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Business intelligence and analytics provider, Tableau, today launched an integration with Slack to improve how businesses retrieve their analytics. The integration will enable users to complete natural language questions to gather insights directly from Slack without leaving the app.

As Francois Ajenstat, chief product officer at Tableau, explained, “Helping people see and understand data is what drives us. Whether you’re an analyst, business person, IT manager, or developer, we’re making analytics easier, faster, and more actionable for anyone, anywhere. By bringing analytics directly where work happens, making it smarter and more actionable, and enabling self-service data management, we will enable more organizations to build a data culture and drive analytics success.”

The announcement comes after the pandemic has contributed to a data explosion, with employees moving out of the office and into increasingly digital spaces to support remote work. It is an environment where many decision-makers are struggling to get access to the insights they need to operate effectively, an environment that Tableau is helping to simplify.

Accessible data analytics

In an exclusive interview with VentureBeat, Ajenstat explained why the company is investing in collaboration, “We all work differently than we used to, we’re all digital, work from anywhere, and so analytics has to be in the flow of business, it has to be available where people work.”


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Ajenstat detailed that Tableau customers will have access to “proactive data insights being built from Slack, so they can stay on top of their data.” In practice, that’s the ability to ask questions in natural language.

Tableau offers natural language capabilities via Slack, so you can ask questions about business data in natural language and receive digital answers. Imagine being able to ask them something sophisticated, such as: “What were my sales in Europe for electric cars last month?” Ajenstat said.

The goal of this approach is to make data “more like a colleague” that you can ask questions to and get immediate answers, rather than a mountainous data set that you need to make sense of with dashboards and reports.

Tableau’s Slack integration shows the company is taking a similar approach to Microsoft Power BI, which offers users a Power BI tab in Microsoft Teams, but goes a step further to offer in-app natural language interaction for users, so they can ask questions rather than passively consuming analytics content.

Improving data literacy  

During the announcement, Tableau also announced that it was going on a concerted effort to improve data literacy by pledging to train 10 million data professionals. “The skills of the future are going to be data skills. It’s one of the top skills identified by the World Economic Forum,” Ajenstat said.

“Data skills are critical to business success. Those that have access to data are more likely to be thriving than others that are barely surviving. Yet, the demand is outpacing supply. [The International Data Corporation] IDC reports that only 30% of people in organizations are comfortable using data analytics, so there’s this big gap.”

Enhancing decision-making capabilities 

Tableau also unveiled two new products designed to help organizations improve their decision-making; Model Builder and Scenario Planning. Model Builder enables users to collaboratively build and consume predictive models with the Einstein discovery engine, and Scenario Planning enables users to compare alternative scenarios. This will enable decision-makers to make more accurate forecasting decisions and maintain operational excellence.

“Businesses know they must tap into the power of data to stay agile and respond in this rapidly changing environment. For these businesses, success depends on training and enabling everyone in their organization to use data and make better decisions,” Tableau’s president and CEO Mark Nelson, said.

These platforms will help users to navigate their data more efficiently and make better decisions. While these forecasting and data analytics solutions aren’t intended to take over decision-making, they do offer a more streamlined approach to gathering insights than a human could put together alone.

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