After two quiet weeks, January analytics and data science industry news predictably heated up towards the end of the month. I mentioned it would be a roller coaster year. Well, that thrill ride has started. Here is the filtered summary of key industry events and news.

Winter Analytics Industry Pulse

For the Winter 2018 Industry Pulse issue, I reflected on past industry forecasts, shared industry trends, predictions, and resources to develop future-friendly skills. I also provided sponsored machine learning educational content to kick-start the year.

Analytics projects that used to take months to complete have been reduced to days or weeks, since cloud eliminates time consuming server purchase, set up, software installation, configuration, and deployment work. In the analytics consulting world that lives at the forefront of industry transition, I have already witnessed on-site staffing models merge with blended virtual and 100% virtual delivery models. The analytics world is quickly consolidating and evolving. While there will always be some analytics work for humans, the nature of that work is already changing.


Tableau Surpasses Wall Street Expectations

Tableau Software, Inc. (NYSE: DATA) reported results for its fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2017. Although quarterly revenue slipped about 1% year-over-year to $249.4 million, the 1% slight drop likely was related to the shift to subscription models. Stock prices rebounded to a two year high.

Tableau (DATA) stock

Customer interest in Tableau’s subscription pricing increased. Subscriptions made up 51% of total license bookings in the fourth quarter, up from 20% in the year earlier period. For the full fiscal year, subscriptions made up 41% of license bookings, up from 17% in 2016. According to new President and CEO of Tableau, Adam Selipsky, “With the lower upfront cost and reduced risk that subscription licensing offers to customers, a record number of organizations are turning to Tableau as the mission-critical analytics platform for their data needs.”

I am thrilled to be wrong about Tableau. I openly admit that I was concerned for them. I assumed that 2017 would be a difficult year due to Gartner ranking shifts, intense pressure from big tech vendors freemium and bundling tactics, and the Hyper integration work that limited Tableau’s innovation last year. I saw fantastic peers leaving and wondered why. Maybe they simply needed a change to explore other areas of the industry?

Tableau is thriving while many other niche firms are losing market share

Notably Tableau is thriving while many other firms in the exact same niche are losing market share. I have heard numerous vendors and other industry analysts mention the honeymoon with lower cost alternatives may be ending. Previous losses are coming back as wins. Could the tide be turning? I honestly don’t know.

Tableau was in the right place, at the right time. They built a solution with an exceptionally good UX. UX is key to success. I can’t emphasize that enough to folks. They have a vibrant community, strong marketing, sales, compete and support teams. Customers might be happy with Tableau and not want to migrate away from what is working.

Ken Black Hyper Benchmarks

Source: Super Talented Ken Black’s Hyper Benchmark Article

Oh, I almost forgot… Tableau 10.5 was released with Hyper Data Engine and more. Ken Black did an awesome performance evaluation of Hyper. I tested Hyper last year. In my performance tests that I cannot publicly share, I was impressed with both Hyper performance and the elegance of the in-place upgrade.


Global Layoffs at Qlik

Unlike Tableau, Qlik and many other vendors had an extremely difficult 2017.  In January 2018, news of widespread layoffs and changing C-level leadership at Qlik grumbled through the market intelligence channels. I knew Qlik was going to struggle five years ago. Qlik Sense could not restrain Tableau and the two product conundrum was a mess. The Qlik Sense UX is better than Qlikview but it still is not an easy product for business users to learn. BI professionals and OEM developers seem to like Qlik but there are so many other alternatives now. It will be interesting to see what happens next. They do have a large base of existing accounts and avid fans out there keeping them active in my feeds.


MicroStrategy World

At the annual MicroStrategy World event, several press releases came out. The most popular news from that event in my network was the new connectors for Microsoft Power BI, Qlik Technologies, and Tableau Software. There was also buzz about MicroStrategy improvements to version 10 Dossier and a holistic map for building an Intelligent Enterprise™. MicroStrategy does have a comprehensive unified platform, exceptional mobile apps and a strong heritage in the traditional business intelligence space.

MicroStrategy World

During the innovation session, MicroStrategy demonstrated new natural language search in Microstrategy Desktop, a new KPI widget, a cool feature that provides estimated AWS Cloud cost per day, and an Office365 Outlook API that was a crowd pleaser. Plug-and-play connectivity was also a key theme. In 2016, they supported 76 data sources, added 43+ in 2017, and plan to add +80 in 2018. They also plan to hire 200 services staff this year to excel in customer experience. Last but not least, MicroStrategy has always been known for market leading mobile BI capabilities. This year they featured several award-winning mobile client projects from Coca-Cola, Merck, Freddie Mac, and AIG. MicroStrategy also shared a slide with an impressive list of top name clients surprisingly including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

MicroStrategy has always been known for market leading mobile BI capabilities

During the keynote, MicroStrategy leadership warned of growing big tech power that “can bring down governments, businesses and even individual people with censoring, shadow banning and controlling the message of what we see and don’t see”. I thought it was refreshing to finally see another vendor calling that out. Salesforce’s Marc Benioff and other world leaders at the latest Davos 2018 – World Economic Forum expressed the same concerns. Project Veritas exposed shadow banning practices this past month.

Sorting through the usual biased industry views, I found two totally conflicting perspectives of MicroStrategy updates. One is from an investor “MicroStrategy: Can’t Survive In A Competitive World” citing the company’s top line is still in a perpetual year over year decline, with no foreseeable path to growth. The other is from an industry analyst firm that Microstrategy pays, “MicroStrategy is back, and it’s making the case for agile analytics”. The truth of how MicroStrategy is faring and their future outlook is likely somewhere in between these two views. I fear what would happen to our world if we were only allowed to hear one view of everything. It is more important than ever to consider numerous perspectives and embrace critical thinking.


Collibra 5.3 Tableau Integration and Visual Diagrams

Collibra, a leader in enterprise data governance and catalog software, unveiled its Collibra 5.3 release. Collibra 5.3 features the industry’s first Diagram Pictures functionality that simplifies data lineage and management with automated data visualization. Through interactive data lineage diagrams, users can preview, edit, add to, and comment directly from within the diagram. Diagram Pictures are particularly useful for companies with compliance requirements, providing an easy-to-view audit trail of key data. Key features include:

  • Govern diagrams as semi-static / semi-dynamic pictures, define different types of ownership and subject matter experts, manage change and versions of those diagrams, and ask questions of stakeholders from within the diagrams by tagging users
  • View data lineage through a variety of lens: business view, technical view, security view, QA view, etc., using out-of-the-box views and easy filtering capabilities
  • Allow all data citizens to contribute to the accuracy of a diagram and the documentation of the items visualized on the diagram either proactively or via interactively guided governance workflows
  • Utilize intelligent search capabilities inside and outside the data lineage diagrams
  • Create 3D visualization with more enhanced insights by visualizing multiple detailed layers in one single diagram
Collibra + Tableau Report Catalog

Collibra Catalog + Tableau Reports

Collibra 5.3 also offers Tableau integration to ensure business intelligence analysts benefit from trusted data that has been properly governed. Direct import of Tableau assets means less manual entry, freeing resources and time. The Collibra Catalog serves as a single-source of intelligence, providing needed transparency across an organization’s wealth of reports, which is further enhanced by the deep intelligence provided by Tableau. This enables business analysts and data scientists to view and prioritize reports to help them more quickly focus on the right information, consolidate information, and add incremental value.

For more information on what is new in Collibra 5.3,  check out the official press release.


New SAS Personal Data Preparation

SAS Data Prep

Designed with analysts in mind, SAS introduced a new personal data preparation app that uses the processing power of SAS Viya, SAS Data Preparation helps report builders, data scientists and data analysts blend, shape and cleanse data for analysis, identifying errors and providing data on demand.

SAS also reported another solid year. They now have over 40 consecutive years of growth. The company also noted that research firm IDC says SAS holds a 30.5 percent share of the analytics market, one it has led since IDC began tracking data in the field in 1997. SAS noted that IDC statistics show SAS has double the share of any other provider in that space.

More January 2018 News

Other notable industry tid bits collected this past month include:

Please let me know if I missed anything significant from January. Stay tuned… February is always incredibly lively after the contentious Gartner Magic Quadrants for BI & Analytics, as well as, Data Science segments are revealed. This year I hear Critical Capabilities is also being evaluated at the same time. It is going to be a fun month!