Andy on Enterprise Software

Posing questions

December 12, 2007

The recent spate of acquisitions in the BI world (Cognos by IBM, Business Objects by SAP) might cause you to assume that the area was becoming mature (for which read: nothing much new to do). However there is still innovation going on. A company called Tableau, formed mainly by some ex-Stanford University people (including one who was an early employee at Pixar and who has two Oscars to his name!) has neatly combined BI software with clever use of visualisation technology. I have written before how visualisation has struggled to break out of a small niche, though there are certainly some clever technologies out there (e.g. Fractal Edge). One thing that Tableau has done well is to make a very well thought out demo of their software. Product demos are often dull affairs, but this one is very engaging (if a little frenetic), with some real thought put into the underlying data in order to show off the tool to good effect.

I still firmly believe that only a limited proportion of end users actually need a sophisticated analysis tool of any kind. In my experience of BI projects, end users generally find the leading BI tools a lot less intuitive than the vendors would like to think they are, often resorting to Excel once they have found the data they need. The type of technology that Tableau is developing provides an interesting alternative to the established players and has the potential to engage a certain subset of users more. I will follow their progress with interest.

1 comment so far

Hi Andy – Just writing to say thanks for the post about Tableau. I didn’t see an email address to contact you directly so I’ve done a blog comment. We appreciate the mention and in fact added a comment about your post in(a href=”http://www.tableausoftware.com/blog/andy-on-enterprise-software-dec07″ target=”_blank) our blog.

We definitely look forward to your following our progress and would welcome your input and thoughts about how we’re developing.

Best regards,
Elissa Fink



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