Adam Selipsky, CEO of Tableau Software on stage at Tableau Convention in Las Vegas
Tableau revealed four new releases during its Tableau Conference in Las Vegas this week which should catch the competition's attention PHOTO: Virginia Backaitis

LAS VEGAS — Fourteen thousand data enthusiasts descended on Tableau Conference 2017 in Las Vegas this week to grow their wrangling skills, engage with Tableau Zen Masters and compete in Iron Viz, Iron Chef-like competitions where contestants start with the same data sets and work to build the coolest visualizations.

The Tableau Conference started as a meeting of 187 practitioners in Seattle 10 years ago. Needless to say, the top rated BI and Analytics provider has come a long way in the years since. 

Not only has it grown its passionate community, which Constellation Research analyst Holger Mueller once likened to a data-loving cult, but it also hardened the software for use in the enterprise and continued on its quest to make data visualization and exploration accessible to the masses. Consider that the use of Tableau at companies like Honeywell has grown from a handful of employees to 20,000 workers.

Tableau Conference Announcements

Tableau made four big announcements from the keynote stage that drew applause from the crowd.

Tableau Server Gets Cozy with Open Source

When Tableau was founded in 2003, building software for the enterprise on open source was seen as dangerous and irresponsible. How times have changed. Yesterday morning Francois Ajenstat, Tableau chief product officer announced Tableau Server on Linux, which gives a new option to users who do not want to run it on Windows Server.

Tableau Gets Lightning-Fast With Hyper

Speed and scalability are competitive advantages in the digital age, so any BI and analytics provider that can outdo the competition has a leg up. Tableau acquired HyPer, a German startup whose founders created Hyper, a main memory database for precisely that reason. It brings performance, faster loading and scalability according to Ajenstat. It replaces Tableau's TDE database, and is part of Tableau 10.5 which is available now in beta.

Tableau Aims to Revolutionize Data Prep with Maestro

Data prep is a cumbersome and time-consuming task that brings little or no value in and of itself. It's estimated data workers might spend as much as 80 percent of their time on data prep and only 20 percent gleaning impactful insights. 

Tableaus’s Maestro aims to change that. “We are doing for data prep what Tableau did for visual analytics 10 years ago,” Ajenstat told CMSWire.

New API Extensions Built to Unleash Developer Creativity

Decision makers do not like to jump between applications when they crunch and analyze data to discover new insights. With Tableau’s new release they may not have to. Tableau has opened its API, inviting users to integrate and work with third-party applications directly in Tableau. Tableau partner Automated Insights leverages the Tableau API to help its customers put highly accessible narratives around their data.

These new features are available as part of Tableau 10.5, which is available in beta now.

Coming Soon: Augmented Intelligence

New artificial intelligence and machine learning features are on the horizon, according to Ajenstat. But they won't be aimed at taking data analyst jobs away, because humans are needed for contextual insights according to Tableau CEO Adam Selipsky. 

Selipsky's comment is probably not another line to placate the fears of those worrying about a robot workplace takeover; after all, Tableau bought "augmented intelligence" software startup ClearGraph a few months ago to bring smart data discovery and natural query capabilities into its portfolio.

Analysts React to Tableau Announcements

Commenting on the announcements, Constellation Research analyst Holger Mueller told CMSWire that supporting Linux, though late, is a “good move because it gives customers choices.” He also championed Tableau for adding support for "the popular OS Linux."

Mark Smith, CEO and chief research officer at Ventana Research, commenting on Hyper noted that "faster is great."

Mueller also commended Tableau for recognizing the world has more data sources than it (Tableau) manages internally and it is "good to see API extensions that allow companies to present their data in a common look and feel." He explained that with that change, Tableau's portal becomes more strategic for customers and users — and more used.