Tableau CEO: We're the Google of data visualization

Christian Chabot, in an exclusive interview, explains how Tableau Software is putting a consumerized face on business intelligence and analytics

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Q: What are your ambitions for the company? You have been open about your aspirations to take the company public. I was told this might be one of the last interviews I could get in advance of that.

A: I'll give you the big picture. Two years ago, the company was 195 people. Starting this year, we were 350 people. And today we're 740. Our revenue has grown accordingly, and although I can't disclose the number right now, I can say we've broken through the $100 million revenue mark this year.

So 740 people, 100 percent year-over-year growth, breaking through the $100 million barrier, and opening offices all over the world. We're up to about six offices now in geographic expansion. We believe things are prime for disruption and for a better way forward for people. And that means being an international, publicly traded company with thousands of people and hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue and hiring plans all over the world. We've always wanted to be a public company and we have taken a lot of steps to get the company ready.

Q: In terms of expanding your technology footprint, which direction will you go?

A: Tableau 8 comes out in Q1. We've made some advancements in data integration because Tableau does an impeccable job being the Swiss Army knife that reaches out to every file format and gets it hooked up really easily. We're taking more and more steps to make sure that you can blend all those results together in a way that's crisp and clean and easy.

In terms of a road map, that road map will never end. There is always going to be something more to do on the data integration element.

We're big believers in that, and we've made big investments in mobile. Most mobile analytics products, they're just a joke. It's like, look at my chart on my iPad. On stage in San Diego I demonstrated drag-and-drop query of a big data store right in the palm of my hand, on stage. And I was zooming into it and diving and pivoting and drilling, right there with my finger, against a massive data collection.

Q: Do you see any difference in user behavior when people are literally getting their hands on the data?

A: That's a good question. I don't think anyone knows how tablets are going to evolve exactly, but right now we tend to see the common-sense situations. You know how often people are in a meeting, a bunch of numbers are being shown, and someone's got an idea, but the prepared numbers aren't quite right. The VP of sales says -- wait a second, don't decide to put our conference in Barcelona too fast because I'm pretty sure that we don't have any customers in Spain. It suddenly becomes this ridiculous situation. Just being able to say -- oh, hold on a second, drag, drag, drag -- actually Spain is bigger than you thought.

What's so important is that it's active. It's not "read the report on the iPad." It's literally get in there and interrogate a little bit and pivot and save and send and make it actionable. Because I think a lot of what's been lost in analytics is that it's been so development intensive -- everything's a project. They're used to not being able to use data to inform a moment when the moment is happening. Now they can do it with a product like Tableau, and the tablet is a delivery vehicle.

Q: With tablets, people pick technology they like. Why should it be any different with business intelligence?

A: That's exactly right. That's what the consumerization trend is all about.

This article, "Tableau CEO: We're the Google of data visualization," originally appeared at Read more of Eric Knorr's Modernizing IT blog. And for the latest business technology news,follow InfoWorld on Twitter.

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