How Salesforce’s Tableau transforms data into better decision-making

October 7, 2022 Chuck Leddy

This year’s Tableau session at Dreamforce, called “Use Data to Boost Your Bottom Line,” focused on how the Salesforce BI (business intelligence) tool enables companies to: (1) bring all their data into Tableau, (2) customize their Tableau dashboards, and (3) generate insights and transform them into better decisions. While Tableau is typically described as a business intelligence dashboard, it might better be viewed as an organization’s bridge connecting its raw, unfiltered data on one side with insights and actions on the other.

The function of Tableau is to be the platform where data gets transformed into insights that are easy to view and analyze, forming the foundation for organizational decision-making. Salesforce’s Greg Bennett, Director of Product Marketing, and Salesforce’s Darin Bergeson, Senior Manager, Product Management, led a Dreamforce 2022 session on Tableau that was rich in detail and, yes, filled with insights.

More data means a bigger “data gap”

Bennett described how the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation in multiple areas of human endeavor, from how work happens (remote and hybrid work models now predominate) to how people shop, seek entertainment, access healthcare, and do nearly everything else.

“Every digital transformation is at heart a data transformation,” said Bennett, “More data is being produced today than ever before, and is available to drive insight and action.” But a “data gap” remains, explained Bennett, a wide chasm between expectations for data and how data is actually being leveraged (again, with Tableau serving as the bridge over that data gap).

Bennett cited an IDG survey which found that 83% of CEOs want their organizations to be more data driven, while only 30% of employees believe their organization is actually data driven. That’s a huge gap of 53% between expectations for data and “data reality.”

4 factors driving today’s data gap

Bennett detailed 4 factors he believes are “driving today’s data gap”:

1. Data chaos, which is the result of “so many sources of data that create a huge volume of data” that organizations simply don’t have the present capacity to leverage into insight. More data is not a solution – rather, more data can lead to more needless complexity and more confusion. 

2. Lack of data skills. The people who have access to data don’t necessarily have the skill set to transform raw data into data analysis and data-informed action. In the past, data scientists did much of this manually-intensive and highly-specialized work, but Bennett believes we need to make these data capabilities available to everyone, something Tablea does with a variety of AI and automation capabilities.

3. Lack of data culture. Bennett believes that “organizations should be putting data at the heart of its conversations and decisions. That isn’t happening enough today because data often remains an untapped resource.” Too many people continue to make decisions based on hunches and past experience, which can lead to bad decisions in a world that’s changing so rapidly.

4. Lack of enabling tools. The first three factors leading to the “data gap” can only be improved by giving people the tools to facilitate turning data into insights and actions. As Bennett explains it, “Tableau can help organizations optimize their existing processes with data, lower the current barriers to insights, and get data working harder and smarter for you.”

Accelerating insights and actions with Tableau 

Bennett notes that Tableau is a flexible tool, customizable by department – finance, HR, sales, marketing, and beyond – as well as by industry. With Tableau, he says, “we’ve created pre-built and flexible dashboards for every business function and every industry. For example, we help the sales function predict sales and revenue, which also helps with production planning and finance.”

Bergeson then did a demo of some of Tableau’s pre-built dashboards. A marketer, for example, could simply pull down a “function menu” and select marketing from many other functions (finance, HR, etc.). Tableau, which is seamlessly integrated with Salesforce CRM data as well as data from many other sources, would then integrate and analyze available data in order to populate a pre-defined dashboard display for the marketing (or other) function. Of course, the marketer could then customize the pre-defined dashboard to better meet their specific needs. 

Bennett then offered an example to illustrate the point. Software firm “Red Hat integrated more than 60 sources of data into Tableau,” he said, which not only scaled analytics across their organizations and helped create a data culture, but also saved them significant time on reporting and data sharing,” across the company.

Bennett added that Tableau allows users to do deeper dives into data points displayed on the dashboard, for example by examining the source of the data used to generate insights, as well as how that data was collected – something Tableau calls “data lineage.”

The Tableau session takeaways

Bennett’s exploration of today’s “data gap” and its drivers was both compelling and true for most organizations that are simply awash in too much data. He gets high grades for diagnosing a common and mission-critical organizational concern – the lack of organizational capacity to leverage data into insight and better decisions. Tableau is clearly committed to closing the data gap through integrating an organization’s data and populating it into a business intelligence dashboard with best-in-class analytic capabilities fueled by automation and AI (Einstein, in the case of Salesforce).

Will Tableau work well to bridge the data gap at your organization? Probably yes, but that’s a hard question that requires an understanding of your current data infrastructure and your strategic goals for the use of data.

Want to learn more about Salesforce Tableau and how it might help you turn data into better decision-making? Contact us for help.

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