Tableau applies business intelligence to cloud data

Users of Tableau can now import data from Salesforce.com, Google Analytics and Google BigQuery

By , IDG News Service |  Business Intelligence, CRM, Google Analytics

Business intelligence software provider Tableau Software has updated its namesake software with additional tools for connecting to the sources of data in the cloud.

"There is clearly a big surge of cloud-based data sources," said Francois Ajenstat, Tableau Software's director of product management. The downside with using services is that "the data tends to be locked with the application. You are only able to do what that application lets you do," Ajenstat said.

"Now because of these new connectors in Tableau, you are able to bring that data within Tableau, visualize it, analyze it, mash it up with other data sources. It opens the data to new ways of analysis that were not available before," Ajenstat said.

The new version of Tableau also comes with new Web authoring tools, two new ways of visualizing data and a new set of APIs (application programming interfaces). Overall, Tableau 8.0 has more than 90 new features, according to the company. Over 4,000 customers, of the company's 10,000 company user base, have already tested the beta version.

To address increasing cloud use among its customers, Tableau developed connectors that would allow its users to work with data from Google Analytics, Salesforce.com and Google BigQuery. With both Google Analytics and Salesforce.com, users can import data and have Tableau periodically update the data set with changes. With BigQuery, Tableau can send processing requests to the Google service, and collect and filter the results.

"Two of the most exciting features for us at Cardinal Path are the ability to connect to Google Analytics and [SalesForce.com] data directly through the Tableau interface," wrote Stéphane Hamel, director of strategic services for data consulting firm Cardinal Path, in a written review of the Tableau 8 beta.

Tableau 8 also includes, for the first time, the ability for users to modify reports directly from a Web page, rather than through the use of a dedicated desktop client. The Web client offers some, though not all, of the authoring tools of the desktop client. "Some people need the deep analytic capabilities of the desktop, but many people only want to add additional data, create a new filter, or see data in a different way," Ajenstat said.

The new version also includes two new visual representations, treemaps and bubble charts. With a treemap, a user can place all the elements of the data set onto the screen, with each element represented by a small box that can vary in size and color.

"Imagine putting every stock in the stock market on the screen. The size could be the volume of trading and the color of the box could be the percent change," Ajenstat said. Bubble charts work in the same way as treemaps, but with bubbles instead of boxes.

The software also comes with JavaScript and Data Extract APIs, which will allow Tableau functionality to be embedded in another program or Web page. With these APIs, "you can essentially tell Tableau what to do, and listen for events from Tableau," Ajenstat said.

Tableau comes in two editions, a desktop product and a server product. The desktop version starts at US$1,000. The price for the server edition varies according to the number of users.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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