What do you think of when you think of Tableau? BI reporting? Pretty graphs? Slow load times? Well, get ready to change your mindset, because Tableau is expanding into more areas of the analytics space. After attending their first keynote this morning at the Tableau Conference, it’s pretty clear they are looking to become more than just a reporting tool.
The first major issue Tableau is hoping to tackle is data governance, which is a worthy adversary. We all know this is a common issue in the analytics space right now, primarily because it feels difficult to solve. On one hand, you need a technology to organize information on the status of tables and data sources, while on the other you need organization buy in and commitment in order to implement such a solution. Most of us are skilled in one area (people skills or technical skills), but rarely have the ability to enact change in both at the same time. Luckily, Tableau is willing to help!
Tableau’s idea behind data governance is not to shut down non-analysts, but to empower them under a specified framework of safety. If we can provide a safe structure from which they can interact with tools, then we are limiting their ability to destroy/misuse data (some of the major concerns of data democracy).
To carry out this strategy, Tableau highlighted two main components of their tool. The first is the ability to “approve” data sources, which essentially is giving a data source the stamp of approval from your data warehouse team. By doing this, you are able to quickly communicate the status of a data source to your entire organization, and also update it as frequently as you want. This acts as a safety guard because now people can quickly see if they should dive deeper into a table. If it’s not approved by the team, then don’t use it 🙂
The second applies only to people who use Alation, but could be expanded depending upon who is willing to build out the proper API. Tableau announced a new feature this morning called Extension API’s, which allows 3rd party developers to write API’s and integrate more data sources/software within Tableau. Alation has already created their extension, and it is pretty cool! If you are looking at data within a dashboard and see something off, you have the ability to highlight your data and bring in the Alation extension. From here, Alation will tell you what underlying tables are used to give this data, as well as any notes someone has written about this data source. If you combine this with the first point, people have the ability to validate data sources within already build dashboards!
All in all, Tableau is tackling the issue of data governance, which is great for us, because most organizations already have Tableau. They have the perfect infrastructure to handle such an issue because they are already embedded into so many organizations. This means little ramp-up time, no new tools, and little learning curve.
The other noteworthy tool to mention is Project Maestro, which is Tableau’s solution to data cleansing and preparation. A lot of people spend time preparing their data for Tableau, which is honestly quite a pain. Maestro speeds up this process by giving an easy to use interface which also directly connects to Tableau. The product will be in beta testing this quarter (Q4 2017), which hopefully means the full launch will be early 2018 (I’m just guessing).
Gone are the days of Tableau just being a reporting tool for your organization. Tableau is tackling difficult issues and expanding their capabilities, hopefully, to become more of an end-to-end solution. Be on the lookout for these new updates, as they are going to make organizations even more data driven!