Tableau's Ask Data natural language processing available, could expand usage

The addition of Ask Data could change how Tableau customers navigate and interact with the analytics software and broaden the base of users within an enterprise.

Tableau releases Ask Data, a natural language processing software Ask Data hopes to change how Tableau customers navigate and interact with the analytics software.

Tableau said that its Ask Data natural language processing technology is generally available as part of the Tableau 2019.1 release.

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The addition of Ask Data could change how Tableau customers navigate and interact with the analytics software and broaden the base of users within an enterprise.

Ask Data enables customers to type a question revolving around sale or region or any other type of data and get a visualization. Ask Data also allows the user to refine and clarify questions in a way that replaces drag and drop approaches. Ask Data also uses Tableau's best visualization practices and adds measures as it infers what you're really asking.

The Ask Data algorithm profiles and indexes data sources and can support synonyms.

Francois Ajenstat, Chief Product Officer at Tableau, said the idea behind Ask Data is to make "data more approachable." "Ask Data will be predominately for the next set of people that want to ask questions but are intimidated," he said. "This will broaden the user base."

Tableau recently reported better-than-expected second quarter results and said it is seeing an uptick in subscriptions

Ajenstat walked ZDNet through a demo. Here are some screen shots:

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Tableau acquired the technology behind Ask Data via the ClearGraph purchase in 2017. Tableau followed up that purchase with the acquisition of Empirical Systems, an AI firm.

In the big picture, tools like Ask Data can expand Tableau usage in the enterprise as it enables more interaction with data. Tableau said that Ask Data is available for no extra charge in Tableau Server and Tableau Online. 

Separately, Tableau added the following to the 2019.1 release:

  • Redesigned mobile apps for iOS and Android that optimize dashboards and layouts for a smaller screen.
  • A Google Ads connector so marketers can analyze Web site data and combine it with other information. Tableau has 65 native connectors.

In addition, Tableau rolled out a Data Management Add-On. The add-on is a subscription that allows Tableau Prep Conductor to manage data and ensure one version of the truth.


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Tableau's Data Management Add-On is designed to schedule and manage self-service data preparation. Customers can activate the Data Management package within Tableau Server 2019.1.

Customers who subscribe to the Data Management package get Tableau Prep Conductor in their Tableau Server Deployment. Prep Conductor automates processes.

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Ajenstat said Prep Conductor can integrate data sets, clean data and reshape it so it's ready for analysis.

Tableau said that Data Management will get cataloging capabilities later in the year. The Data Management Add-On is available for $5.50 per user per month.

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