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November 18, 2019

Data Culture is King: 5 Key Takeaways from #TC19

By: Keelin McDonell

It’s hard to believe that Tableau Conference 2019 is already over!

The Narrative Science team spent an amazing five days in Las Vegas last week, demoing our product Quill, talking to customers and prospects about the power of stories in dashboards, and attending sessions with Tableau experts and partners. 

The learnings were practically endless (sadly, our winnings in the casino were not)! But in this case, what happens in Vegas definitely doesn’t stay there. Here are our five key takeaways from #TC19:

1. Language as an interface is sweeping BI

We may be a bit biased here but it’s clear that data storytelling is revolutionizing how Tableau users get insights from their dashboards. New features from Tableau such as Ask Data and Explain Data allow builders to interface with individual data points while our own extension, Quill, provides a full report of trends in the visualizations for business users. Language as an interface is a natural next step for BI and it’s been a steady evolution up to this point. After all, anyone can understand language. 

2. The relationship between IT and business users is evolving

A number of sessions at TC focused on how traditional IT functions are evolving their delivery models around Tableau to empower users to build and maintain their own dashboards. Gone are the days of endless back-and-forth between IT and business users. The new model is simplicity and enablement, allowing IT to set up the governance around data and tools while business users retain the ability to experiment and build on their own. The result of this trend is a less costly service model along with a more agile building cycle, perfect for the pace of business today.

3. Tableau + Salesforce = Match Made in Data Heaven

When it was announced that CRM behemoth Salesforce would be acquiring Tableau last spring, many in the industry wondered what this meant for the company. And details remained under wraps while the final regulatory steps for the acquisition were completed. 

During the keynote at #TC19, Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff joined Tableau CEO Adam Selipsky for a fireside chat to discuss the future of the two companies. The two emphasized the natural cultural alignment between Tableau and Salesforce, a theme that rang true to the many TC attendees (including Narrative Science) who are customers and partners to both organizations. We can’t wait to hear more about this partnership at Dreamforce this week.

4. Enterprise is (finally) ready for the cloud

Software-as-a-service is hardly a new concept, but for many years large enterprise companies were holdouts in adopting the cloud. There were a variety of reasons for this — security, stability, continuity, and the simple reality that very large companies require a long planning horizon to implement radical infrastructure changes. This year marks a sea change in enterprise adoption of the cloud.

For its part, Tableau announced a new initiative with Amazon Web services call Modern Cloud Analytics (MCA), which “is focused on helping customers realize the benefits of a cloud-based analytics strategy by migrating their data and analytics workloads to AWS.” Among the major companies already achieving value with Tableau in the cloud are Disney, Expedia, and Capital One.

We have no doubt this trend will continue and are excited to hear more cloud success stories from the enterprise in 2020.

5. Data Culture is King

Perhaps the most pervasive theme at #TC19 was the importance of creating a data-centric culture. A key learning at many companies over the past decade of BI is that analytics are only as valuable as the folks within an organization believe them to be. Also, data culture must be end-to-end: starting with high-quality data collection and storage, flowing through to data prep, and ultimately surfacing in the visualizations (and now narratives) that reach the business users’ device. Tableau summarizes these attributes well across five dimensions:

  1. Trust
  2. Commitment
  3. Talent
  4. Sharing
  5. Mindset

To learn more about Tableau’s recommended framework, check out their Blueprint methodology here.

So, even though the Data Pool is empty, Data Night Out is over, and the booths are packed up, the energy of these themes will live on for another year.

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