Salesforce and Tableau Integration

September 01, 2019 in Training Tips and Insights Articles

Written by Lawer Akrofi


If you're a Tableau or Salesforce user, I'm sure you have heard the big news of Salesforce's acquisition of Tableau for a staggering $15 billion. When I woke up to the news, I had instant reservations. Will Tableau be the same? Will Tableau users will be pushed into the cloud? How will the pace of Tableau's innovation be affected?

Just like many in the Tableau community, I was genuinely concerned about this impact on the analytics landscape. However, my love and passion for Tableau and its future led me to keep an open mind about this acquisition. As we already know, Salesforce has revolutionized customer relationship management using its cloud technology platform. Salesforce is simple to customize, integrates easily, and employs functionality to give companies the flexibility to manage accounts, track marketing leads and sales, and manage collaboration. Salesforce already connects seamlessly to Tableau, simplifying the ability to leverage Tableau's analytical power to gain deeper understanding of the metrics that matter most to your company.

How Can Tableau Users Benefit from Salesforce Integration?

Increased Tableau Innovation
For Tableau, being acquired by the global CRM leader has its advantages in terms of budget and sales push. Tableau would not only have access to more resources, but also the existing Salesforce customer base, which means we can expect a big push in terms of new features and functionality.

More Integrations within Tableau
Since January 2018, Salesforce has acquired companies such as Attic Labs, Cloudcraze, MuleSoft, Datorama, Rebel, Griddable, MapAnything, and Bonobo AI – all of which are in the analytics space. On top of that, Salesforce itself already has the Einstein AI analytics platform, so the integration possibilities with these platforms are vast.

Increase in Business for Tableau Users
Since the adoption of Tableau dashboards is likely to become the standard for Salesforce users, Salesforce's already large user base will now become a larger market for Tableau users. This means an increase in dashboards embedded into the Salesforce platform will increase demand for Tableau training, development, and consulting work.

Possible Downside of Tableau Being Acquired by Salesforce
Despite these advantages, many like me feared the potential for Tableau to end up like Business Objects when it was absorbed by SAP. I realize it is too early to say how things will go for Tableau in the long run, but I believe Tableau should maintain its independent status, continuing to innovate and transform the way people use data to solve problems.

Furthermore, Tableau shouldn't be steered towards becoming a cloud-based company focusing on CRM data. This would limit Tableau's capabilities and turn users away from Tableau. The Tableau community is made up of a wonderful mix of talented and creative designers, developers and analysts. Salesforce shouldn't discount this community who are, in a sense, the marketers and drivers of their product. When you love Tableau as much as I do, you want to tell the world about it and show clients its magic; however, interaction with the Tableau Desktop tool is an experience Salesforce cannot replace with a cloud-based platform.  

The Tableau community is the reason Tableau continues to innovate and develop exciting features almost daily. When you look at the tremendous attendance at the Tableau conferences to see the #IronViz competition or sessions such as Devs on Stage, you see how passionate the community is about the software. Salesforce must be careful not to take this experience from those who support, market, and drive the product.

How To Integrate Tableau and Salesforce
Now that we have an idea of the potential upsides and downsides to the acquisition of Tableau by Salesforce, let's discover how you integrate Tableau with Salesforce to analyze your Salesforce data.

To connect to your data in Salesforce, you first need to have access to the username and password credentials for the Salesforce account to which you are connecting.

  1. Launch your Tableau Desktop tool. In the Connect pane, click on Moreunder To a Server and select Salesforce

    Launch Tableau Desktop


  2. In the pop-up menu, enter your username and password for Salesforce to log in.

    Log in to Salesforce



  3. If you've set up a two-factor verification on your account, verify it using the authentication code.

  4. Verify your identity in Salesforce

  5. Grant Tableau access to your Salesforce account by clicking Allow. This will take you to the data source pane.
  6. Grant access to Salesforce

     

    On the left-hand side of data source pane, you will notice two options, Standard Connection and Tables. The Standard Connection is made up of predefined joins that Tableau has pre-built based on the Salesforce schema based on the combination of tables most commonly used for analysis in Salesforce. If you do not want to use the prebuilt joins under the Standard connection, you can use the Tables option to customize your joins. You can also use this option if there are certain tables Tableau has pre-built to join that you do not want users to access.

    On the right hand-side, you will notice that (by default) only "Extract" is selected, and the "Live" connection is greyed out. Your Salesforce data can only be brought into Tableau as an extract into Tableau's in-memory fast data engine. This means that a local copy of your data should be saved to your local computer before you can begin your analysis.

    Standard Connection
    For this tutorial, we will use a Standard Connection. Let's assume we want to analyze all opportunities we have had in our Salesforce data set.

  7. Select Opportunity from the left-hand pane of the data source page and place it in your canvas.

    Select Opportunity

    Notice how Tableau creates the joins by default? If you do not want these specific tables to be brought in, you can remove tables by hovering on them and selecting Remove. You could also use the Tables option below to customize your joins from scratch, or you can choose to rename your connection name Opportunity + (login.salesforce.com)at the top left-hand side of your data source window. This makes it easy to identify your data source when you use multiple data connections in your workbook.

  8. After you're done creating your joins, select Sheet 1. Tableau will now create an extract of your data source. The time taken to create the extract will vary depending on the size of your extract.

    Select Sheet 1

    Create Extract
    Your data would be brought into Tableau as Measures and Dimensions (just as you would see in any data source to which you connect in Tableau). Now you are ready to begin your analysis.

    Measures and Dimensions

    If you're now trying to figure out which charts to build or how your dashboard should look, you don't need to look too far for help. Tableau provides several dashboard templates where you can plug in your data and get instant visualization! To do this, you will need to go to the Tableau website and download the Salesforce Starter dashboards. From here you can choose any of the report templates that closely mirror the data you're trying to analyze. You'll need to make sure that your data source is similar to what you have in the template dashboard. If it is not, then you may have some broken links in the dashboard after you swap out the data.

    Salesforce starter dashboards
    For this tutorial, we would use the Opportunities Overview dashboard as our template to analyze our opportunities data set from Salesforce. After you download the Opportunities Overview dashboard, you will need to swap out its data source with the one you just connected to in Tableau. We can choose to do this swap within the Opportunities Overview workbook or copy the workbook over to our workbook.



  9. Launch your Opportunities Overview dashboard.

  10.  Right-click on the dashboard icon below and select Copy.

    Copy dashboard
    Now go to the workbook to which you connected your Salesforce data.



  11. Right-click on Sheet 1, and select Paste

    Paste dashboard

    The Opportunities Overview dashboard will now be imported into your workbook as shown below:

    Imported dashboard



  12. Right-click on the dashboard data source (e.g., Opportunities (Salesforce)) and select Replace Data Source.
  13. Replace data

  14. In the window that pops up, make sure the correct data source is selected. This is a very important check to perform, especially when you have multiple data sources in your workbook.
  15. Replace data source

  16. Click OK
  17. Now the template dashboard is connected to your Salesforce data source in the workbook. If you want to check that this connection is working, click on any of the sheets from the dashboard and check to see which data source has the blue tick next to it. The blue tick is an indicator that you are connected to the primary data source.

    Check connection
    Now that we have verified this, we can remove the template data source from the workbook. To do this:

  18. Right-click the Opportunities (Salesforce) data source and select Close.
  19.  Remove data source
    This will remove the data source from the workbook completely.

  20. Click on File on your workbook menu and select Save As.

  21. Change the File name of the workbook from Book 1 to a new name, then click Save.
  22. You can choose to save the dashboard together with the data source or without it. If you choose the first option, then you need to save your dashboard as a Tableau Package workbook (*. twbx).
    Now you have access to a pre-built dashboard that you can tweak and customize however you like. If you are satisfied with your dashboard you can publish it to your Tableau server.

  23. Click on Server in your menu, and then Sign into your Tableau Online Server with your credentials. After that, select Publish Workbook.
  24. Publish workbook

Now that you've learned how easy it is to integrate Tableau with Salesforce, you might agree that more possibilities are on the horizon due to the acquisition of Tableau. In the next article, you will learn how to embed your Tableau dashboard within the Salesforce environment using an API.


Written by Lawer Akrofi

Lawer Akrofi
Lawer Akrofi holds a master's degree in Business Administration with a concentration in IT Management as well as a bachelors in Economics. Lawer has over three years of experience in visualization and dashboard development and spends his free time contributing to Tableau community projects such as #MakeoverMonday and #DataforaCause.


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