Home » Archives for Ted Cuzzillo

Author: Ted Cuzzillo

“Radical” change under new Tableau CEO

The changes at Tableau Software in the eight months since CEO Adam Selipsky succeeded co-founder Christian Chabot have been “pretty radical,” says Dan Murray, director of strategic innovation at InterWorks, one of Tableau’s earliest partners if not the first.

“There’s been pretty much of a brain-ectomy” over the last few months, he told me by phone on Friday. People have been leaving.

Whether that’s good or bad might depend on your point of view. To Dan, there’s only good news in the department he cares about most: The development team seems to be intact and performing as well as ever.

He mentioned two technologies in particular whose potential is much greater than most people realize: One that’s already part of Tableau is the data interpreter, the Excel ingest tool. He asks people if they use it, and they shrug. It’s not sexy. “This is going to do a lot more in the next couple of years,” he said.

The other widely underestimated technology is Hyper, the Munich-developed database technology acquired by Tableau in 2016. He compares the potential to the first great re-engineering of the Tableau extract engine five versions back.

The new CEO, Adam Selipsky, “isn’t nearly the stage presence [of Chabot], but he’s a detail freak,” he said. The consensus among employees he’s talked to is that this should have happened a few years ago. “He’s very, very deeply engaged in the business at every level.”

With Seplisky, he said, “you don’t get the husky-eyeball treatment and wow factor [as with Chabot]. But all the employees who’ve been there a while the the tech, operational types are really impressed with the guy. He’s much more in command of the business aspects, more detail oriented.”

He sees new, more seasoned managers coming in. In sales, he said, Tableau now seems friendlier to partners. “The business getting to size where they need a vertical focus,” he said. “It’s the natural evolution.”

What are Tableau’s prospects now as it hurdles toward maturity? “I think they’ve got a lot of juice left in them.”

Take the BARC survey, get a summary of results

The international analyst firm known as BARC, for Business Application Research Center, has been compared to Gartner and Forrester for its broad, vendor-independent assessment of vendors. BARC calls its annual survey “the world’s largest annual survey of business intelligence users.”

The survey has just begun and runs until mid-May. BARC estimates that it takes about 20 minutes to complete. Participants answer questions about their use of BI products from any vendor. BARC compiles the data to analyze buying decisions, implementation cycles, and the benefits of BI products.

All participants will receive a summary of the results and the chance to win an Amazon gift card.

Reach the survey here.

For more information, contact Adrian Wyszogrodzki, awyszogrodzki@barc.de.

“Tame” the data makers

I’ve heard of “taming data.” But the week before last at Strata I heard it in a new context: taming behavior.

Taming data has been “nichy,” as fellow TDWI writer Steve Swoyer puts it. He says, “It doubtless explains the etymology of, for example, Tamr.”

But Swoyer pushes on from there, as Swoyer knows how to do.

[Notice the] consonance between to wrangle and to tame. Both are grounded in the same metaphorical frame. Both are grounded in the same metaphor. This pre-conscious framing/understanding of the issue is more interesting than the stupid terms.

Former IBM sales engineer Lamont Lockwood, now the “Integration Expert,” sees two definitions. One is simple: to straighten and calm streaming data. “You don’t have time to fix it later,” he explains. “You need smart models to keep up.”

That leads to Lamont’s second, “nefarious” definition: taming the users who produce the data. “You’ll be trackable every day and every minute,” he muses, “like call-center workers….This is happening.”

Schmarzo: An over-infatuation with data

The “Dean of Big Data,” Bill Schmarzo, said what I think few of his peers would say on the record: “We have an over-infatuation with data.”

Yet there it was, in the Marriott lobby adjoining last week’s Strata+Hadoop conference in San Jose, CA.

Before you can decide on your data, he insists, you have to decide on your decisions. He said, “That is clearly the biggest challenge in the ‘smart’ conversation,” such as in establishing a “smart city.”

Schmarzo, who is by day Dell EMC CTO, jumped into the “smart city” conversation recently when he joined the San Jose, CA Innovation Advisory Board. His first question was to the airport CTO: what decisions do you face? From there, they could choose data. Must they spot beacons over the terminals, for example, or to use the cheaper and readily available MAC addresses? Such choices could make a difference to that CTO and any tax-starved cities on their way to “smart.”

I asked how people react when he suggests easing up on collecting data willy nilly, consuming it like junk food binges? He paused. “So far, the vast majority are relieved,” he said. “They don’t know what to do with all the data.”

“We over-complicate things, and data vendors are the most guilty,” he said. “They talk about smart this and smart that. And they say ‘You gotta have this technology and these gateways.’ But what will you do with that?”

There’s still one more thing to do: explain the decisions. How can you make the data be made interesting not only for the mayor but the citizens, too? “What I don’t know how to do,” he said, “is how to tell a story around it.”

A horse race in town: Chief Data Officer vs Chief Reliance Officer

Smart City, the movement, has a horse race underway. At stake: Who will sit closer to the mayor or city manager?

Chief Data Officer, the darling of the data crowd, was out of the gate first. Four lengths behind and gaining, though, is a dark horse. It’s Chief Resilience Officer, favorite of the humanists. He’s breathing hard and coming up fast. Whoever wins will subsume the other.

If Chief Data Officer wins, the city’s chief executive will feel the sway of CDO’s data-driven whispers. All other things being equal, decisions will rely on data analysis.

But if Chief Resilience Officer pulls off a surprise win, the chief executive will hear her slightly more humanist whispers. Data will be a factor, but so will empathy. Here’s how the group 100 Resilient Cities begins to explain resilience:

[Resilience is] the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience.

I don’t see how that’s done without a big dose of data analysis. What modern process goes without it? The difference is scope: tending toward cold and narrow or toward broad and warm?

Each horse has a cheering section in the stands. Naturally, the data people — data analysts, data stewards, “data scientists,” data people of all kinds — root for the chief data officer. “Run, CDO, run!” To many of them, data is not merely a reflection of the world, it is the world itself.

Nearby them is a small crowd cheering for the chief resilience officer. “Run, CRO, run!” Data’s good, they agree, but there’s more to running a city or living in it.

Within business, the CDO, the data guy, would be the obvious winner. Data is tangible. It’s new and shiny, and it’s got that science-and-research allure of cold certainty.

But this is a city. Warmth and comfort matters, not just “truth” and cold facts. People — the voting populace — have lives to live there in that city.

Which crowd do I stand with? I’m always for the dark horse.