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Salesforce aims to bolster analytics for business users via natural language queries, easier visualization tools

Salesforce wants you to have a conversation with your data. But first, it needs to suggest visualizations and charts and answer questions in plain English for those of us who aren't data wonks.
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Written by Larry Dignan, Contributing Editor on

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Salesforce is launching natural language queries for its Einstein Analytics that will enable visualization and data discovery breadcrumbs for business users.

And given how Salesforce's analytics team is pulling data from its own platform as well as other sources, these ready-made visualizations could become competition for Tableau. Now, Amruta Moktali, vice president of product at Einstein Analytics, said the goal of Einstein's conversational queries is to democratize visualizations on the Salesforce platform, the user experience rhymes with Tableau. The approach from Salesforce also is similar to Microsoft BI.

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"We are providing the tools to explore and ask questions with no chart building or figuring out chart type. You ask a question and get an answer," said Moktali. "We are looking at it from empowering users. Most of our users are business users."

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With Einstein Analytics with Conversational Queries, a business user can type phrases related to data such as show top accounts by revenue and drill down. Dynamic charts are rendered automatically as a query is entered.

The effort is a spin on combining visualizations with conversational user interfaces.

Read also: Salesforce posts solid Q4, surpasses $10B in annual sales | A day in the data science life: Salesforce's Dr. Shrestha Basu Mallick | Salesforce Sales Cloud data can now import to Google Analytics 360 | Dreamforce 2017: 4 next steps for Salesforce Einstein

Einstein Analytics is aimed at answering questions and then creating charts to visualize them. The Salesforce features suggests the best way to visualize the answer and offers a suggested charts panel. A visual history of questions then provides a bread crumb to show your work.

Read also: Inside the black box: Understanding AI decision-making | Infographic: 50 percent of companies plan to use AI soon, but haven't worked out the details yet

Here are some screenshots of how Salesforce envisions a user having a conversation with their data:

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