Tableau Adds Data Storytelling And AI Predictions

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Tableau Software showed a new storytelling feature that automatically explains data from Tableau dashboards in plain language, building on the November 2021 acquisition of Narrative Science by Tableau’s parent company Salesforce.

The Seattle-based data visualization company also said it would further integrate Salesforce’s Einstein AI capabilities into its software, making it possible to generate predictions from data directly inside Tableau workbooks without the extensive configuration required to use the integration previously.

In addition, Tableau renamed and revamped its online offering, introducing “Tableau Cloud” as the new version of what was previously known as Tableau Online. The company said the majority of its big corporate customers are now starting in the cloud rather than its on-premises enterprise version.

The announcements were made in conjunction with the annual Tableau Conference in Las Vegas, which returned to an in-person gathering for the event for the first time since before the pandemic.

Founded in 2003 based on technology spun out of Stanford University, Tableau was acquired by Salesforce in 2019 for $15.7 billion. It was part of a wave of acquisitions by the San Francisco-based company that included the data integration company Mulesoft and later the communications and collaboration platform Slack.

As part of Salesforce, Tableau’s revenue was $1.95 billion in the fiscal year ended January 31, based on the sum of the quarterly disclosures made in Salesforce’s presentations to investors. That was up 26% from the $1.54 billion in revenue that Salesforce reported for Tableau in the prior year.

Mark Nelson, the Tableau president and CEO, said this week that the Salesforce combination had given Tableau a wider reach and the ability to introduce new features faster.

“It’s just an accelerant for everything we do,” Nelson told reporters in advance of the conference.

Tableau competes with products including Microsoft’s PowerBI and offerings from other data visualization and business intelligence technology vendors. It’s one of several areas where Salesforce and Microsoft go head-to-head.

In Salesforce’s fourth fiscal quarter, new customers signed by Tableau included Southwest Airlines, IBM, and Sunrun, Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor told analysts on a conference call.

All of the features the company announced are expected to be available by the end of 2022. The new feature that automatically describes data in plain language is Data Stories. It’s currently available in preview.

“Normally, we ask people to speak data. But actually, we should flip that around and get data to speak people’s language,” said Francois Ajenstat, Tableau’s chief product officer, in a briefing with reporters. “So the next step in this data revolution is automatically having the software write the story in the data for users.”

Tableau was led at the time of the Salesforce acquisition by Adam Selipsky, who returned to Amazon last year to become CEO of Amazon Web Services, succeeding incoming Amazon CEO Andy Jassy in that role as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos moved into the role of executive chairman.

Salesforce employed about 1,000 people in the Seattle area before acquiring Tableau. Including the Tableau acquisition, the number of Salesforce employees in the region is about 4,000 now, a Tableau spokesperson said.