Today Tableau, one of the premier data visualization and analytics vendors, announced that they have appointed Adam Selipsky as their new CEO and President.
While this probably came to a shock to the legions of loyal Tableau users and fans who have grown used to the leadership of the charismatic outgoing CEO and co-founder, Christian Chabot, I was quite excited by the news and what it means for the future of Tableau.
Tableau is one of those rare products that has defined a category nearly since it’s inception. In much the same way as people immediately think “iPhone” when the term “smartphone” is mentioned, many of us in the analytics field think "Tableau" as soon as we hear data visualization. Tableau is largely responsible for data visualization being as advanced, as user friendly, and as widely adopted as it is today. And Chabot has been a major driver behind this success. So why am I excited by new leadership?
Have you ever experienced a product that was almost, not quite, but nearly exactly what you wanted it to be? It’s frustrating. It’s so close you can envision exactly the changes you’d like to see and how they’d make your experience even better. For me, Tableau is one of those products. It is an incredibly well-conceived and designed product that was exactly right for the times, it’s just that those times are changing. Analytics users expect more from their tools and platforms today. In fact, I’m not even sure they want “tools” but rather cohesive experiences. And that’s where I think (and hope) Tableau is going.
With the appointment of Mr. Selipsky, a veteran of Amazon’s AWS, I believe that Tableau will push hard into the cloud and slowly move away from the desktop that has defined its roadmap up to this point. Sure, they’ve had cloud versions of Tableau for a while, but it’s always felt like their heart was on the desktop. As someone who works in embedded cloud analytics for data products, this is frustrating. I want everything that's available for the deskptop in the clioud. The whole experience, from great analytics to incredilbe easy of use. I want a fully cloud-based Tableau complete with authoring, deployment, provisioning and management tools. I want to be able to use Tableau for building vast networks of data communities and for managing complex applications for thousands of users each with slightly different Tableau-based data products. But I can’t quite do that right now. While Tableau is clearly one of the best tools for data visualization and publishing analytics, it still has room to improve in the large-scale data productization space. And data at scale is where Selipsky's Amazon AWS has shined for quite a while. Appointing one of the architects of Amazon’s amazing cloud growth is an excellent sign for the future of Tableau.
My assessment is that this new leadership will result in a cloud analytics powerhouse that will be well-positioned to take on the competition. While there’s been much chatter recently about the crowded nature of the analytics space and about Tableau’s ability to keep pace with the changing market, I think we’ve just seen the response to those questions.
Change is never an easy thing, especially when it involves leadership like Chabot’s. But I’m optimistic about this change and I can’t wait to see what the new Tableau will accomplish.