarter there is some new news. Or, at least every year there’re a couple of big pieces of new news there.

And I think the answer to that second part of the question is how are they doing? Are they struggling? I think you can see that in our financial results. Their efforts have not had an impact on our growth. If anything, they may actually be helping a little bit educating the market. And the reasons they struggle, oh boy! I have a whole speech I give on that. I gave a talk where I basically — what I essentially did was I went and re-read Innovators Dilemma, just a classic business book by Clayton Christensen.

And I think they are having all of the problems that Christensen outlined — that big companies do have when they try to innovate at scale. That’s what we’ve been seeing and so there’ll be —  probably a longer call to into that in all detail. But it’s the reasons you’ve seen before when disruptive new easy to use technologies come along and the big traditional providers struggle to catch up with it.

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