Visualizing Data with Tableau

Tableau Software has created a business model out of data visualization to enable companies to digest their large sets of data. The company provides customers with simple tools to analyze and visualize data and solve business intelligence issues.

These visualizations below showcase data on the Cola wars and US unemployment by state.

cola wars              unemployment

Tableau has clearly defined the market in terms of data discovery, with a focus on “helping people see and understand their data.” It is currently the perceived market leader with most vendors viewing Tableau as the competitor they most want to be like and to beat. In particular, analytic dashboards, free-form exploration, business-user data mashup and cloud deployment are platform strengths.

Tableau has been positioned as a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms for the last three years, and its business discovery platform has been a pioneer in the data discovery segment.


The Gartner annual report on the Business Intelligence and Analytics market carries special significance because it reflects the innovations and changes that are driving the market. An important aspect of this analysis is the Magic Quadrant, which shows the relative position of each competitor in the business analytics space.


The customer base of Tableau is extremely sticky and growing rapidly. Tableau had approximately 4,400 customers by the end of 2010 and this increased to 26,000 in 2014. The company expects this number to be north of the 60,000 mark by the end of the coming year with expansion in domestic and international markets.

Tableau CEO Chabot cites the Coca Cola Bottling company, the Audi car manufacturer and the Mayor of London’s office as cases in point where customers have gained tremendous value from its software:

“A few years back, analysts at the company knew they could be doing more with their data, but were too busy generating ad hoc reports. Today with Tableau, they’re able to automatically refresh standard reports with a single click; saving days’ worth of time and roughly 800 of their employees from Executives to deliver teams use iPads to view Tableau dashboards.

In Germany, Audi AG uses Tableau in nearly every department from technical development to controlling, procurement and product marketing. One process leader estimates that insights from Tableau helps his department save between 20% to 30% of total cost on a recent project.

The Mayor of London’s office is a Tableau fan. The Mayor’s Office for policing and crime launched its first interactive dashboard to allow the public to compare crime figures for London’s metropolitan police service against the national crime picture. Users can view crime rates across the capital all the way down to the neighbourhood level.”

Tableau makes money through software license fees and maintenance and services fees. Its Q3 2015 revenue is $171m (+64% y-o-y) with license revenue making up $110m and international revenue making up $42m. The company is still losing money on its bottom line, with loss per share of $0.19.

The business analytics market is overcrowded and Tableau’s main competitior today is Qlik. Tableau and Qlik have market momentum because they are excelling at delivering on current market and customer experience requirements. Traditional vendors such as SAP, IBM and Microsoft are aggressively investing in their data discovery capabilities. Tableau is the competitive target of most other vendors in this market. It faces competitive threats from every other vendor in the market that is also focused on delivering self-service data discovery and visualization capabilities, in an attempt to slow down Tableau’s momentum.




Where is the meat Buzzfeed?


The data anaLYSTs have taken over the fashion website –

Student comments on Visualizing Data with Tableau

  1. Visualization of data is certainly very important for people to make sense of the data they have. At least in my experience, it is definetely a gap in many companies. I am wondering whether Tableau could expand its business model by offering their customers consulting services around data analytics and visualization or employee training on how to make the best use of their software. This might by one way to set the company apart from its competition and create a more loyal installed base. Thanks for the blog post!

  2. Thanks for the interesting post! I agree with Hauke that visualization (and in particular the features Tableau introduced) plays a very important role these days. In many companies the main problem is not the actual prediction, but the challenge to understand their data in the first place. Tableau’s features for exploratory data analysis are a beautiful tool which enables decision makers to ask the right questions to their data scientists. And asking the right questions could be a major success factor for data driven-businesses, while computational power and fancy statistical models might rather be tools to exploit the last 10% of a companies analytical capabilities.

  3. With such a crowded market, is there any sense this market might become a price war. The negative margins suggest that Tableau is going for the “price low to capture share” strategy (and capture value down the road) which is so popular right now in SF. This model assumes that once a customer comes to your brand they will not easily switch. I wonder if this is the case in this market, or if they have simply started a price war from day 1. I know my old company “multi-homed” and would readily switch from one platform to the other…

  4. Couldn’t agree more with some of the comments above regarding the fierce competition in this space and how company will differentiate themselves in this space. Other than price, what other metrics could these companies compete on? What kind of network effects could Tableau utilize to increase switching cost or prevent its customers from multi-homing?

    Also, I wonder how hard it is for a software driven company to just add product features and service technologies and start competing for market shares in other businesses’ space.

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