Salesforce’s Tableau launches new data analytics suite with AI enhancements


The new Tableau 2021.2 version promises to help users make better business decisions based on AI-powered analytics.

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Tableau has beefed up its data analytics software by blending in artificial intelligence. On Tuesday, the Salesforce unit announced the release of Tableau 2021.2 with a variety of new capabilities designed to help people make smarter and faster decisions based on available data. In a blog post published last week, Tableau described the new features and what they offer to customers.

SEE: Tableau business analytics platform: A cheat sheet (free PDF download) (TechRepublic)

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The Ask Data feature lets you ask business questions using natural language queries. Just enter your questions, and answers appear visually in response. The feature offers an intuitive and guided way to build your queries without complex obstacles getting in your way, according to Tableau. The system uses autocorrect and synonym recognition to help you shape the right type of questions.

New in Ask Data, Lenses let analysts and dashboard authors curate the natural language queries so that different teams in an organization can tap into the same data sources. As an example, a column may be known by one team as “sales,” by another team as “revenue,” and by a third team as “invoices.” But the results still access the same data sources and simply personalize them for each team.

You can integrate Ask Data directly in dashboards to go from seeing curated data to asking your next question. Any licensed Tableau user—Creator, Explorer or Viewer—can use Ask Data to ask their questions.

Next, Explain Data runs statistical models and checks hundreds of possible explanations to clear up any mysteries behind a specific data point. These explanations appear as functional Tableau visualizations that you can dig into further. Explain Data reduces the possibility of an error from dirty data or selection bias by finding explanations across the entire data source. Explain Data is now available for all licensed Tableau users.

Ask Data and Explain Data are both now available in Tableau 2021.2.

“Ask Data opens up an opportunity to close the gap between advanced analysts and a broader, general business audience, allowing anyone to connect and explore data,” said Ilya Kovalenko, ‎data analyst & visualization team lead for Siemens, in a press release. “By leveraging Tableau’s modern and fast natural language processing technology, our colleagues are reaching insights faster than ever before. With Explain Data, our team is not only able to see data trends, but can easily identify and understand what’s driving them.”

Next, Einstein Discovery for Reports will help CRM users take advantage of AI directly within Salesforce Reports. The goal is to help them understand what happened and why it happened so they can react accordingly. As an AI technology developed by Salesforce, Einstein analyzes data in order to glean key insight. Users can directly access the Einstein Discovery feature to explore the data and work with machine learning models. Einstein Discovery for Reports is now available with the summer 2021 release of Salesforce.

Finally, Ask Data for Salesforce will let Salesforce users pose natural languages queries to their CRM, getting quick answers as dashboards and recommendations specific to their business. Ask Data for Salesforce will launch early next year. The dashboard recommendations and semantic search will be available in the summer 2021 release of Salesforce, while the natural language capabilities will appear as a pilot in the fall.

Tableau 2021.2 also offers the following features and enhancements:

  • Collections. With collections, you can curate workbooks, data sources and other content to create custom gallery layouts and share them with other people.
  • Jumpstart your Salesforce connection. This feature helps you onboard employees using Salesforce to Tableau by populating your Tableau Online site with relevant data sources and workbooks.
  • Connected desktop for web authoring. This allows creators to move from web authoring to Tableau Desktop.
  • Write to Google BigQuery from Tableau Prep. This feature helps people add or update data in Google BigQuery with clean, prepared data.
  • Containers. With containers, customers can run Tableau Server in a single container so that deployments are quicker and easier. For version 2021.2, Tableau will support Kubernetes and Docker containers for Linux.
  • New Canada Tableau Online Pod. This is designed to serve customers in Canada with greater stability and performance.
  • Area spatial calculation. This feature helps analysts measure the square area of a selection on a map.
  • Amazon SageMaker for Tableau. And this aims to help customers communicate and share machine learning with anyone directly within Tableau dashboards.

“There’s a growing disconnect between business leaders expecting a data-driven organization, and employees who aren’t comfortable using data to make decisions,” Tableau Chief Product Officer Francois Ajenstat said in a press release. “Building truly data-first organizations requires unlocking the power of data for as many people as possible. AI-powered analytics will help more people use data to answer questions, make meaningful decisions and, ultimately, transform their business.”

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