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November 1, 2018

Tableau Conference 2018 Recap

By: Shawn Parks

What a week in NOLA! For a Tableau Conference (TC) first-timer, and a long-time marketer sponsoring corporate events, I must say the energy of TC attendees is truly unique. I heard from many, and witnessed at an individual level, that Tableau users are a passionate community. There is no clearer indicator that this is true—en masse—than the experience from October 22-25, 2018. From sprinting into the Data Village as the doors opened to the frenzy around Devs on Stage and Iron Viz, to the energy at Data Night Out, and through education sessions in between, the excitement was unmatched.

Getting past the shock and awe of the conference and having some time to reflect on the experience, here are my key takeaways:

  1. Natural language was a major theme and showcased in all forms. Here at Narrative Science, we specialize in Natural Language Generation (NLG). Since we have founded the concept and helped make the market, we are sometimes irrationally sensitive around NLG versus NLP versus NLU. Regardless of how that final letter is expressed or defined, it’s clear that our approach of communicating in plain-English stories is resonating in the market. Not everyone is a data rockstar, so we are doing our part to disseminate insights to all. With Tableau announcing Ask Data, you can be sure there are many more exciting things to come in the area of natural language.
  2. Energy was only matched by willingness to share experiences. One of my favorite examples was Sarah Coyle’s session, “USAA | Solutions for Dashboards that are MIA (missing insights and actions).” Her passion matches the best of the best when it comes to Tableau power users. Her tips and tricks for strong dashboards provide insight to novices and experienced users alike. On topics including information experience, info-finding, interaction, discovery, and inspiration, it’s worth the listen to this session and many of the other recorded sessions
  3. People spend a ton of time and effort communicating insights in their data. This is no surprise to you, me, or the rest of the greater BI community. Regardless, it is a noteworthy observation. The most passionate data nerds and viz wiz’s spend their days in Tableau, yet most of their colleagues in the organization have a hard time ingesting and acting on the insight. The feedback we heard reiterated this fact. Too much time is spent on administrative tasks, refining their dashboards, explaining what the key takeaway in the viz is, and encouraging self-service. Surprise, surprise, natural language can help with all of these challenges.

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