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Off to the races with Tableau 10

Q&A: A conversation with Anthony Gould, Tableau community ambassador, about what’s in store with Tableau 10.

It’s about to get even easier to see and understand your data. The upcoming release of Tableau 10 introduces a host of new features and enhancements, from improved data integration to global formatting improvements that make your visualizations presentation-ready in a few clicks.

To celebrate, Tableau’s getting a little help from its friends—several thousands of them, in fact. The #tableautorch marketing campaign brings together data enthusiasts across Tableau’s community to spread the word about Tableau 10 far and wide. The festivities kicked off at the Virtual Tableau User Group event in June 2016, which was virtually attended by over 11,000 people.

We talked to Anthony Gould, Tableau ambassador and consultant with Slalom’s IM&A practice, to learn what all the Tableau 10 hype is about. Anthony talked to us about the features he’s most excited about in the next product release, meeting Tableau-ebrities in the flesh, and the product’s applications beyond corporate walls.

What’s the Tableau 10 torch campaign all about?

It’s really an awareness campaign that gets our amazing Tableau community to highlight our marketing efforts around Tableau 10. The Tableau 10 torch tour includes 10 different stops, sending the most active members of our community to different cities to meet others and spend some quality time with them. I was part of the campaign based on my role as a Tableau community ambassador.

Tableau announced Tableau 10 and the Tableau torch campaign at the largest virtual event they’ve ever had—over 11,000 people signed in. They were having a lot of fun with it, giving community members the “Tableau torch”—which I think was literally made out of some PVC pipe—and having people run around with it. The campaign really celebrates the authenticity and passion of the Tableau community.

Tableau Community Ambassador Anthony Gould at the June 2016 Virtual Tableau User Group event kicking off the upcoming release of Tableau 10.
Anthony Gould helps get the party started at the June 2016 Virtual Tableau User Group.

What was your leg?

I went from Seattle to San Francisco. I brought my family along, took some pictures with them holding the Tableau torch—it became a whole family event.

We met Anya A’Hearn, who is quite the Tableau celebrity. We brought our families along and met up at a park near the Golden Gate Bridge and had a really good time.

She’s a Tableau Zen Master—one of just 21 in the Tableau community. She’s behind Tableau’s Data + Women community group, and her company’s doing a lot of good work with Tableau. For example, they’re working with PATH right now to get rid of malaria.* They just announced a crowdsourcing data solution for this malaria effort, which essentially tries to pinpoint the locations where the malaria bacteria exists.

*Slalom’s Nelson Davis is also heavily involved in this effort. Learn more.

It’s cool to hear about Tableau’s applications beyond corporate walls. Is that why Tableau consultants are so passionate about what they do?

It’s a very authentic community of people that really recognize all the positive work that others are doing.

Tableau has done something really great with its Tableau Public product. If you publish your work to Tableau Public, it becomes open source, in the sense that you can download that workbook, see how it was built, and see the underlying data. Everyone shares their work, which inspires people to keep learning, sharing, and bringing data insights to the world around us. It’s a very encouraging group.

“One of the things I was really excited about when I joined Slalom was that the people I was following in the Tableau community, and was so inspired by, were here at Slalom already. In my mind, they were like celebrities—and now I get to work with them.”

It’s hard to find a more engaged and passionate group of people than the Tableau community at Slalom.

You know, one of the things I was really excited about when I joined Slalom two and a half years ago was that the people I was following in the Tableau community, and so inspired by, were here at Slalom already. In my mind, they were like celebrities—and now I get to work with them. Being able to learn from the community within Slalom has added a lot to my career progression.

What new features are you most excited to see in Tableau 10?

There are lots of great features in Tableau 10. Here are three that I’m particularly excited about:

  1. Cross-data base joins—Historically, people had to do a lot of data work to bring their sources together ahead of time before using Tableau. Take sales and marketing, for example: Marketing may have campaigns in one source and sales may have data in another CRM tool. Typically we would need some intermediary to join that data before using Tableau. But now with Tableau 10, you can connect to both of the sources. For the large portion of the analyst community who may require IT’s help to provide this data, the cross-data base join lets them be more nimble in their iterative analyses.

  2. Custom territories—Tableau 10 allows you to easily define regions of a map using a zip code or geocoded data and group into custom regions. For example, school districts that want a custom set of data based on their district boundaries will now be able to easily get that.

  3. Formatting—The new auto formatting capabilities of Tableau 10 allow you to define formatting preferences (fonts, color palettes, etc.) at a global level, which then feed down through all of your worksheets. This further reduces the time taken to produce executive-ready visualizations.

Can you give me an example of a recent project where we’ve helped a client transform their business with Tableau?

A recent healthcare project at one of the leading cancer centers in the United States comes to mind. Our work included everything from building out dashboards to really evangelizing Tableau across the company and giving them the tools, training, and all the information that they needed to gain broad adoption.

It was really centered around improving the patient care experience, and how quickly they can get a patient in the door. We were thinking through real-world scenarios. For example, let’s say your doctor tells you that you have a tumor that you should get checked out at a cancer center. If you call and learn it takes 21 days to get in for an appointment, that’s pretty distressing. So we were really seeking to understand the current state of patient care—how patients get in the door, how appointments are scheduled, etc.

Some of it was just uplifting the client’s knowledge, looking at cancer trends across the United States. We did a lot of demographics work to help them better understand the patients: where they’re coming from, how far they’re traveling, and if there are trends that are changing in those demographics.

What do you think we’ll see from Tableau down the road?

The product will just continue to get better. It’s a more competitive space, and I think that’s a positive thing: we need products that continue to evolve. And that serves our clients better.

The community and market will continue to direct Tableau toward where to focus. I think we’ll continue to see more mobile usage. Right now, you can’t get the same level of information on your phone or tablet—so I think we’ll see some improvements in mobile analytics. And we should also continue to see improvements in data integration.

Tableau really serves as a core part of a BI strategy. And one of the things I think Tableau does really well—and I hope that it continues to—is direct the user toward best practices for analysis and how to roll Tableau out across the enterprise.