Tableau gets new AI-powered business intelligence features

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Tableau today unveiled new AI– and analytics-powered additions to its platform designed to, in the company’s words, “empower more people with the right technology to make smarter and faster decisions.” Among the highlights are an input experience designed to guide users on how to ask questions of data and an updated tool, Explain Data, that shows key drivers behind a specific data point.

“Tableau’s mission has always been to help people to see and understand data. We started out by introducing the self-service revolution in business intelligence, and with each product release we want to make it even easier and more intuitive for people to solve problems with data and for organizations to become data-driven. Tableau has been accelerating its pace of innovation and democratizing analytics,” Francois Ajenstat, chief product officer at Tableau, told VentureBeat via email.

One of the expanded capabilities in Tableau, Ask Data, lets users answer business questions with natural language, autocorrect, and synonym recognition. Ask Data integrates directly with business intelligence dashboards and can be embedded in portals or apps, and as of this week, it allows analysts to curate natural language experiences as a single source of truth: Lenses. Lenses can be set up for specific use cases, letting different teams query the same data source in the context of their own business. For example, while a single column might be known by one team as “sales,” by another as “revenue,” and by a third as “invoices,” Lenses enables each team to get results familiar and relevant to their work.

By contrast, Explain Data, which is now available to all licensed Tableau users, runs statistical models and checks potential explanations behind the value of a specific data point. According to Tableau, Explain Data can reduce the risk of error from “dirty data” or selection bias by searching for explanations in the entire data source, in addition to what’s shown in visualizations.

Salesforce features

Beyond the Ask Data and Explain Data enhancements, Tableau is introducing Einstein Discovery for Reports, a feature powered by Salesforce’s Einstein technology that augments Salesforce customer relationship management (CRM) workflows with big data insights. It delivers these insights within Salesforce reports, automatically analyzing data and providing a link to Einstein Discovery for further data exploration and optional machine learning model deployment.

A complementary new Tableau feature, Ask Data for Salesforce, lets Salesforce customers ask questions of CRM data using natural language, yielding answers in the form of dashboards, insight, and business recommendations. Dashboard recommendations and semantic search are available in the Salesforce Summer 2021 release, with natural language capabilities scheduled to come in a pilot this fall.

Fast-growing mobile traffic, cloud computing, and the rapid development of technologies including AI and the internet of things are contributing to the increasing volume and complexity of datasets. According to Statista, the global big data and business analytics market was valued at$ 168.8 billion in 2018 and is forecast to grow to $274.3 billion by 2022.

“The technology helps address the growing disconnect between business leaders expecting a data-driven organization, and employees who either aren’t comfortable questioning metrics or leveraging data analysis to drive actions. This helps organizations create strong data cultures where more people have analytics tools and insights they wouldn’t find on their own,” Ajenstat said. “This benefits us in so many ways, including increased collaboration, data exploration and innovation, and measurable value, across every industry and around the world. With these innovations, we believe that customers will be able to empower more people to make better decisions, faster.”

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