Big BI and the ladder man to come calling at the Tableau conference

Howard Dresner is a celebrity in the business intelligence industry, but most people at last year’s Tableau conference didn’t even recognize him when he showed up there.

Who needs BI? Tableau Software liked to think it had left BI behind. BI people, after all, were the control freaks who denied access to data. They sneered at Tableau’s “pretty pictures.” They cared more about data hygiene than data analysis.

But there he was. Stephen Few spotted him in the audience a few minutes into his keynote and paused to wonder if it was really him. Tableau vice president of marketing Elissa Fink welcomed him. I and some others said hello. Mostly he wandered alone.

But he’s coming back this year — to speak. He’ll be among 10 on the “experts track” at the Tableau Customer Conference in Las Vegas. Others include BI veteran Claudia Imhoff, Cindi Howson of “BI Scorecard,” and Performance Dashboards author Wayne Eckerson.

They’re all worth listening to. But the one most Tableau people would feel at home with is Paul Kedrosky. Unlike the others, he’s not from the BI world at all. He’s an “investor, speaker, writer, media guy, and entrepreneur,” according to his blog’s “about” page. But I know him as the man who counts ladders.

At last fall’s Defrag conference in Boulder, he told about using the California Highway Patrol’s count of fallen ladders on freeways as a leading economic indicator. Who says data must come from conventional sources? He’s serious and creative, a mix Tableau people appreciate.

He’s written that we live in a “golden age of data visualization,” but I’ve found no elaboration. I’ll be listening for that.

As for the other nine “experts,” the first thing I’ll look for is the size of their audiences.

4 Responses to Big BI and the ladder man to come calling at the Tableau conference

  1. […] Big BI and the ladder man to come calling at the Tableau conference Howard Dresner is a celebrity in the business intelligence industry,… […]

The data industry thrives on conversation. Please submit a comment.

Other recent posts

“Big changes” in storytelling: simple and simplistic

The storytelling world shook this morning with this headline from Tableau: “Data storytelling is undergoing a big change.” The blog post lists three changes: scrolling with less clicking, simpler charts, and visualizations that weave into the narrative. What is really changing? Not much, and to call it “big changes” is worthy of a trashy tabloid… Continue Reading

Andy Cotgreave on data without emotion

Tableau’s senior technical evangelist Andy Cotgreave has boarded the data storytelling wagon. Actually, I don’t know how long he’s been there, but an article he wrote caught my attention today. He says that data without emotion is “worthless.” I agree! Consider also the terrible Syrian refugee crisis affecting the Middle East and Europe. This tragedy… Continue Reading

Notable marketing: Have imagination, will be read

For all the marketing collatoral the data industry produces, there’s little that I can read without forcing myself. But when the good stuff comes, it’s like a gust of spring air blowing into a stuffy room. That kind of marketing blew into Datadoodle headquarters Friday morning. VisualCue, maker of visualization software done with “tiles,” won… Continue Reading

Tableau’s storytelling, conversation, and journalism

I imagine the Tableau marketers sitting down over the coming year’s menu of trends. “What, storytelling again?” one says as if dreading the taste of dim sum for the hundredth time. Storytelling was a staple there at the trendy headquarters. The research department had not too long ago lured Robert Kosara away from an academic… Continue Reading

The best data passes right under our noses in conversation

How would a prospective exhibitor or attendee at a TDWI conference know whether time spent there would be worthwhile? If we took the business intelligence industry’s premise seriously, if we ate our own dog food, the data would dictate. But can data really tell the whole story? To start, I counted a mere 18 booths… Continue Reading