Tableau Software revealed an array of new data visualization and analytics tools at its annual conference in Austin this morning, as part of a “roadmap” for the company’s next few years.
The updates, tools and products focus on a variety of concepts from natural language processing, machine learning, collaboration, layering data sets and cloud computing. They all aim to make it easier and faster for people to compile, visualize and analyze data.
Tableau is looking to rebound after an up-and-down year that saw the company hit record quarterly revenue multiple times and add new customers at a rapid clip. But at the same time, Tableau’s stock has lost more than half its value and has yet to fully recover as it faces increased competition and has struggled to land larger customers.
The new products, all debuting in 2017 or later, and the vision of new CEO Adam Selipsky are key parts of the future that the company is articulating at the Tableau Conference this week. Tableau says more than 13,000 people, many of them Tableau customers, are attending this year’s conference.
Tableau said these products and tools are only a sample of the company’s plans over the next few years.
“When you look at how much more we still need to build, it’s clear we are just getting started,” Selipsky said at the conference. “We feel that urgency every day.” You can expect our pace of innovation to continue, and I hope even accelerate. Innovation is the life blood of this company.”
Tableau has historically focused on displaying and analyzing data. A new product called Project Maestro extends the company’s reach into preparing and organizing data. It allows users to fix issues simply and quickly. Dan Jewett, Tableau’s vice president of product management, demonstrated Maestro and brought together a couple of data sets that displayed common figures like years, but did it in different ways. Jewett showed ways to standardize those data points so that they could be looked at together.
“We want you to have a robust and delightful experience with all aspects of data management,” Jewett said.
Tableau will release a version of its business intelligence software, Tableau Server, for Linux, the open source operating system used by many government organizations, educational institutions and businesses. Tableau Server will also add new features like certified data sets, which lets IT and other knowledgable people to vet data, giving users confidence that it is correct.
Tableau also wants to make it easier to collaborate and let people build off each other’s work. In addition to make it easier to find and add to someone else’s visualizations, Tableau has added a conversation window that lets people to chat about data within Tableau.
All of these new capabilities will run faster, Tableau says, because of HyPer, a high performance database system born out of research done at the Technical University of Munich that Tableau acquired earlier this year. This technology will allow people to visualize and analyze data in seconds, a process that used to take hours.
“You’ll get unprecedented data freshness, reducing time between when data arrives in the organization and your ability to make use of it,” said Vijay Doshi, vice president of product management at Tableau.
Underpinning all of this is machine learning and natural language processing. Tableau showed the ability to search databases using conversational phrases such as “show me houses near Ballard, under $600k.” And once that initial search has been made, Tableau remembers it and makes it easier to conduct follow up searches. And, as users build data visualizations, Tableau will recommend other work that might be relevant.
“What if Tableau could look at what you are doing and be one step ahead of you, instantly answering that next question, helping you interpret what you are seeing or suggesting the next steps you can take,” said Andrew Beers, Tableau’s chief development officer.
Given Selipsky’s background as a former vice president with Amazon Web Services, it’s no surprise that Tableau plans to make a big bet on the cloud. On the Tableau’s latest earnings call, Selipsky said the company plans to beef up its Tableau Online cloud platform. At the conference, Tableau announced plans for a tool called Live Query Agent, that serves as a “secure tunnel through the firewall to get to your data directly,” even if it is housed in on-site servers, said Ashley Kramer, Tableau’s director of product management and leader of the company’s cloud operations.