Wednesday, 18 September 2019 23:01

Tableau 2019.3 explains itself

Tableau CTO Andrew Beers Tableau CTO Andrew Beers

New features in the 2019.3 release of the Tableau analytics software include the ability to explain the value of a particular data point.

This new Explain Data feature is "to help people go from the 'what?' of their data to the 'how?' of their data, Tableau CTO Andrew Beers told iTWire.

So a spike in sales for a particular month may be explained by a single large order, an outperforming region, or some other factor.

Explain Data uses powerful Bayesian methods to surface statistically significant explanations behind data points, according to company officials.

"With Explain Data, we're bringing the power of AI-driven analysis to everyone and making sophisticated statistical analysis more accessible," said Tableau chief product officer Francois Ajenstat.

Explanations are presented in the form of Tableau visualisations, allowing further exploration.

"It's a great continuation of the smarts and intelligence we've been adding over the last couple of releases [of Tableau]," said Beers.

Tableau Explain Data

Explain Data is available now within Tableau 2019.3.

Other new features of Tableau 2019.3 itself include the ability to embed Tableau's Ask Data natural language (NLP) capability in web pages, the option to encrypt their data extracts at rest, and a native data connector to Databricks.

Two headline features of Tableau 2019.3 are being delivered as add-ons.

The Tableau Server Management Add-On (US$3 per user per month) is designed to make it easier for IT teams to manage Tableau deployments at scale.

Among other capabilities, it allows the use of the AWS Key Management Service, the use of AWS RDS as a metadata repository (especially significant for organisations with large amounts of metadata), and improved workload management (eg, by controlling which nodes execute queries).

In addition, it provides improved performance monitoring, and supports self-service content migration (eg, between development, test and production environments) without the need for scripting.

Tableau Catalog (a new part of Tableau's Data Management add-on) helps users and administrators by revealing the available clean and trusted data. It adds to the existing Server view, and shows interrelationships between data.

Catalog shows data lineage (where it comes from), how it is used, and who is using it, said Beers.

Thus it eases the management burden for IT staff, and helps users understand which data sets they can trust, he explained.

Netflix is an early adopter of Catalog, said Beers, and has found that it reveals exactly what data feeds into users' workbooks – not just in terns of databases or tables, but down to the column level.

“Tableau is used across the company to analyse data for our business. With a significant number of workbooks sourcing data from our platform, it can be difficult to know which tables and fields are being used,” said Netflix analytic products manager Blake Irvine.

“We look forward to Tableau Catalog improving the discovery of data and providing our team with visibility into data source, workbook, and field usage, especially as we work on integrating Tableau Catalog with our internal data lineage system."

This capability is "an important part fo data governance," said Beers.

A new metadata API is being launched alongside Tableau Catalog, allowing the integration of data catalogs from Alation, Alteryx, Collibra, Google, Informatica and others to integrate with Tableau.


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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.



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