Salesforce Tableau puts AI in the driver’s seat for Big Data

Tableau for Slack’s developments focus on sharing, search, and insights with automated workflows for tools like Accelerator. The goal: to empower decision makers and CRM teams to use big data.

The Salesforce logo on an office building.
Image: Various Photography/Adobe Stock

“Data-driven” is a mantra for countless organizations, but it’s a back-end driver, useful only as long as decision makers can analyze and interpret it and understand its implications.

Indeed, a 2022 survey-based study by strategy firm NewVantage found it organizations continue to struggle to become data-drivenonly 26.5% reported achieving this goal and only 19.3% reported creating a data culture.

Business software titan Salesforce said a series of improvements to its Tableau project management platform will help decision makers live up to the term “data-driven” by making big data more user-friendly. According to the company, the changes include process automation and new integration features designed to easily display, manipulate and share data on Slack, a hub for communication, collaboration and customer engagement.

The changes also foreshadow what’s to come: the integration of the recently announced generative AI model, Einstein GPT, a collaboration between Salesforce and ChatGPT maker OpenAI, with natural language interfaces to make big data a low-code/no-code operation .

SEE: In the introduction to Einstein’s GPT Salesforce offered guidelines for reducing AI bias

Francois Ajenstat, chief product officer at Tableau, said the drive to market was to help people see and understand data.

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“I say this because in every release we’re always trying to find new ways to help analysts answer questions, help reach people, and make data easier to understand and use,” Ajenstat told TechRepublic.

Salesforce has a product development schedule packaged in quarterly cycles. “Last year we added more than 120-130 capabilities and this is the first big release of the year in the first quarter,” he said.

Integrating data hunting and visualization into collaboration

Visualize Tableau in Slack

Salesforce, which integrated Tableau into Slack in December 2022, is enhancing the integration by allowing users to display Tableau content in Slack and creating portals within the communications platform that allow users to search databases through Tableau in a collaborative UX. For example, a sales team can view their Q4 sales numbers in Tableau and use a link to share the data visualizations directly to their Slack channels so they can see and discuss them within the app (Figure A).

Figure A

Tableau integration with Slack allows users to create sharable data visualizations for collaboration.
Image: Salesforce. Tableau integration with Slack allows users to create sharable data visualizations for collaboration.

“What we understood from customers is that people don’t want to leave where they do analytics; they want analytics to come to them and answer questions where they work. That’s why we’re bringing Tableau to Slack,” said Ajenstat.

He explained that previously Tableau only appeared in Slack via alerts and notifications. “You can now query your Tableau inventory directly from Slack,” Ajenstat said. Salesforce teased the following TrailblazerDX developer conference last week, where they unveiled a GTP-powered version of Tableau Einstein that allows users to query Tableau directly from Slack using a natural language interface.

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Data Stories for Tableau

Can the data tell the story? With this product development, AI-driven, no-code tools translate graphs, charts and tables into natural language insights that even data analytics novices can understand and easily share, according to Salesforce. AI-based, but not yet using Einstein GPT.

Functions of user attributes

According to Salesforce, new Tableau features allow users to customize analytics visualizations to perform tasks such as displaying the most relevant information. It also allows users to manage data access and enforce security policies based on attributes such as role, department and location, according to the company.

Data mapping for accelerators

Salesforce Accelerators ready-to-use, customizable dashboards a Tableau Exchangea kind of app store for analytics tools that the company launched last year (Figure B).

Figure B

New data mapping automation simplifies data customization for Salesforce Accelerators.
Image: Salesforce. New data mapping automation simplifies data customization for Salesforce Accelerators.

Salesforce said it includes automation, making it easier to configure Accelerators for any data source and without the need for third-party applications. For example, a user can take insights from external applications and feed them into Tableau’s “Sales & Margin” Accelerator to monitor and improve KPIs such as financial results, lifetime value, and churn rates—without having to leave Tableau Desktop.

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“So instead of a blank canvas, you have to start with a predetermined solution,” Ajenstat said. “Accelerators, of which there are hundreds in Exchange today, are built from sample data. In the previous version, you used a static version of the Accelerator template and then manually connected it to a data source; then work out how to map and replace the fields. With this development, we remove the manual steps. The bottom line is that we value time – helping people enter data into templates can save a lot of time.”

The Long View: Automation and artificial intelligence make data meaningful for decision makers

Salesforce said Einstein’s GPT large-language model currently delivers more than 200 billion AI-driven predictions per day in its Customer 360 CRM framework, integrating its cloud-based products and services.

According to Ajenstat, the big picture for products like Tableau is the availability of data through automation.

“As we move forward, this is where Einstein GPT’s capabilities will pay off. We are introducing fundamental innovations and using GPT to package them into bigger, more powerful products,” he said.