You’re a business with plenty of data, and you’re ready to invest in a solution that can manage, organize and analyze that data so you can make better business decisions. If you’re considering Tableau as your business intelligence dashboard solution, but are still on the fence over whether it’s the right software for you, we’ve got you covered.
Tableau leads the industry
Tableau has been the reigning champ in the interactive dashboard scene for quite a while now, and that probably won’t change anytime soon. Take a look at any analyst that covers the BI industry and you’ll likely find Tableau at the top of their list.
It’s really good software. You probably didn’t expect a competing BI company to praise its rival’s product, but Tableau is just that good. In fact, Tableau wouldn’t be at the top of everyone’s list if it wasn’t good software.
Tableau Software launched in 1999. Initially a Stanford University research project, Tableau would eventually mature into a professional product, going public as an IPO in 2013. In the four years since Tableau’s success has skyrocketed.
This influx of money caused tremendous growth, but recently sales have slowed a bit.
That’s natural. The BI market is favorable and then it isn’t. But Tableau missed it’s 2017 Q3 earnings mark, netting 215 million instead of an expected 219 million. To us that sounds close enough—it could’ve been a lot worse than 4 million off the mark. But Wall Street begged to differ. Tableau’s stock dove 10% the day they announced their earnings.
Our prediction? Tableau will be acquired by a large company or private equity firm in the near future. This could coincide with some of the rumors that were floating around a couple years back that Salesforce has plans to acquire Tableau and most recent speculation about Microsoft (but with the success of Power BI I don’t believe this one, but Microsoft has done stranger things).
That being said, Tableau is still riding a wave of success and customer satisfaction.
For starters, Tableau makes it easy to connect to a variety of different data sources. From spreadsheets and databases to cloud services, Tableau connects your data together. From there, it’s even easier to create and manage powerful and complex visualizations. Tableau offers roughly 300 different visualization options that you can drag, drop and create using different data sources.
Tableau offers on-premise and cloud options for its software. You can install Tableau on a desktop, a server or the cloud. There’s a lot of different ways for companies to use it. Because there are a lot of businesses that have built their services directly around Tableau’s dashboard, there’s also a tremendous ecosystem of partners, trainers, and consultants available to help businesses get the most out of Tableau.
Finally, Tableau offers plenty of integration. As the leading dashboard tool in the industry, everybody wants to integrate their product with Tableau because it will make it that much easier for the countless businesses that utilize Tableau to adopt their product.
We’ve looked at the good, and there’s no doubt that Tableau is a sophisticated and rewarding piece of software. However, there wouldn’t be alternative options if Tableau succeeded at pleasing everyone.
Over the years we’ve talked to numerous companies, some that are either with Tableau and looking to leave, and some that are currently evaluating Tableau and have some concerns. These are some of the issues with Tableau that they’ve told us.
There’s a steep learning curve
Tableau’s marketing makes it appear like an easy and accessible piece of software, but in reality, a lot of organizations find that their business users need something easier. At its core, Tableau is intended for power users. To get the most out of Tableau, you need to know how each feature works. This ends up being too complex for the casual business user that just wants something simpler to use.
Rigid terms and conditions
Traditionally, Tableau’s sales team has been rather inflexible when it comes to modifying the terms and conditions of an agreement. When retailers or partners that want to embed Tableau into their product come to us, it’s usually because flexible terms and conditions are very important. Honestly, when you’re the leader in the industry and you’re generating countless leads every day, you don’t have to make concessions or change your T’s & C’s very much. That being said, a lot of people check out Yurbi due to Tableau’s unwillingness to meet specific business needs.
It costs too much when scaling
While it’s pretty affordable and cost-effective for small businesses and individuals to use Tableau, the price dramatically increases when you begin scaling for larger organizations. You essentially have to buy a Tableau license for every single person in your organization that’s going to use it (except read-only viewers of a desktop published desktop or public cloud viewers). As of 2017, Tableau has shifted to a subscription model, but before that Tableau was using a more traditional licensing approach. Originally, businesses would pay a one-time $2000 licensing fee, followed by an optional maintenance fee every year after that (about 18% of the license).
Under the new subscription model, it’s only $840 a year to unlock Tableau’s professional edition, but you have to pay that subscription fee every year. While there’s a lower cost of entry, it ultimately means you’ll be paying much, much more for Tableau over time. If you want to deploy Tableau to all of your customers or employees, those costs can become staggeringly high.
It’s not a magic box
A lot of companies believe that by installing Tableau they’ll suddenly have access to all of their data and that it’ll be magically transformed into a dashboard. That sounds fantastic, but what they don’t realize is that there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done before they can run their first report. In order for Tableau to utilize data, it needs to be structured properly, it has to be accessible and it has to be clean. Tableau won’t do any data cleansing or structuring on its own. As a result, many people found that Tableau wasn’t the magic pill they needed because they didn’t have the proper data to take advantage of it in the first place.
Businesses need more than just a dashboard
Tableau is fantastic for dashboards, but when a company finds out they need financial reports or specific report layouts, then the dashboard format Tableau provides doesn’t cut it. If you want powerful report scheduling (like most companies nowadays do) you’re out of luck, too, without workarounds. Tableau has always focused primarily on dashboards, and dashboards are designed to be interactive. A scheduled report, on the other hand, is something you email out automatically and it needs to convey information without the interactivity. Even though the general consensus is moving towards scheduled reporting, Tableau is fixated on providing interactive dashboards—and not much else besides that.
Tableau is the industry leader for a reason. It’s a fantastic piece of software and many businesses are satisfied with the results, but Tableau doesn’t have 100% market penetration and there’s a reason for that.
For larger businesses, the pricing structure can become unsustainable and even with enterprise pricing the sales team is tough to negotiate with. And the reporting can be too limited for what they need in the long run. Smaller businesses will find an amazing BI solution at an affordable price, but the software might be too complicated for the tasks and consumers they intend to use it for.