DSA had the opportunity to interview Tableau Software VP for Asia JY Pook. Tableau like many others have been associated with the wave of Big Data hype in recent years, however when it comes to making sense of data and gaining insight from data we are starting to hear a recurring theme, namely that it does not matter whether data is big or small, the right tools can help you to make better sense and use of the data you have. JY gives an a good insight into the asian market for Big Data and explains why in his view certain themes in business intelligence or analytics in general such as visualisation are so important. Petrhaps most interesting of all is a that JY sees a growing realisation that these tools that help people understand their data are becoming important for businesses of any size and within those business for employees in nearly any department.
DSA - Does Tableau consider itself to be a "Big Data" company?
JY - At Tableau Software, we want to help people ‘see and understand data’. Anyone can analyze data with Tableau’s intuitive drag-and-drop features. We empower users by delivering fast analytics and business intelligence that is easy to use. Visualizations, reports and dashboards can be created in minutes and information can be shared in seconds.
Data analytics is used to simplify data, rather it’s big or small, to be more easily consumed by end users. The world is drowning in data and we provide a way to make it easier to see and understand. In that way, we’re part of the Big Data ecosystem.
DSA - Does Data have to be "Big" to be useful?
JY - Data does not need to be “Big” to make a difference; it is more important to note that data is only useful when it is properly analyzed and interpreted. Data is part of our everyday lives, from our morning workout to our government services, online shopping and every other aspect. When data is properly analyzed and interpreted, we are able to garner valuable insights and see trends, which in turn help us to make informed decisions.
Take Lift12, a fashion company in Singapore, for example. Lift12 uses Tableau to analyze customer purchase history data and track inventories. The company also analyzes readily available information from the Internet like color preferences, as well as, fashion and style trends.
Lift12 only analyzes about 17 gigabytes of data, a small amount compared to the terabytes and petabytes that larger companies may analyze. However, the data offers the company valuable insights into customer requirements, and a broad picture view of where the industry is heading.
Tableau provides smaller organizations with the capability to leverage on data. With Tableau, even smaller organizations -- or even one-person operations – can access, analyze and gain insights from the data that they have.
DSA - Can you tell us a bit more about visualization and how it aids decision making?
JY - Humans interpret visuals about 60,000 times faster than text. As such, being able to visually see the data instead of rows of data will not only aid in reducing the time taken to understand it, it will also help people discover their own insights.
This is exactly what Tableau does. Tableau provides people with quick visual analysis and insights into data, rendering it from a visual standpoint, and then making it scalable to the extent that everyone should be able to utilize it with equal ease.
Tableau is powered by VizQL – a visual query language that translates drag-and-drop actions into data queries and then expresses that data visually. Because of this, anyone can use Tableau, not just trained analysts or data scientists.
VizQL delivers dramatic gains in people’s ability to see and understand data by abstracting the underlying complexities of query and analysis. The result is an intuitive user experience that lets people answer questions as fast as they can think of them.
This allows users to query, summarize cross-tab, hypothesize, visualize and report on-the-fly depending on where the data analysis leads them. Users can move beyond reporting what they see and ask the next question, and discover trends and patterns that they would otherwise not be able to discern by analyzing spreadsheets of data. They also have more time to use the discovered insights to make more informed decisions.
DSA - What kind of users are benefiting from Tableau's offerings today?
JY - From retail to banking, government agencies to telecommunications, Tableau is helping customers from all over the world to see and understand their data. Tableau is designed to focus on people. This includes everyone from those working for big and small businesses, serving in government and building not-for-profit organizations, bloggers, students – anyone at all. It also allows people to quickly analyze, visualize and share information. Tableau fits into existing infrastructure while extending people’s capabilities to analyze and understand data.
Our customers have diverse skill levels and work in all kinds of organizations, including Fortune 500 corporations, small and medium-sized businesses, government agencies, universities, and non-profits. People are tapping on Tableau for all kinds of use, including increasing sales, streamlining operations, improving customer service, managing investments, assessing quality and safety, studying and treating diseases, and improving education.
From an organizational standpoint, Tableau has been used in every vertical and line of business – accounting and finance, human resource and training, marketing and research, and also information technology (IT). Typically, departments that are heavily into data tend to be big users of Tableau.
From a vertical standpoint, banking and finance, manufacturing, retail, and telecommunications are heavy users. Other areas where we have contributed significantly are education, government, healthcare and in hospitals.
A good retail example is Metro, a departmental store in Singapore. Tableau is used in Metro to analyze data on brand/category sales, customer segmentation, marketing campaign effectiveness, etc. Using Tableau, Metro’s’ management is able to have a 360-view of their customer and deliver a world-class customer buying experience.
Tableau can be used in an education institution setting too. In many universities, Tableau helps students with better education avenues, helps the school administration in understanding which students are doing better, and which students are at the risk of not achieving their education goals.
There are many examples, but the point is how data can be used to benefit business, education, healthcare, etc. is really up to the user. We provide the tools to make it easier and faster for these users to see and understand data.
DSA - Does the South Asian BI market differ from Europe and US and if so how?
JY - According to Gartner, worldwide business intelligence (BI) and analytics software market -- consisting of BI platforms, corporate performance management (CPM) suites, analytic applications and advanced analytics -- totaled US$14.4 billion in 2013. This was an 8 percent increase from 2012’s revenue of US$13.3 billion. Redwood Capital released a report in April 2014 forecasting that the global business intelligence market to reach US$20.81 billion by 2018, up from the US$13.98 billion in 2013, translating to a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 8.28 percent.
North America is currently the largest market for business intelligence, and the American and European markets are projected to grow by 10 and 11 percent respectively by 2019.
In the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, it is estimated that the BI market will grow from US$1.8 billion in 2013 to US$3.3 billion in 2017. This will be led by countries such as India, which is expected to have a growth rate of 19 percent by the end of 2019. The BI market in APAC is going to be further driven by the increase in smartphone adoption and Internet penetration. BI is also ranked highly in most CIOs’ list of priorities across enterprises in this region.
While still growing, the American and European markets are rather mature. In comparison, the APAC region is fast growing in terms of adoption, and it is filled with emerging countries that have been forecasted to see significant growth over the next seven years.
DSA - How much resource does Tableau have for South East Asia and what are the future plans for the region?
JY - Tableau started Asia Pacific operations in 2012, and have since expanded operations to Australia, India and Japan. From there, we are able to serve other regional markets, including South East Asia, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and New Zealand.
Nevertheless, across the Asia Pacific region, we remain committed to building on our momentum in Singapore as a regional hub, as well as, our presence in other key markets.
A key part of our strategy is to continue localizing our products for the Asia Pacific market. We constantly implement initiatives that enable customers to adopt and expand their use of fast and easy analytics. We also translate our products to