There are people who have the time and talent necessary to stare at columns and rows of data, plug in variables and use sophisticated software tools to help them understand and solve problems and visualize results.

And there are people who don’t.

There are bosses who want to know what the data shows but won’t give you the time to explain the answer or how certain variables might change it.

And there are “modern users” who refuse to wait for a geek to help them produce visual answers to questions they need to ask of their data. They want to act now so they’ll download a tool (that may, or may not, be suitable for the Enterprise) or roll the dice or go with their gut and let what happens happen.

(No one is doing this at your company, of course, but next door, maybe …)

All Skill Levels Welcome

For those kinds of users Tableau 8.0 is a Godsend. It’s easier to use than to go without. (More sophisticated users have been using earlier releases of Tableau for years.)

“Tableau is now usable by anyone with any skill level,” says Elissa Fink the company’s Chief Marketing Officer. “The people who have the questions can get rich, visual answers for themselves,” she adds.

For those who are unfamiliar with Tableau, the company provides fast analytics and visualization tools for organizations and enterprises of all sizes. It allows users to pull in disparate sets of data to answer complex questions and provides the answer(s) in beautiful graphic displays.

How beautiful, and how useful, you might ask. Consider this: one of Tableau’s founders won an Academy Award for the visual-effects technology he designed while working at Steve Jobs' Pixar.

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Comparative data, made easy with Tableau v8.0

That may be why Tableau is the sweetheart of the Business Intelligence and Analytics space -- not only does the company have more than 10,000 customers, but Gartner named it “a leader” for the first time this year.

Tableau's User Vetted Release

Add to that, that an enthusiastic base of 4000 customers participated in the Tableau 8.0 beta. Anything’s possible, but it seems like it’s a great way to have almost half of your user base up on the latest version on the date that it becomes generally available. And, the fact that this many users have cosigned on the 90 plus features that the company has added or made better since version 8 is a sure vote of confidence out of the gate.

Though we can hardly go into each of the 90+ new features individually, Fink walked us through the most significant changes, each of which lends power, ease of use or accessibility to the end user. They include:

  • Web authoring: Answer questions right in a browser with a layer of depth that was not previously possible.
  • Mobile authoring: Drag and drop to analyze data on a tablet while on the go.
  • Visual analytics: Improved sets, groups and forecasting capabilities extend the analytical depth of the application. Treemaps allow for new ways to spot patterns and exceptions.
  • Connect to any data: A number of new connectors, including Google Analytics, Salesforce.com and Google BigQuery, allow people to access these popular data sources with a few clicks.
  • Speed-of-thought analytics: Tableau’s breakthrough unification of computer graphics and databases is faster than ever before with a new visualization engine.
  • Enterprise Integration: With a new Javascript API and a new Data Extract API, customers can now integrate Tableau more deeply into their existing systems.