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Tableau targets embedded analytics with new developer tools

Unveiled during Salesforce's TrailblazerDX '22 developer conference, the new capabilities are aimed at enabling more business users to work with data in their everyday workflows.

Tableau on Wednesday unveiled a host of new tools for developers designed to boost their ability to customize and embed analytics in applications.

The vendor, founded in 2013 and based in Seattle, revealed the capabilities during TrailblazerDX '22, a conference for developers hosted by Salesforce, which acquired Tableau in 2019 and is Tableau's parent company.

New capabilities

The new tools are part of the Tableau developer platform, which the analytics vendor launched in 2013. Among the most useful tools for customers are Tableau Actions with Salesforce Flow and Embeddable Web Authoring, according to David Menninger, an analyst at Ventana Research.

Tableau Actions with Salesforce Flow enables users to automatically trigger workflows in Salesforce Flow -- an application that automates business processes -- directly from a Tableau analytics dashboard. Its intent is to quickly generate actions from insights while eliminating the need for business users to toggle between multiple applications in their workflows.

Embeddable Web Authoring, meanwhile, is Tableau's authoring environment that can be embedded into any application. The tool enables users to edit data visualizations from any application or web portal so they can make data-driven decisions without having to switch between applications.

"For two decades, analytics and BI has been a 'read-only' technology [and] users have had to switch from the analytics application to some other application to implement the action suggested by the insight," Menninger said. "[Tableau] Actions is one of the ways Tableau is beginning to address that shortcoming."

Similarly, Embeddable Web Authoring eliminates the need to switch between applications to generate insights by taking Tableau out of its own environment and embedding it in other applications such as customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning tools, he continued.

Embeddable Web Authoring brings the power of Tableau -- interactive data discovery and visualization -- to embedded analyses. In the past, the analyses were more static displays.
David MenningerAnalyst, Ventana Research

"Embeddable Web Authoring brings the power of Tableau -- interactive data discovery and visualization -- to embedded analyses," Menninger said. "In the past, the analyses were more static displays."

Like Menninger, Doug Henschen, an analyst at Constellation Research, said Tableau Actions with Salesforce Flow is a significant addition to Tableau's developer platform, though he noted it will only benefit customers who use Salesforce Flow.

"There's a lot of interest in automation and workflow these days, so I particularly liked the Tableau Actions [with] Salesforce Flow announcement," he said. "The combination will enable Salesforce administrators/developers to automate actions and workflow steps using analytical events and triggers from Tableau."

In addition to Tableau Actions with Salesforce Flow and Embeddable Web Authoring, the analytics vendor's new developer tools include:

  • Web Data Connector 3.0, a toolkit to build connectors between Tableau and web applications;
  • Embedding API v3 to embed and integrate Tableau into any web application more quickly than previous versions of the tool;
  • Connected Apps for Seamless Authentication to enable developers to integrate Tableau into applications with simple and secure authentication for customers; and
  • easier uploading of offerings to the Tableau Exchange.

None of the new capabilities on their own are an innovative leap forward in providing tools for developers and enabling embedded analytics, but together they represent a significant improvement in what developers using Tableau are able to build, according to Henschen.

"They're mostly incremental improvements, but they're significant in their collective impact," he said.

And that collective impact is to make the process of embedding analytics easier so that organizations can derive more value from their data, according to Francois Ajenstat, Tableau's chief product officer.

Moving from data ingestion through embedding data to triggering actions, the capabilities work together, he noted.

Web Data Connector 3.0 makes it easier for developers to connect to data anywhere and bring it into Tableau; the no-code nature of Embeddable Web Authoring and Embedding API v3 simplify the actual embedding of analytics into workflows; and Tableau Actions with Salesforce Flow triggers actions that developers can automate with a click.

"The time to go from data to insight has never been faster," Ajenstat said on Tuesday during a media conference. "At any point you can analyze data and go from insight into action, no code required. Features like this infuse insights everywhere and unlock valuable data so [developers] can take action directly in the applications they use every day."

Tableau chief product officer Francois Ajenstat
Tableau chief product officer Francois Ajenstat speaks about new embedded analytics capabilities during a virtual press conference.

A broader meaning

Beyond what Tableau's new tools for developers will enable, the vendor's enhancements to its developer platform are significant in a broader sense, according to Menninger.

Studies have shown that only about a quarter of the workforce within organizations use analytics, and that has stayed the same for years. Data-driven decision-making, however, is crucial for growth, and has become even more important amid the fast-changing economic conditions sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic and exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.

Tableau's goal, in this context, is to make analytics accessible to more users so they can base more decisions on data.

And while augmented intelligence capabilities like natural language processing and automated data storytelling are some of the ways vendors are trying to make data more accessible, embedded analytics is another.

"Embedded analytics is one of the best ways to deliver information to a much larger portion of the workforce," Menninger said.

Embedded analytics, however, has not been a significant focus for Tableau in recent years.

While vendors such as Sisense, MicroStrategy and Domo -- among others -- prioritized adding tools for developers, Tableau enabled no-code interaction with data through AI tools like Ask Data and Explain Data and in the fall of 2021 acquired data storytelling vendor Narrative Science.

Now, however, embedded analytics are the focal point of the additions and enhancements to Tableau's developer platform. And that, even though Tableau is far from alone among vendors in its embrace of embedded analytics and developer enablement, will have a ripple effect beyond Tableau's user base because of the vendor's stature as one of the most popular analytics platforms, according to Menninger.

"What Tableau does matters," he said. "Tableau is one of the leaders in the market. When Tableau moves in a new direction, it is an indication that the overall market is moving in that direction. All in all, these enhancements will be good for the market."

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