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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Now that we have verified this, we can remove the template data source from the workbook. To do this:
This will remove the data source from the workbook completely.
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.
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 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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