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Tableau unveils integration with Salesforce Genie

The combination is designed to enable joint customers of the analytics vendor and CRM giant to more easily connect to their customer data and surface insights.

Tableau has launched an integration with Salesforce Genie, marking the latest collaboration between the analytics vendor and its parent company.

In 2019, Salesforce acquired Tableau, an analytics vendor founded in 2003, for $15.7 billion.

On Tuesday, the CRM giant unveiled Genie during the keynote address of Dreamforce 2022, Salesforce's annual user conference.

Genie is Salesforce's new customer data platform (CDP). It's a data lake that is now generally available and brings together customer data from myriad sources to enable organizations to get a clearer view of their customers.

The platform automates the intake of data from all of an organization's data sources -- organizations average 978 different data sources, according to Salesforce. Once the data is taken in, the platform provides organizations with real-time information based on that data.

The integration

As part of the launch, Salesforce unveiled an integration between Tableau and Genie that natively brings Salesforce data into Tableau for visualization and analysis.

Salesforce and Tableau have no shortage of connectors and APIs for the current platform, [but] Genie is different in that it promises a major, real-time upgrade of the underlying data platform for all of Salesforce.
Doug HenschenAnalyst, Constellation Research

And though the analytics vendor is already connected throughout the Salesforce ecosystem, the Genie integration has the potential to significantly benefit joint users of Salesforce and Tableau. In particular, the upgrade Genie promises over previous Salesforce data platforms is noteworthy, according to Doug Henschen, analyst at Constellation Research.

"[The integration] is a very big deal because it's a major update of the Salesforce back-end platform," he said. "There's a real-time imperative these days, so Genie will deliver on that need while also addressing a need within Salesforce to bring together far-flung data through the customer data platform."

The first post-acquisition integration between Salesforce and Tableau centered around Einstein Discovery, which is Salesforce's predictive modeling platform. Subsequent integrations have focused on Slack and Tableau's natural language query capabilities.

"Salesforce and Tableau have no shortage of connectors and APIs for the current platform, [but] Genie is different in that it promises a major, real-time upgrade of the underlying data platform for all of Salesforce," he said. "It's the future for Salesforce and, therefore, Tableau."

Salesforce offers several customer data clouds, including its Marketing Cloud and Sales Cloud.

Salesforce plans to first enable its Marketing Cloud with Genie and add it to other clouds over time. As the different clouds are enabled with Genie, Tableau users will be able to use the CDP by bringing data housed in those clouds into Tableau in near real time.

Beyond coupling with what represents an upgraded platform from Salesforce, the integration with Genie improves the connectivity between Salesforce and Tableau, according to Tableau chief product officer Francois Ajenstat.

Previously, loading Salesforce data into Tableau for analysis was onerous, despite existing connectors. With the integration between Genie and Tableau, Salesforce data will natively load into Tableau.

"Salesforce data becomes Tableau," Ajenstat said. "If you have Genie, it will work with any platform, but if you have Tableau and Genie together, all of a sudden that data lights up. Before, you had to do a lot of work to make Salesforce data accessible. Now, it's just available out of the box."

Conversely, customers working in Genie can access Tableau without having to leave their customer data environment, Ajenstat continued. Using a new capability called Instant Analytics, joint Salesforce and Tableau customers can click "Explore in Tableau" and instantly begin analyzing data.

"Tableau will feel native inside of Genie as well," Ajenstat said. "You can come at it from the Tableau side and say you want to analyze your Salesforce data, and you can come at it from the Salesforce side and say you want to analyze your data in Tableau."

In addition to the connectivity the integration will provide, Tableau is delivering more than 100 accelerators -- prebuilt dashboards -- for applications such as supply chain management and tracking sustainability initiatives as part of the integration with Genie.

Future plans

After Dreamforce, Tableau will release its third- and fourth-quarter platform updates before the end of 2022, with version 2022.3 due in a matter of weeks, according to Ajenstat.

The first 2022 update addressed efficiency, while its second featured the general availability of Data Stories, a data storytelling tool that came from Tableau's late 2021 acquisition of Narrative Science.

The next updates from Tableau, whose competition include Qlik and Microsoft Power BI, will feature more embedded analytics capabilities and innovations around cloud data, Ajenstat said. And long term, trends like decision intelligence and automation are influencing Tableau's roadmap as Tableau and other analytics vendors aim to expand the use of analytics tools, which continues to hover around 30%.

Meanwhile, Henschen said he'd like to see Tableau and Salesforce expand applications for their joint technologies beyond the Salesforce environment. With respect to data fabrics, that's something they are already planning, according to Henschen.

"Not all crucial data resides in the Salesforce ecosystem," he said. "In fact, relevant data now tends to be highly distributed across multiple clouds and on-premises systems, so I'm glad to see that Tableau and Salesforce are working to support data fabric architectures and strategies."

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