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Tableau analytics platform update targets efficiency

The vendor's first 2022 release includes capabilities that make natural language query easier and aid dashboard developers as they build new assets.

The latest Tableau analytics platform targets efficiency, highlighted by a new workbook tool and enhanced natural language processing capabilities.

Tableau, founded in 2003 and based in Seattle, unveiled version 2022.1 of its analytics platform in a blog post on March 30.

Platform highlights

Workbook Optimizer is a new feature aimed at making dashboard development more efficient.

The tool exposes key characteristics of dashboards as they're being built, evaluates those characteristics against best practices from a Tableau white paper entitled "Designing Efficient Workbooks" and provides a resulting prioritized list to serve as a guide during the remainder of the development process.

According to Tableau, Workbook Optimizer is the result of years of knowledge gleaned from the Tableau community and internal experts, and includes seven categories of best practices.

In addition, Tableau added a new feature to Ask Data, the vendor's natural language processing tool that enables users to ask questions of their data using natural language rather than code.

Ask Data Phrase Builder is aimed at further lowering the level of data and analytics proficiency required to get the most relevant insights by providing a guided experience for asking questions of data. The feature is especially useful for customers who may not have a clear intent in mind as they begin their search, and for finding any data that isn't well-suited for natural language, Tableau said.

And according to Doug Henschen, an analyst at Constellation Research, both Workbook Optimizer and Ask Data Phrase Builder stand to be of most benefit to self-service designers and analysts.

"The two announcements that stand out on the analyst/user level are the Workbook Optimizer and the Ask Data Phrase Builder," he said. "These are new tools available at the grassroots level to extend self-service capabilities to improve performance and productivity."

A GIF demonstrates Tableau Workbook Optimizer
A GIF demonstrates Tableau Workbook Optimizer, a new tool designed to make dashboard development easier and more efficient, in action.

Like Henschen, Mike Leone, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, highlighted Workbook Optimizer and Ask Data Phrase Builder.

He noted that while the update doesn't break any new ground in analytics, it provides Tableau customers with useful new tools and enhanced capabilities focused on optimization and end-user enablement.

These updates will absolutely be welcomed by customers.
Mike LeoneAnalyst, Enterprise Strategy Group

"These updates will absolutely be welcomed by customers," he said. "When it comes to the Workbook Optimizer, who doesn't want improved workbook performance and guidance on how to achieve something like faster load times?"

And regarding the new Ask Data capabilities, Leone added that he anticipates Phrase Builder is just the beginning of what Tableau plans to add to its primary natural language query tool.

"As far as the Ask Data enhancements go, I would expect a continued effort from Tableau over the course of the year to release ongoing updates, especially as adoption ramps up and customer feedback continues rolling in," he said.

Other new capabilities

In addition to Workbook Organizer and enhanced Ask Data capabilities, Tableau 2022.1 includes a redesigned search experience within Tableau aimed at making it faster and easier to find analytics content, guidelines to help organizations deploy Tableau and new server management capabilities.

With the redesigned search experience, users can type their search into a Google-like search bar and, using a relevance algorithm that corrects for common mistakes such as misspelled words and poor punctuation, Tableau returns a results page ranking content based on recency, popularity and other signals of data quality.

Enterprise Deployment Guidelines, meanwhile, provides a guide for implementing Tableau Server across organizations and is designed to enable infrastructure architects to tailor Tableau deployments to meet the needs of different departments.

And Tableau Server Management now includes a tool that enables IT teams to limit the volume of background jobs running on Tableau Server at any one time to optimize server performance.

"This release highlights Tableau's continuing to work to improve productivity and performance and to promote best practices," Henschen said. "They're addressing these challenges from both the grassroots level and the architect/administrator level, and I suspect these updates stemmed from last year's push to ease deployment … [and improve] management and end-user satisfaction in large deployments."

While Workbook Optimizer and Ask Data Phrase Builder address productivity and enabling self-service users, Enterprise Deployment Guidelines and the new Tableau Server management capabilities focus on productivity and performance from the architect/administrator perspective, he continued.

"Enterprise Deployment Guidelines are particularly helpful in ensuring security, scalability and ease of management in large deployments, and Backgrounder resource limits are helpful in containing costs and prioritizing the use of available server capacity," Henschen said.

Tableau's previous platform update, released in December 2021, focused on enhancing data governance and security capabilities as organizations scale their analytics programs to more users. In addition, a trio of new integrations with Salesforce, Tableau's parent company, were unveiled as part of Salesforce's first 2022 platform update.

Tableau Conference 2022, the vendor's user conference, will be a hybrid event and is scheduled for May 17-19 with in-person attendance in Las Vegas.

Enterprise Strategy Group is a division of TechTarget.

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