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No one makes data shine brighter than Tableau. It’s why the BI vendor stands so far above the crowd in Gartner's BI and Analytics Platforms MQ Leaders report.

Think of Walt Disney answering some of your most pressing business questions. There’d have to be a picture, and you’d probably even be able to interact with it.

That’s what Tableau gives you: Answers in vizzes and tools that invite you to play with your data. Maybe Tableau’s magic has something to do with the fact that one of the company’s founders, Pat Hanrahan, once worked for Pixar and has won two Academy Awards for Science and Technology.

So it’s no wonder that Gartner BI Challenger Birst showed an interest in hooking up with Tableau. Today the vendors announced a “partnership” in the form of an ODBC connector that makes it easy for their mutual customers to leverage Birst’s data extraction and normalization engine with Tableau.

Competing – or Cooperating?

While much of today’s press talks about Birst and Tableau being fierce competitors, that probably has more to do with the way the announcement was pitched than reality.

As we wrote in our Gartner BI summary, it’s worth asking if any particular vendor in the MQ can be the standalone “go to” for every BI and Analytics endeavor.

Tableau, for its part, seems to be willing work with partners who can help their mutual customers visualize data through the lens they provide.

And when it comes to Birst, “Tableau loves high performing database engines,” said Dan Jewett, Tableau’s VP of Product Management during an interview. In other words, if Birst customers want to leverage Tableau’s capabilities, it ought to be easy.

What this meant for Birst is six to nine months of heavy lifting, building a driver that optimizes its software for Tableau. It doesn’t seem that a leap of faith inspired the build.

 “Our customers have been asking us for this kind of thing for a while,” said Jay Larson, Birst CEO.

And since the rhetoric in much of the BI market is about the problems that earlier generation monoliths created, working together in the service of customers is a good move and a good strategy.

Ellie Fields, Tableau’s VP of Product Marketing, effectively articulated her company’s attitude toward integrating with other vendors in her predictions for 2015.

“This year we expect to see people continuing to choose from the best products out there vs. returning to monolithic systems, but they will demand that those systems work together.”

Bullseye. 

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Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image by sonstroem.