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“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.

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.

improved urban decision making

…the smart city movement is less about technology and more about improving the way decisions are made in large urban areas, where the demand for services is increasing and the availability of resources is diminishing.”

Michael Flowers, as interpreted by Mike Barlow in a 2015 O’Reilly report, Smart Cities, Smarter Citizens. Flowers is now chief analytics officer at Enigma.io.

Deciding “simple numbers” calls for collaboration boosters

Users of data often ask for “simple numbers.” But the data experts who sit across the table can only clear their throats and reply with a question: Which of the many possible numbers do you mean?

Answering that may be tougher for smart cities than for business, I imagine. In business, both sides of the table are likely to share values and context. But as cities open the data spigots, I expect those answers to take extra bits of “smart.” That calls for tools that give collaboration a gentle boost.

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