The past year-and-a-half has been a tough reminder for all of us: When we realize what matters most to us, it’s important to have it close to us.
During the pandemic, data has never mattered more for Canadian businesses.
“Data has shifted from being ‘nice to have’ to something you need to have. It’s at the centre of every business. It’s about having a clear picture of your business by leveraging data to make informed decisions,” says Deanna Rigonan, vice-president of Tableau Canada.
Now, Tableau is bringing an exceptional cloud-based analytics experience closer to home for Canadian businesses with the opening of its brand new data pod in Montreal.
It’s the first ever Tableau Online facility in Canada and just the seventh in a stable of global locations that already includes London, Tokyo and Sydney.
So why Montreal?
“Customer demand is growing everywhere across Canada, so this new centre could have gone anywhere in Canada,” Rigonan explains. “But Montreal is just two hours away from Ottawa, which has a lot of government and public sector customers. So Montreal was just a good region to allow the flexibility those customers need and all the other Tableau Online customers across Canada to meet data residency and compliance requirements.”
“Hosting your data closer to the environment in which you work just improves speed and overall performance,” she says.
That’s because a shorter distance between a company’s data and its analytics service reduces latency, ensuring faster load times.
While Tableau enjoys a strong foothold in on-prem data solutions, Rigonan notes that “more and more, we’re seeing people leverage Tableau Online, which is our SaaS platform.”
In addition to the same performance and reliability as Tableau on-prem, Tableau Online offers the flexibility and scalability that come with cloud.
“Tableau Online provides those exact same actionable insights as on-prem, without companies needing to maintain servers or worry about security or any of the hardware hassles that can come with that,” Rigonan says. “So it’s just the ability to leverage the technology regardless of where you’re located in the world so you can make those business decisions without the IT lift that typically comes with on-prem solutions.”
The ‘big data’ revolution has created some big challenges for businesses:
- 92% of companies are failing to scale analytics, according to McKinsey
- 87% of IT and business leaders worry that security and governance are slowing the pace of innovation, according to figures from Mulesoft and Coleman Parkes Research
Tableau has just unveiled new features to help organizations take the chaos and complexity out of their analytics journey. These additional capabilities also enhance the manageability, security, governance and scalability of Tableau’s cloud-based platform:
- Centralized row-level security – gives Tableau admins the flexibility to centrally configure which users and groups can access certain slices of data
- Tableau Prep – makes it easier for customers to automatically reduce loads/costs of server resources
- Dynamic scaling – scales containers up or down to adjust resource deployment as demand evolves
- Governance alerts – flag potential issues to maintain data quality; provide easier visibility into the type of data you have and its origins
- Resource management – defines application resource limits so IT teams can better optimize performance of Tableau Server
Although Tableau offers a “very intuitive user experience,” Rigonan highlights two features that are particularly user friendly.
“Ask Data allows you to type in a question and use the logic within the system to spit out a visual representation of that data based on a comparison to last year, for example. You don’t have to know how to go in and customize and drag-and-drop that specifically yourself,” she says.
“Another big announcement we just made was our Tableau Accelerators. They’re basically pre-built dashboards or workbooks by industry or by functional area. So if you’re in marketing or if you’re in sales, typically you want to see the same types of data just for your business stream or unit. You can leverage the starter dashboard to get you started and then customize and build off that. And you’re not building from scratch!”
New subscription options also make it easier to deploy Tableau across your entire organization.
With Tableau Online, the benefits of a subscription model are twofold, she points out.
“Number one, subscription allows you to reduce the cost to deploy the solution. Second, there’s the ability to scale with no hidden costs. So instead of having one blanket SaaS subscription type for all users, we have different types depending on what that user will be using the system for. That flexibility allows companies to get started really quickly, but also scale without having to improve their server or buy X,Y,Z extras. There’s no hidden cost with Tableau. It’s just the ability to buy per user.”
There’s no value in data for data’s sake, no point in staring at data points on a dashboard without any context or analysis. It’s what the numbers reveal that can make the most difference for your business – even if the revelation is something you hadn’t thought about or expected.
“Tableau is unique in the sense that you don’t always need to know what you’re looking for when you’re interacting with the data,” says Rigonan. “It’s not just ‘show me X’ and a dashboard pops up. It’s the ability to ask questions of the data and have the data guide you as to what the business should or shouldn’t do.”
Rigonan remembers how one customer’s experience with unexpected data insights led to a lightbulb moment that could change the course of their business forever.
“They used a combination of a dashboard and AI to predict a new market they wanted to open. They had an idea of the region where they wanted to expand. But when they leveraged Tableau and they actually saw what the data said, they were surprised and said “let’s invest in this region instead.’”
“It helped the company pivot for that growth opportunity,” Rigonan recalls. “They had this feeling of ‘Thank you, Tableau, for letting us uncover this insight.’”