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How Tableau aims to make data analytics more accessible

Thu 14 Feb 2019
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Tableau Software announced the general availability of Ask Data, which leverages the power of natural language processing to enable people to ask data questions in plain language and instantly get a visual response right in Tableau. 

This patent-pending capability makes it easier for people, regardless of skill set, to engage with data and produce analytical insights they can share with others without having to do any setup or programming. Ask Data is available as part Tableau’s newest release, Tableau 2019.1.

Customers can simply type a question such as, “What were my sales this month?,” and Tableau will return an interactive visualisation that they can continue to explore without limits, either with iterations, new questions, or drag and drop gestures. 

There is no need to have a deep understanding of the data structure, no setup required and no programming skills necessary. Ask Data uses sophisticated algorithms that are driven by an understanding of the person’s intent, not keywords, which helps Tableau return more relevant results.    Ask Data technology translates simple questions into analytical queries

Ask Data supposedly uses sophisticated algorithms that are driven by an understanding of the person’s intent, not keywords, which helps to understand a person’s question, anticipate needs, and allow for smart visualisation selection.

For example, when someone types in “APAC furniture” for their sales data, they want to filter “Product Name” to “Furniture,” and “Region” to “Asia Pacific.” Ask Data combines statistical knowledge about a data source with contextual knowledge about real-world concepts: “Furniture” is a common value for the “Product Name” field and “APAC” is an acronym of “Asia Pacific.”

Additionally, Ask Data’s parser automatically cuts through ambiguous language, making it easy for people to ask questions in a natural, colloquial way. This means, if a question could be interpreted multiple ways, Ask Data will combine knowledge about the data source with past user activity and present a number of valid options to choose from, with the ability to refine the results if needed. 

Tableau expands platform with prep conductor in new data management package

Tableau also announced today the general availability of Prep Conductor, a new product that enables organisations to schedule and manage self-service data preparation at scale with no programming or complicated setup. Tableau Prep Conductor is part of a new subscription package called Tableau Data Management. 

Prep Conductor supposedly automates flows created in Prep Builder (the renamed Tableau data prep product).  Prep Builder is already in use by more than 11,000 customer accounts, and Prep Conductor will help organisations use it more broadly to ensure that clean and analysis-ready data is always available.

It also gives people greater confidence in their data by providing added visibility and detail behind cleaning history and data connections, as well as alerts when processes are not operating as scheduled.  

Tableau Prep Conductor gives IT the ability to monitor and set up automatic cleaning processes (flows) for their data across the entire server. It also allows customers to build permissions specifically around data flows and data sources in order to maintain control and meet data compliance standards and policies

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