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LAS VEGAS -- This year's Tableau Software user conference is being billed as by far the biggest that the self-service business intelligence and data visualization vendor has held to date. During the opening keynote session at Tableau Conference 2015 on Tuesday, the company filled the MGM Grand Garden Arena here with an estimated 10,000 users -- almost double the count of 5,500 at last year's event.
And Tableau shared some rather large news with the attendees, showing off a long list of new features coming to its core BI and visualization software next year and announcing a free mobile BI app, called Vizable.
Tableau has long offered a mobile version of its namesake desktop software, but Vizable is a separate, standalone product designed entirely for mobile BI uses, currently on iPads only. Dave Story, vice president of mobile and strategic growth at Seattle-based Tableau, demoed the new tool, which lets users pull data into visualizations and drill down into specific data points by pinching and swiping on their iPad screens. It eschews drop-down menus, radio buttons or other user interface features that require higher levels of manual dexterity.
BI app built for broader user base
While Vizable has potential appeal to Tableau's existing base of business customers, it's aimed at a broader audience. In fact, Story said it's meant to be used by anyone with an iPad. While demoing the app, he used it to settle a hypothetical argument between himself and his wife about the best movie directed by Peter Jackson based on metrics such as box office revenue and overall profits.
There is some meat to Vizable for business users. The tool automatically pulls variables from data and organizes them into line charts, bar graphs and other infographics. During the demo, Story also used it to power through hundreds of lines of data, with no lag time. In addition, Vizable allows users to share data visualizations with co-workers via email or social media.
The most obvious drawback of the mobile BI app is that it's initially available to iPad users only. Before Story even left the stage after completing his demo, at least two audience members shouted "Android" to him.
Planned new features boost R&D budget
During the keynote session, Tableau CEO and co-founder Christian Chabot said the company plans to invest more in research and development during the next two years than it did in the past 10 years combined. In part, the spending increase is intended to help make the new BI and visualization features that were demoed by members of its development team a reality.
According to Chabot and the developers, future versions of the core Tableau software will include:
- New data integration tools that can join documents in different databases to support analytics on information from multiple data sources.
- Updated mapping tools that will enable users to apply multiple data sources to a single map.
- Deeper statistical analytics capabilities for functions such as outlier analysis and k-means clustering, a form of cluster analysis.
- A preview mode that will let users view how the layout of BI dashboards will look on multiple platforms, such as Web browsers, iPads and smartphones, before publishing them.
- Version control support for maintaining consistency in dashboards and charts.
Tableau is holding off on announcing a specific schedule for when those features will become available, but public relations representatives for the company said to expect them in 2016.
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