Tableau Software (NYSE: DATA), the leading analytics platform, today announced the general availability of Ask Data, which leverages the power of natural language processing to enable people to ask data questions in plain language and instantly get a visual response right in Tableau. This patent pending capability makes it easier for anyone, regardless of skill set, to engage deeply with data and produce analytical insights they can share with others without having to do any setup or programming. Ask Data is available at no extra charge as part Tableau’s newest release, Tableau 2019.1, which also launched today.
In the same way Tableau first pioneered drag-and-drop functionality within analytics, Ask Data is the next stage in the evolution of self-service analytics. With Ask Data, customers can simply type a question such as, “What were my sales this month?” and Tableau will return an interactive data visualization that they can continue to explore, refine the question, and drill into further detail. There is no need to have a deep understanding of the data structure or programming skills. Whether they are a product manager, a manufacturing supervisor, a doctor, or a pizza shop owner, Ask Data enables anyone to have a conversation with their data. It uses sophisticated algorithms that are driven by an understanding of the person’s intent, not keywords, which helps Tableau return more relevant results. Because Ask Data is fully integrated into Tableau, people can then seamlessly and gracefully explore their data using Tableau’s full analytics capabilities.
“Now more than ever we need to connect our teams with self-service analytics that enable faster business insights. After a positive experience testing Ask Data with Tableau Online, we look forward to how this and other natural language models could support a wide spectrum of our analytics scenarios,” said Technical Account Manager, Scott Webber, from Expedia Group. “For example, sales managers could analyze performance by region around the globe simply by asking questions. Ask Data also supports our augmented analytics strategy, allowing non-technical users to automate data analysis and insights.”
Ask Data is available at no additional cost as part of Tableau Server and Tableau Online. Ask Data works with Tableau’s full range of supported data sources – both live and extract – allowing instant connection to any data source, without having to move the data or train the algorithm. And with no setup required, Ask Data integrates with Tableau Server’s existing security and governance capabilities, which makes it ready to use.
“With Ask Data, we’re helping make analytics ubiquitous by enabling anyone, regardless of expertise, to analyze data,” said Francois Ajenstat, Chief Product Officer at Tableau. “Our unique, conversational approach to natural language allows people to ask questions how they naturally think. Ask Data provides a more intuitive and natural way to interact with data, lowering the barrier to entry for analytics and allowing people to ask questions in plain language and get highly relevant insights faster.”
Patent Pending Technology Translates Simple Questions into Analytical Queries
Behind the scenes, Ask Data uses powerful algorithms to automatically profile and index data sources. Ask Data knows, for example, when someone types “American furniture” with their sales data, they need “Product Category” filtered to “Furniture,” and “Country” set to “United States.” It combines statistical knowledge about a data source with contextual knowledge about real-world concepts: “Furniture” is a common value for the “Product Category” field and “America” is a synonym of the country “United States.” This inherent support for synonyms allows people to generate insights while using different terms to represent the same field, such as “sales” and “bookings.”
Additionally, Ask Data’s innovative parser automatically cuts through ambiguous language and uses Tableau’s analytical depth to make it easy for people to ask sophisticated questions in a natural, colloquial way. This means, if a question could be interpreted multiple ways, Ask Data will combine knowledge about the data source with past user activity and present a number of valid options to choose from, with the ability to refine the results if needed. Fully integrated in the Tableau platform, Ask Data leverages Tableau’s patented Show Me technology and pioneering visual best practices to automatically represent the data in the best way possible.
In this first release of 2019, Tableau is also delivering new mobile capabilities and a completely redesigned mobile app for both iOS and Android. Automatic Mobile Layouts mean new dashboards will not only work great on phones, but will do so with the simple click of a button. With the new mobile app available in the next few weeks, customers can access their Tableau Server and Tableau Online vizzes wherever they are, whenever they need it, including interactivity when they are offline. The mobile app will also enable organizations to leverage existing Tableau security and governance features while scaling their analytics deployment.
Tableau 2019.1 also includes a Google Ads connector, which will help marketers analyze their website data more easily and blend it with other data sources across their organization. This connector adds to the more than 65 native connectors available today like Google BigQuery, Salesforce, Amazon Redshift, Snowflake and SAP Hana. And with the new Export to PowerPoint feature that optimizes visualizations and dashboards for slides, customers can present their analysis with the click of a button.
Also launching alongside Tableau 2019.1 is Tableau Data Management. The new subscription offering includes Tableau Prep Conductor to help customers better manage their data to ensure that trusted and timely data is being used to drive decisions across their organizations. Tableau will also expand the power of this offering with new native catalog capabilities coming later this year. Customers can add these capabilities to their existing environment by upgrading to Tableau Server 2019.1 and subscribing to the Tableau Data Management package.