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Tableau Talks Product Strategy

Tableau officials are adamant that the transition of cofounders Christian Chabot and Chris Stolte to new roles won't disrupt ongoing product development. If anything, they claim, customers should expect more from Tableau.

August's shake-up at Tableau Software saw two cofounders -- president and CEO Christian Chabot and chief development officer Chris Stolte -- transition to new roles with the company. Tableau officials were adamant that the transition of Chabot and Stolte to new positions -- along with the hiring of a new president and CEO, Amazon Web Services (AWS) veteran Adam Selipsky -- won't disrupt product development.

"The product changes are very natural and organic," Chabot said during a call with analysts, noting that Andrew Beers -- Stolte's replacement CDO -- "has already been the number two [person] in development." The hiring of Selipsky and the ascension of Beers aren't tied to a major product change of any kind, Chabot stated. "No, there isn't some product or platform change that's intimately bound up with this. There's no change in product direction."

Tableau Plans to Continue Aggressive Release Schedule

If anything, customers should expect more from Tableau -- and on a more frequent basis, Chabot argued. Recently, Tableau has delivered patch upgrades monthly: e.g., for the life cycle of its 9.x.y product, Tableau shipped version 9.0.1 in May of 2015 and version 9.0.8 in December.

Tableau 10 launched in early August. Chabot expects the data visualization specialist to continue the same aggressive release schedule. "Over the last few years, Tableau has moved to a more agile development methodology with a cadence of more regular and smaller releases. It happens that Tableau 10 is more feature-packed than a typical 90-day release is, but you can expect us to release quarterly or almost quarterly [updates] from here on out," he told analysts.

"[You can] expect a continuing stream of quarterly releases that vary in their level of performance depending on which 'feature cars' make the [update] train."

Future Focus on Cloud and Hybrid Deployments

Incoming CEO Adam Selipsky hails from Amazon.com, where he was vice president of marketing, sales, and support for AWS. Chabot said he expects Selipsky to focus on growing Tableau's cloud presence. He also described a future in which customers can seamlessly deploy Tableau in on-premises environments, managed software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers, or the platform-as-a-service (PaaS) cloud, shifting workloads among contexts as needed.

Tableau has already invested in a common code base and a common strategy across all three deployment options, Chabot said. "In our industry -- business intelligence, business analytics, [and] data intelligence -- the importance of the cloud is drastically underestimated," he said. "Once [leading] organizations start to ... turn their business intelligence over to a cloud paradigm, the followers will all follow very quickly. Tableau has a great start on that compared to our competitors."

Chabot was adamant, however, that Tableau isn't "abandoning on-premises" deployments.

He stressed that incoming CEO Selipsky has extensive experience in selling and marketing to enterprise IT organizations. "He's particularly well skilled in the IT buyer and IT infrastructure and enterprise requirements ... [and he's] intimately involved with back-end computing and the needs of technologists," he said.

This is critical, Chabot argued, because enterprise IT organizations will shift a significant portion of their on-premises workloads to the cloud. They won't shift all workloads, however. "We believe the brilliant business strategy for the next decade is a hybrid approach," he said, referring to on-premises, SaaS, and PaaS deployment options.

No Increased Relationship with Amazon

Chabot downplayed an analyst's speculation that Selipsky's recruitment could augur tighter ties between Amazon (which markets its own BI cloud service via AWS QuickSight) and Tableau.

"Does it change our Amazon relationship per se? Oh, I don't know, these things are not so much about that," he said. "Tableau is very invested in the Amazon ecosystem [and] Amazon Web Services. [We] hope he's helpful with that, but that's very much a sideshow compared to the [other] things."

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a technology writer with 20 years of experience. His writing has focused on business intelligence, data warehousing, and analytics for almost 15 years. Swoyer has an abiding interest in tech, but he’s particularly intrigued by the thorny people and process problems technology vendors never, ever want to talk about. You can contact him at evets@alwaysbedisrupting.com.


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