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New Tableau integrations with Slack aim to increase speed

Tableau unveiled a series of tools during Salesforce's Dreamforce 2021 user conference that blend Tableau's analytics capabilities with the collaboration capabilities of Slack.

Tableau unveiled a series of new integrations with Slack that bring analytics capabilities to the work collaboration platform.

Tableau, an analytics vendor founded in 2003 and based in Seattle, and Slack, a communication platform vendor founded in 2009 and based in San Francisco, are both now subsidiaries of Salesforce. The CRM giant acquired Tableau for $15.7 billion in 2019 and completed the purchase of Slack for $27.7 billion in July 2021.

Tableau revealed the new integrations with Slack on Sept. 22 during Dreamforce, Salesforce's user conference, which included a smattering of in-person attendees in San Francisco and was also virtual.

Tableau and Slack together

The new integrations between Tableau and Slack include Einstein Discovery in Slack, Ask Data and Explain Data in Slack, and Notifications in Slack.

Notifications in Slack, which delivers automated alerts within Slack to enable Tableau users to stay current with relevant data and trends within their data, is now generally available and will be available for Tableau CRM -- formerly Einstein Analytics -- in Tableau's spring 2022 release, according to Tableau.

Einstein Discovery in Slack, which will enable Tableau users to build AI-powered predictions and recommendations into their data directly in Slack, is also expected to be included in Tableau's spring 2022 release.

And Tableau said Ask Data and Explain Data, augmented analytics tools that enable Tableau customers to query their data and receive insights using natural language processing, will be available in Slack at some point in 2022.

Each of the integrations is designed to foster collaboration and enable users to reach insights faster.

Einstein Discovery in Slack looks pretty cool -- ask a natural language question in Slack and get back a visualization in Slack. For companies that are big Slack users, I can see where this would help certain business users get information quickly.
Wayne EckersonFounder and principal consultant, Eckerson Group

"Speed matters," Francois Ajenstat, Tableau's chief product officer, said during Dreamforce. "Getting data in the hands of the right people at the right time is the difference between thriving and barely surviving."

Among the integrations, Einstein Discovery in Slack could prove most useful for customers, according to Wayne Eckerson, founder and principal consultant of Eckerson Group.

Working solely within Slack rather than being forced to toggle between Tableau and Slack will save users time and accelerate the time it takes to discover and deliver insights based on data. 

"Einstein Discovery in Slack looks pretty cool -- ask a natural language question in Slack and get back a visualization in Slack," Eckerson said. "For companies that are big Slack users, I can see where this would help certain business users get information quickly -- do quick lookups -- rather than have to open up Tableau and find the right report to view."

Integrations with Slack, however, are not unique to Tableau, Eckerson noted.

Among others, Sisense offers Infused Analytics for Slack and Looker also has a Slack integration.

The new integrations between Tableau and Slack, meanwhile, fit in with Tableau's overall approach to analytics.

Tableau CEO Mark Nelson.
Tableau CEO Mark Nelson speaks during Dreamforce 2021, Salesforce's user conference.

According to new CEO Mark Nelson, who took over as Tableau's leader when former CEO Adam Selipsky left for AWS in March 2021, the main building blocks for any data-driven organization include embedded analytics and built-in collaboration.

In addition, among the elements needed for any organization just getting started with an analytics program are the speed Ajenstat referred to, along with intelligence and collaboration.

The integrations with Slack address each of those fundamentals.

"What [customers] want from technology that helps them establish a data culture … is to have data and analytics where people work every day, and that means embedding analytics into the applications where they work," Nelson said. "Second is to make it easy for people to get to the answers they want. And last is to have collaboration built in."

And collaboration enables employees to deliver insights and answers across their organization, he continued.

Beyond Slack

In addition to the integrations with Slack, Tableau unveiled new connectors with Datorama, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Salesforce CDP (customer data platform) and Mulesoft (another subsidiary of Salesforce), all of which are now generally available. In addition, an integration with Salesforce Commerce Cloud is part of Tableau's roadmap.

And like the integrations with Slack, the new connectors are designed to help customers reach insights faster.

Getting that speed to insight, however, can be difficult, according to Ajenstat, who said that the average enterprise has more than 900 applications generating data. Connectors enable organizations to avoid the chaos that can result from the influx of so much data, putting the right data in the hands of the right people at the right time.

"Data is a competitive differentiator," Ajenstat said. "The organizations that can utilize that data effectively are able to generate better business outcomes and deliver better business services."

Other capabilities Tableau unveiled during Dreamforce include a series of prebuilt dashboards now available and a new portal for developers.

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